CES: Blu-ray Players, Web-enabled TVs and 3-D Dominate Media Day7 Jan, 2009 By: Erik Gruenwedel
LAS VEGAS — Buoyed by favorable consumer response to Blu-ray in the fourth quarter, consumer electronics manufacturers Jan. 7 showcased the format in several new profile 2.0 players and related home theater products, during press day at the 2009 International CES confab.
Panasonic unveiled the BD60, BD80 and BD70V profile 2.0 players that are synched with the manufacturer’s Viera-branded HDTVs that enable interactivity with the Internet.
The company also introduced a portable Blu-ray player with 1080p resolution with BD Live functionality, available this summer.
Samsung bowed three profile 2.0 BD players, including its flagship wireless player, the previously mentioned 1.5-inch thick wall-mountable BD-P4600 that includes Netflix streaming, 1080p resolution, the latest HD sound quality, and ejects a disc in one second.
“This is a design that is meant to be shown off,” said Tim Baxter, EVP consumer electronics sales and marketing with Samsung.
Baxter said the holidays proved Blu-ray as a viable format. He said he expects year-end U.S. sales of 2.8 million BD players to double in 2009.
“Blu-ray is definitely not Laserdisc,” Baxter said. “We believe consumer adoption of Blu-ray has evolved beyond the early adopter.”
Samsung also bowed the HT-BD8200 Blu-ray home theater system that incorporates wireless technology, including wireless subwoofer, compatible wireless HDTV and audio system.
Panasonic joined Samsung in separate announced partnerships with Yahoo that involve a proprietary widget embedded in new lines of wireless LCD and plasma HDTVs that allow users to view Web-based content.
Panasonic announced its BT 200 and BT 300 Blu-ray home theater systems that include Amazon’s VOD service, YouTube videos, Picasa music and Bloomberg news.
The manufacturer said it is working to bring to home entertainment 3-D technology in Blu-ray by 2010.
It is working with Titanic director James Cameron and his new film, Avatar, the first major studio tentpole 3-D movie slated for release in December.
Sony said sales of the BD-350 Blu-ray player ranked among the company’s top-selling products in 2008, a 300% increase from the previous year.
“Sony is positioned for continued Blu-ray leadership this year,” said Stan Glasgow, president and COO of Sony Computer Electronics. “I believe this will be watershed year for Blu-ray. The combination of available content and attractively priced hardware is a compelling consumer proposition.”
Separately, Pioneer announced three new players, the BDP-120, BDP-320 and BDP-23FD.