Finally brings Blu-ray standard to where HD DVD started.
Whatever your side in the current HD format war (presumably neutral for most of us), it has to be conceded that the HDi functionality on HD DVD discs is fantastic. Sadly for those siding with Blu-ray, we aren’t currently privy to such features because the dual video and audio decoders required weren’t made part of the manufacturing standard until now. Luckily, Blu-ray Profile 1.1 is now mandatory, and Panasonic is celebrating the event (well, coinciding at least) with the release of its latest player, the DMP-BD30, which is fully 1.1 compliant.
Most importantly, the player boasts dual video and audio decoders, allowing such features as picture-in-picture director’s commentary, mandatory onboard storage and an Ethernet port to allow online access to downloadable content, extras and such like. More conventionally, the player supports 24fps playback, 1080p output and HDMI 1.3 for Deep Colour support, with the ever-present proviso that no actual Deep Colour discs have been released.
The BD30 also has an SD card reader and will playback AVCHD from an HD camcorder directly, which while not especially revolutionary is still a decent feature. JPEG images can also be pulled from an SD card for display. UK pricing isn’t available yet (we’re working on it) but the player will carry an SRP of $499.95 in the US. Until the PS3 receives a firmware update enabling the new Profile 1.1 features, the BD30 really is the best option for those wanting the most from their discs.
Panasonic press release.