At CES, Panasonic announced a new line-up of Blu-ray players, building on their successful line up from last year. Last year, the Panasonic DMP-BDT210 was one of Tech of the Hub’s favorite Blu-ray players given its quick load times and excellent Netflix player.
This year, Panasonic introduced a new high-end player to the line-up, the DMP-BDT500. Like last year’s DMP-BDT310, the BDT500 has dual HDMI ports (this year’s 320 does not). However, it also adds dedicated 7.1 analog audio outputs. Most manufacturers with the exception of Oppo dropped dedicated multi-channel outputs from their Blu-ray players in 2011. The addition of the 7.1 outputs allow consumers with older receivers to take advantage of the high-resolution lossless audio offered by Blu-ray. At the top of the product line, the BDT500 is supposed to offer superior audio quality given its higher-end internal components. It also offers support for the FLAC audio format and includes Panasonic’s new touchpad remote. Pricing was not available at the show.
Panasonic also announced that all of its 2012 Blu-ray players will properly detect and play 24 frame per second (fps) sources from video streaming services. If their new Blu-ray players also support native 1080P video streams in Netflix (I’m waiting to hear), Panasonic could then have the best Netflix player on the market for audio and video quality. So far, there is no Netflix player on the market that properly syncs to the content’s encoded frame rate and can play 1080P video streams. Stay Tuned!
Panasonic also introduced a small form factor player for use in other rooms in the house. For details on the rest of the line-up, here’s Panasonic’s press release.