September 03, 2008
| by Arlen Schweiger
The Panasonic carousel of management had plenty to share today—they all sort of linked their announcements together like the web of connectivity the company is creating with its Viera link line of products. The “Visual Era”—Viera—as they are calling it.
In that respect, Panasonic covered the whole home theater realm during its press conference, starting with its new Blu-ray players, on to an A/V receiver, to the projector, to larger-size plasma TVs.
—The DMP-BD35 and DMP-BD55 Blu-ray players have the full assortment of goodies, and Panasonic noted that the BD35 even uses 20 percent less power than the DMP-BD30 model. You’ll get your high-resolution audio codecs, BD Live, Bonusview, 7.1 surround, and sweet video processing that Panasonic’s enlisted Hollywood’s help on—the Panasonic Hollywood Laboratory (PHL) Reference Chroma Processor Plus. No word on pricing.
—The SA-BX500 7.1-channel A/V receiver Panasonic touts as the perfect complement for your Blu-ray, of course. It’s got three HDMI inputs and six A/V inputs for all of your sources, and the really cool feature is it’s ability to give you virtual 7.1 surround sound if you only have a 5.1-channel surround system (hey, we can’t all fit eight speakers in a room). Panasonic says it’ll go for $799 this fall.
—Of course, you have to have a kick-### projector for your theater system, so you’ll want the PT-AE300. While Panasonic’s PT-AE2000 gets heaps of praise—especially from the DIY crowd as a solid, affordable 1080p projector—the company has the PT-AE3000 next-gen model, which will be out in Japan for $3,499 in Japan next month. The LCD projector has 1600 lumens of brightness and an ungodly 60,000:1 contrast ratio, helped by an added pure contrast plate within the system. The second-gen Detail Clarity Processor 2 ups the video quality ante as well.
—On the plasma front, Panasonic’s getting ready to unveil its 5th-generation panel producing facility, and it’ll be offering “one sheet of glass” size plasmas for its Viera line—58- and 65-inch PZ850 models, and a 58-incher for its PZ800 line. The biggie feature Panasonic boasts is its Viera Cast for its Viera product—the networking capability by which you can access Picasa photos, YouTube, Weather Channel and Bloomberg updates. The company plans to give consumers much more than those capabilities in the future, noting that since it’s all connected to a Panasonic server, whatever they add to the server will be instantly added content that viewers can tap into when it becomes available. Look for the 58- and 65-inch PZ850 displays this month for $3,999 and $6,999, respectively.
And, oh yeah, Panasonic wants to make sure everyone knows about its relationship with tru2way, the technology that will make cable set-top boxes obsolete someday—those tru2way capable TVs will be rolling out this holiday season, Panasonic says, with all of your cable guide info set to browse right inside, plus other two-way communication abilities that will come with the technology. We can’t wait for winter.
Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.