When does adding a letter to a consumer electronic product's model number save you money? Answer: when you buy the latest Blu-ray Disc player from Panasonic. Cost cutter The company's new DMP-BD10A player sells for HK$6,800, compared with the HK$10,800 price tag on the DMP-BD10 model, released last year. You might assume the price cut means the new model pales in comparison with its predecessor but that is far from the truth. Blu-ray Disc is one of two next-generation optical disc formats being adopted by audio-video system manufacturers worldwide. The other is known as High Definition DVD. Blu-ray's name is derived from the blue-violet laser used to read and write on this type of disc, which can hold substantially more data than the standard-definition DVD format. A dual-layer Blu-ray disc, for example, can store 50 gigabytes worth of high-definition movies, video games and digital songs. That is about six times the capacity of an 8.5GB dual-layer standard-definition DVD. Audio upgrade The major upgrade with Panasonic's new Blu-ray deck is on the audio side. It has built-in support for 7.1 channel surround sound, including the new Dolby TrueHD multi-channel audio system. That means the player can deliver input from seven audio channels and a low-frequency effects channel from an eight-speaker source - all geared to enrich the sound and fury of that compatible high-definition action movie you just purchased. Like its older sibling, the second-generation player supports other audio-video formats, including standard-definition DVD, SVCD, CD and MP3. The BD10A also incorporates Panasonic's proprietary video processing technology, called P4HD, which is supposed to allow the player to process 15 billion pixels per second. It also includes a 297-megahertz 14-bit digital audio converter. Must have Simply put, all the stuff above will ensure you'll see pictures and hear sounds with amazing clarity, and rarely encounter any errors as you play them. The Panasonic DMP-BD10A is a must-have Blu-ray player for home entertainment systems.