By Erik Gruenwedel | Posted: 11 Mar 2009
With the rise in connected U.S. households, Panasonic March 11 unveiled a new line of Web-enabled (BD Live) Blu-ray players that include link to Amazon’s video-on-demand movies, consume less energy — and, in a throwback to the 1980s, play VHS.
Available in April, the DMP-BD60 retails for $299.95, the DMP-BD60 for $399.95 and the DMP-BD70V for $399.95. The BD60 consumes 16% less power in standby mode than last year's model, the DMP-BD35.
The three Blu-ray players feature 96kHz surround remaster, a function that enhances the sound quality of CDs and other sources, and even improves the quality of the multichannel audio data on Blu-ray Discs and DVDs.
Significantly the line includes Panasonic’s branded Viera Cast that let consumers access the Internet without the need of a set-top box or PC, and also includes direct links to YouTube, Google's Picasa music streaming, Bloomberg and a weather channel.
The players also feature SD memory card and USB slots, making it easy for the consumer to view and share both digital still images and HD video recorded with an HD camcorder in the AVCHD format. Additional Viera Link technology allows the consumer to operate audio/video components via an HDMI cable with one remote control.
Oddly, the BD70V also features the first Blu-ray-VHS combination player, allowing the user to play VHS, CD, DVD and 1080p high-definition BD movies. The inclusion of non-digital VHS is surprising considering most titles are no longer released in the format and with the exception of Hastings Entertainment and select Movie Gallery locations, few retailers still stock VHS.
"Panasonic was the first company to produce a Blu-ray player with Bonus View and the first to incorporate BD Live functionality into a stand alone player,” said Richard Simone, director, Panasonic. “Now we are the first to bring to market a dual VHS-Blu ray player.”
Company spokesperson Chris De Maria called the VHS/BD player "a very cool part of our lineup."