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IFA 2008: Panasonic

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So welcome to Berlin, we’re up and running with all the news from the Panasonic Press Conference. Matsushita CEO Masaaki Fujita is taking centre stage and first up we’re looking at the company’s High Definition TV plans.
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Size clearly matters since according to the company by 2010 67 per cent of HDTVs will be sized 37 inches or larger with Europe central to this since the market grew 153 per cent last year, the second largest jump around with globe with only Asia/China ahead with a 168 per cent leap. Perhaps surprisingly, the USA and Japan lag behind at 110 and 111 per cent growth respectively.

Despite talk of OLED and the prominence of LCD, plasma still remains central to the company’s strategy for large screen TVs while LCD remains restricted to midrange, mass market sets – interesting. Backing up this commitment Panasonic has also just opened the world’s largest plasma factory in May while an additional high capacity LCD factory will be added in 2010.
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So what will keep plasma on top? ‘NeoPDP’ apparently which will allegedly bring the highest black levels in the industry, allow for ultra thin panels and cut power consumption over 50 per cent compared to existing sets. How thin you may ask - well the 65in screen snapped below will weigh less than 29Kg and has a thickness less than a two euro coin. Best of all – building on the 50in NeoPDP set announced at CES – the tech is now deemed ‘market ready’ and will hit shelves in spring 2009.
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And what will we show on them? IPTV naturally enough and ‘Viera Cast’ is Panasonic’s answer (home UI below)

Viera Cast will be built into future NeoPDP based models of Viera TV and offer a dedicated button which will launch an IPTV portal offering TV friendly interfaces to access the likes of YouTube, Picasa, video on demand rental services, streaming TV channels with user definable localised content. Even apps like a live stocks index via a tie in with Bloomberg and live weather searches will be in there. Given the service simply streams over the web via an Ethernet connection on your home broadband the service is also free – quite the value add!
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