By Chris Nicholls

SYDNEY: Australia has leapfrogged other markets and become the first country outside Japan to sell Panasonic’s Blu-ray recorders, with the launch of the new DMR-BW500.

The Blu-ray/HDD recorder’s early arrival, compared to other global markets, is due to Australia’s relatively advanced HD broadcast content, according to Panasonic Video Equipment Business director, Takuya Sugita.

“[The introduction] was down to the Australian introduction of a high definition broadcasting service,” he said.

However, while a world leader, Australia still lags behind Japan, a fact Sugita put down to Japan’s early adoption of terrestrial HD broadcasting.

“Japan already started HD broadcasting from 2003, so HD is very popular there,” he said.

The player can record up to 72 hours of 1080p content on its 500 GB hard disc or up to six hours 40 minutes on a 50 GB double layer Blu-ray disc. To sweeten the deal for early adopters, Panasonic is offering 3 free 25 GB BD-RE discs (RRP $119) with each model sold.

Users in a hurry can use the fast dubbing feature to record a one hour program in 15 minutes to a Blu-ray disc.

Twin HD tuners also mean the user to record two channels at once, or pause live TV via a simply on screen menu.

As with other most Blu-ray players, the BW500 can output in 7.1 channels through DTS-HD, DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD. Users can also enjoy Profile 1.1 content such as picture-in-picture and audio mixing during Blu-ray disc play.

Panasonic Australia consumer electronics group director, Paul Reid, said the arrival of the recorder was a “significant breakthrough” for Blu-ray in Australia.

The BW500 will land in June and retail for a recommended $2,199.