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Panasonic BD HTiBs Due At Less Than $999

The retail prices of Panasonic’s two new Blu-ray home theater in a box (HTiB) systems will be less than the $999 model they will replace in April or May.

The 1,000-watt $599 SC-BT200 and 1,250-watt $699 SC-BT300 are both packaged with 7.1-channel speaker system and, like the current SC-BT100, decodes all authorized Blu-ray surround formats. The two new models, however, sport multiple upgrades over the current SC-BT100, including BD-Live capability and Panasonic’s Internet-delivered Viera Cast service, which delivers direct Internet access via Ethernet port to YouTube, streaming movies from, Picasa Web Albums from Google, financial information from Bloomberg News and local weather updates.

Like their predecessor, they feature SD Card slot, playback of AVC HD video camera files, and embedded slide-out iPod dock that displays an iPod menu and iPod-stored video files on a connected TV. The two new BD HTiBs come with 7.1-speaker system to reflect the growing amount of 7.1-channel soundtracks on BD discs, the company said.

The surround speakers of the two new models are all wireless-ready.

The 1,250-watt SC-BT300 comes with two left-right tower speakers and smaller center channel and surrounds. The 1,000-watt SC-BT200 features seven bookshelf-size speakers. Neither comes with included wireless surround speakers. Surround speakers are wireless-ready.

Of new DVD-equipped HTiBs, the SC-ZT1 is packaged with all wireless speakers in a 4.4 configuration with subwoofers embedded in each of four thin towers. The ZT-1 is meant to be used with an outboard DVD or BD player. It’s due sometime in the summer at around $1,599.