The Panasonic DMP-BDT310 is the Japanese company's latest flagship 3D-ready Blu-ray player, taking everything that was great about last year's DMP-BDT300 and jazzing it up with a bunch of new features for 2011.
It sits at the top of a range that also includes the entry-level, non-3D DMP-BD75, plus two lesser-spec'd 3D decks, the DMP-BDT110 and DMP-BDT210.
Some of the tastiest new tech relates to 3D playback – you get a whole bunch of 3D picture adjustments and 2D-to-3D conversion, which has previously only been available on Samsung's 3D-ready TVs.
The BDT310 has a couple of other fresh tricks up its sleeve – it allows you to make Skype video calls from the comfort of your armchair and can also be controlled using an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch with a free app.
These new talents join an already fit-to-burst feature list, which includes DLNA networking functionality, internet access and the usual array of picture processing power developed at Panasonic Hollywood Labs.
However, it's not only the feature list that's been revamped for 2011. All of the players have been compacted down into an impossibly slim casing (measuring just 35mm high), which not only makes them easier on your AV cabinet but also makes less of an impact on the environment due to the reduction in packaging.
What's more, the DMP-BDT310 has been blessed with another funky new cosmetic feature – the Touch Free Sensor. Simply wave your hand over the top-mounted sensor and the disc tray opens, and another wave shuts it. Superficial it may be, but it's undeniably cool too.
The sleek black deck also features an unusual diagonally dappled texture on top, which shimmers in the light. The front panel sports an SD card slot, which is designed for BD Live storage and MPEG-2, JPEG, MPO and AVCHD playback, plus a USB port that supports DivX HD, MKV, MP3, JPEG and WMV.
The biggest talking point on the rear panel is the presence of two HDMI outputs. That makes it possible to enjoy 3D pictures and HD audio soundtracks simultaneously if your AV receiver lacks HDMI v1.4 inputs. It's a feature we loved on the BDT300 and we're pleased to see it return. Of course, if your AV receiver boasts HDMI v1.4 inputs then the second output is of little use.
Elsewhere on the back you get USB and Ethernet ports, optical digital audio, analogue stereo and composite video outputs. Multichannel analogue and component video outputs are missing but aren't a great loss.