Panasonic DMP-UB300 4K UHD Blu-ray player review
The DMP-UB300EB from Panasonic looks much like any other budget Blu-ray player. The device is ultra-compact, 320mm wide, and uses a single red LED to indicate whether it’s awake. The build quality is mediocre.
With this disc spinner, you get Ultra HD Premium certification.
Panasonic DMP-UB300: Design
The UB300 comes at a price. A disc tray and a USB port are located on the front fascia. Only one HDMI output, one USB 3.0 port, and one Ethernet connection are available on the rear side.
Even Wi-Fi support has been cut – there’s none. For this cheapie to work online, you’ll need a wired LAN connection. However, things are quite different when it comes to playback performance. Panasonic has crammed a Lexus engine into this Lada-like body.
Panasonic DMP-UB300: Performance
Despite Panasonic’s red pen cost-cutting efforts, the deck’s video engine remains unharmed. With HDR10 (only) compatibility, the UB300 offers excellent video playback.
With the DMP-UB900 and DMP-UB700, Panasonic has offered a wide range of output options for its upmarket predecessors, the DMP-UB900 and DMP-UB700.
This Panasonic model will interpolate between 4:2:2 and 4:4:4 chroma subsampling, but the UHD Blu-ray format mandates 4:2:0. Deep Colour 10-bit priority mode is available for cast iron displays. Choosing 10-bit Priority mode instead of 12-bit output may solve your TV’s color banding problems.
On the flip side, these technical inclusions should make the UB300 compatible with any TV, be it budget or bleeding edge.
Adjustable HDR brightness is an interesting new display feature. Using a dedicated button on the zapper, it helps combat HDR dimness (in which images with High Dynamic Range appear dark in brightly lit rooms).
Basically, it aims to improve average picture brightness without sacrificing HDR dynamism.
There are four HDR settings: Standard (that is, native), Natural Environment, Light Environment, and Bright Environment. Selecting the right model makes a surprisingly big difference. Compared to Light and Bright, Natural does a good job preserving detail. You could think of it as daytime HDR.
When connected to a 4K TV without HDR support, Dynamic Range Conversion is enabled. The player can tone map the content to complement the TV. It features a sliding manual scale between +/- 12 stops.
It requires some experimentation, but if you keep it low, you’ll avoid undesirable color artifacts. Speeds of disc loading haven’t been affected by the low-cost chassis.
There are 44 seconds between the start of a heavily authored Goldfinger platter and the start of a stripped-down concert disc. This is a respectable speed for the format.
With the UB300, you’ll be able to playback the latest audio formats, including Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. The decoding electronics of your computer won’t distinguish between this and far more expensive players.
The HDMI low clock jitter processor compensates for a lack of high-quality analog outputs.
Netflix and Amazon Video (both streams in 4K HDR) are among the available network services on the UB300, along with YouTube and BBC iPlayer.
As a Media Renderer or network playback device, the deck will also serve as a multimedia player.
This program recognized the Twonky media servers on our home network and provided us with some speed in navigating them.
Finally, the compatibility with files is excellent. The deck played DSD 2.8MHz vinyl rips (and DSD 5.6MHz downloads), as well as 24-bit/192kHz FLACs, MP3, AAC, and WMA files. MKV, MPEG, and MOV video files can be played. It will work for the majority of file needs.
What we liked
The UB300 offers excellent picture quality. The images are crisp and clear in UHD. A new HDR image optimizer is a welcome addition, and the option of 10-bit video output could ease concerns about Panasonic’s 12-bit interpolated output on some displays.
What we disliked
Getting online will be a hassle for many – you’ll need a powerline or router or switch nearby. Activating Netflix by mistake is easy with the clunky remote. The build quality isn’t exactly impressive.
|Hi-Res Audio file playback||Barebones build quality|
|Multiple display options||Single HDMI output|
|4K Netflix and Amazon onboard||No Wi-Fi|
|First-class 4K UHD Blu-ray picture performance|
There’s no denying that the UB300 is a budget UHD Blu-ray player – and that’s exactly what the format needs: players that can be priced low and even bundled with UHD TVs. At launch, the ticket was listed at £250.
The DMP-UB300 may not compete with the elite UHD Blu-ray players, but it excels in the most important areas. As for the picture quality, its compact design is a clear winner. It may not be fancy, but that’s not the point. When the price is right, this is a deal worth taking advantage of.