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Panasonic Debuts 2.1-Channel HT Blu-ray System

In addition to showing its Blu-ray and plasma-based 3-D HDTV technology, Panasonic will take the wraps off its first 2.1-channel Blu-ray Disc home-theater system at CEDIA Expo.

Panasonic will also present its new 85-inch professional plasma display, which is set to reach market in October.

The TH-85PF12U ($30,000 MSRP) is billed as the industry’s first 85-inch, FullHD 1080p plasma display, and includes a newly developed, high-definition “Neo Plasma display panel” (NeoPDP) that is said to present “the world’s highest moving image resolution of 1,080 lines and highest contrast ratio of 40,000:1 (2,000,000:1 dynamic).”

A screen display area is the equivalent of four 42-inch displays, according to Panasonic. The effective widescreen dimensions area 74.4 by 41.8 inches. The body depth is 3.9 inches.

Meanwhile, the SC-BTX70 2.1 Blu-ray home-theater system, which ships this month at a $1,000 suggested retail, features an upright silhouette design that is said make a good cosmetic match for today’s flat-panel TVs.

In addition to playing Blu-ray Disc’s in FullHD, the system offers a wide variety of other digital media options.

The 2.1-channel system is designed to deliver “realistic virtual 7.1-channel sound dispersed through a wide listening area,” according to Panasonic.

The integrated Blu-ray player supports Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD with virtual 7.1-channel surround, and the system’s two front speakers feature a new top-mounted speaker design that is said to expand the listening area. The speakers are made with rigid, low-density bamboo cones that Panasonic said achieves “pure sound and crisp dialogue.”

Also added is a Kelton-type subwoofer.

A 96-kHz Surround Re-master function enhances the sound quality of CDs and other sources and is said to raise the quality of the multi-channel audio data on Blu-ray Discs and DVDs for “highly realistic sounds.”

The system includes a power sliding door that conceals the Blu-ray Disc player, a universal dock for an iPod, an SD memory card slot, and a USB terminal for viewing photos and videos taken with a digital still or video camera.

All system operations can be controlled with a single Viera-Link (HDMI-CEC) remote from a Viera flat-panel TV.

For video processing and scaling, the system includes an image-enhancing PHL Chroma Processor Plus and high-precision 4:4:4 technology.

Built-in networking features enable a connection to the Internet to access the Viera Cast system with online videos from YouTube, Amazon Video On Demand (VOD) and Web-based photos on Picasa.

The player also supports BD-Live Profile 2.0 extras from Blu-ray Discs.

The system conforms to EnergyStar standards and uses UniPhier LSI that integrates all video signal processing circuits onto a single chip to lower power consumption.

Meanwhile, Panasonic will continue to showcase its 3-D HDTV technology that enables stereoscopic 3-D effects in FullHD 1080p resolution from specially designed Blu-ray Disc players and compatible plasma displays.

As this went to press a standard was expected to be announced imminently that would open similar compatible technology to other manufacturers and display types.

Panasonic is also backing its expected foray into the 3-D field next year with a sponsorship of the new James Cameron-produced 3-D Sci-Fi feature “Avatar” that premieres in theaters this December.