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Panasonic Adds Two Blu-Ray HTIBs

Panasonic is launching two new Blu-ray-equipped HTiBs at lower prices to replace its current model. Four new DVD-equipped HTiBs are also expected to be on display.

The company’s current Blu-ray HTiB, the $999-everyday BT100, features all Blu-ray surround decoders and 5.1 speaker system, including two wireless surrounds. It’s expandable to a 7.1-speaker system with the addition of optional wireless speakers at an everyday $199.

The two new BD HTiBs, whose prices were unavailable, will replace the BT100 and will come with 7.1-speaker system to reflect the growing amount of 7.1-channel soundtracks on BD discs, said home audio marketing manager Paul Sabo. Both will be the company’s first BD HTiBs with BD-Live capability, and they’ll be the first Panasonic HTiBs with Panasonic’s Viera Cast service, launched in 2008 on select TVs to deliver direct Internet access to YouTube, Picasa Web Albums from Google, and other content.

One model, the top-of-the-line SC-BT300, features embedded iPod dock, wireless-ready surround speakers, 1,250-watt output, and two “tall boy” front speakers. The other new 7.1 channel Blu-ray model, the SC-BT200, features iPod dock, 1,000-watt output, and six matching speakers.

In its entire HTiB lineup, Panasonic will include wireless speakers out of the box on most models. The embedded iPod docks in all models have been upgraded to display an iPod’s video menu on a TV screen, not just the audio menu, and all models will up-convert audio on all channels to 96kHz sampling rates, Sabo said.