In 2019, Panasonic will largely stick to its Ultra HD Blu-ray players launched in 2018, including the DP-UB420. This model has almost everything you need to play your physical discs and offers support for most of the recent audio and video formats. In this review we view the DP-UB420.
This review is based on the review of the DP-UB424 the Dutch version of this player. Both players are identical in appearance, specifications and performance.
Panasonic DP-UB420 – specifications
Panasonic will have the DP-UB9000, DP-UB820 and DP-UB420 Ultra HD Blu-ray players in 2018 marketed . The top models are the DP-UB9000 and DP-UB820, equipped with support for both Dolby Vision and HDR10 + . Furthermore, these players come with an analog 7.1-channel output and gold-plated connections. The DP-UB9004 is a player specifically for the audiophile, with a weighted chassis, a special audio power supply, a powerful D / A-converter and a balanced XLR output.
We see the UB420 just a step lower and has just like its more expensive brothers over two HDMI outputs to be able to send audio and image separately. Unlike the top models, this model comes with support for HDR10 +, HLG and HDR10. All the players come with support for high resolution audio, including support for WAV / FLAC / MP3 / AAC / WMA, DSD (11.2MHz / 5.6 MHz / 2.8 MHz) ALAC and AIFF. The UB420 is also equipped with Digital Tube sound, with six different audio modes. The players support 4K streaming services, including YouTube, Netflix and Amazon, while 4K videos can be played in the MP4 format.
All new players have received an Ultra HD Premium certificate and have the HCX -Processor. Also available is 4K Direct Chroma Up scaling with which HD content can be scaled up to 4K. New is the support for voice control, thanks to integration of the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.
The Panasonic DP-UB420 can now be purchased for a price of 269 euros.
Features Panasonic DP-UB420
- Ultra HD Blu -ray (4K / HDR)
- HCX (Hollywood Cinema Experience) Processor
- HDR10 + dynamic metadata
- 4K High-Precision Chroma Processing
- 4K Direct Chroma Up-scaling
- 4K 60p / 50p / 4 : 4: 4 Output
- HDR Optimizer
- FULL HD 3D Blu-ray Disc Playback
- Two HDMI outputs
- High Clarity Sound Premium
- HDMI Low Clock Jitter Process
- Digital Tube Sound  High-resolution Audio Playback (DSD (11.2MHz / 2.8MHz / 5.6MHz), ALAC, FLAC, WAV, AIFF)
- 192kHz / 96kHz Surround Re-master
- Voice Control
- 4K VOD (Netflix / YouTube / Amazon)
- 4K Networking (4K Video / 4K Jpeg Playback)
- Internet Apps
- DLNA (Client / Renderer)
- Network Drive A ccess
- External HDD Playback
- Mirroring with smartphone / tablet
- Web browser
Panasonic DP-UB420 – design
In the field of design, Panasonic is holding on to the same characteristics. The DP-UB420 is therefore equipped with the so-called “3D glass cut” design on the front, with a glossy black finish. Very little is noticed about the design; it is a tightly finished player with an unobtrusive but beautiful appearance. What is striking is the lack of a display, so you are always on the TV screen.
At the top of the player we see the open button and standby button again, this time in physical form instead of touch buttons. The player feels very light, unlike the top model, but the UB9004 also comes with a reinforced and reinforced chassis for an optimal (analog) audio reproduction.
When we look at the connections that it is all quite simple; You get two HDMI outputs on the rear, an optical audio output on the rear, an Ethernet port on the rear and a USB port on the front. The player also has WiFi.
Panasonic DP-UB420 – ease of use
The Panasonic DP-UB420 is a fully equipped Ultra HD Blu-ray player, both looking at the playback options and the setting options. and services offered. In terms of menus and options, it is therefore good; Panasonic offers well-arranged menus for basic settings, packaged in a simple but structured interface.
There is also enough for the advanced user to adjust the image and audio playback to their own liking, with below more advanced options for HDR display and color display. There are also three presets available that you can set yourself, for example one for DVD and one for Blu-ray. The player is certainly not one of the fastest models on the market so here and there is a slight hitch when you go from one menu to another, but in general this is not really disturbing.
 What is disturbing is that Panasonic still uses the fairly old Viera Cast interface that we saw years ago on LCD TVs and plasma TVs of the brand. In terms of appearance, this interface is no longer of this time, but it is also a slow interface. The only useful thing about this interface is that it gives you access to YouTube, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. This way you can play content in 4K and HDR via these streaming services. But everything is said with that. The further apps are not interesting for the average Dutch person and the interface does not invite further use. We would have preferred these apps to be used via their own icon in the general interface.
The remote control that comes with the DP-UB420 also has the familiar appearance that we are used to from Panasonic, with a rounded top and bottom and in the middle a circle with control buttons surrounded by menu buttons and a dedicated Netflix button. All buttons for simple and advanced operation are present, but the remote control has a compact format. There is even a special button for the HDR setting, which we will come back to later. The layout is self-evident and the small remote is easy to handle. However, because the remote is a bit smaller and well-filled, it is possible that you push the wrong button by touch.
