Panasonic is introducing four new Ultra HD Blu-ray players, two of which – the DP-UB820 and DP-UB420 – will support HDR10+ dynamic metadata technology, with the UB820 also supporting Dolby Vision. All models, including the DP-UB330 and DP-UB320, will also provide hands-free, easy operation with voice control from Amazon Alexa and Goggle Assistant, but only upon receipt of software updates, which are ‘coming soon’, according to the company.
Voice control support on each of the players means that consumers will be able to fast forward or pause movies without the use of a remote control.
With a history of the Japanese company’s long-time R&D US base in Hollywood, and developed in that same location, Panasonic boasts that the players are all powered by an ‘HCX’ (Hollywood Cinema Experience) processor for UHD, which is designed to optimize the viewing experience by applying ‘unique chroma and gradation’ technologies. Meanwhile, HDR10+ which is included on the top two models in the range, is an open royalty-free dynamic metadata platform created by 20th Century Fox, Panasonic and Samsung, and described by Panasonic as ‘the next generation HDR format’.
All four models also include the company’s own 4K Direct Chroma Up-scaling feature, which up-converts Full HD to 4K resolution.
Panasonic DP-UB320 pictured below
Other features, and as described directly by Panasonic, are below:
Optimum HDR Processing
With more and more HDR content available on disc and via streaming services, the optimal reproduction of HDR content has become essential. In addition to having a wide range of contrast, images from Ultra HD Blu-ray players must be reproduced with fine detail in both dark and bright areas. To achieve this, Panasonic’s new players use unique technologies to provide three HDR adjustment functions.
- HDR Optimizer***
HDR-compatible TVs use tone mapping to match the brightness range of images according to the static metadata within the content, but optimal results are sometimes not possible due to the manufacturer or specific model. By conducting the tone mapping on the player, stable HDR picture quality is delivered regardless of the TV. Panasonic’s original image processing technologies achieve HDR images with higher definition while tone mapping is used to adjust the brightness level of the content. Even HDR images from ordinary HDR10 and TV footage provide optimal playback.
- HDR to SDR conversion (Optimised Tone Remapping for SDR-TV)
Dynamic Range Conversion reproduces images with greater brightness and beauty than ordinary Blu-ray Disc images when played on a non-HDR TV with standard dynamic range (SDR-TV). This feature maximises the image expression that is inherent to Ultra HD Blu-ray.
- HDR Adjustment for various viewing conditions
These models have a HDR adjustment feature which reproduces dark and bright areas with high fidelity regardless of the viewing environment. Dark scenes in HDR images are sometimes difficult to see when viewed in a bright room and may require brightness adjustment. Because HDR signals are inherently different from SDR signals, existing adjustment functions are insufficient. The UB820, UB420, UB330 and 320 use an original technology to optimise HDR video signals, which enables them to freely adjust the brightness of the HDR images. An HDR Setting button on the remote control allows the user to simply select the optimal setting for the viewing environment.
High Quality Sound: Unique audio technologies achieve rich sound reproduction
7.1-channel analogue audio output
The UB820 supports analogue 7.1-channel audio for direct connection to a home theatre system for lifelike surround sound. Each terminal is gold-plated to resist oxidisation and maintain high signal conductivity.
Twin HDMI Pure AV (Audio/Video isolated twin HDMI)
The UB820 and UB420 Series feature dual HDMI outputs for isolating and transmitting TV (4K video) and amplifier audio. By separating audio and video signals, unwanted noise is suppressed, resulting in high-quality audio reproduction.
High-Res audio playback
The UB820, UB420, UB330 and 320 are designed for high-resolution audio reproduction. In addition to conventional WAV/FLAC/MP3/AAC/WMA formats, DSD (11.2MHz***/5.6 MHz/2.8 MHz) ALAC and AIFF music files can be reproduced. Simply connect to a home audio system to enjoy music sources equivalent to studio master sound quality.
Digital tube sound with up-sampling
The distinctive, warm, comforting sound characteristics of tube amplifiers are faithfully simulated on the UB820 and UB420. Six different kinds of sounds from vacuum tubes with 96-kHz/192-kHz up-sampling can be enjoyed in exceptionally high quality.
Smart Networking: Fully fledged network functionality to easily enjoy a variety of 4K sources
Viewing Experience Controlled via Voice
Panasonic’s 2018 Ultra HD Players*** support voice control from Amazon Alexa (coming soon)* and the Google Assistant (coming soon)*. By simply speaking to them, a variety of operations, such as fast forward and pause, can be carried out by voice without having to use the remote control. Future plans will include starting and operating apps, such as VOD.
Compatible with 4K VOD
Two models in the 2018 line-up, the UB820 and UB420, both support 4K VOD (Video on Demand) services, offering a paramount video viewing experience for those who demand uncompromised quality in picture and sound when watching streamed content.
4K camcorder video and JPEG playback
4K videos (MP4 format) taken with a camera or camcorder can be reproduced using Panasonic’s 2018 Ultra HD Players, while JPEG data can be created in 4K resolution so you can enjoy the memories of vacation trips in all their natural beauty.
Design: The stylish and compact design provides a high-quality presence
3D Glass Cut Design
All of this advanced technology is packed inside a stylish, compact body featuring Panasonic’s 3D Glass Cut Design. This simple yet eye-catching design perfectly complements any flat-panel TV, while the Ultra HD Blu-ray Player’s front panel features a bevel cut finish on all four sides to present a subtle yet distinctive presence.
* Subject to availability
** Enabled by software update
*** Excluded in UB330/320 Series