FW 1.66 (CN) | FW 1.60 (US) | UB420 Update Tips | UB420 Notes/Tips | Blu-Ray Region Bypass Trick
Panasonic DP-UB420/UB820/UB9000 Firmware Update 1.66 (NOT from USA site)
(I flashed my USA UB420 with this firmware OK, but you assume all risk of updating yours.
As mentioned earlier, I use UB420 for Disc playback only, not Network/USB files, or streaming.
If you have an all-region modified player, a standard (OEM) USB firmware update can break that.
Other than Oppo hardware mods, I've seen some claimed "Hardware region-free" players had the feature
disabled after a OEM USB firmware update. The buttons to switch regions on Remote no longer worked.)
Some Panasonic players ship with firmware 1.64 or 1.66, but the USA firmware page still has 1.60 from July 2019. (Firmware version 1.66 lists the usual (improved) "Playability of Blu-ray Disc™", but does not fix the problems with some Dolby Vision discs.) Although rumored to add support for external subtitles, it didn't.
This Panasonic (China) FW Download page has firmware version 1.66.
FW File Source is https://fdl.jpn.support.panasonic.com/pc/en/bd/ub420/UPDATE_UB9000GK_V166.exe.
(The page heading says "DP-UB9000 Firmware Download (China)", but URL has ub420 in the path.
And as noted earlier, the same firmware file is used for the UB420, UB820 and UB9000.)
Linked download page has info on installing via USB flash drive (FAT format, not HTFS or exFAT).
(For updating the UB420 model, see notes below as that model has no display for status messages.)
Although that page has a note in Green text that says "You will not be able to install firmware designated for a region that is different to the region in which you purchased your Panasonic Blu-ray Disc™ Player", I'd seen 2 users that installed it OK on (AU) Panasonic UB9000, and (US) UB820 players. As noted in the USA v1.60 firmware update post here, the UB420, UB820 and UB9000 use the same firmware, although some features (like Dolby Vision) are disabled in UB420 model.
Updating my DP-UB420 Model (without built in display)
I updated my USA DP-UB420 with firmware 1.66 (from the above download), using the UB420 Firmware update notes below as the UB420 has no built in display (for status messages) like the higher end models do. After about 5 minutes (LED flashing), it finally finished and all seems OK. It did not change any of the player settings I had previously, and player system info shows firmware 1.66 installed.
Firmware 1.66 Update did not change my USA Player's Region
After the 1.66 update was installed, I wanted to verify it had not changed my player's region (USA is region A). I tested a Region A locked Blu-Ray ("Gone in 60 Seconds") and it played fine. (4k/UHD Discs are region-free.)
Does the Region Bypass Trick Still Work with Firmware 1.66?
After the 1.66 firmware update was installed on my UB420, I checked to see if the trick to play some Region B locked discs still worked - it did. (As noted before, not all Region locked discs work.) The original post has details and specific steps used on my player.
BTW: Even with firmware 1.66 in my UB420, when playing UHD/HDR Discs, the Onkyo RZ830 still doesn't show "Premium Content" during UHD/HDR Disc playback. (My Sony X800 and LG UP970 players do, as I mentioned earlier.) I've tried everything including a player reset, tested with HDR optimizer Off and On, etc. Again the UB420 is sending UHD/HDR content, and the TV's HDR flag shows every time, but the RZ830 doesn't display the "Premium Content" in Video info like it does with my other UHD players.
Problems with some Dolby Vision Discs still not fixed in Firmware 1.66
Panasonic's UHD players with Dolby Vision support (UB820, UB9000) have reported problems (with Dolby Vision enabled) playing UHD discs "Knives Out" (at 2:01:24), "Midway" (at 37:17 & 39:26), and flickering, strobing effect during playback with (1995) Ghost in the Shell and Farmageddon. Turning off Dolby Vision in the player's settings allows them to play in HDR10 mode instead of Dolby Vison. (The UB420 model doesn't support Dolby Vision, just HDR10 and HDR10+.)
Update: The "Donnie Darko" UHD disc from Arrow is reported to have severe stutters throughout from UB420, UB820, and UB9000 owners (problems in HDR10 and Dolby Vision modes). Also problem reports from some Sony X800M2 owners, although several Sony X800 owners said it played OK. (The original Sony X800 player has a different SOC with no Dolby Vision support.) Also saw PS5 problems reported (1 noted stuttering, 1 said the Theatrical Cut UHD disc wouldn't even load on his PS5). If I can get the UHD Donnie Darko (Arrow) disc, I'll check it with my Sony X800 (not M2 version) & UB420 players and note the results here.