Panasonic DP-UB420 – compatibility
The Panasonic DP-UB420 is a complete equipped Ultra HD Blu-ray player. This model offers support for the most well-known and popular discs, including CD, DVD, Blu-ray, Ultra HD bu-ray and 3D blu-ray. Support for Super Audio CD is not present. All typical audio formats that a disc can contain, from Dolby Digital and DTS to the lossless versions Dolby True HD and DTS HD MA, you can send out bitstream or decoded (PCM). Dolby Atmos and DTS-X are supported if you put the player in Bitstream (and your audio equipment can display them of course).
There is broad support in the field of digital files. The player can handle almost all file formats, including DSD and Flac, even with multi-channel audio. However, analog outputs are not present; everything goes via HDMI or the optical output. Finally you get access to videos from Netflix, Amazon and YouTube. Both in 4K and in HDR.
Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa
With the new models, including the DB-UB420, Panasonic offers support for Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. This means that you can link the player to, for example, your Google Assistant, but this is currently only possible in English. Ask the Google Assistant “Talk to Panasonic blu-ray” and you will be taken through the process of creating an account with Panasonic and registering your device. This takes some time, but once paired you can operate your Blu-ray player through voice commands. For example, you can give Google the following commands:
- Ok Google, ask Panasonic Blu-ray to stop on
- Ok Google, ask Panasonic Blu-ray to stop playback
- Ok Google, ask Panasonic Blu-ray to launch Netflix
As mentioned, this form of ministry is currently only possible in English, but perhaps more important is the question of whether and when you will use this form of ministry. If you work with the player, chances are that you do this consciously and with the remote control at hand. To talk to Google first is perhaps a bit cumbersome. The routines of Google Home, with which scenarios in which multiple devices can be created, are a lot more interesting, but they are also currently not usable in the Netherlands.
Panasonic DP-UB420 – image quality
All those features and possibilities are of course beautiful, but in the end it's all about one thing; the image quality. With regard to this part, Panasonic actually states on paper that it does not want to make concessions, not even with the cheaper models. The UB-424 has to offer the same image performance as the DP-UB9004, and also has the same components and possibilities for image display, including the second generation HCX processor.
start with good news because the DP-UB420 is an excellent Ultra HD Blu-ray player when we look at the image quality. Not only do you have numerous setting options to adjust the (HDR) display to your own liking, the player also offers impressive image processing from the box. The UB420 provides a sleek, detailed and high-contrast image. De-interlacing is picked up nicely, all frame rates are well recognized and the player provides a smooth and smooth display. The DP-UB420 inherits all the qualities of the UB9004, including the special multi-tap filter for chroma processing that converts the incoming 4: 2: 0 or 4: 2: 2 format with exceptional precision to 4: 4: 4 so you don't lose color detail even in very fine detail.
Panasonic adds three extra HDR functions to the Blu-ray players; HDR Optimiser ensures that the player performs the tone mapping process instead of the TV, so you always get stable HDR image quality, regardless of the TV being used. HDR to SDR conversion ensures that HDR images are optimized for TVs that can only handle SDR material. And, HDR Adjustment makes it possible to adjust the HDR image to the environment itself.
But what exactly does the HDR Optimizer do? When a disc is mastered with a maximum brightness of, for example, 2,000 nits, the television must “display folders” because it cannot display the full brightness range, for example if its maximum brightness is only 500 nits. You never know completely how the television does that tonemapping. And Panasonic claims that they can do better. In essence, the player takes over the tonemapping step from the television, and delivers the content in such a way that the television still has very little (or nothing) to do with it. To start that process correctly, you must choose your type of display in the settings, which essentially tells you what the maximum brightness of your display is. The options are OLED (1,000 nits), Projector (700 nits), Super High Luminance LCD (1,500 nits), Middle or High Luminance LCD (1,000 nits) and Basic Luminance LCD (500 nits).
 Next, hold down the HDR settings button on the remote control to activate the HDR optimiser. The result of the HDR optimiser is clearly visible. This way, white detail is better shown and a small part of the color intensity that is lost on many displays in the brighter tones is restored by the player. In general we are impressed by the HDR display. When we turn on an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with HDR10 +, the Panasonic shows that they can also achieve very good performance with this content. Bright parts of the screen come forward with sufficient brightness and retention of detail, while dark parts of the screen (shadows for example) still contain many color gradations and therefore details. One thing that must be said; support for Dolby Vision is, unlike the higher models, not present.
Panasonic DP-UB420 – Conclusion
The Panasonic DP-UB420 is an affordable Ultra HD Blu-ray player that with most mid-end to high -end TVs will not look out of place. The player does everything well in terms of image display and is even as good as the absolute top model; the UB9004. You have access to the most important streaming services (in 4K and HDR), you can play almost all discs and files and you get advanced setting options. Small downsides are the outdated Viera Cast interface, the lack of a display and the lack of support for Dolby Vision. If you ask more on the side of (analogue) audio and would you like support for Dolby Vision, then the UB9000 is the best choice. For the rest, the UB420 is the choice that offers the most value for money.