Panasonic is covering all of its bases with its new Blu-ray player lineup, everything from a model that includes a built-in VCR for those still semi-caught in the past to one that looks toward the future with its VieraCast network-connected feature.
The DMP-BD70V (pictured) is the world's firstand possibly lastBlu-ray/VCR combo player. It would probably be more useful as a VCR/Blu-ray recorder so you can compile all those old Hee Haw reruns to digital media for once and all, but maybe that's a future offering in what will no doubt an insanely popular line of products. The one truly interesting feature on the DMP-BD70V is that it upconverts the footage from videotapes to 1080p (as well as conventional DVDs). Can this actually make a difference on your 20-year-old wedding video. I'm mildly curious to find out.
In addition to its analog throwback, Panasonic is also hedging its bets against what could spell the eventual end of Blu-ray: streaming video from the Web. The DMP-BD70V, along with the DMP-BD60 and DMP-BD60 models, features VieraCast, the company's version of Internet services that most TV makers are offering with some of their sets this year. VieraCast apps most importantly include Amazon's Video on Demand, though a YouTube channel is also available. The included Ethernet connection also lets you view the interactive features on Blu-ray discs compatible with BD Live (Profile 2.0) technology. The primary difference between the DMP-BD80 and DMP-BD60 is audio: The DMP-BD80 offers 7.1 channel analog out, which tacks on an extra $100 to the cost.
Both the DMP-BD70V and the DMP-BD80 will cost $399.95 when they ship next month, while the DMP-BD60, also available in April, will be priced at $299.95.