Is Panasonic’s DP-UB450, a compact deck stripped of Wi-Fi and streaming apps, the 4K Blu-ray bargain to end all others? John Archer reckons it just might be. Read our Panasonic DP-UB450 Review.
The player has a front-mounted USB port and status light
FEATURES: Manual on/off for Dolby Vision and HDR10+; 3D disc playback; digital audio file playback (FLAC, WAV, ALAC, AIFF, DSD, WMA, AAC, MP3); HLG support; 4K JPEG and 4K MP4 video file playback; USB input
FOR CASH-STRAPPED AV fans desperate to get the best pictures possible from every 4K Blu-ray they buy, the Panasonic DP-UB450 looks like a dream come true.
After all, despite being currently available, it plays both the HDR10+ and Dolby Vision dynamic HDR formats. All other 4K BD decks in the sub-£ price bracket only play one or the other. Or neither.
The DP-UB450 isn’t the first Panasonic Ultra HD spinner to support HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. The flagship DP-UB9000 and DP-UB820 do, too.
So how is the DP-UB450 so affordable? Well, its build quality is much flimsier, for a start. It’s basically just a startlingly lightweight and small chunk of black and grey plastic. Styling is nondescript, and there’s no front- panel display.
The remote, too, is a much smaller, cheaper-feeling affair than the one provided with the DP-UB820, while connectivity is limited to a front-mounted USB, rear Ethernet, coaxial digital audio output and twin HDMI ports (the latter admittedly a decent touch considering the price). You don’t get the 7.1-channel analogue outputs found on the DP-UB820, nor built-in Wi-Fi.
The player also dispenses with the streaming apps found
PRODUCT: 4K Blu-ray player with dual dynamic HDR support
POSITION: Above Panasonic’s non-Dolby Vision DP-UB150 model
PEERS: Sony UBP-X700; Panasonic DP-UB820
on the DP-UB820 (Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, iPlayer) and, of more concern, there’s no sign of the HCX processor or HDR Optimiser features that I found so effective on the DP-UB820. The former is designed to deliver better colour and definition, while the HDR Optimiser provides great features for tweaking playback to suit both your TV and room conditions. People with projectors and low-brightness budget TVs should also note there’s no option on the DP-UB450 for downconverting HDR to SDR.
You can, however, still turn Dolby Vision and HDR10+ playback separately on or off. This is handy if, say, you have a 4K Blu-ray title such as Alita: Battle Angel that carries the film in both formats but you want to use the Dolby Vision master (the player defaulted to HDR10+ playback with dual-format discs when connected to a Panasonic TX- 65GZ1500 TV).
As you’d expect, the DP-UB450’s performance suffers from not having the DP-UB820’s premium features. Without that HCX processor, colours look slightly more muted, and the image’s dynamic range seems more limited, especially when watching Dolby Vision. That said, a clipping ’bug’ I’ve witnessed on the DP-UB820, which caused slight flaring around peak bright areas of Dolby Vision pictures, isn’t an issue here.
King of budget BD
A fairer comparison is against other entry-level 4K Blu-ray players, where the DP-UB450’s pictures hold their own. In fact, by the time you’ve factored in the image quality advantages provided by the HDR10 + and Dolby Vision formats on the growing number of discs that support them, the DP-UB450 is easy to rank as best-in- (budget)-class.
Sony’s UBP-X700 (another compact player) is a similarly priced rival, and carries a trio of key streaming apps to boot. But that machine only supports Dolby Vision, not also HDR10+ – and the way it implements its Dolby Vision playback is unhelpful, to say the least (it needs to be manually activated/ deactivated by the user).
The DP-UB450’s audio performance is perfectly adequate for its money; CDs and digital audio files sound reasonably crisp and detailed. But if audio prowess is important to you, the DP-UB820 is clearly superior – not least thanks to the quality of its D/A converter and Panasonic’s spookily effective Digital Tube Sound ‘filter’.
This confirms the feeling I’ve had throughout my time with Panasonic’s DP-UB450 that while this affordable deck’s support for both dynamic HDR formats makes it uniquely appealing for its money, its step-up sibling’s extra features probably justify its higher price tag
ULTRA HD: Yes HDR: Yes. HDR10; HDR10+; Dolby Vision UPSCALING: Yes. To 4K MULTIREGION: No. Region B BD/R2 DVD HDMI: Yes. 2 x HDMI outputs (one audioonly) MULTICHANNEL ANALOGUE: No DIGITAL AUDIO: Yes. Coaxial digital audio output ETHERNET: Yes BUILT IN WI-FI: No SACD/DVD-A: No/No DIMENSIONS: 320(w) x 46(h) x 193(d)mm WEIGHT: 1.2kg