Today in NYC, Panasonic showed off its DMP-BD50, the company's first BD-Live Blu-ray 2.0 player—and the second in the market besides the PlayStation 3—setting the price at US$700. It's an improvement over the DMP-BD30, which will stay on the market as a US$500 step-down. In addition to BD-Live (and the requisite Ethernet port), it will decode all new DTS and Dolby Digital codecs internally, as well as bitstream them to a compatible receiver, if that's your preference. The player, initially announced at CES, will ship in "late spring," presumably the next 4-6 weeks, and will not need a firmware upgrade to be 2.0 compatible—a requirement of the US$400 Sony BDP-S350 player due out around the same time. Fact sheet after the jump.
BLU-RAY DISC PLAYER DMP-BD50 FACT SHEET
The DMP-BD50's Ethernet terminal is a gateway for Internet connection, which paves the way to an entirely new form of movie-plus-Internet entertainment. In the future, BD-Live users will be able to participate in quizzes and challenge each other to interactive games that are linked to bonus movie content on BD discs. BD-Live also supports other interactive functions, such as Picture-in-Picture and Audio Mixing.
With Picture-in-Picture, a small sub-window is displayed over the main image. There are four examples of Picture-in-Picture modes, each offering distinct functions. They include Enhanced Commentary, Backstage Pass Function, Peek Behind The Animation and Audio Mixing.
BD media goes considerably beyond the kind of audio commentary provided in many DVD movies, such as a director discussing the film. Enhanced Commentary makes it possible, for example, for the director or actors to appear in the sub-window (as if they are standing in front of the screen) and point to actors or equipment as they make their comments.
Backstage Pass Function*
This lets you access additional information provided about people, places or things in a BD movie. Use the remote control to select an element highlighted on the screen, and a sub-window opens with the information. For example, there could be notes about the clothing or accessories an actor is wearing or the restaurant in which a scene is set.
Peek Behind The Animation*
While playing back a movie with dubbed-in voices - for example, a feature-length animation - this feature lets you watch in a sub-window as the actors read their parts. You can see the actors' gestures and expressions as they speak, giving you an inside look at a whole facet of moviemaking you've never seen before.
The Audio Mixing function lets you choose which soundtrack to listen to: the one from the content playing in the main window, the one from the sub-window, or both at the same time. The sub-window soundtrack can also be reproduced in 5.1-channel surround sound.
*Depending upon program contents.
Other BD-Live Possibilities
The future is expected to bring a host of imaginative new features. For example, the DMP-BD50 will be able to connect directly to the Internet and download additional content from Websites to an SD Memory Card for more viewing and playing enjoyment.
HIGH-DEFINITION PICTURE AND SOUND QUALITY
Combining a PHL Reference Chroma Processor with advanced P4HD imaging technology, Uniphier, the Precise Digital Video processor reproduces crisp, natural colours that are extremely faithful to the original movie. The beautiful images are complemented by an exceptionally pure, accurate sound achieved through Audio Re-master and other leading-edge audio technologies. Uniphier reflects the advanced encoding and authoring technologies developed by Panasonic Hollywood Laboratory (PHL) in collaboration with film industry professionals. With Uniphier at its heart, the DMP-BD50 provides a level of image and sound quality that meets Hollywood's stringent demands - so you experience movies just the way they were meant to be experienced.
Precise Digital Video
PHL Reference Chroma Processor
The PHL Reference Chroma Processor up-samples (4:2:0 to 4:2:2) the colour information in decoded video signals. Using proprietary Panasonic technology, this innovative circuit faithfully reproduces the fine details and nuances of Blu-ray video streams that have been recorded with high quality image compression system. It generates images with all the clarity and depth that BD-Video movies have to offer.
P4HD (Pixel Precision Progressive Processing for HD)
To get the best HD images from a BD-Video disc, you need a player that renders high-quality progressive images, expresses motion smoothly, and draws sharp diagonal lines. The DMP-BD50's P4HD processes more than 15 billion pixels per second and applies the optimum processing to every pixel in the video data on the disc. The result is images with exceptional resolution.
The DMP-BD50's HDMI output is Deep Colour compatible. While the earlier HDMI V.1.2 offers 8-bit, 256-step gradation on 4:4:4, HDMI V.1.3 enables video signals to be sent on 12-bit, 4,096-step gradation at any format. This helps the DMP-BD50 reproduce natural looking colours with smooth gradation and minimal colour banding.
*An HDMI™ V.1.3 compatible TV is required.
The DMP-BD50 provides 1080/24p output (via HDMI) for Blu-ray titles and DVD titles. It reproduces movie images from a Blu-ray Disc in their original 24p form, with no need for conversion.
HD Audio Format Decoding and Output
The DMP-BD50 is equipped with decoders for the high-quality, lossless Dolby® TrueHD and DDTS-HD Master Audio™ audio formats. These formats theoretically contain the information to reproduce original sound sources in their entirety. Connection to an AV amplifier with 7.1-channel input capability enables sound quality on the level of a studio master system.
Audio Re-master for All Media
The DMP-BD50's Audio Re-master function compensates for data lost in the compression process used in BD and DVD recording. This helps create a fuller, richer sound that is extremely faithful to the original. It also brings re-mastering to the Blu-ray Disc for the first time ever.
HD Networking with SD Memory Card
The DMP-BD50 comes equipped with a slot for SD Memory Cards. Just take the SD Memory Card from your HD camcorder or digital still camera, and you're ready to view high resolution photos and motion images on your TV.
Linking with an HD Camcorder
The DMP-BD50 can play back AVCHD-format images shot with an HD camcorder, such as the Panasonic HDC-SD9. Images recorded onto the camcorder's SD Memory Card are output directly from the DMP-BD50's HDMI terminal in their original, high-quality 1920 x 1080 resolution. The DMP-BD50 also provides an AVCHD Direct Navigator function that makes it easy to search for particular scenes.
Linking with a Digital Camera
The DMP-BD50 can play back JPEG still images on an SD Memory Card, such as those recorded with a Lumix FZ3 digital camera. The DMP-BD50 can output the images to 1920 x 1080 resolution - ideal for a full-HD TV - and output them via the HDMI terminal*. Using the Slideshow playback feature, you can play a music CD at the same time you're showing the photos, so viewers enjoy both beautiful images and their favourite music.
You Can Control Your Blu-ray Disc™ Player with the TV Remote Control*
When the TV is on, the VIERA Link function lets you switch to home theatre mode using just the Panasonic VIERA TV's remote control unit. Simply press the VIERA Link button on the TV's remote control and select "BD Player" on the VIERA Link Menu screen. The BD player's menu will display on the TV screen, and you can begin playback of a Blu-ray Disc or select from the Blu-ray disc menu.
*VIERA LinkTM is a new name for EZ SyncTM.
*Not All 2008 VIERA Link features are compatible with all 2006/2007 EZ SyncTM products.
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