Panasonic has officially priced-out its 2012 Blu-ray player lineup announced back at CES, and it includes no fewer than six boxes (and price-points) for you to choose from. Four of the new players -- ranging in price from $150 to $350 -- are capable of playing your favorite Blu-ray flicks in 3D and come with Panasonic's Viera Connect service, which provides access to online content from Amazon, Hulu and Netflix and a host of applications including Facebook, Skype and Twitter. The 2D models -- which range from $90 to $120 -- aren't left out in the cold when it comes to connectivity, and include IP VOD support for streaming web-content. What's more, the entire 2012 lineup is DLNA-enabled, can be controlled via a smartphone app and, with the exception of the DMP-BD77, has WiFi built-in. Four of the six units are available for purchase immediately, but you're going to have to wait until May if you're interested in the two higher-end models. Mosey on past the break to view the full press release.
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PANASONIC ANNOUNCES PRICING AND AVAILABILTY FOR 2012 BLU-RAY DISCTM LINEUP

New Models Feature Enhanced VIERA ConnectTM, Smartphone Remote, Improved Super Resolution Processor, Built-In WiFi System and Reduced Power Consumption

SECAUCUS, NJ (February 6, 2012) – Panasonic, a major developer and contributor to the success of the Blu-ray DiscTM format, today announced pricing and availability for an expanded 2012 Blu-ray Disc player lineup featuring four new Full HD 3D models – the DMP-BBT01, DMP-BDT500, DMP-BDT320, DMP-BDT220, and two 2D Blu-ray Disc players – DMP-BD87 and the DMP-BD77. All four of the 3D models include Panasonic's proprietary VIERA ConnectTM IPTV platform1, while the 2D models feature IP VOD1, a service that offers a targeted selection of sites including Netflix, Vudu, CinemaNow and YouTubeTM on TV

Panasonic's Full HD 3D Blu-ray Disc players (BBT01, BDT500, BDT320 and BDT 220) include an improved UniPhier chip processor, 24p output for VOD, an expanded VIERA Connect functionality, and FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec),192Hz/32bit Audio DAC (not available on the DMP-BBT01), Smartphone remote control capability, a new touchpad remote control (available on DMP-BBT01, DMP-BDT500, DMP-BDT320), 2D-to-3D up-conversion2, which can convert 2D images from VIERA Connect1, DVDs and Blu-ray discs into 3D with natural depth perception, a new slim design and a unique slot-in drive that is found in two of the models (the DMP-BBT01 and DMP-BDT320). The slot-in drive allows the user to insert a disc without the need for a tray and prevents inadvertently loading a second disc. In addition, the DMP-BBT01 introduces a new design concept and a greatly reduced form factor featuring a stand and enables operation either vertically or horizontally.

The DMP-BDT220 (SRP $149.99) and the DMP-BDT320 (SRP $199.99) are the first of the Full HD 3D Blu-ray Disc players to ship and are now available. Also now available are Panasonic's two 2D Blu-ray DiscTM players -- the DMP-BD87 (SRP $119.99) and the DMP-BD77 (SRP $89.99). Panasonic's two top-of-the-line Full HD 3D Blu-ray Disc players; the DMP-BDT500 (SRP $349.99) and the DMP-BBT01 (SRP $269.99) will be available in May.

The 2012 Panasonic Blu-ray Disc player line builds upon the company's commitment to continually seek improvements to its state-of-the-art products. With that in mind, the 2012 lineup includes a number of improvements over last year's models.

The UniPhier single chip signal processing LSI employs a simplified circuit architecture that eliminates unnecessary wiring and reduces noise on the picture and sound signal to the absolute minimum. The UniPhier chip produces high clarity sound and turns off the analog video circuit when not needed – otherwise the analog video circuit is working even when not in use, causing interference to the other circuits.
Adaptive Chroma Processing, a high quality image processing technology, precisely processes the video signal of each pixel in vertical and horizontal directions, resulting in a 50% increase in vertical color data processing as compared to 2010 models.
A redesigned DVD Super Resolution Processor helps produce natural pictures with no false contours, higher resolution for details and a reduction in noise, all resulting in richer gradation.

