Secaucus, N.J. – Panasonic unveiled prices
and ship dates on its 2012 audio lineup, which includes sharper pricing on its
3D Blu-ray HTiBs.
The audio lineup of more than a
dozen products includes the brand’s first AirPlay-equipped audio products and
its first 3D Blu-ray HTiBs that can be controlled from smartphones.
In its three-SKU selection of 3D
Blu-ray HTiBs, the company priced the models at a suggested $299, $399 and
$499, down $100 each from the launch price of their predecessors. All three new
models are Panasonic’s first Blu-ray HTiBs with DLNA certification to stream
music from a networked PC or NAS drive.
The 3D HTiBs will be available in
April along with two DVD-equipped HTiBs at a suggested $149 and $199.
The company’s three new soundbars,
all of which are convertible models that can be split apart to create two
vertical speakers, are priced at a suggested $229, $299, and $399. They ship in
April. Two are the company’s first soundbars with stereo Bluetooth.
Three tabletop stereo systems with CD/FM
tuner are the $99 SC-HC27, $149 SC-HC37 and $199 SC-HC57. They’re due in stores
Two new tabletop speakers systems
without CD/tuner are the $169 SC-AP01 bar-style speaker system, due in June with
AirPlay. The portable AC/DC SC-MC07 Bluetooth speaker will hit shelves in July at
a suggested $69.
Here’s a closer look at the products
in each category:
As in the company’s 2011 lineup, this year’s 3D Blu-ray
HTiBs feature 2D-to-3D conversion from 2D DVD and Blu-ray discs, access to
Panasonic’s portfolio of streaming Internet audio and video services (now
called Viera Connect), Skype video chat with optional webcam, HDMI 1.4a inputs
and outputs with audio return channel (ARC), and a post-processing technology
that adds height channels to each speaker.
Also like last year, the new models
feature HDMI standby passthrough, enabling audio and video from a connected set-top
box or game console to pass through to a connected TV even when the HTiB is
In the 2012 HTiB lineup, Panasonic
is adding multiple new features and technologies, starting with smartphone
control of basic system functions via Wi-Fi when a Panasonic app is installed
on Apple, Android or BlackBerry smartphones.
Also new is DLNA technology for
streaming audio, video and pictures from a compatible networked PC. Other new
features include web browser and ability of all three HTiBs to up-convert 2D
Internet-streaming services and networked-PC video to 3D.
Also new in all three models is 3D
Cinema Surround post-processing technology. The post-processing technology
upgrades the channel-height technology launched last year to add the ability to
make sound jump out toward viewers when objects in a 3D video program jump out
of the screen.
Also new in two of the three HTiBs
is a Made for iPod/iPhone USB port in lieu of Apple 30-pin connector, enabling
playback of iPod/iPhone audio. The port also connects to a USB stick or USB
hard drive. The top Blu-ray HTiB features a 30-pin Made for iPod/iPhone
connector in a pop-out drawer to play back iPod/iPhone-stored audio and video.
All three HTiBs access the company’s
expanded selection of Viera Connect services, which adds the ability to do
Skype video chats while watching a TV show in split-screen mode.
The 3D HTiBs are the SC-BTT190,
BTT195 and BTT490, all with 5.1 speakers. The $299 SC-BTT190 features satellite
speakers, optional Wi-Fi, one HDMI 1.4a input, and one HDMI 1.4a output with ARC.
The $399 SC-BTT195 adds tallboy
left-right speakers up front, and the top-end BTT490 offers improved left-right
tallboy speakers, two HDMI 1.4a inputs and embedded Wi-Fi.
Three new soundbars with outboard subwoofer are among the company’s first
multipositional, or convertible, models. The first was launched late last year.
These bars can be split into two
separate left-right speakers that can be mounted on the wall or on included
The bars are also the company’s
first with a dialog-level control with four settings to boost dialog over
background sounds in a video program.
All three feature built-in Dolby
Digital/DTS 5.1 decoders, Dolby Virtual Speaker to simulate a 5.1-channel
soundfield, and Dolby Pro Logic II.
The soundbar selection starts with
the $229 32-inch-wide SC-HTB20 with one HDMI 1.4a input to connect a 3D Blu-ray
player or 3D set-top box, two optical digital-audio inputs, an HDMI output with
ARC, and wired subwoofer. The $299 42-inch-wide SC-HTB350 lacks HDMI but
features two optical digital-audio inputs, one analog RCA input, stereo
Bluetooth, and a wireless subwoofer. The $399 SC- HTB550 is also 42 inches wide
and features two HDMI 1.4a inputs, one HDMI output with ARC, stereo Bluetooth
and wireless subwoofer.
All also feature automatic gain control
to level out abrupt changes in sound levels when a TV program switches to a
The three radio/CD systems, all with CD-R/RW playback, include the
$99 SC-HC27 and $149 SC-HC37. Both feature iPod/iPhone dock. The $199 SC-HC57 lacks
a dock but adds AirPlay and USB charging port.
The $199 SC-HC57 and $149 SC-HC37 are
vertically oriented models that can be hung on a wall. They feature motorized
front door that slides back and forth to cover the vertical CD mechanism and
iPod dock. When the door opens, the iPod dock slides out.
The HC57 and HC37 also play back
Internet radio when an iPod or iPhone is equipped with Panasonic’s vTuner app,
available for purchase through the iTunes store.
The tabletop speakers that lack
radio/CD include the $169 SC-AP01 bar-style system with AirPlay and a USB port
to charge an iPod, iPhone or iPad.
The smallest speaker system is the $69
Bluetooth-only SC-MC07, an AC/DC model powered by AA batteries or included USB
A third new tabletop speaker, the SC-GT07,
could ship in the early summer or later, but pricing wasn’t disclosed. This iPod/iPhone-docking
speaker looks like a guitar box because of its wood-like front panel, setting
stand and rotary volume knob. Pricing wasn’t available.