Panasonic shows A/V muscle

New OLED TVs, LCDs and smart speakers.

Panasonic has taken the wraps of a number of new products at a media launch in Sydney.  The new products, many of which were announced at CES in January, included next-generation OLED TVs and LCD panels,  speakers with Google Assistant, micro hi-fi systems and  4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players.

Panasonic has extended its OLED TV range comprising four new models across two series – the FZ1000 and FZ950, featuring the company’s most powerful generation of 4K Pro HDR technology to date with a new OLED panel and advanced HCX 4K processor.

“It is all about creating a new and entertaining home entertainment experience,” AV category manager, Doug Campbell said. “The HCX processor now provides precise colour control with the introduction of a Dynamic LUT (Look Up Table) system and a new industry standard in calibration at just 2.5% luminance. “These calibration points will be supported by Portrait Display’s CalMAN software, with AutoCal function which makes Panasonic OLED TVs first to be CalMAN ready,” Campbell said.

All OLEDs in the new range have a black filter to reduce reflections which is particularly beneficial in bright rooms. The new TVs are also THX and Ultra HD Premium certified. The FZ1000 Series has an upgraded Dynamic Blade speaker delivering a 40% volume increase and deeper base. Available in July, in 55 and 65-inch panels sizes and RRPs from $3,849 to $7,149.

Panasonic AV product marketing manager, Aaron Waters at the launch event 

A four-series range of 4K Pro HDR UHD LED LCD models in screen sizes from 43 to 75-inches are being rolled out in May/June. The FX800, FX700 and FX600 Series will retail from $1,549 to $5,999. “A strong focus for us is to offer a variety of options for the 55 and 65-inch sizes which are the most popular screen sizes in Australia and still growing,” Campbell said. The FX 800 Series incorporates the same processor as OLED range for delivering detail and colour accuracy with its 200 Hertz super bright panel with a 20% increased brightness levels with backlight and signal processing control.

The FX Series offers compatibility with HDR10+ which opens the next stage of HDR entertainment by optimising picture quality and he expects a wide variety of HDR10+ content to become available.

Support for popular voice control of Google Assist and Amazon Alexa will be coming later this year to all OLED and all 4K LED TVs.

Panasonic OLED TV

In May, Panasonic’s first smart hi-fi speakers with Google Assistance built-in, three micro hi-fi systems and a mini soundbar arrive. The SC-GA10 speakers support major music streaming apps including Spotify, Google Play Music and Tune-in radio. A new Panasonic music control app allows users to play music stored on smartphone, tablet or network-attached storage with a variety of unique functions that includes party mode for transferring Bluetooth and AUX sound sources to multiple SC-GA10 speakers.

Hi-fi companions include the SC-HC2020 with Google Chromecast built-in. All systems feature two, 8cm full-range speaker units and play CD and radio as well as other music sources via Bluetooth. The mini soundbar, the SC-HTB250, is designed to partner with the new FX700 and FX600 Series TVs, intended to boost the cinema experience.

The Panasonic SC-GA10 speaker with Google Assistant

Three  4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players will be launched in June/July,  the entry level DP-UB320, the DP-UB420 with HDR10+ support and the DP-UB820 with HDR10+ and Dolby Vision. The premium DP-UB9000, also with HDR10+ and Dolby Vision will be released in time for Christmas. Later in the year all models, except the UB320, will support Google Assist and Amazon Alexa voice control with a variety of operations, such as fast forward or pause, that can be carried out by voice with having to use the remote control. Further developments such as VOD (video on demand) will be announced later. RRPs start at $329 to $659. The UB9000 player will feature the “highest ever sound and picture quality from Panasonic in a Blu-ray player”, AV product marketing manager, Aaron Waters said. “It is an ideal partner for the premium OLED TVs.”

Consumer electronics group director, Richard Tassone told AR the marketing campaign will gather momentum in July with a focus on the new OLED TVs, LCDs and Google speakers. “Our program will be similar to last year when we introduced OLED TV, with a push on social media and online activity, staff training to dealers and TV advertising with retail partners.

“Consumers interest in Google Voice is picking up and has become a big discussion point for Panasonic , particularly with its capability with  4K TV arriving later this year.”

Overall TV sales are going well with good ASPs and increasing demand for bigger screen sizes. “The market moving in the right direction and we expect some great growth this year,” he said.

Voice app compatible devices are expected to be in demand in 2018, as Panasonic supports consumers with its vision of the connected home. According to local research, 40% of Australian households has at least one IoT smart device while the average household now has about 14 different internet connected devices in their home.

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