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Panasonic Readies 2nd-Generation DVO

Looking to maintain the momentum it established by delivering the world's first laptop DVD video player last year, Panasonic this month will deliver a new and improved second-generation model.

The new player, model DVD-L50, has been reduced on several fronts including size, weight and price. At the same time it adds a longer-playing lithium-ion battery pack, DTS-pass-through capability, and a credit card-size remote control.

"We believe the DVD-L50 will help us build on the success we had with DVD-L10 last year," said Jody Sally, Panasonic DVD national marketing manager. "That product really brought excitement to the DVD category, and because we were fortunate enough to enjoy a product exclusive for most of the year, the DVD-L10 accounted for over 20% of our DVD player revenue."

The new player weighs 2 pounds with battery attached, down 1.25 pounds from the previous DVD-L10, which it re-places. The attached, flip-up 16:9 wide-screen LCD panel has been shaved from 5.8" to 5", while keeping the same 280,000-pixel TFT design. More importantly, pricing has dropped from $200 to a $1,099.95 suggested retail for the DVD-L50.

The DVD-L50 also offers a newly "refined" stereo speakers built into the frame that holds the flip-up LCD screen. Panasonic has also added its proprietary volume-enhancer system that boosts and clarifies dialogue audio tracks to match the accompanying background music and sound effects in six-channel surround sound applications.

Other features include five-speed scene search, between 2x-100x increments, built-in joystick control to manipulate onscreen function menus, and an aspect ratio switch to find the best framing presentation for various software types.

Like the previous model, the DVD-L50 is designed for both in-home and portable use. It offers digital coaxial and optical connections, although wiring for the latter is an option.

To reduce size, the front-faced fluorescent display readout has been removed in favor of onscreen function menus and digital readouts. Input and output jacks were shifted from the rear to the left side of the player to make room for the lithium-ion battery pack that snaps onto the rear of the player.

The battery itself will play three hours per charge versus 2 hours and 15 minutes for the nickel metal hydride battery pack used on the DVD-10. To simplify the recharging process, Panasonic has also built a recharger into the player.