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Panasonic Bows Broad Integrated HDTV Line

Among a host of new video product announcements at International CES, Panasonic will introduce six digital plasma TV models for 2005, three LCD rear-projection TV sets, a pair of DLP rear-projection HDTV sets, and three DIGA DVD recorders with additional recording support for DVD+R and DVD-RW media.

All of Panasonic’s plasma display introductions feature fully integrated ATSC, NTSC and QAM tuning and feature the company’s latest advances in plasma panel technology. The company lists the manufacturing of plasma panels as a core competency.

Highlighting the lineup is the TH-50PX500U, a 50W-inch HDTV plasma set with integrated uni-directional digital CableCARD compatibility, built-in electronic program guide, PCMCIA and SD memory card slots, and HDMI with HDCP input. The panel is said to produce a 3,000:1 contrast ratio and 8.6 billion colors.

The panel’s sub-pixel control individually addresses the red, green and blue charges within one pixel, resulting in a 30 percent increase in horizontal resolution over previous models, Panasonic said.

Panasonic will introduce three fully integrated rear-projection HDTV sets, with screen sizes of 44W-inches, 52W-inches and 61W-inches. All three models offer integrated ATSC, NTSC and QAM tuning, and uni-directional CableCARD slots. Features include a digital Photo Viewer capability with an SD slot, RGB PC inputs and HDMI with HDCP inputs.

In direct-view LCD TV, Panasonic is offering a range of new widescreen sizes that have been “aggressively priced” to appeal to a broader consumer base.

New HDTV 720p models will be available in 19W-inch, 23W-inch, 26W-inch and 32W-inch diagonal screen sizes. Additionally, Panasonic is offering a new 20-inch (diagonal) 4:3 EDTV 480p model with a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $799.95.

The company will also unveil its first 1,080p LCD 16:9 widescreen television. Model 61LCX85 features 61W-inch screen size, and a contrast ratio up to 2,000:1. Other features include integrated ATSC, NTSC, QAM tuning, CableCARD slot, SD/PCMCIA card slots with Photo Viewer and HDMI inputs, and the ability to record and playback MPEG-4 video on the SD memory cards. The set will also include a built-in EPG.

In new DLP-based rear-projection HDTV offerings, Panasonic will show two models using Texas Instruments’ HD2+ chip. The 56W-inch PT-56DLX75 and the 61W-inch PT-61DLX75, are both planned for August deliveries at prices to be announced. They offer contrast ratios of 2,500:1, using Panasonic’s fourth-generation DLP light engine design.

Both models include ATSC, NTSC and QAM tuning, a uni-directional CableCARD slot, SD and PCMCIA memory card slots and Photo Viewer. Inputs include RGB PC and HDMI with HDCP.

Panansonic will also unveil three DVD recorders in its DIGA family. Models DMR-ES10, DMR-ES30 and DMR-EH50 have added DVD+R and DVD-RW (video format) recording and playback capability in addition to DVD-RAM and DVD-R1 media. The decks will also play back DVD-RAM, DVD-R, DVD+R, DVD-RW, DVD+RW, DVD-Audio, DVD-video, video CD, audio CD (CD-DA) and CD-R/RW2 MP3 formatted discs.

Among the new features for this year’s line are a faster start-up response for recording, accessing and playing back content; improved horizontal and vertical resolution for enhanced picture quality; a “Smart-Wheel” remote to quickly find recorded programs, a 200x quick search and fast forward and 2x-5x smooth search.

Meanwhile, Panasonic is also adding two multi-format players and two 9-inch LCD portable DVD players to its 2005 DVD product line.