Panasonic launches DMP-BD30 "next-gen" Blu-ray player

Panasonic has announced the introduction of the DMP-BD30, the "next generation" High Definition 1080p Blu-ray Disc player.

The DMP-BD30 is the first Blu-ray player to be introduced with what Panasonic are calling "Final Standard Profile", although the Blu-ray Disc Association has recently stated this will now be branded "Bonus View".

Final Standard Profile (or as we now know, Bonus View, although it is also referred to as Profile 1.1 or even Full Profile, confused?) brings the advanced functions that rival format HD DVD is already using.

These include such features as Picture-in-Picture (which displays a second image in another window) and Audio Mixing (allows the consumer to switch the sound between the main and sub windows).

There's no Blu-ray discs on the market yet to offer these features, although the sci-fi film "Sunshine" is due in January, while Disney has releases planned for 2008.

Unique to the DMP-BD30 is the inclusion of an SD Memory Card slot for playback of High Definition content recorded in the AVCHD format. The SD slot also allows for viewing of digital still images recorded to an SD Memory Card.

"The DMP-BD30 will contribute greatly to Blu-ray's mounting lead over the competing format", said Gene Kelsey, vice president, Panasonic Entertainment Group.

Other features include Deep Color Compatibility, HDMI 1.3B, and 1080/24p playback. The DMP-BD30 will be $499.95 when it goes on sale in the States, no word on a UK release yet.