Panasonic is among the leading manufacturers of DVD players and recorders, with millions of units in American homes. Besides being susceptible to many of the common DVD player problems, certain Panasonic models have given users particular difficulties. Some of these issues can be resolved simply, while others may require major repair or even replacement of the product.
Many of the most common causes of DVD problems occur when the lens becomes dirty. This is the case because of the method by which the data on a DVD disc is read. A laser beam is projected into the disc where it is reflected by the familiar silver or gold surface. Small gaps in the reflective surface contain the image, sound and other data stored on the DVD. Although a DVD player's lens is sealed off from the external environment, dust may still enter the player over time or if a dusty disc is inserted. If the laser is obscured in any way, either while being projected or on its return trip to the DVD player's sensors, the playback will experience problems. These issues can range from a distorted picture (known as digital blocking) to choppy playback with frequent short pauses to a halting of playback altogether. Most lens issues can be solved by cleaning the lens with a CD/DVD lens cleaning disc. If the lens is not just dirty but sustains physical damage, it must be replaced.
Besides problems with the lens, many of the issues most common to Panasonic and other DVD players involve the disc itself. Discs with scratches, dust, fingerprints or cracks may not be able to reproduce the data stored on their reflective surface even in a perfectly functioning DVD player. Furthermore, such discs may damage the lens if the dust, grease or other debris on the disc remains inside the player when the disc is ejected. This makes it especially important to check that a disc is clean before inserting it into any DVD player. Disc problems are easy to check for. Attempting to play the disc in another DVD player will usually show whether the source of the problem is with the player or the disc itself. Some Panasonic DVD player models are advertised as containing error-correction capabilities, which allow the player to skip over or play through a damaged section. However, even this advanced system is only able to compensate for minor flaws on a DVD.
Many DVD players are afflicted by what are known as chroma bugs. In technical language, this error is known as a chroma upsampling error (CUE). This is a problem with the DVD player's internal programming and results in one or more horizontal stripes of incorrect colour during DVD playback. However, Panasonic DVD players have developed a reputation as being almost entirely free of chroma bugs. This holds especially true for models that feature Panasonic's iScan Ultra system for digital reading. When a chroma big appears while using a Panasonic DVD player, the issue is usually a flaw on the disc itself. If the issue persists when several different discs are played, it may indicate a malfunction of the iScan Ultra system.
In certain cases a Panasonic DVD player will simply not play a disc once it is inserted. Sometimes this will be accompanied by an error code as a series of letters and numbers on the DVD player's display screen. In cases where a disc is in good working order (and has the proper region code to match the DVD player), the DVD player's central processing unit (CPU) may be malfunctioning when the player begins to run its start-up process. To aid in correcting problems with the CPU, most Panasonic DVD players include a provision for performing a factory reset. The procedure for resetting the player can be found in the user's manual or from Panasonic's website. It usually involves either accessing a reset button on the back of the player or unplugging the player for a period of time (30 seconds to 1 minute), and then pressing and holding a combination of buttons while the player is turned back on.
Finally, there are several mechanical failures that cause rare but serious problems for Panasonic DVD players. This is often the case when the DVD player will not eject a disc. Since the disc tray is opened and closed via a series of gears (as well as a flexible belt or rubber band), any slippage of these parts can cause the door to become disengaged and unable to eject. In these rare cases the player must be disassembled so that the disc can be removed and the mechanical linkage can be realigned. The spindle motor, which spins the DVD during playback, is another part with the potential for breakdown. Spindle motor failure is somewhat more common on DVD recorders than on DVD players, but in both cases its replacement can be a difficult process. In the case of most older or less expensive models, repairs of this kind can cost more than a new DVD player. If the player is under warranty, a new player may be provided.