While the wait continues for market release of its first 3D TVs, Panasonic in the next few months is fielding an across-the-board lineup of VIERA TVs and Blu-ray players and Panasonic audio systems. The new products sport improvements in connectivity, picture and sound reproduction quality and “greenness” over the 2009 line.
Demonstrated during the technology seminar held for the press in New York last week was a model from the 3D-ready four-model VT25 plasma range. In 50-, 54-, 58- and 65-inch sizes, it is due out in the summer and will use short-stroke phosphors, said by the company to eliminate crosstalk and blur that can occur when two 1080p images are being broadcast for 3D viewing. The new phosphor design also greatly enhances the 2D viewing experience as a fringe benefit of its development for 3D, said Isao Kawahara, manager of image quality for Panasonic Corp. Japan’s PDP Modules Technology Group.
All VIERA 2010 models will be Energy Star 4.0-compliant. The 2010 plasma lineup is comprised of five series. The leader 720p series, dubbed C2, is being made in 42-, 46- and 50-inch sizes (available March-April). The lowest-priced 1080p plasmas are in the U2 Series (42- and 50-inch sizes; available March), with the step-up S2 Series (in six sizes from 42 to 65 inches; available February-June) boasting the company’s Neo PDP panel, which offers greatly lowered power consumption benefits. It carries a feature called Pre-Discharge Control, which blocks an idle pixel from turning gray instead of remaining black. The G20 and G25 THX-certified series (March-April) offer VIERACast Internet-readiness, Wi-Fi and Skype capability and a new Louver Filter that is said to eliminate glare and boost black levels, with the G25 version offering a security camera option; they are available in four screen sizes from 42 to 54 inches.
In LCD TV, five new series are due. The entry-level C22 series (March) comes in 32- and 37-inch sizes. The X2 Series (March-April), in 22-, 32- and 37-inch sizes, adds an iPod dock. The step-up 1080p 60Hz U22 Series (March-April) in 32, 37- and 42-inch sizes use a technology called In-Plane Switching (IPS) for improved off-axis viewing and better contrast and color. The U25 Series (April) features many of the same appointments but has a panel refresh rate of 120Hz. The LED-enhanced flagship 120Hz D2 series (May) comes with the IPS feature a universal iPod dock.
Panasonic’s six 2010 Blu-ray offerings include two portable players. The component models offer reduced cabinet depth and packaging and use less power in standby and operating modes. The component Model DMP-BD65 offers Wi-Fi capability. The Wi-Fi-capable portable, Model DMP-B500, has a 10.1-inch screen.
In audio, Panasonic is introducing its first soundbars. The SC-HTB10 (June), for 32- and 37-inch screen sizes, is a 2.1-channel system with an integrated subwoofer and bamboo-cone speakers. It will permit 3D signal pass-through. The SC-HTB500 (August) will be released with a separate wireless subwoofer, and is optimized for use with a 42-inch TV. The SC-ZT2 wireless theater system, featuring two ultra-slim speakers that each house four one-inch tweeters, reproduce 7.1-channel surround sound, and the system is 3D-compatible. And the SC-SP100 iPod speaker system, at $129, sports an unusual, curved cosmetic and a small-footprint design.