Panasonic Q logo Panasonic Q
Type Console Developer Nintendo, Panasonic
Release Date 2001-Dec Region(s) Japan
Initial Price $439 USD Games Released 640 (Nintendo GameCube)
     by Dark Watcher
In Japan it appeared as if the PlayStation 2 gained many hardware sales by being a low costing DVD player.  Nintendo partner Matsushita saw an opportunity to also cash in.  The result?   The Panasonic Q.  A machine that combines a Nintendo GameCube and Panasonic DVD player into one.

The Panasonic Q was only sold for retail in Japan, however it can be purchased through import retailers.  To help garner the attention of import consumers, establishments such as Upstate Games have gone the extra mile to make it totally region friendly (one model), enabling you to play all region DVDs in addition to Japanese and US GameCube software.  However, importing this puppy would run you close to $474.99 USD.
     by Marriott_Guy
During the development of their GameCube gaming system, Nintendo partnered with Matsushita-owned Panasonic to manufacture the disc drive for their console.  As part of this agreement, a license was issued to Panasonic to be able to utilize the base GameCube software technology for their own system, if they chose to do so.  Needless to say, Panasonic decided to exercise this contract clause and released one of the most visually attractive hardware units of all time - the Panasonic Q.  Debuting just three months after its parent in December, 2001, this system ultimately proved that the old adage "looks aren't everything" was true - especially if not priced correctly.

Released exclusively in Japan, the Panasonic Q was developed to address the fact that the GameCube's main competitors, the Sony PlayStation 2 and shortly after the Microsoft Xbox, supported DVD movie playback out of the box while Nintendo did not incorporate this feature into its machine.  Hoping to capitalize on this supposed oversight, the Panasonic Q was born.  This was Nintendo's second attempt at licensing game hardware technology to a third party manufacturer, the first being the Sharp Twin Famicom.  The initial venture did not prove to be successful for neither Nintendo nor Sharp.  History would once again repeat itself with this new partnership with Matsushita.
As stated earlier, the Panasonic Q is one of the most striking consoles ever released.  Sporting a mirrored front facing with a scratch-protective coating, the overall design is extremely advanced and crisp.  Soft-touch buttons line the respective left and right sides and give quick access to sound, game and other options.  The subtle but tasteful use of the Panasonic label is centered at the top of the main interface, with a smooth front loading DVD\GC hybrid player residing just below.  Four controller ports, accented with neon ice-blue lighting around their circumference, are featured across the front of the unit with two standard GameCube memory card slots lying in unison just below.  All button, port labeling and compatibility logos (DVD, CD, DTS, GameCube, and Dolby), are detailed in pure white and are surprising easy to read against the reflective background.  Standard DVD buttons and controls are located on the top of the unit, along with the most stunning feature of the Panasonic Q - the backlit LCD display.  This message center has a futuristic look and provides relevant data (mostly on DVD play).  The 'Hello' and 'Goodbye' sequence that is displayed when powering on\off the system is also a nice touch that further exemplifies the extra care that was put into its design.
Technically, the gaming hardware in the Panasonic Q is identical to the Nintendo GameCube.  There are literally no variations - please see the overview of the Nintendo GameCube for these details.  That being said, owners of the Panasonic Q will enjoy the following audio enhancements over their GameCube brethren: Dialog Enhancer, Cinema, Surround and Bass Plus.  All of these audio modes modify or boost a respective frequency to produce subtle if not unremarkable effects during game and DVD play.  These options do not have level adjustment or customizable settings that can be modified.  This is unfortunate but really not that important considering that most televisions at the time incorporated these features anyway.
Matsushita's marketing plan was to develop a DVD player with gaming capabilities, rather than just producing a video game console.  The Panasonic Q hit the mark in this area with a DVD player that exceeded the industry standards of the time.  While lacking the bells and whistles of some of the higher-end players available, DVD playback is extremely detailed, displayed in bold and vibrant colors.  The included DVD remote is easy to use (though all text is in Japanese) and contains the basic playback controls.  At the time, the DVD player performance of the Sony PlayStation 2 and Microsoft Xbox paled in comparison.  There is another bonus feature in this area - region free game and movie support.  The first model only supported NTSC Region 2 disks and Japanese-released GameCube software.  After a very short period of time, a second model was made available that fully supported NTSC Regions 1 through 6 as well as USA game disks.  Unfortunately, there was no official PAL released unit and VCD playback is also not supported.
While the advantages of owning the Panasonic Q over the Nintendo GameCube are significant, the decision to purchase one was not an easy task in 2001.  The first release debuted at $439 USD (equivalent to $545 USD in 2007) and the multi-region version could be yours for $499 ($635 USD in 2007).  This price point severely limited the potential buying market, especially since the GameCube and a separate DVD player could be purchased for less.