Although not related to the above, TV firmware can be a factor in Dolby Vision problems - for instance early firmware for the 2016 LG OLED TVs showed black screens with some Dolby Vision discs. (Previous notes on this with 4K "IT" disc's chapter 1 & 2, fixed by a TV firmware update.) Another Dolby Vision issue reported with 2016 LG OLED TVs was pink/red tinted screens if the Oppo 203/205 was set to "Player Led" Dolby Vision (vs TV LED). (Some said the Oppo "Auto" setting incorrectly set the type to Player Led with those 2016 OLED TVs.) Later LG OLED TVs are said to work with either mode. (Most Sony DV TVs require Player LED processing.) Some general DV info here.
(July 25, 2019) Panasonic DP-UB9000/UB820/UB420 Firmware Update 1.60
Linked page has self-extracting .exe D/L or Update via Network Update check.
Version 1.60 Changes:
If you bought the player recently, it probably already has version 1.60 (or later) installed.
- Playability of Blu-ray Disc™
- Stability of system
Panasonic UB420 Player Firmware Update Tip
The above firmware update page's info on firmware update progress/completion is incorrect for the UB420 model when updating via USB flash drive. (There is no "finished" message or automatic restart after complete. The UB420 has no built-in display for status messages, and the TV displays no video during or after the update finishes.)
I unzipped the firmware download (a self-expanding exe file) and copied it to the root of a FAT formatted USB flash drive. After powering on the UB420, connecting the USB flash drive (with unzipped firmware file in the root) results in a reboot and rapidly flashing red LED during the update process (which takes several minutes - be patient). The UB420 firmware update is finished when you see the red LED repeating a series of 3 flashes, pause, 3 flashes. Then Power OFF and remove the USB Flash drive before powering ON again. (You can check the firmware version in the Player's Setup -> Player Settings -> System -> System Information -> Firmware Version Information screen.)
My Experience with the Panasonic DP-UB420
I bought my Panasonic UB420 in Nov. 2019 on sale for $149.99 ($100 off) at a local store.
The UB420 doesn't support Dolby Vision, (supports HDR10 and HDR-10+) but has the same "HDR Optimizer" as the more expensive DP-UB820 model. The HDR Optimizer is a plus for OLED TVs, lower nit LCD TVs or Projector owners, and it has many video adjustment options (including HDR to SDR/BT.2020 conversion) you may find useful. (The UB420 can't display HDR metadata info - the UB820 can, by pressing the Playback Info button twice.) If you don't need Dolby Vision support (and especially if your TV supports HDR-10+), I think the UB420 is one of the better 4K/UHD disc players at the $149.99 sale price.
(A 50 page Panasonic DP-UB420 User Manual (PDF) is here.)
4K/UHD 100GB Disc Playback: I've tested several 100 GB (triple layer) UHD movie discs that had freezing/skipping issues with my LG 870 and Sony X800 on 2 different UB420 samples (Aug & Sept. 2019 build dates, firmware 1.60) - both played those discs without problems, but YMMV. As I always do when having problems with 4K/UHD discs, I cleaned them with Dawn soap and warm water, but it only helped a bit with MI Fallout - instead of freezing it would pause/slow-motion through that point with the Sony & LG Players. (Note: May 2020 LG Firmware updates helped - the LG UBKM9, UBK90, UP970 & LG UBK80, UP875, UP870 players had updated player firmware and servo (drive) firmware. Details are in the links.)
Update: As of early March. 2021, in over a year of use with my UB420 I've had no disc freezes or problems with any (unscratched) discs - including many 100GB UHD Movies. No regrets buying it for $149.99. (I would prefer to have the UB820, but even on sale it's $200 more.)
Scratched Discs: My UB420 seems more sensitive to scratched discs than the Sony X800. My Mummy Returns 4K disc is badly scratched with 2 long scratches across almost the entire disc (many complaints on scratched discs from the 4K Mummy Trilogy's cardboard sleeve packaging). It had more severe playback problems in the UB420 than in the Sony X800, although both players had freezing/skipping problems due to the disc's condition. (This is why I avoid cardboard sleeve packaging, especially with 4K discs.) That 4K scratched disc is (so far) the only one I've had a problem with in the UB420. (My previous Panasonic DMP-BDT500 was also very prone to problems with scratched discs.)
