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Panasonic’s DVD-A/V Decks Expected To Ship Next Week

SECAUCUS, N.J. — An announcement is expected next week from Panasonic that the company has begun shipping Panasonic and Technics brand DVD-Audio/Video players to retailers nationwide.

“Our plans are to ship to everyone on the same day across the country,” said audio group VP/general manager Gene Kelsey, “barring unforeseen issues such as customs [delays].”

If shipped next week, the $999-suggested Panasonic player and $1,199-suggested Technics model would be the first DVD-A/V players available for sale to U.S. consumers. Other companies are expected to follow in the coming months. Panasonic plans shipments of mobile DVD-A/V players at the end of June or early July.

Ultimate Electronics said it expects to be one of the retailers getting home-player shipments this week. Panasonic declined to name other retailers. Shipments will be in “reasonable quantities,” Kelsey said.

The players will be shipped with a DVD-Audio sampler disc. Major music companies haven’t revealed launch dates for discs, but the 5.1 Entertainment Group expects to release 14 classical and jazz titles by the end of the month on its Silverline label.

Panasonic’s announcement is expected next Thursday, when the company holds a press event to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Technics brand.

At press time, final resolution of licensing terms for the format’s new encryption system hadn’t been resolved, but shipments don’t necessarily have to wait for a licensing resolution. When the first DVD-Video players shipped, the format’s licensing terms hadn’t been finalized, manufacturers said.