Designed to improve the image quality
Panasonic has given its 2011 range of Blu-ray players a much needed refresh and has added some clever features in for 3D playback, too.
The DMP-BDT310, DMP-BDT210, DMP-BDT110 and DMP-BDT111 players now all have 3D controls built-into them above and beyond what a 3D TV can deliver. According to Panasonic having control so close to the footage allows them to do some clever processing.
At the basic level, it’s possible to adjust the ‘distance’ of the 3D effect. In other words, move it into minus numbers and the image is pushed back into the screen; slide it into positive numbers and things start to jump out. The difference between the setting can mean the difference between a watchable film and rather sick feeling when things are sticking out too much.
A feature that we’ve never seen before is the frame option you get by changing the Screen Type to Round. This puts a coloured border (Red, Blue and, in our opinion the best, Black) round the picture, which the image fades in to. This might sound a bit strange, but the rationale is that the frame of a TV gets in the way of 3D viewing; by adding the frame, it pushes the 3D into the middle of the screen where it’s less distracting. It worked quite well in the demonstrations and certainly made the 3D effect more natural.
The players can now convert 2D footage to 3D, although we’re not that convinced by the quality. In our view it appeared to create two layers: the black bars of a widescreen film at the front and the image somewhat behind. Still, if you absolutely must watch everything with glasses in, this is for you.
The interface has been overhauled so that it’s quicker to access. A nice touch is the ability to set a background wallpaper for the interface. As with the new televisions, the Blu-ray players can be controlled via an iPod or iPad application.
Finally, we saw the first 3D Blu-ray recorders. The DMR-BWT800 and BWT700 have all of the features of the Blu-ray players above, but also have twin Freeview HD tuners in them so that they can record TV. Given the lack of 3D content on Freeview, the players can save 3D files from a camcorder directly to disc.
All of the products should be available in the next few months, although pricing wasn’t available.