Panasonic DMP-BD30 with new hardware inside to support Final Profile 1.1  (Source: Panasonic)
Panasonic DMP-BD30 supports the latest Blu-ray Disc spec with PiP and audio mixing functions for $499

With the rule now in place that all new Blu-ray Disc players must come with the necessary hardware to support Final Standard Profile (1.1), manufacturers will begin releasing their next-generation products that adhere to the new specifications.

Panasonic is the first player maker to officially announce a product with support for Profile 1.1, given the model number DMP-BD30. Besides supporting future software with picture-in-picture (which displays a second image in a sub window) and audio mixing (allows switching the sound between the main and sub windows) features, the DMP-BD30 will house an SD memory card slot for playback of high-definition content recorded in the AVCHD format. The SD slot also allows for viewing of digital still images stored on the media.

Gene Kelsey, VP of Panasonic Entertainment Group, believes that its latest-spec hardware will be able to give it the edge over HD DVD, which has had picture-in-picture features since launch. "The DMP-BD30 will contribute greatly to Blu-ray's mounting lead over the competing format," said Kelsey.

The Panasonic VP continued, "One of the more intriguing aspects of the Final Standard Profile is the Picture-in-Picture feature that would allow the movie fan to access a variety of entertainment enhancements, such as having the director or an actor pop up to discuss a scene you are watching, or with an animated movie, you might see the actor performing their character's voice over, all while still watching the movie. Not only do these features give Panasonic a strong advantage in the high definition market, but they provide the movie community with numerous opportunities to embellish the viewing experience with additional creative elements."

Unlike some other Blu-ray Disc player manufacturers who may be waiting for CES to introduce their hardware, the Panasonic machine appears to be ready for mass market consumption. In fact, CNET already received a test unit for review, rating the products as “very good” with a final score of 7.4 out of 10.

The Panasonic DMP-BD30 retails for $499.99 and should be available in stores early November.

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