NTSC DVD (480i) Playback: I use this player for 4K/UHD and Blu-Ray discs only, so the fact NTSC DVDs don't look as good (in my opinion) as my Sony's playing NTSC DVDs isn't an issue for me. (IMHO, Panasonic doesn't seem to de-interlace 480i DVDs as well as the Sony players.)
Only used for Disc Playback: My UB420 is used for disc playback only. I don't use streaming, apps or any file playback via USB. (Like all my disc players, I don't use any Network connections, Ethernet or WiFi.) I've seen users that care about streaming and/or file playback support say the Panasonic players are not a good choice, to put it mildly. (It can't even read my USB Flash drive's PNG files I use to test for OLED TV bad pixels and burn-in.)
Subtitle Brightness Adjustment: The UB420 (and UB820/UB9000) has several Subtitle options, including not only position (which some other players also have), but also Subtitle Luminance (brightness). I wish that setting was persistent, but it resets to default with every power off. (The UB9000 model has Subtitle Size, Synchronization and Character Code options that the UB420/UB820 doesn't.) It also supports 3D, and has a "Pop Out Level" adjustment (0 default, to 4 max). See below for other player video and audio option settings, including screenshots.
Remote Control: Many complain about the included Remote Control (same as the UB820 model). It's not backlit, but I like the dedicated HDR Settings button, and other than the Netflix button being too close to the up arrow key, I'm OK with it. (I entered the code for LG TVs so that the remote's TV On/Input/Vol keys work on my 2015/2016 OLEDs.) Much better than the small LG 870/875 or 970 remotes (with single battery, weak IR) I had been using most often previously. (I'm in the minority that doesn't care for Harmony remotes. My favorite remote is the OPPO UDP-203 one. Great layout/key features and an automatic backlight when picked up, but can be disabled.)
Build Quality: The UB420 doesn't have the solid build quality of the Sony X800 (or the 820 model), but at $149.99 sale price, with features like the HDR Optimizer (useful for my OLED), and its reliability (so far) with BD100 UHD discs - I have no regrets (yet).
Drive Noise: I've seen some comments from UB820/420 owners on drive noise, but on the 2 UB420 I've tested I only hear the drive during power-up seeks. (I've not put any unbalanced discs in it however. I replaced a 'Flight of the Phoenix' blu-ray that sounded like a buzz-saw in every player.) The UB420 I use currently is on top of my Sony BDP-CX960 (400 disc Blu-ray/DVD Changer) about 6ft from my seat, with a (very small/lightweight) Region B Sony S6700 on the top right side of it. (Completely open area against a wall, not placed in a rack.)
Internal Fan: The UB420 has a small cooling fan, which I consider a plus. (I think heat can sometimes be a factor in UHD player problems.) I've never heard the fan during use personally, but I have seen a post from one owner that reported freezes and said the fan spun up to very high speeds. He returned/exchanged that player for another one that didn't have the problem. (Suspected the first player may have had a loose or incorrectly installed heat sink but didn't remove the top cover to check - just did a local store return/exchange.)
Setting the TV Type in the Player Prefs:
Since my OLEDs are closer to 500 nits max than 1000 nits, I set the TV type to "Basic Luminance" (500 nits), not OLED (1000 nits). The optimizer does a better job at those settings in my experience. And in some cases like "The Meg" 4K where the sky is blown out/clipped (on any TV), I adjust Optimizer settings to where the sky shows clouds, detail, etc. - a huge difference. You can adjust HDR brightness, dynamic range, black level, etc. (As a 2015/2016 OLED owner, I wish there was a way to change the user interface Yellow highlight color to either White or Gray.)
4K60 Settings (for 4K 60Hz Content)
Here's Panasonic 4K60 player settings info you may find useful. I set 4K60P to "Auto(4:4:4)" Chroma (see below), but remember HDMI 2.0x does not support 4:4:4 Chroma at more than 8-bit, due to bandwidth limits. HDR is 10-Bit and Dolby Vision can be 12-Bit, so they can't run 4:4:4 at 4K/60P via HDMI 2.0. See info below on Deep Color Priority setting. (To date, 60Hz (60P) 4K/UHD Discs are rare - titles like "Gemini Man" and "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk".)
The player will run a test to see if your hardware (player output cable to the TV, including any Receiver in the path) can run 4K/UHD at 60Hz. (If the 4K 60Hz test screen appears, it passed.)
