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Christmas Gift Guide
TVs

Panasonic range focuses on 1080p and plasma

Panasonic has unveiled its 2008 range of televisions and home theatre in Sydney with HD recorders and plasmas high on its priority list.

Full high-definition recorders, plasma televisions and Blu-ray-with-everything were the main focus of yesterday's Panasonic 2008 AV launch in Sydney.


The company is gearing up for its partnership of the 2008 Olympic Games coverage and even had sports stars — runner Matt Shervington and swimmers Ky Hurst and Bronte Barratt — on hand to say how much they love using Panasonic products.

Panasonic's Olympic ambassadors: (from left) Bronte Barratt, Ky Hurst and Matt Shervington. (Click to enlarge)

Plasma
The company is focusing on its core strength, plasma, with half of the six models expected before the Olympics featuring 1080p resolution. The full-HD PZ800 series includes a 42-inch TH-42PZ800A (AU$2,899), the first 46-inch in Australia the TH-46Z800A (AU$3,299) and a 50-inch TH-50Z800A ($TBA).

The premium PZ850 range is due a little later and features sizes between 50 and 65 inches. The main differences between the PZ800 and PZ850 series is that the latter features one extra HDMI port, a greater number of playable formats from an SD card and better sound.

Two concept models were also on display at the event, with the most impressive being Panasonic's new slim plasma measuring at only 24.7mm, and weighing a little over 20kg. Not quite as slim as Pioneer's 9mm plasma that was on display at this year's CES though. But now that the two companies are in cahoots together it doesn't seem to matter as much.

Concept plasma only 24.7mm thick.

The other model featured a more energy-efficient panel than the current generation — boasting a 50 per cent reduction in power usage for the same brightness. The panel was therefore also able to display twice the brightness for the same amount of power.

LCD
The company reinforced that it was still selling both LCD and plasma televisions and will soon launch a new website (www.lcdorplasma.com.au) to help people choose between them. For the time being you can visit our own article on the subject here.

The company will be releasing five new LCDs from June in sizes of either 32 or 37 inches. The 1080p models feature IPS Alpha panels (which for the less-nerdy is a high performance display with a wide viewing angle) and 100Hz processing. There are three ranges of LCDs with the entry-level LZD80, the 1080p LZD800 range including the 37-inch TX-37LZD800A (AU$1,999) and the premium LZD850 LCD, the TX-37LZD850A (AU$2,899).

HD recorders and home theatre
Of most interest to TV buffs is Australia's first DVD recorder with dual-HD tuners, the DMR-XW300, which includes HDMI upscaling and a 250GB hard drive. We've had stand-alone HD recorders, and SD DVD recorders, but given the amount of HD content out there this first-of-its-kind box should sell like hot cakes. We look forward to testing it shortly.

We will also be the first country outside of Japan to receive the company's Blu-ray recorder, the DMR-BW500. It features a 500GB hard drive and can record almost seven hours of 1080p content onto a Blu-ray disc (BD).

The company also showed off a bevy of home theatre systems featuring optional wireless surround speakers — including the Panasonic SC-PT865W and the SC-BT105 Blu-ray system which has the wireless option thrown in.