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Panasonic Shows Off New Line of Blu-ray Players and HDTVs

18 Mar, 2009 By: Chris Tribbey

Panasonic’s Alex Fried shows off the company’s 2009 Blu-ray Disc player line-up.

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. — Faster, better, more affordable, more user-friendly, and more energy efficient. It’s a wide set of goals for any consumer electronics company, but Panasonic believes it has accomplished them all with its 2009 line-up of Blu-ray Disc players and HDTVs.

“At the end of the day, Panasonic is still optimistic and bullish about Blu-ray,” said Alex Fried, national marketing manager for Panasonic’s entertainment group, while showing off Panasonic’s three new Blu-ray standalone players and two new Blu-ray home theater systems. “We really feel we’re uniquely suited to deliver the best home theater experience.”

The three new standalone players — the DMP-BD60 ($299.95), DMP-BD80 ($399.95), and DMP-BD70V ($399.95) — will be available in April. All three include Viera Cast Internet functionality, which allows users to access Amazon VOD content, YouTube videos, Bloomberg stock reports, weather and more; SD card slots for portable, digital photos and videos; USB ports; high-definition audio decoders for Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, and DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 tracks; Pixel Precision Progressive Processing for HD (P4HD) technology that processes 15 billion pixels per second; and 96kHz surround re-master, a function that enhances sound for CD, DVD and Blu-ray.

The DMP-BD70V also has the distinction of being the first Blu-ray player to incorporate a VHS player (and it upconverts video to 1080p). Fried said so many people still have VHS, it made sense to offer consumers a player that plays VHS, CD, DVD and Blu-ray.

“We’ve made these devices smaller, used less materials, and included power-saving functions that can tell if the player has been left on, but isn’t in use,” Fried added.

The two Blu-ray home theater systems — the SC-BT200 ($599.95) and SC-BT300 ($699.95) — will also be available in April and come with 7.1 speaker set-ups, including options for wireless rear speakers, Internet connectivity and universal iPod docks.

Henry Hauser, project manager with Panasonic, isn’t shy about touting Panasonic’s 2009 HDTVs.

“We think we have the best display devices, period,” he said, running through the details of five new Panasonic plasma and three new LCD brands.

All of Panasonic’s 2009 HDTVs have a play lifespan of 100,000 hours, an image viewer for digital photos, blacker blacks and Energy Star certification.

The flagship model — the Z1 series (54 inches; $5,999.95) — is a slick, one-inch thin plasma panel display, featuring wireless connectivity to access Internet content, such as Amazon VOD, a 40,000:1 contrast ratio and an SD card slot. It is also one of three new Panasonic models that earned certification from THX, with an easy THX set-up option for consumers. The V10 (65 inches; price TBA) and G10 (54 inches; $2,399.95) plasma models are also THX certified, and also include Viera Internet connectivity, 40,000:1 contrast ratios and SD card slots.

“Our goal was to recreate what the filmmaker was seeing in the mastering environment,” said Graham McKenna, senior spokesman for THX. “It’s a great out-of-the-box setting.”

Panasonic’s X1 series (50 inches; $1,099.95) is geared toward the consumer looking for a lower-priced HDTV, with 720p video. On the LCD side, the top-of-the-line G1 series (37 inches; $1,099.95) has 1080p and 720p options, with PC inputs, three HDMI inputs, SD card readers and 20,000:1 contrast ratios. The S1 series (37 inches; $899.95) features 1080p, 15,000: 1 contrast ratio, and PC and HDMI inputs, while the X1 series (37 inches; $799.95) is purely 720p, with an iPod entertainment kit, PC and HDMI inputs, and 12,000:1 contrast ratio.

Some of Panasonic’s new HDTVs are shipping this month, while others will be available this summer.

“We think the television market will remain strong in 2009,” Hauser said. “We see double-digit growth for 2009-2010.”

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