Panasonic has a comprehensive line-up of Ultra HD Blu-ray players. The top model of last year, the DMP-UB900, remains available and was supplemented in September last year with the DMP-UB700. This year the DMP-UB400 and DMP-UB300 were added. Incidentally, these are the model numbers for Belgium, where our review sample comes from. In the Netherlands these models are called the DMP-UB404 and DMP-UB304 but apart from the name they are exactly the same as the Belgian versions. The Panasonic DMP-UB400 (Panasonic DMP-UB404) aims for excellent image quality coupled with a great price.
Panasonic DMP-UB400 / Panasonic DMP-UB404 – specifications
- What: Ultra HD Blu-ray player
- Connections: 2x HDMI, 1x digital optical audio out, 1x network connection, 2x USB (2.0 and 3.0)
- Disc formats: Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, BD-R / RE, DVD-Video, DVD + R / RW, DVD-R / RW, CD-Audio, CD-R / RW
- Extras: HDR10, HLG, WiFi (802.11n) built-in, USB / DLNA media player, Internet applications, Hi-res audio, Miracast
- Dimensions: 320 x 45 x 199 mm
- Weight: 1.5 kg
- Consumption: 27 / 0.3 Watt
- Recommended retail price: 350 euros
Panasonic DMP-UB400 / Panasonic DMP-UB404 – design
This player will certainly not catch the eye. The casing is entirely in matt black, and at the front everything is hidden behind a slightly beveled, shiny black cover plate. We never found that cover plate a good idea. Many people will simply let them down. The player is more than 11 cm smaller than his big brothers.
Once drawn up with your other devices, he does not jump out in any way, and he is a little too silly to put him in sight. There is nothing to criticize on the finish. The player is silent, the small fan at the back you only hear if you are closer than a meter to the device. At the top right two keys are provided: power and eject.
At the back of the DMP-UB404 we find two HDMI connections. That remains a useful feature for people who use a soundbar or AV receiver that does not have Ultra HD / HDR passthrough. With one connection, you send a picture to the TV, and via the other you can stream the audio to your music system. There are no analogue audio outputs, but still an optical digital output. There is also a network connection and a USB 3.0 connection.
At the front the player has an extra USB 2.0 connection, which is more convenient if you want to quickly view some media files. The UB400 also offers a Wi-Fi connection (802.11n), but if you want to stream Ultra HD regularly, we recommend connecting the player with a wired connection. You can mirror mobile devices via Miracast.
Panasonic DMP-UB400 / Panasonic DMP-UB404 – ease of use
The user interface is the same as on the DMP-UB900. The Home screen provides access to all services of the player in six simple icons. Video, music, and photo via disc or USB, the DLNA player for all files on your home network, network services and all settings.
The interface is simple and navigates quickly in most cases. Only the media player sometimes seemed a bit slow. Spartan we do not want to call the interface, but compared to for example the Samsung UBD-M9500 you notice that the Panasonic needs some innovation. In the institutions you will find a particularly extensive set of possibilities. But Panasonic also provides an automatic setting for all important things so that you do not have to break your head about the best approach.
In the advanced HDMI settings we find the option to output the signal as 10-bit or 12-bit. That gives you the widest possibility to connect the player as well as possible with the possibilities of the TV. It is also possible to convert HLG content to HDR10. HLG is primarily intended for broadcast, and this player has no built-in tuners. But if you have test files in HLG, for example, or if a catchup TV app ever had to be available with HLG content, you can have it converted to HDR10 if the TV does not support HLG.
The included remote control is an excellent example of a handy remote. He is well in hand, and has large, pleasant keys with clear inscriptions. The playback keys, most importantly on a media player, are perfectly under your thumb and can be found at a glance thanks to their blue color. The d-pad is surrounded by the buttons for the disc menu, Netflix and the Home screen of the player.
Two keys deserve some extra attention. The HDR setting button on the top right of the d-pad allows you to adjust the display of HDR content, for example when you are looking in a very bright room.
