Much as with other Blu-ray players, portable players are becoming cheaper with each successive generation. Witness the new Panasonic DMP-B200 (£300), which costs exactly half the £600 of 2009’s DMP-BD15.
Load the Lord Of the Rings trilogy on Blu-ray, and the DMP-B200’s picture is stable and convincing, with vibrant colours and crisp edge definition.
Contrast is good too (so long as you sit face-on), although you’ll find that the very darkest scenes can be murkier than they’d appear on a modern LED-backlit panel.
A fine picture performanceSpin a DVD and you’ll discern a shade more shimmer in backgrounds, plus a little more haziness to edges, but it’s nothing to get worked up about.
By any measure, this is a decent portable picture – even if its 8.9in LCD screen is 1024x600 resolution, rather than the 1920x1080 of Blu-ray.
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And sound? The fitted speakers are predictably tinny, but through decent headphones, clarity and bass are admirable.
The rest of the package is respectable enough, too: you get a remote handset, a rechargeable battery pack, an in-car charger and headrest bracket, plus a single HDMI output to allow for easy connection to your TV.
Doubles up at home tooThanks to that socket, the Panasonic can double up as your living-room player too, and it’s a fair performer in that regard, save for a shade less grip over panning when compared to the latest standalone decks.
Weaknesses? It’s disappointing that there’s no USB input, which would have made it easier to use the Panasonic as a hub for other digital media content. There’s no ethernet or wi-fi either, so BD-Live and DLNA sharing are out.
But the biggest issue facing the DMP-B200 is that an Apple iPad 2 costs only a little more, and clearly offers more flexibility for your cash (even if it can’t play physical Blu-ray discs).
Only you can judge whether the ability to play your discs on the move outweighs that versatility.