LAS VEGAS –
Panasonic unveiled more than a dozen home audio products during International CES, including its first AirPlay-equipped audio products and its first 3D Blu-ray HTiBs that can be controlled from smartphones.
The lineup includes three 3D Blu-ray HTiBs, all capable of being controlled from smartphones. The 3D Bluray HTiBs are Panasonic’s first with DLNA certification to stream music from a networked PC or NAS drive.
There are also three soundbars, all of which are among Panasonic’s first convertible models that can be split to create two vertical speakers. Two are the company’s first soundbars with stereo Bluetooth;
Three tabletop CD/tuner audio systems, two with iPod/iPhone dock and one dock-less model with Air- Play and USB charging port are also part of the company’s 2012 line.
Three tabletop speakers systems, which include Panasonic’s first with AirPlay and first Bluetooth-only speaker, are also new.
Most of the products ship in April.
Here is a look by product segment:
3D Blu-ray HTiBs:
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 videochat with optional webcam, HDMI 1.4a inputs and outputs with audio return channel (ARC), and a postprocessing technology that adds height channels to each speaker.
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 or network-attached storage (NAS) device, said product manager Troy Livingston. Other new features include the ability of all three HTiBs to up-convert 2D Internet-streaming services to 3D, and 3D Cinema Surround post-processing technology in all three models. The post-processing technology upgrades the channel-height technology launched last year and adds ability to make sound jump out toward viewers when objects in a 3D video program jump out of the screen, Livingston said.
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 while also enabling the playback of content on 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.
Another upgrade is 24 fps output of streamed video services, Livingston said. Like last year, the models offer 24 fps Blu-ray output.
All three access the company’s expanded selection of Viera Connect services, including web browser, ability to do Skype video chats while watching a TV show in split-screen mode, and such new apps as Flixster and an upgraded YouTube app that delivers full access to YouTube content.
The 3D HTiBs are the SC-BTT190, BTT195 and BTT490, all with 5.1 speakers. The opening-price model features satellite speakers, optional Wi-Fi, one HDMI 1.4a input, and one HDMI 1.4a output with ARC.
The 195 adds tallboy left-right speakers up front. The top-end BTT490 offers improved left-right tallboy speakers, two HDMI 1.4a inputs and embedded Wi-Fi.
Prices weren’t disclosed, but the 2011 3D Blu-ray HTiB lineup were priced at an everyday $399, $499 and $599.
Three new soundbars with outboard subwoofer are among the company’s first multi-positional, 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 bases.
All three feature built-in Dolby Digital/ DTS 5.1 decoders and Dolby Virtual Speaker, which simulates a 5.1-channel soundfield through a 2.1-speaker system. They also feature Dolby Pro Logic II.
Pricing wasn’t announced.