Panasonic player is Blu-ray plus


In a significant development for the surging Blu-ray Disc campaign, Panasonic on Tuesday unveiled a next-generation Blu-ray Disc player with enhanced interactivity, including picture-in-picture and audio mixing.

The DMP-BD30 will ship Monday and should be in stores nationwide within a week, said Eisuke Tsuyuzaki, vp corporate development at Panasonic and GM of its Blu-ray Disc Group. Tsuyuzaki expects stores to have the new player in time for the holiday season "by the bucketload."

The $499 list player is the first Blu-ray player to be introduced with Final Standard Profile, with a variety of new and enhanced features. Among them are picture-in-picture and audio mixing, which lets users switch sound between the main and secondary windows.

The 1080p player also includes an SD memory card slot for playback of high-definition content recorded in the AVCHD format. The slot also allows viewing of digital still images recorded to a high-capacity HD SD card.

Gene Kelsey, vp of the Panasonic Entertainment Group, said the introduction of the new player should "contribute greatly to Blu-ray's mounting lead over the competing format (HD DVD)."

"Panasonic's adoption of the Final Standard Profile adds a whole new dimension to the entertainment experience," he added. "One of the more intriguing aspects of the Final Standard Profile is the picture-in-picture feature that allows the movie fan to access a variety of entertainment enhancements, such as having the director or an actor pop up to discuss the scene you are watching, or when watching an animated movie, allowing you to see the actor performing their character's voice over, all while still watching the movie.

"Not only do these features give Panasonic a strong advantage in the high-definition market, but they provide the movie community with numerous opportunities to embellish the viewing experience with additional creative elements."

The DMP-BD30 also comes with other technological advances, including deep color compatibility and HDMI 1.3B, which bumps the step gradation from 8-bit 256 all the way up to 12-bit 4,096.

The player also provides 1080/24p playback, so the consumer can enjoy the same 24-frames-per-second reproduction as the original movie.

Like its predecessor, the DMP-DB30 features the EZ-Sync HDAVI Control that lets consumers operate their Panasonic home theater systems with a single remote. With one touch of the EZ-Sync button, all the components turn on, the correct TV input is chosen, the TV's built-in speakers are muted and the home theater starts playback.

The new player, Tsuyuzaki said, "doesn't take away anything we've done -- but it does add another level of interactivity for the creative community to express themselves."