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Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Panasonic to Launch First Blu-ray Disc Recorders Capable of Playing Back BD-Video Discs

Panasonic unveiled the world's first Blu-ray Disc (BD) recorders that can play back BD-Video discs. The Blu-ray DIGA DMR-BW200 and DMR-BR100 can record high-definition imagery on BD-RE rewritable discs and dub from the built-in hard-disk drive (HDD) to BD discs at 4x speed.

Packed with innovative features, the new BD recorders will be available in Japan from November 15.

Mr. Shigenobu Hirahara, Associate Director of Corporate Marketing Division for Panasonic Brand in Japan, said, "As a leader in the cutting-edge Blu-ray disc technology, Panasonic is proud to present these two models. With the development of digital broadcasting and the increased popularity of large-screen flat panel TVs, there is an increasing consumer desire to record and play back high-definition images."

"When combined with Panasonic's VIERA TVs and other home theater products, the new DIGAs will provide consumers extraordinary new home entertainment experience with 1080p HD images and 7.1 channel dynamic sounds."

The new models support single-layer 25 GB and dual-layer 50 GB BD discs (BD-RE and BD-R). Users can record up to six hours of high-definition programs on a 50 GB BD disc). In addition, the DMR-BW200 and DMR-BR100 come with a built-in HDD with a capacity of 500 GB and 200 GB, respectively. Furthemore, both recorders support reproduction (not recoding)of cartridged BD-RE media (Ver.1.0), which were released with the company's DMR-E700BD recorder in 2003.

The DMR-BW200 is equipped with a total of seven TV tuners including two tuners each for terrestrial, BS and 110-degree CS digital broadcasts and one analogue TV tuner. That enables users to record two digital TV programs simultaneously on the HDD. Users can also record one program on the HDD while recording one on a BD-RE disc.

The new DIGAs' image processing engines include Panasonic's own HD Optimizer that automatically detects and suppresses noise that is unique to digital broadcasting. The engines also incorporate a video converter that can record images with details when down-converting from HD to SD (standard definition) to store on DVD discs. The reverse is also the case - when connected to a TV via an HDMI cable, the converter can up-convert SD content to HD to reproduce high resolution images.

Both models also feature Playback Navigation that can automatically sort programs recorded using weekly or daily programmed recording function into appropriate folders. They also provide easy operation with VIERA Link single remote control. When used with other home theater components that support the VIERA Link, users can operate the components including a recorder, TV and home theater receiver with just one remote.

In addition, the DMR-BW200 supports i.LINK that enables users to copy D-VHS high-definition videos onto the built-in HDD. Users can create a library of high-definition videos by transferring from the HDD to BD discs. The two models also have an SD Memory Card slot to provide connectivity with other SD enabled products.

All these features are packed in a compact body - 430 (w) ? 85 (h) ? 330 (d) mm. The 85-mm height is the thinnest in the industry and the compact and slim design matches perfectly with flat-panel TVs.

The DMR-BW200 and DMR-BR100 support a variety of media including HDD, BD-RE, BD-R, DVD-RAM, DVD-R, DVD-R DL and DVD-RW for recording, and HDD, BD-RE, BD-R, DVD-RAM, DVD-R, +R, DVD-R DL, +R DL, DVD-RW, +RW, DVD-Video, BD-Video, music CD, CD-R and CD-RW for playback.

The DMR-BW200 and the DRM-BR100 will be available on the Japanese market in the middle of November, priced at 300,000 Yen ($2550)and 240,000 Yen ($2050), respectively. Panasonic said it had not decided when to launch the recorders overseas, but it plans to offer Blu-ray players in the United States later this month and in Europe in October where demand for playing DVDs is higher than recording TV programs.

Last week, Sony said it would also launch its Blu-ray DVD recorder by the end of the year in Japan, without specifying details such as the launch date, price or overseas release dates.

In March, Toshiba started rolling out its HD DVD players, becoming the first company to offer next-generation optical disc players, while Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. introduced the first Blu-ray player in June.

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