2012 Panasonic Blu-ray players promise sonic superiority

As previewed in our CES story last month, Panasonic has confirmed its 2012 Blu-ray player and system line-up will include a range of audio-boosting options, including support for FLAC music files and a flagship model using Burr Brown DACs.

Panasonic has also applied a new digital jitter-reduction technology designed to improve both sound and vision performance. DVD upscaling should additionally benefit from Panasonic's new DVD Super Resolution Processor, while colour depth is also said to be enhanced.

Four new players for the UK

Panasonic will release four new Blu-ray players in the UK from next month. All but the entry-level DMP-BD77 model offer 3D playback, DNLA streaming support, integrated wireless internet connectivity and the Viera Connect online portal, complete with BBC iPlayer, Netflix movies-on-demand and more. They can also be controlled via a new smartphone/tablet app.

The flagship model (pictured above) is the Panasonic DMP-BDT500, designed to offer premium sound quality alongside what the company claims is its best-yet Blu-ray and upscaled DVD picture performance.

The DMP-BDT500 features high-grade audio components, including four independent 192kHz/32-bit Burr-Brown DACs for 7.1 channel sound, plus superior capacitors, vibration-dampening insulators and gold-plated terminals.

Twin HDMI outputs mean users can dedicate one port to route video and another for audio; this could suit owners of older, non-3D-supporting receivers, too.

The DMP-BDT500 also comes with a new touchpad remote (you can see an example in our Panasonic CES blog here), making it easier to access Viera Connect's apps and options as well as operate standard commands.

Next up in Panasonic's Blu-ray line-up is the DMP-BDT320 (above), complete with stylishly slim looks and some smart energy-saving features that have already picked up awards.

The player's Smart Eco Sensor uses motion-detection to automatically switches to Quick Start mode when someone gets near it. That'll mean faster playback with less power consumption. When you finish watching and the sensor detects no motion, the player switches to standby mode, reducing power usage to just 0.1W.

The DMP-BDT320 also comes with the touchpad remote control bundled alongside a standard handset.

The DMP-BDT220 (pictured above) appears to offer the same spec as the '320, minus the touchpad remote, slimline casing and eco features. It will be interesting to compare the two players on pure performance terms.

All the three players above can also be controlled via Panasonic's forthcoming new app - available for Apple and Android phones and tablets.

Entry-level 2D option

Finally, the entry-level DMP-BD77 (above) offers 2D playback, is wi-fi ready and supports DNLA.

The four new Panasonic Blu-ray players will be available from March, with pricing yet to be confirmed; we'll bring you details as soon as we get them, including full tests of each model.

Sadly, at the moment it looks like we won't see one of Panasonic's other new Blu-ray players here in the UK. The innovative DMP-BBT01 (pictured above) is an extremely compact design, which can be used either horizontally or vertically.

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