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LAS VEGAS -- Panasonic is pushing consumers past the PC with the introduction of a host of new audio players, DVD players, and digital Web televisions here at the Consumer Electronics Show.

The audio and video players support Panasonic-backed storage formats such as Secure Digital and DVD. At the center of Panasonic`s digital home is the wired TV, not a PC.

"Thanks to digital networking, new post-PC devices such as Internet-ready TVs and digital handsets will become the primary gateways for entry into cyberspace," says Don Iwatani, chair of Panasonic America.

In keeping with this vision, Panasonic is developing Internet televisions with a home networking gateway. The Internet TVs are scheduled to ship this summer, priced at $549 for a 27-inch set and $849 for a 32-inch set. They`ll come with Web service from EarthLink and radio from Kerbango, as well as a two-tuner Picture in Picture so you can simultaneously watch TV and surf the Web, company representatives say.

Also built in will be a 56-kbps modem and an Ethernet connection for easy broadband hookup, says Andy Takani, president and chief operating officer of Panasonic consumer electronics.

Panasonic is also demonstrating a prototype cable television with a digital cable set-top box inside.

This prototype TV supports Open Cable and will have a slot where you put a PC Card-like device from the local cable company, says Paul Liao, president of Panasonic Technology. The TV itself will handle cable, DVD, VCR, and games, instead of one or more set-top boxes, Liao says.

Although the Panasonic Open Cable TV won`t be available until the Open Cable specification is final, Panasonic already has televisions that bundle VCRs and DVD players into the unit, Takani says.
 
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