For my 4K LG OLEDs (using Onkyo RZ830 receiver set to Enhanced 4K HDMI mode), I set the Panasonic player's HDMI->4K60p Output to "4K/60p(4:4:4)" and in HDMI Advanced Settings, set Color Mode to "YCbCr(Auto)", and Deep Color Output to "Auto(12bit Priority)". Some displays may have banding with 12 bit, or may prefer to do the Chroma upscaling in the TV instead of the player doing the 4:2:0 conversion. (All 4K/UHD & Blu-Ray movie discs are 4:2:0 Chroma.)
Here's info on the Deep Color Output Priority (10-bit vs 12-bit) setting when playing a 4K/UHD 60P disc:
4K60P Chroma Output with 10-Bit Priority
As noted in the HDMI 2.0 supported modes below, 4K60 10-bit 4:2:2 isn't supported, only 4:2:0. 4K60 12-bit 4:2:2 is supported. (When playing 24P content (4K/UHD or 1080P/HD), output is 4:4:4 with 4K/60p(4:4:4) setting.)
- 4:2:0 (10-bit)
(All Disc content is 4:2:0)
4K60P Chroma Output with 12-Bit Priority
- 4:2:2 (12-bit)
HDMI 2.0 Supported Modes
HDMI Menu Settings for Player Output
In the HDMI main menu, with my 4K/UHD TV, I set output resolution at 4K, not Auto(4K),
to reduce HDMI handshakes seen with Auto setting. Below is a screen capture of my HDMI settings.
(I'm using a single HDMI cable (video+audio) to my Onkyo RZ830 receiver.)
The last item in the HDMI Menu is Advanced Settings (submenu).
I covered some HDMI Advanced Settings in the earlier comments above,
but here's a screenshot of the settings I use:
About the 7.1ch Audio Reformatting Option
The "7.1ch Audio Reformatting" option is located in the HDMI Advanced Settings (above)
Here's what the Panasonic User Manual PDF (Page 30) says about that feature:
"7.1ch Audio Reformatting
I had it enabled initially but later turned it Off. (No effect for me, I'm using Bitstream output, not PCM.)
Surround sound with 6.1ch or less is automatically expanded and played back at 7.1ch.
If "Off" is selected, sound is played over the original number of channels.
(Note that in the case of 6.1ch audio, playback will be at 5.1ch.)
Audio reformatting is enabled in the following cases:
- When you have selected "PCM" in "Digital Audio Output". (and)
- When the audio is Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD or LPCM. (and)
- BD-Video playback."
(Bitstream output is required for a Receiver to decode Atmos and DTS-X content - See settings below.)
Panasonic 4K Player Audio Settings (for Bitstreaming/ATMOS/DTS-X)
I suspect owners of these players will want their Receiver to decode Dolby and DTS audio codecs. That means setting the player to output Bitstreamed audio (not PCM/LPCM) and requires turning OFF Secondary Audio that is used for commentary tracks, etc. (As a reminder, see below for Why Players Do Not Report Atmos or DTS-X Info)
Audio Setup Menu Items
- Digital Audio Output - Bitstream (for Dolby & DTS)
- Digital Audio Output - BD-Video Secondary Audio OFF
In the main Audio setup menu I also set Dynamic Range Compression to Off.
(See above for info on 7.1ch Audio Reformatting option in HDMI Advanced Menu.)
Turn Off VIERA Link (HDMI Control/CEC)
(I added this after seeing some owner complaints about their Player suddenly turning off.)
I don't use HDMI Control (CEC) on any devices, so I turn off "VIERA Link" in the Player's System - Display Settings, as the Default setting is ON. (VIERA Link is Panasonic's name for HDMI Control/CEC). If VIERA Link is On, the player may be turned On or Off by other devices in your HDMI chain that have HDMI Control/CEC enabled. (The player will also turn off after 20 minutes (IIRC) of inactivity. Some owners wish they could disable that feature.)
Why Blu-Ray Players Do Not Report Atmos or DTS-X Info
Many owners ask this after pressing the remote control buttons for the player and not seeing Atmos or DTS-X reported. No Blu-Ray or UHD Disc player shows info that the output has Dolby Atmos or DTS-X. The player doesn't recognize the metadata for Atmos or DTS-X, so it will report the core Dolby TrueHD (for Atmos) and DTS-HD (for DTS-X) audio. Compatible Receivers will show when Atmos or DTS-X is being received.
