Panasonic’s DMP-BD10 and the Format War Thus Far

June 23, 2006

Panasonic DMP-BD10Thursday Panasonic unveiled their finalized Blu-ray player, the DMP-BD10. Panasonic’s Blu-ray player includes 1080p playback of both Blu-ray and SD-DVD’s (up-conversion) as well as their proprietary P4HD image processing technology. Oh the DMP-BD10 has one other important feature: CD playback. Something to consider versus Sony’s BDP-S1, The Panasonic DMP-BD10 is scheduled for release in September.

But outside of these specifications, the DMP-BD10 doesn’t appear to bring anything decidedly different or new to the Blu-ray table. That is unless Panasonic manages to overcome the glitches reported by some Samsung BD-P1000 owners; this alone would be a welcome feature. Panasonic’s Blu-ray spinner will retail for $1299 compared to $999 for the Sony BDP-S1 and Samsung’s BD-P1000.

With Panasonic’s player announced , the Blu-ray hardware road-map is pretty much laid out (Baring LG’s solution, which may be a combo player). Of all the consumer electronic manufacturers who initially showed interest in manufacturing Blu-ray players, we now have a fairly good impression as to their respective finalized solutions.

I’m not including Mitsubishi in this scenario just yet, (no firm hardware details) and we haven’t heard much more from Sharp on their Blu-ray player, other than its projected “fall” release.

So with that, what we’re left with is, Sony, Samsung, Pioneer, Philips and Panasonic’s players, ‘left with’ could be construed as a slight on my part and I want to be perfectly clear I’m making no such assertion. Those names are some of the biggest powerhouses in consumer electronics and their backing of Blu-ray shouldn’t be taken lightly, however…

The manufacturers who have announced support for Blu-ray or HD-DVD only tell a portion of the full story; we have two other manufacturers on the HD-DVD side, that could potentially represent some noticeably absent brands.

You’ve probably never heard of Amoi Electronics or Sichuan Changhong Electric but you may very well own products manufactured in their facilities. Back in 2005 both Amoi and Sichuan voiced their support for HD-DVD and plan to manufacture variants of the players.

Here’s the kicker though, Amoi and Sichuan don’t retail the products they manufacture, they contract with larger, well known companies who then retail the equipment under their respective brand names. This contract manufacturer method of building products has been going on for years, and in all honesty has blurred the lines of who actually manufactures their respective products significantly.

There was a time when Denon was Denon and Marantz was Marantz (This applies to other manufacturers as well) however many of the “brand” names we’ve come to associate with quality products are built on the same assembly lines with other brands, consumers would otherwise shy away from.

With big name consumer electronic companies like Denon, Harmon Kardon and Marantz conspicuously absent from both Blu-ray and HD-DVD’s roster of companies with high definition DVD plans, one could infer that these “brands” could use the two Chinese manufacturers to build their HD-DVD players. I have to stress the could in that statement, as no such plans have been announced.

The Format-War Thus Far:

A few things have become apparent in the relatively short time since the soft launch of both formats. Number one early adopters had a lot of time to build preconceptions about both formats and how the launch would play out; it would appear as if we’re already seeing many of those preconceptions shattered.

Number two, while the format war itself may indeed drag on for years, actions from both camps can set in motion events that shape that eventual outcome, with a bit of real-world objectivity we can begin to get a hint at the eventual outcome.

Number three, Sony built much of its case for Blu-ray on increased storage capacity. As it stands right now HD-DVD is releasing 30GB disc’s versus Blu-ray’s 25GB titles. Will Sony get the yields on the 50GB disc’s to an acceptable level in the coming months? I’d be foolish to even speculate on that one, but the answer to that question may very well play a large part in the outcome of the format war.

Blu-ray’s other advantage, studio support remains as it did in the months preceding launch, firmly in place. However with Sony and Panasonic’s players delayed till the fall, one has to wonder if the rock-solid studio support will hold.

But back to the format war specifically, so far I think its reasonable to assume that general confusion will continue to predominate among consumers, I’ve yet to see a major media source explain what’s going on, in a concise, clear, matter-of-fact manner.

