The Ultra HD Blu-ray players are coming. And, it appears, they may just land in homes sooner than we originally hoped. Following the showcase of Samsung’s new souped-up machine at IFA last month, slated for delivery in early February, it was revealed Tuesday that Panasonic may begin selling its own purveyor of 4K UHD awesomeness in Japan as early as November.
Reported from the ground in Japan by TechHive, Panasonic’s new DMR-UBZ1 player will reportedly go on sale in Japan beginning November 15, ushering in a new era for the high-powered resolution fit to partner with today’s best 4K Ultra HD TVs.
According to the report, the player will come stocked with a 3TB hard-disk drive set to record Japanese TV and, of course, the unit will comply with the specs outlined by the Blu-ray Disc Association. That includes compatibility with HDMI 1.4-2.0a, a wider color gamut for potentially billions more colors than traditional Blu-ray players, and HDR support to offer better contrast and richer color shading for TVs equipped with the new technology. Panasonic plans to offer just 500 of the new players per month at the onset, for a price of ¥400,000 (or around $3,334)
While 4K UHD content has been primarily offered via streaming services like Netflix and Amazon to this point, for a lot of reasons, those looking to get the most out of their sparkling new 4K Ultra HD TVs will want to look long and hard at getting into Ultra HD Blu-ray. Apart from the most advanced color and contrast specs available, the new players will deliver 4K content at the top frame rate of 60 frames per second and, most importantly to videophiles, the players will also transfer video data with considerably less compression than 4K streaming services, unconstrained by the limitations of Internet bandwidth.
In short, the new line of players will be the best way to view 4K UHD content in the home, and they’re coming to Japanese viewers from Panasonic next month. Of course, like virtually every piece of 4K UHD hardware we’ve seen, Panasonic’s new players will be a little ahead of the content they’ll display so first adopters will need to be patient as Ultra HD Blu-ray discs populate store shelves. However, the players will be backwards compatible so users can upscale their current Blu-ray libraries as they wait for the new discs to arrive in force.
While a Japan release date may not be much comfort to those eager to get their hands on these players in the U.S., it’s a start, and could signal a U.S. launch sooner than later. Could it be possible that we’ll see Panasonic Ultra HD Blu-ray players make their way stateside in time for the holidays? It’s looking more likely, but we won’t know until we close in on December. We’ll definitely be on the lookout for their arrival here, and elsewhere, so stay tuned.