Panasonic, at its convention in Munich, has revealed its UK Viera lineup of plasma and LCD televisions for 2010. There's a whopping total of 69 different models launched globally - "we didn't do that on purpose, but they're very sexy", said Panasonic's marketing manager Fabien Roth.
Of that figure, four plasma series and six LCD series (23 televisions total) will be coming to Britain. In Plasmas, we have the monster VT20Bs, the V20Bs, the G20Bs X20Bs and the S20Bs. In LCDs, there's the W20Bs, another V20B, the D28Bs (which are Europe-specific), the D25Bs, the G20Bs, X20Bs and again the S20Bs.
Panasonic has improved its NeoPDP tech, meaning that the new plasmas can offer higher efficiency, improved image quality and rather less power consumption than their predecessors. We're not talking massive jumps - just solid improvements. Afterglow time has been cut too, thanks to an improved phosphor.
Connectivity has been boosted - they all have SD card slots for viewing images and listening to MP3s, and many also come with two USB ports and the ability to connect to Wi-Fi networks with a wireless dongle. Images, video and music on a USB device can be viewed on the TV, and the USB port allows recording onto an external drive of greater than 160GB capacity.
The benefits of Panasonic's acquisition of Pioneer's KURO tech is starting to be seen too. It wasn't stated explicitly, but the dramatic increase of contrast ratios in the Infinite Black Pro televisions - upto a native ratio of 5,000,000:1 - indicates that something has changed behind the scenes.
Lastly, all the sets feature Freeview HD and Freesat capabilities, except the S-series, which only has Freeview HD. That should mean that if you pick up one of the range, then you'll be sorted with some high-definition content to watch immediately - not stuck with SD.
Right, onto the televisions in detail, then. The VT20Bs have been covered extensively in our dedicated post on the subject, but suffice to say they're top of the range and have got just about everything Panasonic offers crammed in. They come in 65-inch and 50-inch variants, along with a pair of 3D glasses.
The V20B Plasmas come in 50-inch and 42-inch options. They have 600Hz frequency, 1080p resolution, Infinite Black Pro contrast - over 5 million to one, the web-channelling Vieracast functionality and a few other bells and whistles. They come in a 2-inch profile, with a "metallic" design. The V20B LCDs are available in 42-inch and 37-inch versions, offering 200 individual LED backlights, 2,000,000:1 dynamic contrast, wide viewing angles, Vieracast networking functionality, an image viewer and Panasonic's usual Vieralink services. They come in "titanium" colour.
The D28s are exclusive to Europe and consist of 37-inch, 32-inch, 22-inch and 19-inch LED-backlit LCDs. The biggest two offer 1080p resolution and 200 LED backlights, as well as 2,000,000:1 dynamic contrast, Vieracast and Viera Image viewer. The smaller two are just 720p, and come with a iPod/iPhone dock for playback of music, images and video. They come in white, purple and silver.
The D25s come in 42-inch, 37-inch and 32-inch versions. They're also LED backlit and have 2,000,000:1 dynamic contrast, intelligent frame creation pro, wide viewing angles and Vieracast and Vieralink functionality. They come in a 1.5-inch cabinet.
Back to plasmas again, and the G20 series come in 50-inch, 46-inch and 42-inch variants. They have the aforementioned NeoPDP displays and offer 600Hz frequencies and intelligent frame creation pro, 1080p resolution, infinite black contrast (not infinite black pro, however), Vieracast, Vieralink and the Viera image viewer. The LCD editions of the G20s come in 37-inch and 32-inch sizes and offer 200 LED backlights, intelligent frame creation pro, wide viewing angles, 100,000:1 dynamic contrast and Vieracast, Vieralink and the Viera Image Viewer.
The S20 series of plasmas come 50-inch, 46-inch and 42-inch models, with full HD 1080p resolution, 600Hz frequency with intelligent frame creation pro, 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio, Viera image viewer and Vieralink. There's no Vieracast. Similarly, the LCD editions of the S20 series come in 37-inch and 32-inch models, with 100Hz frequencies, intelligent frame creation pro, wide viewing angles, 100,000:1 dynamic contrast, Viera image viewer and Vieralink functionality. Again, no Vieracast - these are the lower end of the range.
Lastly, the X20 series (which doesn't come with Freesat or Freeview HD support) offers 50-inch, 42-inch and 37-inch plasmas, and 32-inch, 26-inch and 22-inch LCDs. They use lead-free panels, with 100Hz double-scan frequencies, 2,000,000:1 contrast ratios for plasma, 50,000:1 contrast ratios for LCD, Viera image viewer and Vieralink functionality.
Pricing and availability
All the models will be available between March and May 2010. Pricing of the plasmas sit at beyond the 1000 euro price point, going up to a whopping 5300 for the 65-inch VT20 3DTV. Most sit somewhere between 1000 and 2000, though. We'll bring you LCD pricing as soon as we get it.