Panasonic Sets a Fall Launch for Blu-ray

The first set of Blu-ray product from Panasonic reportedly will be available in the U.S. by next September -- a couple of months after Sony's scheduled July launch.

The Panasonic Blu-ray DMP-BD10 disc player will now appear at about the same time as its parent company (Matsushita) hopes to begin selling its first 1080p PDP (plasma display panels) -- which are being dubbed "full HD" by most 1080p proponents, although technically there is no such animal as "partial HD." Sharp, as well as other manufacturers, also expect to issue their own Blu-ray products by the fall or sooner, but no dates have yet been announced.

Panasonic said its first Blu-ray player will cost "less than $1,500" -- which is being widely interpreted to mean its MSRP may be nearly that much, at least to begin with.

In the other corner, Toshiba plans to put its rival incompatible HD DVD player on sale in the U.S. later this month, starting at around $500 for the less costly of two premiere models. That launch was delayed from late March when content providers were delayed in issuing HD DVD movie titles.