With 4K ultra-high definition TVs beginning to become the norm, it's been a long and winding road for the physical format, UHD Blu-ray, to reach its final standard. With the UHD Alliance now signed and sealed on that deal, 4K Blu-ray players will, finally, be making their way to market.
Just behind Samsung's K8500, it's Panasonic next out of the gates with the DMP-UB900. This player not only supports 4K resolution at up to 60 frames per second and caters for the BT.2020 colour gamut but - and importantly for the new format - caters for HDR (high dynamic range) output up to 10,000 nits (that'll vary by devices, with Panasonic's own DX900 said to deliver over the 1,000 nit mark).
Thanks to a twin HDMI arrangement it's possible to separate audio and video signals via two separate HDMI cables, ensuring the highest bandwidth for both sound and picture. Plug one HDMI direct into a home surround system for 7.1 channel analogue audio, plug the other direct into a 4K TV for the perfect picture.
High-resolution audio formats such as DSD and ALAC are also supported (not that they run as Blu-ray audio tracks) for music fans, thanks to a 192-kHz/32-bit on-board audio DAC (digital-to-analogue converter).
At launch the DMP-UB900 may lack video-on-demand services, but Panasonic plans to add support via an update. There's little detail about exactly what the means just yet - whether it'll be a Panasonic store, third party portal, or depend on studio and content providers isn't clear at this stage.
The UB900 offers nifty upscaling technology, such as the Direct Chroma Up-scaling process to interpolate decoded 4:2:0 signals to 4:4:4 in a bid to avoid jaggies, artefacts and such processing anomalies. Standard Full HD Blu-ray discs are catered for too, with their 2K content upscaled to 4K all from the one player.
If you're looking for the best possible way to watch 4K content then there's nothing with a higher data rate than UHD Blu-ray. All we don't know is exactly how much it will cost (the player or the UHD Blu-ray discs) and exactly which month it will be available.