The new 2012 models can convert 2D content from VIERA ConnectTM 2, DVD discs and Blu-ray Discs into 3D images with stunning depth. Also new for 2012 is technology that allows for VOD 24p output, thereby synching with the original 24 fps (frames per second) video format and delivering film-like motion characteristics. Using 24 fps, each frame is uniformly converted, so more natural and flickerless images are reproduced.

Recognizing that audio is an essential component to any viewing experience, Panasonic has made a number of improvements to insure that the audio quality meets the same high standards as the video quality. To that end, the DMP-BDT500, DMP-BDT320 and the DMP-BDT220 utilize a 192kHz/32bit audio DAC, while the BDT500 also includes high-grade audio parts (gold plated terminals, high grade electric capacitor and insulator) to reproduce audio content that is faithful to the original. The BDT500 also provides for 7.1 channel output and includes twin HDMI outputs, allowing one to be dedicated for audio output. Not only does this result in less interference with the video signal, but the additional HDMI makes the BDT500 compatible with legacy amplifiers. Audio is further improved via Panasonic's unique clock control technology that drastically reduces jitter during HDMI transmission, thereby lessening noise and delivering pure sound. Furthermore, the 2012 players are compatible with a variety of formats such as the lossless audio codec FLAC, an audio format similar to MP3, but lossless, meaning that audio is compressed in FLAC without any loss in quality. In addition, the Blu-ray DiscTM players simulate the warm, comforting sound of tube amplifiers with six distinct sound environments,

Panasonic's VIERA ConnectTM IPTV platform, now under the Smart VIERA umbrella, has been expanded and now utilizes cloud technology to offer access to a virtually unlimited collection of many of the most popular applications for social networking (including Skype™ voice and video calling, YouTube™, Facebook, and Twitter), video content (including Amazon Instant Video™, Netflix, HuluTM Plus, and Ustream), professional sports (including FOX Sports ,MLS Matchday Live, NBA Game Time, and NHL Game Center), gaming (Accedo Funspot, Gameloft, and PlayJam), fitness (including BodyMedia, ifit, and Withings), music (including Pandora and Shoutcast) news and information (including AccuWeather, Associated Press, and WSJ Live) and more.

The two 2D players (DMP-BD87 and DMP-BD77) features IP VOD, a targeted internet solution that offers consumers access to Netflix, CinemaNow, Vudu and YouTube.

Connectivity and ease of use continue to be of prime importance to Panasonic. The entire 2012 line features easy connection to other DLNA-equipped products and VIERA Link, which provides connectivity to other VIERA Link-compatible products and NAS compatibility. This year's players are also compatible with the NTFS format HDD. Five of the six Blu-ray Disc players provide built-in WiFi, while the DMP-BD77 is wireless ready. To personalize the experience, the new multi-user mode allows one to register four users and each can record individual, favorite settings. They can also select a personal icon from 16 pre-installed images, or photos from an external source. To further personalize the player, there is the option to customize the home screen with any image the consumer chooses. Also new this year is the ability to use any Smartphone3 as the remote control. There is also a new touch pad remote control that offers simple, intuitive operation.

Always mindful of the impact on the environment, the 2012 models are ENERGY STAR qualified. Additionally the DMP-BDT320 features a Smart Eco Sensor which detects the user's movement and switches to the quick start mode (boot time 0.5 seconds) automatically. When a user is within16 feet of the player it is in ECO mode, using approximately 0.1 watts. When motion is detected within 16 feet the player turns on the quick start mode (approximately 3.2 watts). The BDT 320's new slim design also cuts down on packaging, thereby saving on paper and allowing more players to be placed on a pallet which can reduce carbon emissions due to transportation.

"Panasonic is always working to improve its technology, design, and commitment to providing the consumer with the best possible video and audio experiences. We are also very mindful of the need to provide products that are user friendly and easy to operate," said Alex Fried, Product Manager, Panasonic Consumer Marketing Company of North America. "Features such as the slot-in drive, home screen customization, enhancement of VIERA ConnectTM allow consumers to easily personalize their entertainment experience to fit their lifestyle. And a feature like the slot-in drive is one that makes it extremely easy for the user to insert and play the disc."

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Panasonic prices 2012 Blu-ray lineup, high-end units due in May