How excited are you about the prospect of Ultra HD Blu-ray? Super-excited? Excited enough to spend £2,000 on an Ultra HD Blu-ray player?
Panasonic thinks the Japanese home cinema audience is as it’s looking to start shipping the new Panasonic DMR-UBZ1 there, kicking off on November 13. Yes, that is Friday 13th, but this year that day’s considered lucky in Japan, especially for kicking off a new business venture.
To be fair the Ultra HD crowd is going to need a fair chunk of luck if it’s to convince an audience addicted to the instant gratification of the video streaming market that physical 4K media is that much better than a compressed network stream. And Panasonic might well need something stronger than luck to get many people to fork out two grand on a player.
But the Panasonic DMR-UBZ1 is no ordinary disc-spinner; as well as support for the latest Ultra HD Blu-ray standard it will also support the high dynamic range (HDR) standards for UHD too. It’s also backwards compatible - as the UHD Blu-ray spec requires - and comes with a full 3TB of storage for recording from your TV too.
And utilising that mammoth hard drive is its full support for Hi-Res Audio playback too, right up to 192kHz, 24-bit lossless, studio-quality files.
The Ultra HD Blu-ray standard also lays out a spec which involves a ‘Digital Bridge’ - a method of making a full 4K UHD resolution copy of a disc to transfer to another device for viewing. Providing you jump through a few copy protection DRM hoops first mind.
For that much cash we’d hope the £2,000 Panasonic player will be capable of such a feat given its huge storage capabilities.
But even with the extensive feature list of the DMR-UBZ1 can it really offer enough to justify the cost? With the ever-improving tech in the video streaming world could 4K streams match the quality of a full physical disc?
Speaking at the Ultra HD event last week, Ron Martin, VP of Operations for Panasonic Hollywood Lab is reported to have scoffed at a question of whether streamed services could compete.
"That premium experience from the physical media just simply won't be able to be beat," said Martin.
Sadly, as yet, there is no word of when we might see such delights on these shores.