Parks Associates Blog

Monday, March 07, 2011

Panasonic shares details on new TVs, Blu-rays, audio gear

Panasonic revealed the pricing of the new iPod/iPhone-docking compact audio systems and new soundbar in its 2011 audio lineup, and revealed more details about a variety of new features and technologies available for the first time on its new 3D Blu-ray HTiBs.

All four compact systems are thin, vertically-oriented single-chassis models, that range from 2.5 to 2.75 inches deep, of which two of the models can be wall-mounted. These four new compact systems, as well as, the three new 3G Blu-ray HTiBs, are the company's first products of its kind to take in music in PCM digital form, from a docked iPod/iPhone to improve sound quality. Meanwhile, two of four new docking compact stereo systems are the company's first with ability to select favorite Internet radio stations for playback, via the systems' included IR remote. Three of the four compact audio systems incorporate AM/FM tuner and MP3-CD players which retail between $99 and $199. The fourth system lacks CD-tuner, and retails for a suggested price of $179. Unfortunately, Panasonic's oversight in providing access to Internet radio in two of its systems leaves users having to pay $1.99 for a vTuner app that accesses Internet radio stations via Apple devices' embedded Wi-Fi radio. The music is then streamed to the compact systems via stereo Bluetooth.

The new soundbar, the SC-HTB520, features wireless outboard subwoofer, one 3D-capable HDMI 1.4 input, an HDMI 1.4 output with audio return channel, built-in Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 decoders, and Dolby Virtual Speaker to create virtual surround. The SC-HTB520 features a taller, thinner subwoofer, with downfiring driver.

Panasonic's new DVD HTiB launch is bringing 2D-to-3D conversion to the company's Blu-ray HTiB line, and offering a 3D Effect Controller for the first time. The 2D-to-3D conversion converts 2D video on DVDs, Blu-ray discs, and SD Cards to 3D. The new HTiBs upconvert streaming video-on-demand services to full 1080p, feature built-in WiFi, and allows users to customize the Blu-ray homescreen.The base price of a 3D-equipped HTiB retails at a suggested price of $399 to $499 The top two models priced at $499 and $599 priced are the company's first HTiBs with HDMI inputs. They are also the first two Panasonic HTiBs with optional Skype video chat. All three HTiBs feature 5.1-speaker systems, 1,000-watt outputs, faster loading integrated Blu-ray players, HDMI 1.4a input with audio return channel, and Cinema Surround Plus.

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