By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
New York — Panasonic held its traditional spring open house for the press this week where it offered a closer look at the anticipated new top-of-the-line ZT60-series FullHD 1080p plasma models, and formally revealed pricing for a majority of the LCD and plasma sets in the 2013 lineup.
A Viera ZT60 model — which will ship in May or June in 60- and 65-inch screen sizes at pricing to be announced later — was positioned side-by-side with a similarly sized Pioneer Kuro plasma set, from that manufacturer’s now-defunct line that has stood as the pinnacle of flat-panel black-level image quality since its introduction.
In presenting the demo, Bill Schindler, a display industry consultant for Panasonic, intimated that Panasonic’s new set now not only stands on its own against the vaunted Kuro, it actually surpasses it in areas of image detail, particularly in dark scenes.
The set has a new “Studio Master Panel” offering direct attachment of the cover glass to the front-panel glass, eliminating an air gap that can produce double images. The panel also yields brighter white levels, a faster (3000) Focused Field drive that detects image movements like the human eye, and reduces afterimages that cause blurring, and a new front louvre filter to more effectively block out room reflections.
Also improved was the red phosphor to produce a wider color gamut.
Other features in the flagship series include My Home Screen to present instant access to favorite smart-TV content. The menu has a list of content options via broadcast and cable services, as well as smart apps, and also offers an Internet web browser.
Apps on the personalized My Home Screen menu include functions for a clock, calendar, weather, reminder, RSS, memo, YouTube, Skype, Facebook and more.
Users can control the set via a new Voice Guidance system, with a mic in the remote handset, and a pop-up video camera is added for both Skype video calling and for facial recognition to automatically change My Home Screens to the particular viewer.
All Panasonic plasma sets this year offer active-shutter 3D glasses technology, with two pair of glasses included with most 3D-capable models.
Panasonic includes its Viera Connect Cloud-based smart-TV system, with built-in Wi-Fi for access to top streaming video and audio apps, among other things. The sets are also DLNA certified to easily share content between devices over wired and wireless in-home connections.
Panasonic also offers its Viera Remote 2 app for iOS and Android devices to engage second-screen activity to control the TV and adjust settings. It also supports a new Swipe & Share 2.0 feature to share content between mobile devices and the TV screen.
The VT60 plasma models, which offer the 65- ($3,600 suggested retail) 60- ($3,000), and 55-inch ($2,600) screen sizes, also have improved black levels, and 30,770 gradation steps, new red phosphors, My Home Screen, selectable apps, voice guidance, 2D-to-3D conversion in FullHD, the 3000 Focused Field Drive, Infinite Black Ultimate panel and DLNA. There is also Viera Connect Cloud-based Internet content access with Wi-Fi support, built-in camera for Skype and facial recognition, and Swipe & Share 2.0.
Stepping down, the ST60 plasma series will include the 65- ($2,600), 60- ($1,700), 55-inch ($1,500), and 50-inch ($1,150) screen sizes.
And the entry Viera S60 series will include the 65- ($1,700), 60- ($1,300), and 50-inch ($830) screen sizes.
In LCD, Panasonic’s WT60 edge-lit LED FullHD models ship this month, including the 55- ($3,000) and 47-inch ($2,500) screen sizes.
Series features include My Home Screen, selectable apps, Smart Viera Voice Interaction and Voice Guidance, 2D-to-3D conversion, 240Hz/4200 Back Light Scanning (BLS) technology that delivers optimal sharpness and contrast while reducing image blur, Clear Panel Pro Filter, Viera Connect Cloud-based Internet content access, Wi-Fi, DLNA support, Viera Remote 2 App and Swipe & Share 2.0.
There is also the USB media player, SDXC card reader, Panasonic touchpad controller, dual-core Pro4 chip processor, Polarized passive 3D with four pairs of passive 3D glasses supplied, IPS LED edge-lit LCD panel with 16 zones of local dimming, and Skype support with integrated camera.
The DT60-series LED edge-lit models include the 60- ($2,800) and 55-inch ($2,200) screen sizes.
These have My Home Screen, selectable apps, Voice Interaction and Voice Guidance, Full HD, 2D-to-3D conversion, 120Hz refresh rate with 1920 BLS (55-inch) 1,200 BLS (60-inch) and Clear Panel Pro Filter.
They also have Viera Connect, built-in Wi-Fi, DLNA support, Viera Remote 2 app, Swipe & Share 2.0, the touchpad controller, dual-core Pro4 chip processor, polarized passive 3D glasses, IPS LCD LED edge-lit panel with six zones of local dimming, Skype support, web browser and an ultra-slim metal bezel design.
The ET60 series includes the 55- ($1,700) and 50-inch (1,400) screen sizes.
These models have My Home Screen, selectable apps, voice Guidance, 2D-to-3D conversion, 120Hz refresh with 720 BLS, Clear Panel Pro Filter, Viera Connect, built-in Wi-Fi, DLNA support, Viera Remote 2 app, Swipe & Share 2.0, Skype support, web browser, HDMI connectivity with Audio Return Channel (ARC) support, and an ultra-slim bezel.
The E60 series include the 65- ($2,700), 58- ($1,600), 50- ($1,150), and the 42-inch ($800) screen sizes. These feature My Home Screen, Voice Guidance, FullHD 1080p, 120Hz refresh rate with 240 BLB (back light blink), Viera Connect, built-in Wi-Fi, DLNA support, Viera Remote 2 app and Swipe & Share 2.0.
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