Saying that the company is ready to take a “decisive leadership position” in the Blu-ray Disc format, Panasonic launched its first Blu-ray Disc player, which will be merchandised as part of a one-branded 1,080p home theater package.
“Panasonic is making a meaningful transition away from offering stand-alone home entertainment products and toward providing complete home entertainment solutions,” said John Iacoviello, Panasonic product and marketing senior VP, in announcing the approach. “This move is a reflection of what the market is telling us.”
He said “more and more consumers are baffled by the range of choices they are being presented and the difficulty in connecting their video and audio components into a smoothly functioning home theater.”
The Blu-ray Disc “entertainment package” includes the DMP-BD10 Blu-ray player ($1,299.95 suggested retail), a 1,080p-ready SA-XR700 HDMI A/V receiver ($999.95) and a 5.1-channel surround sound SB-TP1000 speaker package ($2,999.95), all of which will be available in September.
The company is also encouraging dealers to merchandise the system with its forthcoming 65W-inch 1,080p plasma TV. When shown together, Panasonic is hoping to drive home the 1,080p message to consumers.
All have been designed for easy setup and interoperability. One remote will control all of the components in the system with a limited number of button pushes using Panasonic's “EZ-Sync HDAVI Control” interoperability technology.
The components will be sold separately, but Reid Sullivan, Panasonic entertainment group VP, said Panasonic is considering a package price for the whole system.
The DMP-BD10 Blu-ray player will feature full 1,080p output through its HDMI digital connector. The player has been designed to play back standard DVDs, music CDs and DVD-Audio discs, in addition to high-definition Blu-ray Discs, Sullivan said.
The unit features Panasonic's Pixel Precision for High Definition (P4HD) pixel-by-pixel processing system and a 296MHz/14-bit digital-to-analog video converter (DAC), offering 4.4 trillion colors and 16,384 levels of gradation. Audio is handled with a 192kHz/24-bit DAC.
A virtual battery system is also used to isolate noise before the signal is amplified. Decoders include DTS, DTS-ES, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital EX and Dolby Digital Plus to take advantage of Blu-ray's eight-channel capability. Sullivan said the unit “can also be upgraded to include Dolby Digital HD and Dolby Digital TruHD, when they become available.
The SA-XR700 receiver features three HDMI v1.2a connectors (two in and one out) and HDMI switching, and will pass through 1,080p video signals. The receiver, which can handle up to eight-channels of uncompressed audio, has a 100 watts by 7-channel power rating. It is XM satellite radio-ready and wirelessly expandable to another location in the home.
It also includes a full digital amp configuration that can “automatically assign amps to maximize performance depending on what speakers the user connects,” Sullivan said. An auto-configuring microphone “that can even tell if your speaker wire is connected incorrectly” is also added.
The matching 5.1-channel surround sound speaker system features an array of thin-tall speakers that can be wall mounted or placed on included speaker stands. It uses a twin-center speaker design that enhances center-channel performance and eliminates the need for a center-channel speaker itself.
Each left and right front speaker features a dedicated center-channel speaker system in its own isolated cabinet with twin full-range speakers, a tweeter and a super tweeter that can handle frequencies up to 100KHz.
“You don't need to find a place to put the center channel speaker,” said Sullivan, “and because it is less directional, it helps center the dialog to the center of the display instead of above or below it.”