Panasonic wants its 2012 Blu-ray players to be much more than mere movie-spinners - it's beefed up their music credentials, adding a high-quality DAC and support for FLAC music files, alongside enhanced streaming support.
Its new higher-end models, including the DMP-BDT320 (above) and DMP-BDT220, both feature a 192kHz/32bit audio DAC, support for a wider range of music-file formats (including FLAC) and clock-control technology designed to drastically reduce jitter.
A new flagship BDT500 model (pictured below) claims to offer further 'high-grade audio parts': gold-plated terminals, upgraded electric capacitor and insulator. That model also boasts both full 7.1 channel output and includes twin HDMI outputs, allowing one to be dedicated for audio output.
Panasonic claims the new players can "simulate the warm, comforting sound of tube amplifiers" among six distinct sound 'environments'.
Picture quality, meanwhile, should also benefit from the jitter-reduction technology, plus Panasonic claims colour depth has been improved still further and DVD upscaling will be boosted by a new DVD Super Resolution Processor.
Connectivity is enhanced, too. All but the entry-level 2012 Blu-ray player - the DMP-BD77 - offer built-in wifi, and even that basic model is wi-fi ready. Every model features DNLA, and can be controlled either via the standard remote handset, a new touchpad handset for the premium players, or any Apple or Android smartphone ( pictures of the touchpad remote and app in our Panasonic blog, here.)
Panasonic has yet to confirm model numbers, availability or pricing for its 2012 UK range - that information will come at next month's European launch, from which we'll report all the details.