Unless the Blu-ray camp unveils a player that retails for significantly less than the already announced models, I suspect we’ll see more of the same gut-level, emotional arguments from the supporters of both camps, for some time to come.

Barring some unforeseen bomb-shell of an announcement, I don’t expect any definitive revelations until the holidays, if even then.



Posted by Bryan Greenway | | Filed Under Blu-ray


Comments

  • grovberg

    “advertising is what sells most products in this country”

    I think there’s often an assumption by enthusiasts that if “joe user” could be educated, they would care about superior quality. I don’t believe that this is the case. I think most people just don’t care.

    Last week’s Audioholics article really nails it on the head.

    DVD-A and SACD didn’t fail because they weren’t marketed correctly. It’s because CDs are plenty good enough for most folks. The guys at your gym aren’t bothered by the distorted image. They only bought the TV because it’s neat looking. They could care less about the picture quality.

  • grovberg

    “advertising is what sells most products in this country”

    I think there’s often an assumption by enthusiasts that if “joe user” could be educated, they would care about superior quality. I don’t believe that this is the case. I think most people just don’t care.

    Last week’s Audioholics article really nails it on the head.

    DVD-A and SACD didn’t fail because they weren’t marketed correctly. It’s because CDs are plenty good enough for most folks. The guys at your gym aren’t bothered by the distorted image. They only bought the TV because it’s neat looking. They could care less about the picture quality.

  • Kevin

    It’s fun to follow the format war, even though I haven’t taken the plunge of picking sides yet. Thanks for your updates.

    The initial offerings from both sides haven’t exactly been exciting, so I’m holding out for a few more months before upgrading. The thing I worry about more and more is that this will end up being another DVD-A/SACD issue with the fomats both dieing inspite of technical superiority.

    Sadly, advertising is what sells most products in this country, and I haven’t seen many ads explaining the new technology to the average guy who doesn’t read websites like this one. I bet most people don’t realize that these formats even exist yet.

    Heck, my gym just replaced their perfectly good 4:3 TV with a 16:9 HDTV on which they show SD content stretched to fill the screen. (There’s nothing like watching short, fat basketball players.) When I talked to the staff about this, I received a black stare.

  • Kevin

    It’s fun to follow the format war, even though I haven’t taken the plunge of picking sides yet. Thanks for your updates.

    The initial offerings from both sides haven’t exactly been exciting, so I’m holding out for a few more months before upgrading. The thing I worry about more and more is that this will end up being another DVD-A/SACD issue with the fomats both dieing inspite of technical superiority.

    Sadly, advertising is what sells most products in this country, and I haven’t seen many ads explaining the new technology to the average guy who doesn’t read websites like this one. I bet most people don’t realize that these formats even exist yet.

    Heck, my gym just replaced their perfectly good 4:3 TV with a 16:9 HDTV on which they show SD content stretched to fill the screen. (There’s nothing like watching short, fat basketball players.) When I talked to the staff about this, I received a black stare.

  • Dave

    Interesting stuff. I wasn’t aware that the BD movies were being released at 25GB.

    When you consider the lower compression ratio for their format (compared to HD-DVD), it’s no wonder early reviews have been less than stellar. I’d hate to spend $1000 on a player only to be forced to purchase movies which look inferior to those I could get for a $500 player.

    You have to believe they’ll re-release all the movies in the current lineup once they get the dual-layer problem resolved, so any movie purchase for BD would seem like a bad investment as well. Huh.

  • Dave

    Interesting stuff. I wasn’t aware that the BD movies were being released at 25GB.

    When you consider the lower compression ratio for their format (compared to HD-DVD), it’s no wonder early reviews have been less than stellar. I’d hate to spend $1000 on a player only to be forced to purchase movies which look inferior to those I could get for a $500 player.

    You have to believe they’ll re-release all the movies in the current lineup once they get the dual-layer problem resolved, so any movie purchase for BD would seem like a bad investment as well. Huh.