Panasonic has a brand new 4K UHD Blu-ray player, the UB700, which is pitched a peg lower than its UB900 bigger brother - and perfectly placed to take on the Samsung UBD-K8500 in the €500/£430 price wars.
The UB700 is similar to the UB900 with many of its features a direct mirror. Of course it is both 4K and HDR capable - and will deliver the premier UHD Blu-ray experience.
But the UB700 lacks the higher-end on-board sound capabilities and 7.1 surround of the UB900 and, therefore, isn't THX certified. That won't matter to some, especially if you already own a separate system to handle all your audio needs. The UB700 will, however, come with twin HDMI outputs support for high-resolution audio formats such as DSD and ALAC.
Having seen the UB700 side-by-side next to the UB900, the newer, cheaper player is the slightly smaller of the two. It lacks the premium feet and therefore some of the height of the UB900, while the smooth plastic top doesn't have the faux brushed metal look either. Both models have a pull-down front facade where a 4K Blu-ray disc can be entered, along with a display panel - the latter not being quite as attractive on the UB700 as it is on the UB900.
Given the UB700's €500 price point (UK is TBC) we can see this Panasonic being the higher seller out of its two offerings. It might not quite have shut down Samsung at this price, though. The bigger problem is what's competing from a tangent: with PlayStation 4 Neo just around the corner and Microsoft already in the UHD Blu-ray player market with the Xbox One S, there are viable alternatives that can handle media exceptionally - albeit not as quietly, we would think.
The UB700 player will remain DLNA compatible for media streaming, offer Ethernet and Wi-Fi connectivity, and come with the company's smart platform for VOD services and 4K content sharing mobile devices using Miracast.
"The DMP-UB700 incorporates a newly developed 4K-ready engine: the 4K High-Precision Chroma Processor", says Panasonic in a statement. "By using an original, highly accurate multi-tap process, it delivers beautiful, natural pictures with life-like depth, vivid colours and high-contrast dynamics. The DMP-UB700 also has an original 4K Direct Chroma up-scaling function so that it can deliver 4K-quality pictures with high resolution and beautiful colours from 2K content."
That's a lot of big words for what could be one of the better selling players for 2016. If you don't want a noisier games console then it's a top UHD Blu-ray player contender.
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