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Panasonic Music Server Tops Audio Line

Panasonic’s audio systems introductions here include the company’s first home theater in a box (HTiB) with wireless HDD music server, first virtual-surround HTiB and first HTiBs with 1,080/up-scaling HDMI outputs.

Other highlights include an expanded selection of XM-ready HTiBs and shelf systems.

The company’s first XM-ready HTiB and microsystem shipped last September, and here at International CES, all four new HTiBs will feature the XM input at targeted suggested retails of $299 to $999. Two new minisystems and a new microsystem are also in the works with XM-ready capability at targeted suggested retails of $179 and $249 for the minis and $99 for the micro.

HDMI outputs with 1,080p up-scaling will appear in all four of the company’s DVD-equipped HTiB SKUs for 2007. The company offer 1,080i/up-scaling in three systems in the 2006 lineup. A single DVD-less HTiB SKU rolls over.

All new HTiBs also accept wireless-rear-speaker kits to eliminate speaker-cable runs to the HTiBs’ supplied surround speakers. The kit is included with two systems separately for the others at a suggested $149.

All but the entry-level HTiB are black to follow the trend in flat-panel displays.

The music-serving HTiB is the SC-PTX7, which features 80GB HDD and ability to distribute two separate sources simultaneously to separately available one-piece amplified-speaker clients. One source could be the music server, and the other could be CD, DVD, AM/FM or connected XM tuner/antenna. The system, at a suggested $799, supports up to three clients simultaneously.

Each wireless client ships with 2.4GHz frequency-hopping DSS card that plugs into the HTiB. The clients feature full-range speakers and built-in controls for play, stop, up/down skip, and volume but not for source selection. The targeted suggested retail is $199.

The HTiB rips and encodes CDs in MP3 format, and it stores unprotected files transferred from an Ethernet-connected PC. It also features 3.1 speakers with center channel in the L-R speakers and Dolby Virtual Speaker to deliver simulated surround sound. A 1,080p/up-scaling HDMI output is included.

A home audio marketing spokesman called the PTX7 the company’s “first true multiroom, multisource system,” noting that in 2006, the company offered a wireless-ready HTiB that played only one source at a time and sent audio wirelessly to only one remote room.

The other three new HTiBs are:

  • The SC-PT650 (silver) at a targeted suggested $299 with 1,080p HDMI, XM-ready port, five-disc changer, 1,000 watts and EZSync to automate the operation of home theaters equipped with Panasonic HDTVs.
  • The SC-PT750 at a targeted suggested $399 adds taller left-right speakers and comes with included wireless-surround kit.
  • The PT950 at a targeted $499 MAP adds 1,200 watts, floorstanding L-R speakers, wall-mountable main chassis that’s only a few inches deep, higher output subwoofer, and automatic speaker calibration.

In mini- and micro-stereo systems, four SKUs will be discussed for 2007 shipment, including a $99-MAP SC-EN35 XM-ready microsystem and two XM-ready minisystems. One of them, the SC-AK450 at a targeted suggested $179, combines the old technology of a single-well cassette with XM capability. It features five-CD changer and two-way speakers. The step up SC-AK750 at a targeted suggested $249 adds three-way speakers and a separate subwoofer.

All products ship in April.