Panasonic Region Bypass Trick (play some Region B discs on Region A player & Vice Versa)
My (US) Panasonic UB420 Player is fixed at Region A for blu-rays (4K/UHD discs are region-free), but like my previous DMP-BDT500 player, the trick to play some region B Blu-ray discs still works. (After the incorrect region error appears on screen, press STOP and then TOP MENU (sometimes twice) on the remote.) This worked for the region B locked "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets" 3D blu-ray, but did not work with region B blu-rays of Terminator 2 3D and Ratatouille 3D. (I have some written notes about other methods that worked on my Panasonic BDT500 involving entering a number (like 001) after pressing "Stop", which worked for a region B "Drive" disc IIRC, where the Top Menu trick didn't work.)
When playing a disc in my UB420, pressing STOP quits to an "Ultra HD" logo screen, not the main player home screen. (A second press of Stop is required to fully quit to the main player home screen.)
So here's the procedure I used to play some Region B locked blu-rays:
Once you get to the disc's movie menu, it functions as normal.
- Insert Region B locked Blu-Ray.
- Player attempts to load it...
- You see the incorrect Region warning.
- Press STOP on remote, then press TOP MENU button.
- You'll then see a warning (top right of screen) "This operation not available".
- Press TOP MENU Again.
- Disc then loaded to the Movie's main menu.
This trick won't work on some Region B locked discs, like those that ignore any button presses after the incorrect region message.
(Again, examples of Region B locked discs I tried that didn't work are Terminator 2 3D, and Ratatouille 3D. I'm sure there's others.)
Although this tip for Panasonic players has worked with some discs for years, a firmware update could break it. And again, it doesn't work on all discs - some discs block all input after a region error. (That's why I have a Region B Sony S6700, that also plays Region 2 DVDs.)
Panasonic UB420 doesn't trigger Onkyo AVR's "Premium Content" Info
(I don't have the more expensive UB820 or UB9000 models to see if they have different results.)
Not sure why, but unlike the other 4K/UHD Players (like the Sony X800 and LG UP970), playing 4K/UHD HDR Discs in the UB-420 (with HDR Optimizer Off or On), DOES NOT show "Premium Content" on the Onkyo RZ830's video display info. (Pressing "i" button twice on RZ830 remote shows Video Info details.) With HDR discs played on the Sony X800 or LG UP970, "Premium Content" (text) appears below the Video details, but not when using the Panasonic UB420. The 4K HDR disc playback details shown for UHD Resolution, Chroma (4:4:4), 12-bit or 10-bit, and framerate are the exact same with all players, and the OLED TV does show the "HDR is On" Popup every time, so the TV is getting HDR video. (The RZ830 still shows "Premium Content" even if I disabled HDR in the Sony X800 player settings.) All tests used the same (premium certified) Cable, same AVR Input Port, same 4K/HDR discs, same output settings. (And like the other players, UHD 60fps discs are reliable with the UB420.)
I'm not sure what triggers the "Premium Content" message on the Onkyo RZ830, but it must be something in the HDMI input signal. (The Panasonic's "Contents Type Flag" setting didn't affect this. I tried both Auto & Off.) The UB420 was tested with firmware 1.60, still the current USA Firmware as Oct. 2020. I also retested after updating to firmware 1.66 - no change. (Still no "Premium Content" message.)
How to Use External Subtitles (modified Firmware 1.66) (info from a user post)
This was reported to work from UB9000/UB820 owners with region-free modified 1.66 FW.
(So far no reports this worked from users of the CN release 1.66 firmware.)
Here's a screenshot from a UB9000 (with Modified FW) showing the External Subtitle option:
- Create a directory named sub (lower case) on your USB drive (FAT format).
- Rename the subtitle file as sub.srt (all lower case)
- Copy the sub.srt file to the sub directory
- Connect the USB drive to the player (of course)
- Play the disc, press Option button on remote control
- From the top left "Operation Menu", select Subtitle Settings
- A new "External Subtitle" option, under the standard "Subtitles" option.
(UB820 & UB420 doesn't have the "Size", "Synchronization" or "Character Code" options shown above.)
FYI: I tried making a test sub.srt file (text editor) but didn't see any external subtitle option with my UB420 updated to firmware 1.66 (from above source). This may be another feature that's not supported with the low end UB420 model, or the posted firmware simply doesn't have that feature. (I don't have a UB820 or UB9000 model to try.)
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