Panasonic majors on MP3 and screens

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Traditionally Panasonic is the first of the big players to hold a CES press conference. This year it kept its usual date on Wednesday morning but delivered a range of products that on the whole were more about consolidating certain key areas than innovating.

The company is ramping up its Ewear personal audio and video wing with six new models that are due in the US in February and probably in the summer in the UK. Bizarrely it confirmed that it wouldn’t be launching its first hard disk based music players until 2006.

Nevertheless the products unveiled yesterday are lookers too with the $139 256MB SV-SW110V ideal for exercise fans with its circular shape and silver and orange trim. The model playbacks MP3 files and also includes an onboard FM tuner.

There’s also a model with removable SD card memory in the SC-SD110V – Panny hopes to offer a 2Gigabyte SD card at some point during the year.

Also unveiled were a couple of DSnap AV portables, the SVAV25 and SVAV50 which will retail for $299 and $399.

Away from personal products Panasonic chose to focus on screens with its stands containing banks and banks of new LCDs and plasmas. Many of the models are high definition sets which probably won’t cross the Atlantic. A key trend though is the appearance of HDMI (a digital connection that is being groomed to replace the Scart) for connecting the sets to devices like DVD players.

We also spotted new DV and DVD camcorders and a slew of network cameras.

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