Panasonic Brings Blu-Ray Recording Down Under

DMR-BW500 Image1.jpg

In a couple of months, things are going to get a little crazy. A little Olympics crazy, if you will. This year's Olympic games are the first to be broadcast entirely in High Def in Australia, and every consumer tech company is rubbing their hands together as they wait for consumers to spend millions on their High-Def gear.

Panasonic's better positioned than most, being an official Olympic sponsor and all. And yesterday they went a little bit nuts with new product announcements, most of which will hit shelves before the Games begin in August.

One of the biggest announcements yesterday was the introduction of their first Blu-ray recorder. It's remarkably thin, gorgeous to look at, and has a feature set to make you want to max out the credit card straight away:

DMR-BW500.jpg

The DMR-BW500 isn't one of the Japanese models we saw last October, although the styling is quite similar. It is, in fact, the first BD recorder the company has released outside of Japan. On top of being a Full HD, 24p Blu-ray player, this model can record up to six hours and 40 minutes of Full HD content to a 50GB BD disc. More impressively, it has a 500GB hard drive built in, along with twin HD TV tuners, 7-day EPG support, HDMI v1.3, 1080p upconversion with HDMI (for DVD playback) and support for all the latest audio codecs, including Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD. There's also a USB port and an SD card slot for.JPG, MP3 and AVC-HD files.

So on top of being a BD-recorder, it's also a pretty well specced PVR. The most surprising thing - especially when you consider how chunky some of the earlier Blu-ray players were - is how thin and stylish this box is.

In fact, the only thing that holds this back from getting pantsed (so far - we're yet to have a proper play with it - is that it's still only BD Profile 1.1. According to Panasonic: "What's so appealing about BD Live anyway?"

The BW500 hits shelves in June for $2,199. Pretty pricey, sure, but when you consider the price of some BD players on the market, the price BD players launched at, plus the functionality included in this model, I actually don't think it's all that bad.

(BTW - All purchases of the DMR-BW500 (for a limited time, I'm sure) will receive a 3-pack of 25GB BD-RE discs to record on. It's worth $119 RRP, which isn't a bad little bonus...)

[Panasonic]