By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
CES 2014 Las Vegas - Its legendary plasma HDTVs may be gone but Panasonic definitely plans to remain a major CE force in the years ahead — especially in the rapidly expanding realm of 4K technology.
That was a key message by Panasonic execs during its Press Day event Monday.
While showcasing new business applications — including a new 15,224-square foot HD LED video board for the Churchill Downs racetrack — presenters unveiled 4K HDTVs, advanced 4K Toughpads, 4K wearable camcorders, new cameras, cordless phones and even a new hair dryer. These, among other items, will be on display at the Panasonic booth which features a 21-foot Ultra HD OLED video wall that combines curved and convex OLED panels.
Joe Taylor, Chairman/CEO, kicked off the event, stating the company is “dedicated to making ‘A Better Life, A Better World’ with our unique ability to bring amazing technologies to so many facets of our lives, by working closely with our market-leading customers to introduce innovations and in our deep commitment to social responsibility.” He noted “we are growing very fast in our non-consumer businesses. As never before we are taking the consumer technologies you know us best for — displays, batteries, imaging, audio components — and reimagining them into business solutions for the auto industry, the airlines, even quick serve-restaurants and many, many other enterprises.”
There’s no question Panasonic ending plasma HDTV production last year disappointed many video enthusiasts and retailers. Julie Bauer, president, Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company, confronted this directly. “In 2013 our plasma HDTVs set a new standard for picture quality. This year we set ourselves a higher target— to deliver plasma-level picture quality with LED technology. Our engineers have spent the last 12 months working tirelessly on this and thanks to Panasonic’s proprietary Studio Master Drive Technology, we have achieved it.” This new technology is part of the Life+Screen AX800 4K LED TVs series that was then shown to the crowd (58- and 65-inch models). The TC-58AX800U is now available for pre-order but no MSRPs were given; this is standard Panasonic practice. Bauer also said an 85-inch model will also be introduced this year but date and pricing were not announced. The new sets will also feature an improved user interface dubbed "Beyond Smart."
Along with 4K consumer televisions, Bauer noted the company will also offer four series of 1080p LED HDTVs. She also showed Panasonic’s first wearable 4K camcorder that’s waterproof, dustproof and available with a variety of mounting options.
Bauer also unveiled a multi-room speaker system, the SC-ALL series, which incorporates AllPlay, a new smart media platform from Qualcomm that enables music to be streamed into multiple rooms from multiple sources with high-quality sound. The new models include the SC-ALL8 and SC-ALL3 Wireless Speaker Systems and the SH-ALL1C Network Audio Connector. They will be available in spring 2014.
She also introduced the Panasonic iPhone Dock DECT Cordless Phone – “another CEA Innovation Award Winner. This phone is designed to be utilized as both a cordless home telephone and an iPhone docking device so users can route calls from their iPhone 5 to the DECT landline phone.”
Continuing, Bauer announced another foray into the consumer market with the Panasonic Beauty line-up. “This emerging market for Panasonic is one we fully intend to lead with the same intense focus on innovative solutions that have garnered Panasonic critical acclaim in HDTVs, home entertainment and imaging.” She even invited press conference attendees to schedule an appointment for a blow-out featuring the new Panasonic Nano-e Hair Dryer. “Don’t quote me on it, but I believe Panasonic may be the first to offer salon services on the CES show floor. Check with our PR staff to set up an appointment!”
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.