The Playback-Info button shows which signal type there is on the disc, and which signal the player sends to the television. It is very complete, and even shows which chroma subsampling and color depth is used. This is especially useful when you connect the player for the first time and want to verify whether you get the best possible quality.
Panasonic DMP-UB400 / Panasonic DMP-UB404 – features
The Panasonic internet applications are still coming through the very old Viera Cast environment. The app offer seems extensive, but we note a lot of absentees. For example, there is no YouTube, Amazon Video, Deezer or Spotify available. Netflix is fortunately present and you can view HDR content. We asked Panasonic why YouTube and Amazon were absent: “Amazon is not yet planned. When the player was launched, the service was not yet available in France and Belgium. We no longer offer YouTube, which is why it is not available in our UHD players. The main reason is that almost all Ultra HD TVs are also smart TVs with a YouTube app and so it is double use. ”
The media player is fairly complete, but focuses on fairly recent formats. For example, Divx (admittedly very old) is not supported, and sometimes went wrong with somewhat less common formats. You can use subtitles, but the display is not always nice. In any case, the player has improved considerably compared to our first test with the DMP-UB900. This way he can now play most UHD and HDR files. The audio player is very complete and also plays FLAC and ALAC files in addition to the most common formats, even in Hi-Res versions (192kHz / 24bit) and DSD files.
The DMP-UB404 supports all known audio formats, from Dolby Digital to Dolby True HD and DTS to DTS HD Master Audio. You can bitstream the audio to your AV receiver or soundbar, and it also supports Dolby Atmos or DTS-X. Or you can have the audio decoded by the player and forward it as PCM to your TV or sound solution.
Panasonic DMP-UB400 / Panasonic DMP-UB404 – picture quality
The DMP-UB400 (DMP-UB404) uses exactly the same image processing solution as the UB900, the HCX processor with Precise Chroma processing, so you can expect excellent image performance. The player quickly and reliably detects the most common movie and video frame rates, and even the more exceptional formats do not confuse him, so that moire effects hardly occur.
The deinterlacing is good and in most cases shows a pure image without serrated edges. Flawless upscaling and excellent fine detail treatment makes the images sharp and accurate. There are also a lot of options to adjust the image, such as brightness, contrast, sharpness and noise reduction. As usual, we advise you to switch it off, but if your television was abandoned in that area, then the operation of the Panasonic offers a good alternative. You can set up three separate presets as a user, so you can set different treatment for different types of disks.
The player only supports HDR10 and HLG , not Dolby Vision. Panasonic also confirmed that this player will not receive HDR10+ update (due to technical limitations). That is unfortunate because Panasonic pulls the cart to introduce this format. But whether that will be a real defect is difficult to determine for the time being. There is no content available yet in HDR10+ and how fast or slow this will change is to wait. Panasonic is not just in this situation anyway. Samsung, which stood at the cradle of the new format, also confirmed that its current generation of players does not support HDR10 +.
Of course he gets the best images from Ultra HD disks. A very good feature is the HDR setting. By adjusting the tonemapping curve, the player succeeds in making the image clearer in different steps (standard, natural, light and very light), without smoothing out all the bright or dark detail. View your HDR content in a slightly darkened environment, then we recommend staying with the default setting. But if you look at more ambient light, you can make the image considerably brighter with this setting, so that even a TV that does not show top performance in terms of brightness shows a more intense picture. The natural setting gave the best results, although in extreme cases you can opt for light. The very light setting was a bit too bright and we still do some detail.
Panasonic DMP-UB400 / Panasonic DMP-UB404 – conclusion
Panasonic starts with this DMP-UB400 (DMP-UB404) a clear trend towards affordable Ultra HD Blu-ray players that deliver excellent image quality. That he does not support Dolby Vision does not have to be a limitation for the time being. The offer in that format is limited. We forgive the somewhat older smart TV environment and fairly simple environment. The player gets the best picture and sound from all your discs with great care. And thanks to the double HDMI connection, you can also easily set it up in a somewhat older audio solution. The wide options to adjust and optimize the image for your TV make it very reliable.