New York — Armed with its new top-of-the-line 1-inch-thin 1080p NeoPDP plasma display, Panasonic gave members of the press a closer look at its 2009 TV line Wednesday since formally unveiling it at International CES in January.
The company also formally revealed pricing for the sets, and while positioning its plasma TVs prominently as the superior big-screen alternative for TV viewing, it also showed that it remains committed to LCD TVs in small to midrange screen size applications.
But plasma was clearly its performance, value and technology showpiece, as illustrated by the super-thin Z1 flagship series, which ships in May in a 54-inch screen size that will carry a $5,999 suggested retail.
Beyond the 1-inch-thin panel depth, the set includes FullHD 1080p resolution, a 40,000:1 contrast ratio and Panasonic’s new NeoPDP technology, which is included in all of its 1080p plasma sets this year. The system halves the power consumption of each set compared with last year’s models or gives users the option to watch pictures at twice the brightness level, while consuming the same amount of power as last year’s line.
Kate Beck, Panasonic national product category manager, said the brighter setting will enable retailers to demonstrate plasma up against LCD TVs on well-lit sales floors, without suffering the perceived contrast limitations that have kept some consumers away in the past. At home, it will make for stronger picture performance in rooms with a lot of ambient light.
In addition, Panasonic said it has received THX performance certification for its top four plasma model series (including the Z1) this year, expanding the credentials from last year’s line.
The TC-P54Z1 also includes a swivel stand, Digital Cinema Color expanded color gamut, 24Hz Cinematic Playback and a wireless HDMI switcher box that enables placing source components up to 30-feet from the TV without the need for connecting cables.
The set houses its tuner, input switcher and wireless transmitter in a separate box equipped with VieraLink (HDMI-CEC) connectivity that enables controlling a range of connected Panasonic products through one remote control. It also includes VieraCast connectivity that enables the set to receive IPTV services including YouTube, Picasa Web Albums, Amazon Video On Demand (starting in May), Bloomberg News and The Weather Channel, through the TV set via a broadband video connection.The set also features removable side-mounted speakers.
The V10 plasma series, which replaces last year’s PZ850 line, includes the 50-, 54-, 58- and 65-inch screen sizes, all of which measure an inch thicker than the Z1.
The TC-P50V10 ($2,299), which includes a single-sheet of glass design style, ships in May, the TC-P54V10 ($2,699) ships in June, and the TC-P58V10 and TC-P65V10 will ship in August at prices to be announced.
The V10 models include the aforementioned NeoPDP technology, 40,000:1 contrast ratio, Digital Cinema Color, VieraCast IPTV connectivity and services, SD card slot with Viera Image Viewer for still photos and AVCHD video playback, four HDMI inputs, a swivel stand, THX Certification, FullHD 1080p resolution and 24p playback.
The G15 plasma series also offers a 2-inch-thick panel, THX certification, Neo PDP technology 40,000:1 contrast ratio, 1080p resolution, Viera Cast IPTV connectivity, SD card reader with AVCHD playback and three HDMI inputs. The line includes the 42-inch ($1,499) 46-inch ($1,799) and 50-inch ($2,099) screen sizes and are all scheduled to ship in June.
The G10 plasma series includes the 54-inch ($2,399), 50-inch ($1,999), 46-inch ($1,699) and 42-inch ($1,399) screen sizes. All ship in March except the TC-P54G10, which ships in May. Features include NeoPDP technology, 1080p resolution, a 40,000:1 contrast ratio, THX certification, Viera Cast IPTV connectivity, VieraLink (HDMI-CEC), image viewer with AVCHD playback, a 600Hz sub-field drive, game mode and three HDMI inputs.
The S1 series includes the 65-inch and 58-inch screen sizes, both of which ship in August at prices to be announced, as well as the 54-inch (shipping in May at a $2,199.95 suggested retail), 50-inch ($1,799), 46-inch ($1,499), and 42-inch screen sizes ($1,199). The latter three ship this month.
Features include Neo PDP, 1080p resolution, 40,000:1 contrast ratio, full-time 1080 lines of moving picture resolution, image viewer, 600Hz sub-field drive, AR filter, game mode and three HDMI inputs.
Currently shipping is the X1 series, which is Panasonic’s 720p plasma offering for 2009, both with 30,000:1 contrast ratios. Screen sizes include 42 and 50 inches, and features include 720p resolution, more than 900 lines of moving resolution, 600Hz sub-field drive, image viewer, Viera Link (HDMI-CEC), AR Filter, game mode and three HDMI inputs.
Two other entry lines planned for later in the year include the two-model PS14 and PX14 series, both in the 50- and 42-inch screen sizes. The PS14-series models are entry 1080p Neo PDP offerings, while the PX14 models offer 768p resolution with 900 lines of moving resolution. Prices and availability dates will be announced later.
In LCD TV, the company is preparing three series including the G1, S1 and X1 lines.
The top-of-the-line G1 series features 1080p resolution, a 20,000:1 contrast ratio and 120Hz frame-rate technology in two screen sizes: 37 ($1,099) and 32 inches ($799). In addition to 120Hz frame-rate technology, the sets improve motion resolution using a new 120Hz Motion Picture Pro3 technology that is said to further sharpen the image for sports and action sequences through the use of a flashing backlight system. Also included is an In Plane Switching (IPS) Alpha display panel with a 178-degree viewing angle and image viewer with SD card slot.
The sets, which ship in April, also include three HDMI inputs, a PC input, game mode, swivel stand and a narrow bezel design.The G1 series will be available in April.
S1 series LCD TV models ship this month in 32- and 37-inch screen sizes. Both offer 1080p resolution, 15,000:1 contrast ratios, Motion Focus technology, IPS Alpha panels with 178-degree viewing angles, SD card slot and image viewer function, PC input, three HDMI inputs, game mode and VieraLink (HDMI-CEC) component interoperability.
The X1 series includes the 37-, 32- and 26-inch screen sizes, all of which have 768p resolution, 12,000:1 contrast ratios and introduce Panasonic’s new iPod entertainment feature, which allows iPod connectivity via an iPod entertainment (dock) kit. This allows consumers to play and control their iPod music and videos on the X1 series sets using the Viera remote control. Other X1 features include Viera image viewer with SD card slot, Viera Link, PC input, game mode and three HDMI inputs.
The 37-inch ($799) and 32-inch ($649) X1 models will be available in March, and the 26-inch model ships in April at $599.
Later in the year the company plans to offer an entry LX14 series in the 32- and 26-inch screen sizes with 768p resolution and 10,000:1 contrast ratios at pricing to be announced.