Panasonic has kept the ethos of their new TVs; design, quality performance, eco-friendliness, and easy operability and applied it to their new 2012 range of home entertainment peripherals. Devices such as the DMP-BDT320 Blu-ray player, helps bring feature and connectivity in the form of the Viera Connect platform. At the same time, design aspects such as the option to separate the product into two makes the SC-HTB550 Soundbar pretty versatile and adaptable. Without further delay, here's a closer look at some Panasonic’s upcoming Blu-ray players, soundbars, and docking stations you can expect in the months ahead.
Over the past years, the Blu-Ray player has becomes the quintessential partner-in crime for the television. You can clearly see from the Panasonic lineup of TVs that larger sizes are being demanded more. LEDs are replacing CCFLs, and Full-HD capabilities are becoming the norm. With this in mind, it is essential that you have a player capable of handling the high-definition content. This is where the new Panasonic Blu-Ray Player models step in. Out at the head of the pack is the DMP-BDT320, which is the flagship product from the new lineup. Visible instantly are the improvements over its predecessors in the form of a slimmer profile and the omission of the disc-tray loading mechanism which was found on older models from Panasonic. The new design coupled with features such 3D capabilities, 2D to 3D conversion, DLNA and built-in Wireless puts the on par with similar top products from competitors.
Besides hardware, software has also been given an upgrade and facelift. Smart TV features have been a well-received feature and if your TV does not have them, pairing it with the DMP-BDT320 will remedy the situation. The Viera Connect platform is still being revamped but we were given a chance to preview some of the changes at the seminar. The biggest improvement was the introduction of a taskbar. With the new TVs being armed with Duo Core processors, multi-tasking has vastly improved making it possible to run various Smart TV features concurrently. You can now toggle between different applications you have running with the help of your remote and the tear away GUI. This is a huge improvement on the previous procedure where one application would have to be closed before another could be started, forcing users to wait through load time on each instance.
As mentioned earlier, Panasonic has also improved its Web Browser. Though still in the development stage, though is in the process of bringing the surfing experience on the TV closer to what users will be familiar with on their laptops and smartphones. The introduction of the smartphone-esque touch pad remote (only compatible with the DMP-BDT320) is meant to better the navigation experience. But seeing that the UI shown is not guaranteed to be included as part of the finished article, we will refrain from passing judgment on this feature.
We have already mentioned how the Viera Remote App can help expand the functionality of your TV by letting you avail the DLNA features of your TV or by turning your smartphone into a gamepad. But the Viera Remote app is not only meant to be used with the TVs and it can be used in the same manner to control Blu-ray player features intuitively. A certain degree of customization is also offered as you can decide what operation shaking your device can perform.
Rounding out the Blu-Ray lineup from Panasonic are the DMP-BDT220 and the DMP-BD77. Both differ from the higher end DMP-BDT320 because they are not compatible with the new Touch Pad remote Panasonic has introduced. Furthermore, the DMP-BD77 does not have the Viera Connect suite of Smart TV features. Prices and availability of the devices have not yet been released.
Top notch picture quality is the primary focus of a designer’s mind when coming up with a brand new television product. However, Panasonic realizes that without quality sound to go with the images, the product may not be as appealing to discerning users. Keeping this in mind, they have equipped their new TVs with speakers arranged in a train configuration. But if that is not enough, you can always pair your TV with a Soundbar.
Panasonic has two new offerings in the shape of the SC-HTB550 and the SC-HTB20 with stainless mesh looks and a slim profile. Both Soundbars are slightly unique due to their breakable design. While the sound bar can be placed beneath the TV in a traditional setup, you can also separate the device into two pieces allowing you to use them as mini tall-boys of sorts in a vertical layout.
Both products have been fitted with Anti-Jitter Digital Amplifier technology, which is based and an improvement on MASH noise shaping technology that has been used in Panasonic previously. When the volume is cranked up, the vibrations from the sound waves can cause distortion and loss of clarity for the signal. The Anti-Jittering technology Panasonic has been employed here is meant to counteract these effects.
The SC-HTB550 also boasts a wireless subwoofer which is not available with the SC-HTB20. Size of the subwoofer has also been visibly increased when compared with the previous soundbars offered by Panasonic. We were given a slight demonstration of the SC-HTB550’s capabilities at the seminar and were able to discern strong bass with an adequately wide soundstage. However, we will have to call the product in to our labs before we can give a full account of its worth.
To round off the collection of AV products on display Panasonic also has a bevy of docking stations ready to hit shelves. With the popularity of the iPhone undeniable, the speaker systems work with Apple’s ubiquitous smartphone.
The most eye-catching of the lot is the SC-HC37 docking station with is slim, stylish design and funky colors. Crystal edges and a stainless mesh make it ideal for prominent display in your living space. This is made easier by the fact that you can wall mount the device if you so desire. Also interesting is the sliding door which unveils the dock. Hiding the iPhone away in this fashion is a first as most other products from this category prominently display the smartphone as part of their design.
Those looking for more substantial speaker system can check out the SC-PMX5. With a full digital amplifier and dual speakers with a tweeter, soft done tweeter, and woofer combination, the device is geared solely for audio performance with elegant good looks to match. In addition, the SC-PMX5 is also able to play CDs, which should be great news for music aficionados who have been dutifully amassing a collection through the years.
Panasonic was unable to furnish prices for the products showcased yesterday. However, you can expect to see them in stores in May 2012 and the coming months ahead. Some of them, like the ET5 and E5 Smart Viera models, have already been launched and can be purchased via Panasonic's distributors.