Al Reports

Panasonic Outlines 3D Efforts At U.S. Open

Flushing Meadows, N.Y. – Panasonic Consumer Electronics celebrated its first-ever 3D TV broadcasts of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, here, highlighting its expertise in the format, from flat panels to camcorders, Blu-ray systems and two new FullHD 3D Blu-ray home-theater systems.

In a varied media presentation at the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, Panasonic reviewed its deal with the tournament, and the 3D products currently available, and Shiro Kitajima, president of Panasonic Consumer Electronics, told TWICE about its fall marketing plans and commented on the state of the market.

As previously reported, Panasonic is working with CBS Sports and the USTA to spearhead the first-ever 3D broadcasts of the tournament. CBS Sports will produce the 3D telecasts on Labor Day weekend and on finals weekend, Sept. 10-12.  The matches will be made carried via DirecTV’s “n|3D Powered by Panasonic” channel (103).

Panasonic will also have three 3D viewing galleries for U.S. Open fans during the tournament.

Kitajima told TWICE that the company will support its 3D effort this fall with a $100 million consumer ad budget focusing on the top 15 U.S. markets. The TV part of the campaign will begin on the CBS U.S. Open telecasts this week, and will also involved online and print advertising, he noted.

When asked about a recent report from Japan that said that Panasonic might not meet its goal of 1 million 3D TVs sold worldwide, Kitajima noted, “We expected that software [3D Blu-ray movie] support would be very high but that hasn’t happened.” He noted that Panasonic has “bundled movies” in its starter kits but that isn’t enough.

While not estimating what U.S. sales of 3D TVs for Panasonic might be this year, Kitajima was pleased with the reaction to the DirecTV’s “n|3D Powered by Panasonic” channel.

Kitajima mentioned in his prepared remarks that the company will open this fall two 3D Innovations Centers, the first one at company headquarters in Secaucus, N.J., and later one in Los Angeles, to develop and teach best practices for “all 3D stakeholders in the U.S.”

On the consumer hardware side Panasonic took the opportunity to introduce two FullHD 3D Blu-ray home-theater systems, models SC-BTT750 and SC-BTT350, shipping later this month.

Common features of the two systems include networking and connectivity capabilities through Viera Cast compatibility, which provides access to online content from Netflix, Amazon Video on Demand,, YouTube, Picasa, Bloomberg TV, weather information and other services.

The top-of-the-line SC-BTT750 is equipped with a wireless LAN adapter, which plugs into the USB terminal to deliver online video streaming without a LAN cable, so the system can be installed without the need for any complicated wires.  The SC-BTT350 is wireless LAN-ready and can be enjoyed wirelessly by linking to a Wireless LAN adaptor, DY-WL10, which requires broadband internet service.

Both systems deliver 5.1-channel sound and virtual 7.1-channel surround; are compatible with ARC (Audio Return Channel), which allows receiving audio signals from the TV; have an integrated Universal Dock for iPod/iPhone, making it easy for users to play music and video downloads; and feature an SD memory card slot for viewing still images, slideshows and movie files.

Pricing will not be available until later this month, Panasonic said.

And as previously reported, Panasonic also highlighted the HDC-SDT750 3D consumer camcorder that comes with a 3D-conversion lens to shoot 3D video. The camcorder ships in October with a suggested retail of $1,399.

Additionally in its TV line Panasonic began shipping its GT25 series 3D plasma TVs last month in 42- and 50-inch models.

Panasonic also showed its 3D professional camcorder, discussed its 103- and 85-inch professional flat-panel displays and a partnership with Bexel to provide 3D camera rigs for broadcast and cable networks.