The Viera series consolidates Panasonic's digital flat panels under one spiffy moniker. The series includes five LCD models ranging in size from 14 to 32 inches (pricing not yet determined) and five plasma screens sized from 37 to 50 inches (priced from $4,000 to $8,500). All are scheduled to hit the streets between April and June. Those with a preference for larger consoles may wish to opt for one of five new rear-projection LCD models, which are coming out in June and July, with 43- to 60-inch screens (priced more modestly at $2,800 to $4,500). More affordable still ($1,500 to $2,400) are the six rear-projection CRT models with 47- and 53-inch screens. The company also will carry DLP rear-projection TVs, but details are not yet available.
Panasonic joins the growing list
of manufacturers producing HDTVs that are digital-cable ready. Several models include integrated ATSC and QAM
digital tuners and CableCard compatibility, so they'll be able to receive standard and high-definition programming from a growing list of cable systems without the need for an external cable box. Additionally, many have HDMI (High Definition and Multimedia Interface) connections for simple, one-cable, all-digital connections between the latest generation of set-top boxes, DVRs, DVD players, and A/V receivers.
Upgraded DVD recorders
| | Panasonic Diga DMR-E65 DVD recorder | |
This spring, four new models will join the company's Diga lineup of DVD recorders. The $800 DMR-E85H
and $600 DMR-E65
both include the TV Guide On Screen electronic programming guide (EPG), correcting a major oversight in earlier models. Furthermore, the DMR-E85H also can record video to its 120GB internal hard drive and dub those hard disk recordings to DVD-R at 32X speed. The $600 DMR-E75V
includes a VHS slot and can dub from noncopyrighted videos to and from VHS to DVD--perfect for digitally archiving old home movies. The DMR-E55
rounds out the line at an affordable $450. Like previous Panasonic DVD burners, all the new models can record to DVD-R or DVD-RAM discs, and support chasing playback
(watching from the beginning of a recorded program while recording is ongoing).