While we got a quick look at the thing a few months ago, we were finally able to get our mitts all over Panasonic's new DMP-B15 portable Blu-ray player
. With its bigger-than-a-laptop size and wild pricetag (for a consumer device), it's obviously a niche product, but that's not to say there aren't hints of consumer friendliness in here. Overall the hardware is light and strong, and while we felt a bit of heat venting out the sides, it's not uncomfortable, and the disc operation is virtually silent. Startup time and disc load times are comparable to most dedicated home Blu-ray players -- certainly not best in class, but passable -- and we couldn't get the player to skip despite our best efforts. The screen is really great, with a good amount of viewing angle and brightness for the category and plenty of resolution to differentiate HD content. We spotted a bit of pixel crunch in menus and stills, but once the motion started we could barely differentiate pixels. Sure, it's hard to imagine a reason for most people to pick up a DMP-B15 over a cheapish Blu-ray playing laptop -- the thing is monstrously thick, and can't even handle a traditional laptop-style screen orientation, only everything but
-- but the hardware is reliable enough for kids to handle on the road, and the single-use makes it a good home Blu-ray player for plugging into that second HD-starved TV. Still, we're guessing most will wait to see what next year's (sure to be flush) crop has to offer.