Panasonic DMP-UB700 review

Panasonic DMP-UB700 review

Last Updated on by Daniel Osakwe

The UHD Blu-ray format has defied critics and appears to be gaining a following amongst 4Kphiles with an eye for quality. In that case, what UHD deck would you recommend? The Panasonic DMP-UB700 is the definitive answer.

In comparison to its predecessor, the high-end £600 DMP-UB900, the Panasonic DMP-UB700 costs £400 (approximately $600, AU$670).

The unit initially seems to promise content nirvana, but it actually offers almost nothing. Additionally to 4K UHD compatibility, it can play regular Blu-ray discs (including 3D discs), as well as DVDs and CDs. While it doesn’t support DVD-Audio or Super Audio CD, it does support High-Res Audio files, and it comes with an array of streaming apps.

Panasonic DMP-UB700: design

Panasonic DMP-UB700 review

The Pana deck looks like the UB900 in dark theatres – you’d be hard-pressed to tell the two apart. The chassis of the UB900 is similar to the UB800, with a full-width drop-down fascia, but it is more refined.

If you look at the bottom, you can see heavy-duty anti-resonance feet have been replaced with sorry-looking pads. The connectivity has been reduced as well: there is only one digital optical output, and no analog output.

In contrast, the UB700 has a half-pint remote, while the UB900 has a full-size remote. The product you get in the box is still functional, but it’s a little bit more difficult to use.

If your AV receiver isn’t compatible with 4K UHD, there are two HDMIs on the rear of the Panasonic DMP-UB700. Normally, 2160p video is sent to your 4K TV via HDMI, while multichannel audio is sent to a home cinema receiver over the audio HDMI.

Additionally, the deck has a slot for a USB cable and an SD card reader. There’s also dual-band Wi-Fi, as well as an Ethernet port with 10/100/1000 Base T.

Panasonic DMP-UB700: content

dvd player

It is easy to use the Panasonic DMP-UB700 player. We like the clean design of the main menu, with buttons for Videos, Music, Photos, Home networks, Network Service (aka apps), and Setup.

Amazon Video, Netflix, YouTube, BBC iPlayer, BBC News and Sport, and MySpace are some of the most popular apps. Plus, you’ll find Aupeo and some euro-specific news services! Panasonic-owned Aupeo (now rarely used).

In addition, Netflix’s app supports 4K HDR. As of this writing, the Amazon app does not appear to be HDR-ready, but it supports UHD streams.

The deck’s file playback abilities are impressive. When played from a USB drive, DSD sounds fantastic. There is support for 2.8MHz and 5.6MHZ DSD as well as 24-bit FLAC, and for media collectors with OCD, album art and metadata is also supported. Videos are supported in all popular formats, including MKV.

Despite Panasonic’s downgrading of the power supply and removal of some of the more expensive audio components, the UB700’s HRA performance suggests it belongs in a high-end AV system.

For audiophiles, the High Clarity Sound mode can be used to disable video when you’re just listening to music.

Panasonic DMP-UB700: performance

4k players

Panasonic’s DMP-UB700 delivers an exceptionally high level of detail, with superb color accuracy.

The Incredible Spider-Man 2 (UHD Blu-ray) features an incredibly dynamic and vibrant Times Square showdown. Comparing it to the pricier UB900, there are no obvious visual differences. As well as playing Blu-rays, it offers images with nuance and depth.

The engine is also equipped with some clever processing. With 4:4:4 color subsampling, the UB700 interpolates 10bit native Blu-ray content to 12bit with 4K Blu-ray content. Alternatively, it can output 4K at 8-bit 4:2:0, depending on your display.

Most likely, you will not need to navigate around the HDMI submenus. When you select Auto mode, the player automatically selects the appropriate resolution for your screen. However, if you have a non-HDR 4K TV, you can manually optimize the image quality using a Dynamic Range Conversion circuit.

As an added benefit, the UB700 player bitstreams DTS:X and Dolby Atmos 3D audio, too. For some delicious sonic immersion, hook up a Dolby Atmos AV receiver.

In Gravity on Blu-ray, the Dolby Atmos soundtrack will send your viewing room into a dizzying spin when a Russian spy satellite collides with George Clooney’s space shuttle and Sandra Bullock tries to disengage from the spinning arm.

A Blu-ray concert disc loaded in 33 seconds, and a movie platter, laden with features, went from tray to Blu-ray menu in 41 seconds. Blu-ray fans will enjoy this sprightly performance. Last but not least, the deck is reassuringly quiet when in use.

Pros and Cons

For Against
4K Netflix and Amazon onboard No analog audio output
Hi-Res Audio file playback No Super-Audio CD and DVD-Audio compatibility
Outstanding picture performance Not as sexy as the DMP-UB900

Verdict

In terms of price and performance, the DMP-UB700 effectively sets a new benchmark for 4K UHD image quality. It is well worth mentioning the player’s streaming service support, including HDR-enabled 4K Netflix. In addition, 24-bit audio is handled well, both with FLAC and DSD files.

Ideally, universal disc support would’ve been included, but that won’t happen until Sony launches its 4K disc spinner. Until then, though, if you don’t have the cash to splash on Panasonic’s higher-end player, and you live in the UK, the UB700 is the UHD BRP you have to try.