Panasonic has unveiled its new range of TVs for 2013, including 16 new LED models and 16 plasma screens.
As well as improved picture quality and a small reduction in power consumption, the company has focused on ‘smart’ features in a bid to try to keep pace with other manufacturers.
Absent from the announcement at CES was any news of Ultra HD or 4K models, with Panasonic sticking with the current Full HD standard.
Panasonic was the first company to launch TVs with an internet portal back in 2008, but these days having access to YouTube and iPlayer is pretty much the norm. So what’s new?
The main feature is My Home Screen, a personalised screen which essentially gives you quick access to all your favourite content. You can customise the screen with shortcuts to various apps such as YouTube, Accuweather and more, rather than having to click through menus to get to those apps.
Swipe and Share 2.0 lets you view photos or videos from your smartphone or tablet (similar to Apple’s AirPlay feature), and a new touch pen allows you to edit those photos directly on the TV screen, adding captions, for example. It’s simple to send the edited photos back to your tablet or phone.
The YouTube app has been updated so that you can use your smartphone or tablet as a remote control. This avoids the hassle of using the TV’s remote to labouriously key in search terms or codes, and also means you can adjust the volume.
Accessibility was a big focus, and some models have voice control and make it easier to read the text on web pages when using the built-in web browser by reading it aloud.
A new pair of wireless Bluetooth headphones was also demoed. These use bone conduction (a technology that’s been around for a while) but claims to be a big improvement over previous products. They allow people with hearing difficulties to listen to the TV at a volume that’s comfortable for them without affecting everyone else watching at the same time.
Panasonic also announced media streamers for the first time, including the DMP-MST60 which has the updated Viera Connect platform (to turn your TV into a smart one), supports 3D and Miracast which allows Android owners to stream content from a smartphone or tablet.
We’ll take a closer look at the flagship LED model – the 55in TC-L55WT60 – shortly to see how the new features work in practice as well as to check out the picture quality.