VHS and Blu-Ray Combo?
The switch from VHS to DVD was helped along by the DVD/VHS combo units in the early days. The switch from DVD to Blu-ray was more easily accomplished as you can play DVD discs in Blu-ray player. So, there should be no need for a VHS/Blu-ray combo. Apparently, there is a market for such unit. The Panasonic DMP-BD70V is the first and only VHS/Blu-ray combo player on the market. We are not sure how much of market research went into the decision. However, they must have some data showing a demand for this player. The DMP-BD70V boasts same set of features as the DMP-BD60 model on top of the VHS playback function.
As stated earlier, the DMP-BD70V has the same set of features found on the DMP-BD60 model. Like DMP-BD60, the DMP-BD70V comes with Profile 2.0 and high definition audio decoding. Instead of Netflix and Pandora, the DMP-BD70V supports the Viera Cast and Amazon Video on Demand service like the DMP-BD60. The Viera Cast is Panasonic’s proprietary online streaming service. While not as robust as Netflix or Pandora, it is a nice bonus. The Viera Cast suite includes the Youtube service as well as Picasa web picture suite. The Amazon Video on Demand does have newer videos for streaming than the Netflix. Overall, the features mirror the DMP-BD60 model.
As expected of the combo player, the unit is bulkier than other Blu-ray players. However, compared to DMP-BD60, it is about 2 lbs heavier. The VHS slot and Blu-ray slot are located at the top half the player with LCD on the bottom half. The flip down face plate on the right side houses the playback function as well as SD card slot and USB slot. As far as the aesthetics go, it is not the most sophisticated looking player. The connectivity for DMP-BD70V include component video, HDMI, RJ-45, composite audio/video, and SPDIF output.
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The remote control for the DMP-BD70V doesn’t change much from the previous remote controls. It is very similar to the remote control from the DMP-BD 60 model. The top of the remote houses the volume and channel buttons. This can take some time getting used to since most remotes have them in the middle or the bottom. However, there is separate volume button for your receiver. This is particularly convenient if you have receiver set up and don’t have a universal remote control. The numeric buttons are right below the channel and volume buttons. The playback function buttons and directional buttons are in the middle. The menu buttons surround the directional pad. The bottom of the remote houses the special function buttons like Viera Cast and set up buttons. Overall, it’s a solid remote control. It’s not Harmony but you can do much worse.
The Blu-ray performance mirrors the DMP-BD60 model. The movies tested on the DMP-BD70v fared no better and no worse than the DMP-BD60. The video and image qualities were top notch with no noticeable defects like moiré or jaggies. The fast moving sequences were spot on with no problem. As with DMP-BD60, the loading times were not as fast as the Samsung or LG players. The new generation of players from Samsung and LG has improved the loading time dramatically over their previous models. This is not true for the Panasonic players. While it does improve upon the older models, it is not as significant as the players from Samsung or LG.
Unless you are an audiophile, you will not notice significant differences between audio qualities from this model or other comparable players. The DMP-BD70V is very comparable to the audio performances found on DMP-BD60. The DMP-BD70V can natively decode Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, and the DTS HD audio formats. These should cover most decoding needs for most consumers. The only drawback on audio front was the lack of 5.1 or 7.1 analog audio output. If you have receiver, you won’t miss the lack of output. However, if you don’t own a receiver, you might want to invest in a receiver if you plan to utilize the existing speakers.
Overall, the DMP-BD70V is very good Blu-ray player. As far as the VHS performances go, the upscaling of VHS to high definition resolution can’t really compare to DVD or Blu-ray. However, it does look better than the playback from VHS player. I can’t imagine anyone needing a VHS player to go along with their Blu-ray player as you can easily convert VHS to DVD with very minimal effort. Regardless, if you absolutely need a VHS player to go along with Blu-ray player, this is a perfect player to get. Even if it is the only VHS/Blu-ray player on the market.
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