Panasonic formally unveiled Friday the third Ultra HD Blu-ray player to hit the U.S. market, in a solidly built premium multi-disc deck designed to deliver high-quality video, sound and music performances.

The player is the first Ultra HD Blu-ray player to be THX-certified for 3840×2160 4K video with high dynamic range (HDR) and high-quality multichannel sound reproduction. It also carries the Ultra HD Alliance’s Ultra HD Premium logo certification.

The Panasonic DMP-UB900 will carry a $699.99 suggested retail price when it becomes available through Best Buy’s Magnolia departments, and, starting in September. The player will join the Samsung UBD-K8500 and Philips BDP7501 players that will have been out for a number of weeks at a $399.99 suggested retail price, apiece.

If you are wondering what you get for an extra $300 compared to the $399.99 Samsung UBD-K8500, Panasonic said its player provides a host of “premium” quality features and performance benefits topped off by advanced video signal conversion (both upscaled and down converted) for pristine image quality on televisions with a wide range of resolution levels and capabilities.

Read more on the Panasonic DMP-UB900 after the jump:

The player is also said to deliver sound and music reproduction without compromise, and will stream popular over-the-top services including: Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and YouTube, but at launch none of those apps will support streaming HDR metadata, Panasonic said.

Spokesmen for the company said Panasonic is looking at possibly updating the player firmware to support HDR-10 metadata from internally streamed over-the-top content, but in the meantime, you’ll need to stick to supporting Ultra HD Blu-ray discs.

One of the strengths of the player is its ability to take 4K and lower-resolution streaming content and enhance and adapt it for display on the connected TV screen. The player is equipped with a Wireless LAN system, network drive access, and support for Miracast second screen linking with Android devices, Ver. 4.2 and above. The player also features a web browser, and DLNA (Client & Renderer) network file sharing.

An SD card slot and USB port can be used for playing video, photo and music files through the UB900 on the connected TV and audio system. External hard disc drive playback from drives with capacities of 2TB or less and processing for NTFS/ FAT32 data is supported by the player.

Two HDMI ports are supplied on the back of the player along with 7.1-channel analog audio outputs. One of the HDMI outputs conforms to the HDMI 2.0a/HDCP 2.2 specs and will  deliver both pictures and sound to a TV. The other is optimized to ship audio only to a compatible AV receiver.

When the player detects an audio signal through the second audio-only HDMI port, the audio output portion of the main HDMI 2.0a port is automatically turned off to reduce any interference between the audio and video signals.

Probably the best reason to get the Panasonic DMP-UB900 is its advanced digital scaling technologies for use with a wide range of televisions and resolution levels. Panasonic said the upscaling system was engineered in assistance with Panasonic Hollywood Laboratory, which works extensively with Hollywood studios on new and developing technologies.

One of these advances is the use of a 4K High-Precision Chroma Processor that takes 4K image color signals with 4:2:0 chroma subsampling as specified by the Ultra HD Blu-ray spec. and interpolates them for a 4K (4:4:4) look using a multi-tap chroma processor that produces more natural appearing textures and depth.

The DMP-UB900’s 4K High-Precision Processor also uses 4K Direct Chroma Up-scaling to enhance the quality of 4K signals delivered by internet streaming services, such as YouTube and Netflix.

In upscaling, Edge Adaptive Chroma Processing is used for conversion of 4:2:0 chroma subsampling content on the disc to 4:2:2 and 4:4:4 to produce sharp edge transitions without blurring or overshooting.

Also, because Ultra HD Blu-rays are encoded in 10-bit video masters, the player is designed to upscale images to 12-bit accuracy to ensure 10-bit levels of gradation are maintained in the UHD BD pictures.

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For those who aren’t using an HDR-supporting TV, the UB900 will adapt HDR sources to standard dynamic range (SDR) by converting the HDR tone curve and primary colors in linear RGB in order to more effectively remap them to SDR screens. The player even provides manual adjustment for brightness of the converted SDR signal to better match the capability of the display.

For realistic surround sound and music, the DMP-UB900 incorporates large-capacity electrolytic capacitors and a Mica capacitor to produce powerful room-filling sound while reducing digital noise from the power line.

When playing CDs (WAV files) or FLAC, ALAC, DSD (2.8/5.6MHz), MP3, AAC, and WMA files the UB900 will upsample the output to 192KHz/24-bit using Panasonic’s “Re.master or new Digital Tube Sound” technologies.

Meanwhile, new hi-res audio music is supported with decoding for DSD (5.6 MHz/2.8 MHz)/ALAC/FLAC/WAV formats.

The player’s Digital Tube Sound upsampling system reproduces music with the warm, full sound of legacy tube-based audio components using six “Digital Tube’” presets.

Tonal fidelity is further enhanced by reducing invasive signal noise using a LAN Common Mode Filter that reduces interference from external devices during network playback; and a ruby Mica capacitor.

For solid analog connections, the player is equipped with gold-plated 7.1-channel outputs that will link with supporting legacy devices. The player even has five high-quality 192 kHz/32-bit DACs. Panasonic further enhances aural expression through the use of high-quality audio parts and power supply switching.

Supported disc formats include: CDs, DVDs, and HD/3D Blu-ray discs, but the player does not support legacy DVD-Audio discs or SACDs.

Other features include: an HDMI low-clock jitter process to reduce jitter introduced through lower quality connections; support for Full HD 3D video; up to 4K 60p/50p output; picture type presets; and quick player start-up.

Player cosmetics feature an Advanced 3D Cut design to complement today’s ultra-thin bezel displays; and a high-end dot matrix display readout.

By Greg Tarr


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