Panasonic Displays New Blu-ray Player, Wireless BD-enabled Home Theater System9 May, 2008 By: Chris Tribbey
UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. — Panasonic debuted its third-generation Blu-ray Disc player at its Panasonic Hollywood Laboratory May 9, as well as a complete wireless home theater system with an integrated Blu-ray player.
With the wireless SC-BT100 system, Panasonic chose affordability over functionality, giving Blu-ray consumers one-stop shopping all for $999.95, but only a profile 1.1-enabled Blu-ray player.
However, the standalone player, the DMP-BD50, adds BD Live (profile 2.0) functionality and the ability to handle all BD audio codecs, including Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. Retailing in June for $699.95, the player adds an Ethernet connection and an SD Memory Card slot, and employs Panasonic's Uniphier digital video processor. It upconverts DVD video to 1080/24p as well.
“This is our big brother to the BD-30,” said Takeshi Kuraku, manager of the audio and video marketing team for Panasonic in Japan. The BD-30, Panasonic's second-generation player, will remain for sale for $499.99.
It will be only the second BD Live-enabled player in the market, the first being the PlayStation 3.
Panasonic showed off the video of the new player side-by-side with the BD-30 on two 50-inch HDTVs. The BD-50 looked marginally sharper than its younger brother. Tetsuya Itani, chief engineer for the advanced development team of Panasonic's Product Engineering Group, raved over the advancements Panasonic has made with each generation of Blu-ray players.
“We were very happy with the picture of the BD-10 at the time,” he said. “[And] we've improved our software compared to the BD-30.”
Paul Sabo, national audio marketing manager for Panasonic, showed off all the new features on the home theater system, including an iPod dock that plays the music and videos on the Apple device, displays the menus and charges it. The remote control works the iPod as well.
“This is the simple, ideal solution for those embarking on the high-definition home theater experience,” Sabo said.
While the system only includes a 5.1 speaker set-up, it's wireless out of the box, upgrades to 7.1 on just the speakers included and can be upgraded to a full 7.1 channels with the purchase of a supplemental package with two more wireless speakers and a second transceiver, for $199. Sabo was especially proud of the new subwoofer design — which reduces vibration and undesired noise — and the bamboo make-up of the speakers. The system also includes a “whisper” mode for late-night viewing.