Panasonic has put its weight behing the HDR10+ format with the unveiling of their new 2018 lineup of ultra HD Blu-ray players.
Last September, Samsung Electronics announced a new alliance with 20th Century Fox and Panasonic Corporation to create an open, royalty-free dynamic metadata platform for High Dynamic Range (HDR) through an associated certification and logo program, known as HDR10+. Together, the three companies announced plans to form a licensing entity that will begin licensing the HDR10+ platform in 2018, pitting them directly against the Dolby Vision technology backed by the likes of Sony. “By offering considerable HDR picture quality improvements across a wider range of TVs while accelerating the amount of premium HDR content available, we expect HDR10+ to quickly become the defacto HDR format,” said Yuki Kusumi, Executive Officer at Panasonic during the announcement of the alliance.
The two competing software based technologies involve the use of "dynamic metadata" that carries instructions to adjust brightness levels on a scene-by-scene basis and a frame-by-frame-basis. Initial reports suggest that both technologies offer similar results in terms of picture quality with the main difference being that Samsung is not charging royalty fees to license the tech as Dolby is doing. The stage could be set for a direct rivalry between these two formats for the next stage of high definition video for consumer tech. However, a new technology standards battle could complicate things for consumers buying their next high end TV set.
Panasonic will however also support Dolby Vision in one model of the new lineup of four new UltraHD Blu-ray players, announced ahead of the CES summit. The DP-UB820 is the flagship player heading the lineup along with the DP-UB420, DP-UB330 and DP-UB320 which complete Panasonic's 2018 line-up. The DP-UB820 and DP-UB420 feature full support for HDR10+ and surprisingly, the latter model also supports Dolby Vision. For the first time, these players come with Alexa and Google Assistant voice control, along with 7.1 audio support, and 4K streaming support for Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Panasonic's new Ultra HD players feature a new technology called Optimum HDR processing, giving the player the ability to to add detail back into the picture if the television you are watching it on isn't HDR capable. This could be a crucial advantage for the majority of buyers who own mid-range and entry level 4K TVs that are not capable of high end HDR processing.