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Panasonic Sets Blu-ray Debut For September

Panasonic set September as the launch date for its first Blu-ray Disc player with a price under $1,500.

Speaking at its “Digital Lifestyle” event, held here, company executives said the DMP-BD10’s pricing would be finalized later in the year, but would launch alongside Panasonic’s first 1,080p plasma and high-definition receiver.

The company also announced that its mammoth 103-inch 1,080p plasma set debuted at International CES would ship in the United States this year. Pricing was not expected to be finalized until later in the year.

“It will be in our customers’ homes before the holidays are over,” predicted John Iacoviello, product and marketing VP.

The penetration of so many plasma TVs will enable a “digital lifestyle” as consumers make and enjoy high-definition content in novel ways, Iacoviello asserted. The integration of SD card slots into all of its plasma displays will help push imaging off of the computer and into the living room, helping users create “digital scrapbooks” viewable on the big screen, Iacoviello added.

Indeed, the company is attempting to cultivate a “family-centric” vision as formerly expensive plasma panels and DVD recorders filter into the mainstream.

There has been a marked shift to HD panels in the second half of 2005, said Andy Nelkin, display group VP. HD panels represented 70 percent of the companies sales in the later half of year, Nelkin added.

Consumers are also super-sizing their screens, with a shift toward “extra-large” 50-inch plus models breaking into the top ten late last year, Nelkin said.

Panasonic plans on meeting the projected demand for plasma — pegged at 25 million units in 2010 — with a new factory in Amagasaki, Japan. The facility — set to go online in 2007 — will up Panasonic’s production capability by 170,000 panels a month, Nelkin said.