Panasonic, a member of the HDR10+ Alliance battling against Dolby Vision for 4K supremacy, is supporting the HDR10+ metadata format on two of its new Blu-ray players, the company announced at CES 2018.
What’s more, and somewhat surprisingly, Panasonic is also supporting rival format Dolby Vision on its highest-end player, the UB820. The company’s other two released 4K models, the UB420 and UB330, only support HDR10+ and HDR10, respectively.
In fact, none of Panasonic’s TVs actually support Dolby yet. Owners of non-Panasonic, Dolby-enabled sets may have the most to gain from the UB820, as they can hedge their bets on both dynamic 4K formats until one or the other wins out.
Panasonic’s Blu-ray players use a Hollywood Cinematic Experience (HCX) engine that optimizes “chroma processing”, meant to apparently make the colors of UHD films as close to theater-quality as possible for high-end TVs.
For lower-quality TV sets, this Blu-ray line has an Optimum HDR Processor that scales discs and streams to match their lower capacity for color or contrast. Because most SDR or low-end HDR sets cut off any hues or brightness beyond their maximum settings, the UB820 and UB420 scale these traits back inside the player instead, matching the TV’s capacity so the full video range is preserved.
The UB820 and UB840 also achieve high-quality sound with a 7.1 channel audio output and twin HDMI ports to isolate video and audio. And all three sets support 4K video-on-demand.
Place your bets
As with Dolby and HDR10+, Panasonic isn’t risking going all-in on one virtual assistant. With any Google Assistant- or Amazon Alexa-enabled device, Blu-ray owners will be able to start, stop, and fast forward films with ease.
The company also plans to expand VOD features to opening and controlling native apps; Forbes reports that the players will support Netflix, YouTube and, in some territories, Amazon video.
All three sets are due to come out this spring. But it’s unclear for now what kind of Blu-ray discs Panasonic owners will be buying for their players. As of yet, there aren’t any HDR10+ discs on sale; you’ll only find HDR10+ videos via streaming sites like Amazon.
Dolby format is supported by a majority of Hollywood studios, but Warner Bros. just announced it will remaster all of their 4K content for HDR10+. Industry experts say that Blu-Ray discs can’t support Dolby and HDR10+ format simultaneously due to their size, so the company may choose to support one over the other on its new discs in the near future.
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