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Panasonic Bows Wide A/V Digital Lineup

A pair of EDTV-level plasma panels with fully integrated ATSC digital tuning, and a recordable DVD-based camcorder represented the highlights of Panasonic’s 2003 product line unveiled at CES.

Other key products include: a compact LCD-based front projector, three HDTV-grade Tau flat-tube direct view monitors, an ultra-compact digital voice recorder with built-in USB port.

The company’s new DVD camcorder, model VDR-M30 ($899.99 suggested retail) features a slimmer and more compact design than earlier models. The unit records high-quality digital video and still images onto removable 8cm DVD-RAM and DVD-R discs. Also featured is an SD Memory Card slot. It will ship to retail in the spring.

Another new digital camcorder was the Ultra-Compact Palmcorder Multicam PV-GS50 ($699.95, March), which is billed as a three-in-one mini DV cassette camcorder that captures high-quality digital video and still images and serves as a Web camera. In features a 2.5-inch LCD display, 10x optical and 700x digital zoom, color viewfinder and an SD Memory Card slot with included 8MB SD Card.

In plasma, Panasonic will offer the EDTV sets (with internal ATSC tuning) in two screen sizes — a 37W-inch 16:9 model (TH37PA20U), which will ship in August at a $4,499 suggested retail and a 42W-inch 16:9 model (TH42PA20U), which will ship in July at $4,999.

Both models list 850 by 400 pixel resolution and 3,000:1 contrast ratios. Also included are two NTSC tuners with picture-in-picture and split-screen functions, and DVI/HDCP digital interface inputs.

In LCD TVs, Panasonic showed three 4:3 models in the 14-inch TC-14TA1 ($799), the 17-inch TC-17TA1 ($1,299) and the 20-inch TC-20TA1 ($1,999) screen sizes. All will ship in June.

The company also added a compact LCD front projector that weighs 6.4 pounds. Model PT-AE200 ($1,999.95, February) offers dual widescreen and 4:3 output at up to a 525 progressive resolution and an SD memory card slot. It will project up to an 80-foot 16:9 image at an 8.2-foot throw distance.

In LCD rear projection, Panasonic showed two HDTV-level monitors in the 43W-inch PT-43LC13, which ships in June at $2,999, and the 50W-inch PT-50LC13, which ships in July at $3,699.

Three HDTV monitors will also debut in the Tau flat-tube direct view line. Model CT-32HL43 has a 32-inch screen and will ship in May at a $1,199 suggested retail price. Model CT-36HL43 has a 36-inch 4:3 screen and is scheduled to ship in June at $1,599. In wide screen, Panasonic will carry the CT-34WX53, which ships in in June at $1,999.

In CRT rear-projection HDTV monitors, Panasonic will show three 16:9 widescreen models, including the 47W-inch PT-47WX53, which ships in May at $1,599; the PT-56WX53, which ships in May at $1,999; and the PT-53WX53, which ships in May at $1,799.

Panasonic unveiled its second-generation DLP rear projection set featuring a Texas Instruments HD-2 (1,280 by 720) Digital Micromirror Device chip and a 52W-inch screen size. The product made its debut last fall at CEDIA Expo, which carries a $4,999.95 suggested retail price.

Also shown was a new recordable DVD-RAM/DVD-R recording deck. Model DMR-E50 is scheduled to ship in February, and will feature Panasonic’s Time Slip instant recording system that allows viewers to replay a scene recorded 30 seconds earlier without disrupting the recording process.

In portable DVD, Panasonic offered a $999 player featuring a 9-inch VGA LCD screen. Model DVD-LX features progressive scan output and a docking station that enables users to quickly disconnect and reconnect the player to their home theater systems.

In portable audio products, Panasonic showed a new IC voice recorder with 420 minutes of recording time and 32-hour battery life.

The IC recorder model RR-US006 ($199.95, March) is about the size, weight and shape of a pen and features a two-piece design: the ultra-slim recorder itself and a separate base/battery charger with an extra speaker.

Also introduced were two portable CD players (models SL-J600V and SL-J900), featuring Panasonic’s new 2-Way Listening technology that enables the units to be used as both a portable player and a desktop audio source.

The SL-J900 system offers a square shaped portable CD player, a wired remote with ID3 Tag capability and a recharging docking station with stereo speakers.

The SL-J600V incorporates a Digital Synthesizer Tuner for AM/FM radio and 30 station presents. It also features a round silver-finish CD player and two round pole-type speakers to fit in a dorm room or bedroom. The SL-J900, which is designed for the office setting, features an iridescent, square-shaped CD player that fits neatly between two flat panel speakers.

In the portable “e-wear SD player” series, the company presented two new 4-in-1 SD A/V recorders. The units combine a digital video recorder, a digital still camera, and a digital audio player with new SD-Jukebox software and a digital voice recorder. The players are said to be the size of a deck of playing cards. Models SV-AV20 ($299.95) and SV-AV30 ($399.95) feature a user-friendly interface and improved video resolution, and the SV-AV30 adds a docking station for recording and viewing footage on a traditional television.

The four-in-one SD A/V devices snap digital images, shoot high-resolution video and play your favorite digital audio files. New models also feature improved motion picture quality with an improved (15 frames per second) MPEG4 frame rate, up to three-hour music playback time, and redesigned ergonomic controls.

The SV-AV20 and SV-AV30, which will ship in March, include a built-in flash for digital still picture taking and an LCD viewscreen.