Panasonic's new DMP-BD35 and DMP-BD55 Blu-ray players replace the BD30 and BD50 and were first announced at CEDIA 2008. They are expected to ship in October, for an as-yet unspecified price. Here's a shot of the front and back of one of the units.
The presentation kicked off with the announcement of the two new Blu-ray players. The DB35 and BD55 are Internet-ready BD-Live (Profile 2.0) out of the box, and come with the company's PHL Reference Chroma Processor Plus (for pixel-by-pixel color reproduction), VIERA link (for one-remote control) and SD memory card slot (for storage). The BD55 also supports 7.1ch Lossless Decode and Analog Output.
One of the lead engineers explains how they kicked color reproduction up a notch in the new devices with the PHL Reference Chroma Processor Plus. The previous generation were what Panasonic calls 4:4:2 signal technology, while the new unts are 4:4:4 (hence the "plus").
The engineers showed us a test comparing the new Panasonic devices with two Blu-ray players by Samsung and Sony (Samsung BD-P1500, our review here, and Sony BDP-S350, our review here)
This is a shot of the Samsung's performance. Noting the terrible compression strip at the bottom, the engineer scoffed at Sony and Samsung's lack of in-house semiconductor manufacture, saying that "they have no know-how about BD processing." Chris Boylan of BigPictureBigSound said under his breath that it's not a fair comparison between the Samsung BD-P1500 and Panasonic's new BD35.
The engineers pointed out the difference between the performance of their BD35 and the Samsung unit, noting the clarity of the lines on the edge of the test, thanks to the PHL Reference Chroma Processor Plus.
Another test, this time with movement. Though it's not evident here, the BD35 had crisper lines on the two pairs of three lines toward the edge than the competition. The BD35 also didn't have any flicker in the center square quadrants (both other units did).
Here's a shootout between the Sony and Panasonic's BD35. Though not evident here due to the darkness of the room and blur of the shot, the Panasonic was slightly more crisp on edges than the competition. But it was barely noticeable, even on that large of a display.
The engineers explained that the receiver could switch from 2.1 to 5.1 and 7.1 sound automatically, without rewiring or resetting, thanks to its patented "bi-amp/bi-wiring" system, which allows the receiver to automatically switch its internal circuits each time it receives a 2-channel signal (cables do not need to be reconnected to switch between 2-channel and 7.1).