Panasonic has abandoned plasma TVs, and will instead focus on LCD and 4K technology in 2014. Panasonic is introducing their new AX900 with “plasma-like picture quality” and a range of new Full HD models – some very basic, some with advanced features. Panasonic is also introducing a new Smart TV user interface called Life+ that recommends relevant content, and is moving TV content to the Cloud with TV Anywhere.
Panasonic has called it quits on plasma technology and there will be no new 2014 plasma TVs from Panasonic. It is officially over. The last plasma TV was produced in December and the 2013 TVs are almost gone.
In 2014, Panasonic wants to focus on 4K and LCD technology, claiming that they can reproduce “plasma-like picture quality” with its high-end AX800 4K model. It is a fresh start, evidenced by the “a” in all the model numbers.
No new plasma TVs from Panasonic in 2014. It is officially over
The AX800 is a high-end TV in every regard. It offers 4K resolution, HDMI 2.0, and HEVC - like all other 2014 Ultra HD models. But Panasonic takes it to the next level with DisplayPort 1.2, THX 4K certification, and a Studio Master LCD panel with local dimming that can reproduce deeper blacks and a wider color gamut than the typical HD TV. However, it is still not Rec.2020. It is indeed a very interesting TV - but it will also come at a cost.
Later this year, Panasonic will also introduce an even higher-end 4K TV called AX900, but specifications have yet to be announced. Panasonic has not announced any major 4K content partnerships at the time of publication, but says that a 4K Channel app will offer access to select 4K content. Update: Panasonic has confirmed to FlatpanelsHD that they are working with Netflix to bring 4K streaming to the AX800 and AX900 TVs.
Panasonic’s 4K TVs also support HEVC that will allow them to playback 4K content via TV apps and from USB hard drives and USB sticks connected to the USB port on the TV.
Panasonic’s Full HD models resemble the 2013 line-up in looks. The extremely slim TVs with almost non-existent bezels are elegant, but still pack with advanced imaging technology, including Panasonic’s Hexa processor that takes care of picture processing and the smart features. Several Full HD ranges will be available from the feature-packed AS800 to the very, very basic A400.
Panasonic is introducing a new Smart TV interface called Life+. The concept of Life+ is to individualize the home screen for every individual of a family or home, recommending new content based on past viewing patterns. The Life+ interface can recognize the user via face recognition, and Panasonic says that you can feed the recommendations system with information about what you like by pressing the “My Button” on the remote.
TV makers are still searching for a new input method as TVs have become increasingly feature-rich, but also more complicated to use. Panasonic continues to believe in the prospects of voice controls and has developed a new Voice Assistant with better voice recognition. They also tell us that any Life+ TV can automatically wake up when you approach it to display relevant information such as time, date and weather. They call it the Info Bar.
Panasonic introduces TV Anywhere – TV content in the Cloud
In 2014, Panasonic is moving into the Cloud with the Panasonic Cloud. From here you have access to content stored on any USB hard drive connected to your TV at home. You can stream live TV, recordings, movies or home videos anywhere in the world.
You can also push videos or photos from your smartphone to your family at home via the cloud app. The feature is dubbed TV Anywhere.
Some of Panasonic’s European TVs feature a twin tuner that can simultaneously receive two TV channels. What you choose to do with it, it up to you. You can record a TV channel while watching another or you can stream one TV channel to a smartphone or tablet over the internet or home network, says Panasonic.
You can even start recordings when you are on the road with Panasonic’s smartphone app. Panasonic’s 2014 TVs also support HbbTV, which is being rolled out in a few European countries at the moment.
To improve the user experience, Panasonic is introducing a new smart touch remote lets you control “all the advanced features in a simple way”. It has a large touch pad in the center and a few buttons above and below. It is a drastic departure from Panasonic’s standard remote that boasted a myriad of buttons, so it will be interesting to see if they can pull it off, combining simple navigation of a new Life+ interface with very few buttons on a remote.
From the bottom you can access the smart features. Also, notice the voice control button. Click it and speak voice command to the TV.
Lastly, Panasonic points out that the TVs still include features such as DLNA streaming that allows you to stream video, music and photos from your PC/Mac or network hard drive onto the TV screen.
Swipe & Share feature lets you push photos and videos from an iOS or Android smartphone or tablet onto the TV screen wirelessly.
Panasonic’s 2014 LED models will be available from April/May.
Panasonic AX900 (4K)
AX900 is a high-end LCD model with full local dimming. It also has a range of other picture systems and supports 4K services such as Netflix.