Panasonic at CES 2014: Life+ TVs, Firefox OS, $2000 tablet and more
Panasonic took the show floor at CES 2014 with three main focus areas: new televisions, cameras and tablets. The company did unveil a few business-related products as you'd expect, but we're here to tell you about what the consumers want. This year, Panasonic brought plenty of it, too.
Panasonic has taken the wraps off its new Life+ television software at the tradeshow for its 4K Ultra HD and 1080p televisions, aimed at personalisation and interaction. The main focus of the software are Panasonic's Life+ Screens that will get to know the user individually, letting them know if they'll like a certain piece of content they're watching or if there are more appropriate programmes on.
A seamless user interface is also the focus of the software. The My Stream portion will individualize one channel from various different content sources. Films and shows from cable, terrestrial broadcast, and video on demand are all presented within the same interface so user's don't have to worry about the source of the content. There's also voice navigation, auto wake, cloud integration, and more.
Televisions with the Life+ software, available in both 4K and 1080p, will be available to customers in spring 2014. The flagship set is the Life+ Screen AX800 series, available in 58-inch and 65-inch options.
Its 3840 x 2160 resolution is bolstered by Panasonic's Studio Master Color technology, which combines rich, accurate colour reproduction with a high-colour-space LED backlight. Local dimming is on board, too (to ensure deep black levels). You'll even get a dedicated image processor just for 4K - the 4K Fine Remaster Engine - upscaling duties. It is also THX-certified.
There are four different 1080p Full HD model ranges - the AS680, AS650, AS640 and AS530 - available from 39-inches up to 60-inches. They're now available to pre-order from Panasonic's website and will ship later this year.
Panasonic announced that it has joined forces with Mozilla to create future Smart TVs powered by Firefox OS. The duo are hoping the software will encourage developers to adopt the platform, aided by HTML5 and web technologies that are already prevalent on PCs, smartphones and tablets. Third-party app developers could therefore be swayed to support the Panasonic sets because they would be able to convert their existing web applications simply and quickly.
By partnering with Panasonic Mozilla also hopes to gain impetuous for its Firefox OS, which is currently available on only a few budget smartphone handsets and has therefore failed to set the world alight so far.
The televisions are expected sometime in the near future, though no date has been given.
Panasonic Toughpad FZ-M1
The 7-inch tablet arena hasn't seen a rugged tablet until now. The company has added a 7-inch FZ-M1 version to its rugged Toughpad line. It offers a fouth-generation Intel Core i5 vPro processor, 128GB of SSD storage and 8GB of RAM, a stylus, dedicated GPS, barcode reader, NFC reader, SmartCard reader, 10-inch range RFID, magnetic strip reader and multicarrier embedded 4G LTE wireless connectivity.
Panasonic claims the FZ-M1 tablet can withstand a 5ft drop and has the ability to completely withstand water. Panasonic also claims that this is the thinnest ruggedised tablet device yet, being just 18mm thick. It's also fairly light considering, weighing 544g.
The rugged option won't be a cheap one: it will be available in the spring starting at $2,099.
Mutli-room speakers with AllPlay
Panasonic introduced a pair of Sonos-like multi-room speakers at the tradeshow. They offer Qualcomm's AllPlay solution, allowing you to beam music from your mobile device, over the network and into the speakers.
The Panasonic SC-ALL8 utilises a five-speaker system with a Nano Bamboo Double Layer for the woofer and tweeter. According to Panasonic, the Bamboo helps produce clear, dynamic sounds throughout the mid to high-frequency range, while also reproducing low-frequency sounds, such as drum and bass, with crisp clarity.
The SC-ALL8 is wall-mountable, and the SC-ALL3 can be positioned either vertically or horizontally, enabling a user to position them almost anywhere in their home.
Noise cancelling and wireless headphones
Panasonic unveiled the RP-HC800 noise cancelling headphones and RP-BTD10 Bluetooth wireless headphones at the trade show. The RP-HC800 headphones feature the company’s Active Noise Cancelling System, along with improved Feedback Noise Cancelling Technology to help you drown out any unwanted disturbance.
The RP-HC800 headphones run on one AAA battery, which the company claims will offer 40 hours of noise cancellation, but you will still be able to use them for music playback when they run out of juice.
The headphones will be available in April.
Evolving Panasonic Lumix line
Panasonic's line of Lumix cameras are evolving thanks to the Lumix TZ60, Lumix TZ55, and Lumix LZ40.
Under the hood the TZ60 has an 18.1-megapixel sensor, which is the same as its TZ40 predecessor, though it's 50 per cent lighter. There's also Light Speed autofocus, which is now faster than ever, manual focus with on-screen magnification, and "focus peaking". It assists with getting the focus spot on via the front lens ring.
The TZ55 goes down a different path from the pricier TZ60: it has a 20x optical zoom lens - the same optically stabilised 24-480mm equivalent as found in the older TZ40 model - and isn't quite as heavy featured.
The LZ40 is aimed at being a compact zoom camera without being too harsh on your bank account. The 42x optical zoom compact has a wide-angle 22mm lens that extends all the way through to a 928mm equivalent, available in March for £229.