Panasonic's TV range for 2015 includes 11 4K models and lots of love for Netflix.
Panasonic's 2015 range of LED LCD televisions features over 20 new models that span across eight different series, but four of those series, and indeed 60 per cent of the entire range (11 models), comprises 4K, Ultra High Definition models.
The focus on 4K is not surprising given that the trend in the Australian market is towards bigger TV screens, but the dearth of content in the current climate means that the main selling point of these new TVs is still in the 'smarts'.
Panasonic has used the Firefox OS interface for its new TVs in a bid to make them as easy to use as possible, in particular for the average user who wants to take advantage of online streaming services and multitudes of attached devices.
This interface incorporates what Panasonic calls its 'My Home Screen 2.0', which is the main 'portal' to the TV's graphical interface. It allows for customisations to be made so that the user can put all of their favourite services and inputs in one convenient location. All of these features can be pulled from the different 'decks' in the interface, which are basically different areas of the menu that feature various aspects of the TV's services, such as Live TV, apps, and attached devices.
Firefox OS organises the smart TV's different features in decks.
Favourite features (such as the YouTube app) can be added to the My Home Screen 2.0 for easier access.
The main aim is to let the user switch between any type of content source, be it free-to-air, YouTube, a hard drive, or any other type of input, all from one main screen that contains all of these sources as shortcuts. It ensures that minimal time is spent looking for things in a menu once a user's favourites have been added.
Also immediately noticeable on the new range of 4K TVs is the inclusion of a Netflix button directly on the remote control. This one-button operation to bring up the Netflix app in the swiftest manner possible speaks volumes about the penetration of this service with TV manufacturers and their understanding of the changing viewing habits of most users. Panasonic claims that 72 per cent of viewers are now active viewers who binge watch TV shows.
Netflix can be lauched at the press of a button, directly from the remote control. All of Panasonic's 2015 Viera TVs have this feature on the remote control, except for the C400 series TVs.
That said, free-to-air TV is still a main course for many Aussies, and Panasonic has included plenty versatility to the way it can be watched. Not only can free-to-air TV be streamed to a second device in the home while another channel is being watched, users also don't have to miss out on any live events while they travel.
TV Anytime is an included feature that allows live, free-to-air TV to be streamed onto tablets or smartphones using the corresponding Panasonic Media Centre app, and this streaming can take place over fixed line Internet or mobile broadband anywhere in the world. It can come in especially useful for those who want to watch live sports or other timely events while travelling. This is a feature that is also present in Panasonic's PVR products, allowing for the streaming of recorded content using the same Media Centre app.
Aiding the local TV offerings is support for HbbTV (hybrid broadcast broadband TV), which allows for catch-up services from the free-to-air networks (such SBS On Demand) to be viewed with ease on the TV through an Internet connection.
Running the interface and fancy features of the new Viera TVs is Panasonic's Quad-Core Pro chip.
Twin tuners are built in to the TVs by default, and they can facilitate picture-in-picture mode for watching different networks simultaneously. With a hard drive attached to the TV, one channel can be recorded while another one is being watched.
Extra information can be brought up along the edges of the screen while you watch. It's a feature called 'info frame'.
The picture quality of less-than-4K content is improved by upscale processing that Panasonic told us occurs by default on every source through the 4K Fine Remaster Engine feature. This means that free-to-air TV, Blu-rays and DVDs, content played off a hard drive, or even content streamed from the Web, are all given upscale treatment so that they can appear on the 4K panel (which has a resolution of 3840x2160 pixels) with as few blemishes as possible.
Panasonic also claims that its new range of Viera TVs is 35 per cent brighter compared to last year's models, and that they also consume 40 per cent less electricity. Colours have been enhanced with the introduction of a wider gamut, as well as the inclusion of 3D lookup tables in a bid to manage the colour output more precisely. The flagship CX800 series Viera panels also feature further enhancements to the handling of black gradations in dark and bright scenes, and more dynamic range processing in bright scenes in a bid to stop colours from becoming washed out.
Panasonic Viera 2015 4K LCD LED TV models, pricing, and availability
Panasonic Viera CX800 Series
" Model: TH-65CX800A" Size: 65in" Price: TBA" Available: Q4 2015
" Model: TH-55CX800A" Size: 55in" Price: TBA" Available: Q4 2015
Panasonic Viera CX740
" Model: TH-65CX740A" Size: 65in" Price: $4399" Available: Early June
" Model: TH-55CX740A" Size: 55in" Price: $3099" Available: Early May
" Model: TH-50CX740A" Size: 50in" Price: $2699" Available: Early May
Panasonic Viera CX700
" Model: TH-65CX700A" Size: 65in" Price: $4299" Available: Early June
" Model: TH-60CX700A" Size: 60in" Price: $3699" Available: Early May
" Model: TH-55CX700A" Size: 55in" Price: $2999" Available: Early May
" Model: TH-50CX700A" Size: 50in" Price: $2599" Available: Early May
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Panasonic Viera CX640
" Model: TH-65CX640A" Size: 65in" Price: $3999" Available: Late May
" Model: TH-55CX640A" Size: 55in" Price: $2799" Available: Late May
What about Full HD TVs?
Here is Panasonic's 2015 range of Full HD TVs.
Panasonic Viera CS650
" Model: TH-55CS650A" Size: 55in" Price: $2399" Available: Now
" Model: TH-50CS650A" Size: 50in" Price: $1999" Available: Now
" Model: TH-40CS650A" Size: 40in" Price: $1699" Available: Now
Panasonic Viera CS610
" Model: TH-65CS610A" Size: 65in" Price: $3399" Available: Now
" Model: TH-60CS610A" Size: 60in" Price: $2799" Available: Now
" Model: TH-55CS610A" Size: 55in" Price: $2099" Available: Now
" Model: TH-50CS610A" Size: 50in" Price: $1699" Available: Now
" Model: TH-40CS610A" Size: 40in" Price: $1399" Available: Now
Panasonic Viera C400
" Model: TH-40C400A" Size: 40in" Price: $999" Available: Now
" Model: TH-32C400A" Size: 32in" Price: $549" Available: Now