Panasonic's 4K/UHD Blu-ray player, already available in Europe, finally gets a U.S. release window and pricing info.
We've been following the consumer 4K market since its inception, especially as it pertains to televisions, players and streaming devices. These days, you'd be hard pressed to find a new consumer camera release that doesn't feature some version of 4K resolution recording, but consumer uptake for displays and devices that can actually play 4K/UHD content is playing a bit of catch-up.
Increasingly, 4K/UHD televisions are eclipsing HD televisions in floor space at your favorite electronics retailer and, eventually, all such televisions will feature 4K/UHD resolution, effectively pushing HD models to obsolescence. Yet, how can we consider HD as obsolete if the vast majority of available content, whether broadcast or streaming, is still in HD or lower resolution?
Although much of what you watch on your new 4K/UHD screen will still be in HD, history has taught us that many consumers will pay a premium to take fuller advantage of their televisions' capabilities. Before streaming took over, Blu-ray had a great run as the top consumer choice for HD image and sound quality (notwithstanding the short-lived HD DVD standard). Now, at the dawn of 4K/UHD's consumer era, the next evolution of Blu-ray looks to stake its claim as the de facto premium option for home 4K/UHD playback.
Panasonic introduced a 4K/UHD Blu-ray player back at CES in January, along with competing models from Samsung and Phillips. That Panasonic model, the DMP-UB900, is finally set to for U.S. release in September for roughly $700. The price tag may seem a bit high, as Samsung's UBD-K8500 can currently be had for $399.99, but UB900 has received almost universal critical acclaim. Consumer review site Trusted Reviews went as far as to proclaim Panasonic's player "the flag-waving product that Ultra HD Blu-ray needs at the start of its life, and worth every penny," noting that its performance and features more than justify the price difference.
In terms of features, the Panasonic UB900 supports 4K/UHD high dynamic range (HDR) playback from disk, up-and-downscaling from UHD-to-HD and back, streaming support via apps for Netflix, YouTube and the like, Miracast WiDi support, and Wi-Fi connectivity. In addition, the UB900 plays files from external drives and from a DNLA server. You audiophiles have not been forgotten: the UB900 plays higher resolution audio files and is THX certified for 7.1-channel output. For a detailed list of the UB900's features, visit Panasonic UK's product page (as of this writing, the US page for the UB900 is not yet live).
While the price may keep some U.S. consumers away, those looking for a top-of-the-line experience (and those that own or are planning on buying a 4K/UHD HDR television anytime soon) should give the Panasonic UB900 a long look when it arrives just two short months from now.