Blu-ray got a boost recently.

In a story from The Hollywood Reporter, "Panasonic on Tuesday unveiled a next-generation Blu-ray Disc player with enhanced interactivity, including picture-in-picture and audio mixing."

Called the DMP-BD30 it "will ship Monday and should be in stores nationwide within a week, said Eisuke Tsuyuzaki, vp corporate development at Panasonic and GM of its Blu-ray Disc Group.

The DMP-BD30 will sell for $499 and it "is the first Blu-ray player to be introduced with Final Standard Profile, with a variety of new and enhanced features. Among them are picture-in-picture and audio mixing, which lets users switch sound between the main and secondary windows."

In addition to this "the 1080p player also includes an SD memory card slot for playback of high-definition content recorded in the AVCHD format. The slot also allows viewing of digital still images recorded to a high-capacity HD SD card."

"Panasonic's adoption of the Final Standard Profile adds a whole new dimension to the entertainment experience," states Gene Kelsey, vp of the Panasonic Entertainment Group. "One of the more intriguing aspects of the Final Standard Profile is the picture-in-picture feature that allows the movie fan to access a variety of entertainment enhancements, such as having the director or an actor pop up to discuss the scene you are watching, or when watching an animated movie, allowing you to see the actor performing their character's voice over, all while still watching the movie."

Also, "the DMP-BD30 also comes with other technological advances, including deep color compatibility and HDMI 1.3B, which bumps the step gradation from 8-bit 256 all the way up to 12-bit 4,096."

Lastly, "the player also provides 1080/24p playback, so the consumer can enjoy the same 24-frames-per-second reproduction as the original movie."

Evan Jacobs