At CES, Panasonic leads with Viera smart TVs
In a lightning-quick press conference today, Panasonic unveiled its 2013 lineup of new high- and midrange TVs, home audio speakers, Blu-ray players, and even bone-conducting headphones.
The star of the show, unsurprisingly, was Panasonic's 2013 line of Viera TVs. But the consumer electronics giant also showed off a range of other new products, from midrange LCD TVs, to new Blu-ray players, to Bluetooth speakers, to a range of micro home stereos, and finally a set of bone-conducting headphones.
It may not have been the shortest press conference of the day (Lexus called it quits at 13 minutes), but before anyone could settle in, the show was over, and Panasonic's executives and their guest speakers were saying thank you and inviting the standing-room-only crowd to come by and visit the company's booth.
Here are the highlights of what Panasonic showed off today, which unsurprisingly, was TV-heavy:
The star of the show was clearly Panasonic's 2013 line of smart TVs. Starting with the , which will come in 55-inch (the TC-L55DT60) and 60-inch (the TC-L60DT60) sizes, these smart TVs feature My Home Screen, a new offering that lets every individual user in a home make his own personal home screen. Another offering of the DT60 line is Swipe and Share 2.0, which allows users to tap their NFC smartphone (sorry, iPhone owners) against their TV to share content. There's also Voice Interaction/Guidance, which gives users the ability to control the TV by speaking commands into their Panasonic remote or smartphone. Finally, there's three HDMI ports and three USB ports for enhanced connectivity, and it's all powered by a dual-core processor with a Hexa Processing Engine. These TVs should hit the market in spring 2013, with pricing yet to be announced.
Starting with the flagship TC-PZT60 series (which comes in 55- and 65-inch models), these high-end sets offer "Beyond the Reference" image quality, and a brand-new Studio Master panel featuring Panasonic's thinnest-ever gas layer, which it promises will get rid of double and dim images. These fancy TVs also have a new red phosphor, the company's fastest-ever switching, THX certification in both 2D and 3D, and an associated boost in 3D performance.
With three sizes (55, 60, and 65 inches), the TC-PVT60 series is the successor to the VT50 series, and boasts THX certification and improved motion resolution over the 2012 version.
The TC-PST60 series, Panasonic's lowest-price 3D-capable plasma sets, comes in four sizes (50, 55, 60, and 65 inches) and has an Infinite Black Pro panel. It also comes with two pairs of active 3D glasses.
Finally, there's the 1080p, non-3D TC-PS60 series (which comes in 42-, 50-, 55-, 60-, and 65-inch sizes), Panasonic's 1080p non-3D series, and the 42- and 50-inch TC-PX60 series, which appears to be a clone of the disappointing 2012 X5 series.
Its largest LCD TVs ever, including the flagship, the
There are two sizes to choose from in Panasonic's WT60 line, the 47-inch TC-L47WT60 and the 55-inch TC-L55WT60. The sets add local dimming to last year's WT50 line, and the WT60's Clear Panel Pro is designed to enhance picture quality and will have a new advanced ISFccc Calibration Mode. Like the DT60 line, the WT60 models offer Share and Swipe 2.0, as well as Voice Interaction/Guidance. Panasonic went minimalist with the WT60 line, which features a clear pedestal and an elegant metal bezel.
This line includes the 50- and 60-inch ET60; the 42-, 50-, 58-, and 65-inch E60; and the entry-level 39- and 50-inch EM60. These lower-price TVs nonetheless come with a wide range of features, including Swipe and Share 2.0 and Voice Interaction/Guidance. There are three HDMI and two USB ports, and thanks to Panasonic's Smart TV Alliance affiliation, both the ET60 and E60 offer My Home Screen. The EM60 may not have those higher-end features, but it does have a "Media Player" that comes with two HDMI ports and a single USB connection. The E series will be available in spring 2013, with pricing yet to be announced.
All told, there are four new models, two featuring 3D (the DMP-BDT330 and the DMP-BDT230) and two 2D sets (the DMP-BDT80 and the DMP-BD79). All except the latter offer built-in Wi-Fi.
Panasonic's 3D Blu-ray players feature a full Viera Connect collection of streaming-media services, and 2D-3D conversion, as well as a Web browser. Each model supports Miracast, which the company calls Display Mirroring, a feature that lets users send photos, music, and videos from compatible Android mobile devices (version 4.2 and higher) to their TVs.
The 2D models have a more-basic streaming-media package that comes with Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant, Vudu, CinemaNow, and YouTube. The 2013 line retains 2012's DMP-BDT500 and DMP-BBT01. All the players should be on sale next month, but no pricing has been announced.
Panasonic unveiled six new models of these audio systems, essentially a full reset of its HC home audio line. That includes the introduction of the SC-HC58, SC-HC38, and SC-HC28. Aimed at iPhone 5 or iPad 4 users, the SC-HC28 relies on a Lightning dock, but also has an external USB port for hard connectivity, and the SC-HC38 offers Bluetooth connectivity. The SC-HC58 also includes AirPlay connectivity. Each unit has dual passive radiators, which means heavy bass on the low end of the frequency spectrum.
The SC-NE1, SC-NE3, and SC-NE5 systems break new ground for Panasonic's NE (Network Era) line of stereo systems, with "curved aero stream ports" that are said to improve airflow routing and stop "noise friction" from escaping. These models also offer the option to stream wireless music via DLNA, Bluetooth, or AirPlay in conjunction with Panasonic's Music Streaming app, a hub that pairs with various devices. Each of the NE series speakers comes with a small bamboo cone speaker that builds in a 3-inch stroke sub, paired with 1-inch tweeters for superior noise distribution.
All six speaker models will hit store shelves in March, but pricing has yet to be announced.
Thinking about anyone who wants to listen to quality tunes while in motion, Panasonic unveiled its RP-BTGS10 wireless headphones, which take a unique approach to delivering audio: sending it via your cheekbones. The set rests on top of a user's head and reaches down to the front of the ear canal, leaving the ears free to hear ambient noise. The headphones rely on Bluetooth for access to audio from smartphones and other devices. The Panasonic RP-BTGS10 will be available in several colors this fall, but no price has been announced.
A Bluetooth speaker for tablets
Panasonic's new was built with devices like iPads and movie-watching in mind, though it does work with other devices. It features "Near Field Stereo Sound," which is designed to make audio sound good no matter how close you are to the speaker. Its Bluetooth Re-Master feature is meant to bring back frequencies lost by Bluetooth transmission. And it has a 3.13-inch subwoofer. The speaker should hit the market in April, but no price has been announced.