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IFA 2008: Panasonic

Gordon Kelly


IFA 2008: Panasonic Ultra Thin TVs & BD Players Revealed

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.

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.

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.

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!


August 28, 2008, 3:13 pm

It will be interesting to see what Pioneer will be bringing out in their 10G plasma models since they will be using Panasonic panels.

Technology changes, and so sho

August 28, 2008, 6:39 pm

Since moving out to Canada, I purchased a PZ850 that has VieraCast in it. It plays YouTube clips surprisingly well, and searches for clips quite quickly. As with any IP based technology, it will only ever be as good as the user until they can make it so simple that it barely requires thought to work. However, by being very specific about my search and enabling the continuous play feature, I was able to watch the entire 'Comic Strip Presents...' film 'Eat the Rich' from the 80s, which I thought I'd never see again.

Not sure how funny I find the alternative comedy of the 80s any more, but the Motorhead soundtrack is superb.

As for what Pioneer can do to improve over Panasonic, it's all down to the image processing. The PZ850 has a significantly better picture than the PZ800 because it uses a much more sophisticated ISP inside it.

This also feeds over to power consumption. Although the new panels will be more efficient, it doesn't translate directly to power savings since the ISP has to process the image so much to make it look good on a particular panel. Just think how much new GPUs consume compared to the latest CPUs.

As a chap wrote on another site, it would be nice if Panasonic would allow playng of content from a home server (like my Buffalo TeraStation Live), but they'd have to support so many different codecs that it'd be too expensive to produce (what with royalties for the proprietary codecs and having to grossly over specify the processor since open source codecs often require far more processor resources to decode).


August 29, 2008, 6:07 pm

I wonder whether NeoPDP isn't simply the result of Pioneer technology-sharing for a good deal with Panasonic who will be making their panels from 2009. Pioneer were after all the first to present very similar super-thin panels at the start of the year, stating they expected to merge the tech with their next gen kuro tech in the future...


August 29, 2008, 11:02 pm

@Nik - good point, hope so!

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