FW 1.66 (CN) | FW 1.60 (US) | UB420 Update Tips | UB420 Notes/Tips | Blu-Ray Region Bypass Trick
Panasonic DP-UB9000/UB820/UB420 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, streaming. etc.)
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 new Panasonic players ship with firmware 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™" and was reported to add support for external subtitles (YMMV), but does not fix the problems with some Dolby Vision discs.)
This Panasonic (China) FW Download page has firmware version 1.66.
(Note the page heading says "DP-UB9000 Firmware Download (China)", but URL had ub420 in path.)
FW File Source is https://fdl.jpn.support.panasonic.com/pc/en/bd/ub420/UPDATE_UB9000GK_V166.exe.
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.)
How to Use External Subtitles (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 user 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.
(My 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.)
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.
Dolby Vision Problems still not fixed in Firmware 1.66
Panasonic's UHD players with Dolby Vision support have reported problems in DV mode with UHD discs "Knives Out" (at 2:01:24), "Midway" (at 37:17 & 39:26) and with (1995) Ghost in the Shell (flickering/strobing effect during playback). 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+.)
Although not related to the above, TV firmware can be a factor - 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. (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 Dec. 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.)
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 as always YMMV. (As I always do when having problems with 4K/UHD discs, I tried cleaning 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. Later firmware updates may help, as LG UBKM9, UBK90, UP970 & LG UBK80, UP875, UP870 players had updated player firmware and servo (drive) firmware in May 2020.)
The UB420 (and UB820/UB9000) has many 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. (Unlike the UB820/UB9000, The UB420 doesn't have Subtitle Size, Synchronization or Character Code options.) It also supports 3D, and has a "Pop Out Level" adjustment (0 default, to 4 max). 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.)
The UB420 doesn't have the solid build quality of the Sony X800, 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). The 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.)
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.)
(As a 2015/2016 OLED owner, I wish there was a way to change the user interface Yellow highlights color to something like Gray. Static/repeated use of Yellow, Orange, Red, and Gold colors age (burn out) faster on these panels.)
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.)
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.) Not sure what triggers the "Premium Content" on the Onkyo RZ830, but it must be something in the HDMI input signal. (The UB420 tested with firmware 1.60, still the current USA Firmware as Sept. 2020. I also retested after updating to firmware 1.66 - no change.)
Panasonic Trick to Play (Some) Region B Blu-Rays (YMMV)
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 Valerian 3D blu-ray, but did not work with region B blu-rays of Terminator 2 3D or 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 (with Triangle "!" icon).
- 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.)
= List of TV, AVR, & Player Firmware Updates and TV, AVR, Player Tips =