Panasonic Unveils Array Of Audio

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Las Vegas - Panasonic came to International CES with an expanded selection of Blu-ray-equipped home theater in a box (HTiB) systems, an expanded selection of iPod-docking tabletop audio systems and the company's first sound bar.

Also new is a two-speaker virtual surround system consisting of an A/V receiver and two wireless left-right speakers, each with embedded subwoofer. The SC-ZT2 will replace a similar system sold with four wireless speakers. Pricing was unavailable.

The company's first sound bar, the SC-HTB1, is a 2.1-channel model with embedded subwoofer, virtual surround processing and HDMI connection supporting HDMI's audio return channel. Pricing was unavailable.

In HTiBs, the company will offer three 5.1-speaker models, replacing two 7.1-speaker models and joining a 2.1-channel Blu-ray home-theater system launched last September with virtual surround sound. The company will scale back its DVD-equipped HTiB selection to one model, said entertainment products VP Richard Simone.

The new Blu-ray HTiBs tentatively retail for $499, $599 and $699 street prices, but the prices could change, Simone said. The SC-BT230, SC-BT330 and SC-BT730 feature BD-Live capability and Panasonic's Viera Cast service, which streams Netflix and Amazon Video on Demand movies, YouTube, Picasa, Bloomberg TV and weather information. The top two models will be the company's first to come equipped with Wi-Fi to connect to the Internet, he added.

The top model will also come with wireless surround speakers out of the box, whereas the other two come with surround speakers that can be connected to an optional wireless kit.

In iPod/iPhone-docking tabletop audio systems, the company will expand its selection of one-piece microsystems to three from one. The HC 20, HC 30 and HC 40 feature tuner, CD player and iPod/iPhone dock. The vertical-mount CD mechanism and dock are hidden behind a sliding door. Pricing hasn't been announced.

Another new tabletop dock is the arch-shaped $129 SC-SP100, due in January without tuner or CD.

The docking systems will join the $299 MW-10 one-piece microsystem/digital photo frame with tuner, CD player and 9-inch digital photo frame. It shipped in December.


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