Panasonic’s aeronautically-themed booth (whether this was intentional or not is unknown) highlighted a number of new wares. First up was a combination DVD recorder and hard disk recorder – think of it as a DVDR+DVR. The $999 DMR-HS2 can record up to 52 hours onto its 40 gigabyte hard drive, 12 hours onto a double-sided DVD-RAM disc, or 6 hours on a DVD-R disc. The DVD-RAM format allows for up to 100,000 rewrites, while the write-once DVD-R format offers inexpensive and secure archiving of TV shows or VHS tapes. The unit comes with a DV connecter, a PC card slot for SD, MMC, CF or SM memory cards (only through adaptors) and offers progressive scan output.
Also wearing the “new” badge on the show floor was Panasonic’s $6999 42” PT-42PHD4-P and $10999 50” PT-50PHD4-P plasma monitors. Both 16x9 displays feature a 3000:1 contrast ratio, 1024x768 resolution, 160 degree viewing angle and come with S-Video, RGB and component inputs and have an RS232C serial interface. This year’s plasma displays are truly exceptional in terms of image quality, but still have a susceptibility to phosphor burn-in.
Although there were no new remote controls shown at the Marantz booth, a booth that was mostly identical to last year’s, the company did have several new items on display. First are several new mid-ranged receivers: the $999 SR7300, $749 SR6300, $599 SR5300 and $429 SR4300. The lowest model starts off with 80 watts by 6 channels and includes Dolby Digital EX, Pro Logic II and 6.1 Circle Surround decoding. The SR5300 adds 24-bit 196kHz D/A conversion, 90 watts into each channel and enhanced video switching circuitry. The similar SR6300 pumps up the power rating to 100 watts per channel. Finally, the SR7300 adds wide-bandwidth component video connections, 7.1 channel input, 105 watts per channel power, multi-room capability and an RS232 serial port.
How about a new DLP projector? The $12499 VP-12S2 features a Texas Instruments HD2 DLP chip with 1280x720 resolution and impressive 2600:1 contrast ratio. The unit also uses custom Minolta lenses, progressive scan processing with Faroudja DCDi technology, is calibrated to the correct 6500 degrees color temperature and includes numerous inputs such as DVI, HD component, component, S-Video, composite and RGB. Also shown was a stunning 50” plasma screen, the $15999 PD5020D. Ah, if only.
Marantz also introduced two DVD players at the show, the $349 DV4300 progressive scan model and the $1599 DV8300, the latter of which includes progressive scan, full DVD Audio and SACD support, and is THX Select certified. There were a surprising number of combination DVD Audio and SACD players at the show, a testament that when specifications designers and software companies can’t come up with a single standard, innovative manufacturers will simply find a way to support both.