With excellent DVD playback, multi-region media support, audio enhancements and its stylish look, the Panasonic Q is a definite upgrade to its Nintendo GameCube parent.  Since the system was released in limited quantities, be prepared to spend a good amount to acquire one.  A CIB (complete in box) unit will cost you around $200 to $300 dependant upon condition.  Compare this to being to get a comparable GameCube system for around $20.  If you are just looking for a video game console, the advantages of the Panasonic Q really can not be justified.  For the collector, this system will definitely stand out on your gaming shelves.
     Officially licensed releases
Panasonic Q SL-GC10-S
Courtesy of Charles Lee
     Non-licensed hardware releases
This system is an authorized clone.
     by Marriott_Guy
Consoles are rated based upon the available technology at the time of its release.  A 10 point scale is utilized, with 10 being excellent.

Console Design 09 Overall, IMHO this is one of the best looking consoles ever made.  The mirrored front screams 'high-tech' and truly stands out in any collection.  The unit is quite a bit bigger than a standard GameCube, which is needed to accommodate the added features (DVD playback, enhanced sound effects, etc.).  The reason the Q does not receive a 10 in this category is due to the fact that this device will not fit comfortably within any AV set up (due to its size).
Console Durability 09 Even with all of the extra bells and whistles (i.e. Digital Display, sliding DVD tray, etc.), I have not experienced any issues with the Q.  You do have to be careful with the mirrored front though, as this area can be easily scratched.
Controllers 05 The Panasonic Q is packaged with a matching controller and remote.  The remote is simple to use and contains all of the basic functions that one would expect.  The game controller is a standard GameCube controller, which I find cumbersome due to the unnecessary variation in button sizes and location.
Graphics 06 DVD playback is silky smooth, but lack of HD support is a real drawback (especially for this high-end device).
Audio 09 The extra audio enhancements are truly one of this console's best selling features.  Dolby Digital 5.1, Surround \ Cinema DSP ,modes, it has it all (including digital audio out).
Media 08 The proprietary GameCube game discs are limiting, but being DVD compatible raises this score a great deal (GameCube score - 03)
Game Library 07 Though the GameCube did not have the cross platform support of its competition (Xbox \ PS2), the exclusives for this system are excellent.  The Q is compatible with all of these titles.
Gamer Value 05 In all honesty, if you are simply looking to get into the GameCube scene, it is hard to justify shelling out the big bucks that the Panasonic Q demands.  Sure, the extra features (DVD, sound, etc.) are nice, but are they $200 worth of nice?
Collector Value 08 Definitely one of the better clone systems out there, this is a solid investment for the collector.  Definitely look for the second model (completely region free) when purchasing one of these units.

     For the hardware enthusiasts out there - all the detail you\we love.
Processor Type  Processor Speed  Other Processor Information RAM \ Video RAM
128 bit IBM Gekko PowerPC 486 MHz / 1.94 GFLOPS GPU - Flipper (162 MHz) 43 MB (System - 24 MB, 3 MB GPU, 16 MB DVD \ Audio buffer)
Screen Resolution Color Palette Polygons \ Sprites Audio
720 x 480 (480i, 480p) 720 x 576 (576i) 24-bit to 32-bit N\A Macronix 16-bit DSP Sound Processor, Dialogue Enhancer DSP, Surround DSP modes, Bass Plus DSP, Dolby Digital 5.1
Media Format Media Capacity Games Released Other Supported Formats
Proprietary Mini DVD (80 mm) 1.5 GB 640 (GameCube compatible) DVD, Audio CD, VCD, GameBoy support with optional adaptor
Internal Storage External \ Removable Storage Game Controllers Other Game \ Peripheral Devices
None Two (2) Memory Card ports (available in 512 KB, 2 MB and 8 MB) Wing Design (8 buttons, two analog sticks and a D-Pad) Microphone, Keyboard, Dance Pad, GB Adaptor, LCD Screen, Modem, etc.
Controller Ports Network Ports Other Ports Audio \ Video
Fours (4) None One (1) High Speed Serial Port (for GB Player), Two (2) Serial Ports Composite, S-Video
Power Supply - Internal Other Outputs  Other Details \ Notes
AC 100V, 50/60Hz, 30w Digital AV Out The initial model was only able to play Japanese GameCube games and Region 2 NTSC DVDs. The second was region free
Panasonic Q Owners Manual (PDF) (Japanese) - 6.12 MB

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