Panasonic Booth – CES 2012

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I expected to enjoy the trip to Panasonic’s booth at CES because I love looking at big, high quality HDTVs and historically they have delivered on both points. This year’s models will prove no exception to that as they have raised the bar again with better picture quality through panel improvements and higher internal refresh rates. There were many interesting things discovered at the booth, but the most impressive was the demo for “IPS LED Moving Picture Quality” which demonstrated a new feature found on their LCDs which provides near-plasma moving picture resolution. While TVs were the main reason for stopping by, we also too the opportunity to check out the Blu-ray player line up and some of the HTIB (home theater in a box) and audio systems that will come out this year – click through to check out the pictures and highlights.

  • New sleek, thin design. In my opinion Panasonic wins the prize for best looking set so far.
  • 3D Glasses are BT
  • Web browser now part of VieraConnect
  • VieraConnect looked, and for the most part acted the same (i.e. slow but reasonable functional) as previous generations. It is not nearly as slick as Samsung’s platform.
  • No more S-series, it’s been replaced by a new “UT” model, which provides the only option for plasmas under 50″
  • 2012 PDPs consume 50% of the electricity versus 2011 PDP.
  • VT (PDP) and WT (LCD) include a BT touch-pad remote
  • The plasma panel has been significantly redesigned across all models, Panasonic didn’t push last years panel down model like they have in the past
  • VT includes the third version of Infinite Black, should produce deeper black than previous generations – “No comment” on what the MLL will be
  • Also “No comment” on PDP rising MLL issues observed with previous generations
  • This year’s LCD lineup includes a polarized (aka passive) option for budget 3D buyers, all of the plasmas are active

Sizes (inches):

UT50: 42, 50, 55, 60
ST50: 50, 55, 60, 65
GT50: 50, 55, 60, 65
VT50: 55, 65

  • There were several Blu-ray decks on display spanning the usual feature gamut. There was one stand-out though, a slick little player about the size of an external laptop optical drive.
  • Power saving features available on some models where the deck goes into standby, but detects your proximity and automatically starts powering up (so it can receive a disc with little to no wait) when it detects movement.
  • HTIB offers a 25 “channel” virtual surround mode that adds height to the sound field. The demo was pretty impressive, but it’s definitely something that could be highly dependent on source material.
  • High-end HTIB is wireless surround kit ready, so you can buy an external device that operates in the 2.4GHz area to avoid running speaker wires to the back of the room. AC power is (of course) still required.

  • If someone were in the market

    If someone were in the market for a new TV, would you guys say that Panasonic or Samsung has the better offering for 2012?  Personally, I’m only slightly interested in the web capabilities (I have a full PC hooked up to my TV), but that might be more important for others.

    Also, do either of them offer enough improvement to warrant a purchase over the lower-priced 2011 models?  I.e.  Performance/value perspective

    • IMO Panasonic was the clear

      IMO Panasonic was the clear winner in PQ, especially w/ PDP but their advancements in LCD motion resolution w/o too much “smoothing” also demo’d really well. I still need to write up the Samsung booth, but it was telling that they showed their black levels under a recreate-the-surface-of-the-sun lamp where Panasonic demo’d in a pitch black room.

      By the time the new models ship (usually April/May) 2011 models should be hard to find, so that’s a hard one if you want one pretty soon. Personally, there’s no way I’d pick up a current gen PDP having see what they are bringing out, but (speaking as someone who pre-ordered a VT25) my preferences many not align with yours 🙂

    • It probably depends what

      It probably depends what price range/models you are looking at and what qualities you value in a display.

  • Personally, I’m looking at

    Personally, I’m looking at the high-end lines of each.  I quickly looked at the Panasonic VT line and their top VT series is currently going for $3k, down from its original price of ~$4200.  Assuming their new model debuts at close to that $4k mark, it’s a question of whether it warrants a nearly $1200 premium.  PQ is my main concern.

    • You probably won’t pay SRP

      You probably won’t pay SRP even at launch. They didn’t have a VT30 v. VT50 demo so I can’t compare them directly, but the ST30 v. VT50 was pretty dramatic w/ blacks, contrast and color saturation.

    • Maybe the way to consider it

      Maybe the way to consider it is if it is a need, buy now; if it is a want, buy later.

  • Between Panasonic and

    Between Panasonic and Samsung, Panasonic was the clear winner..The TV’s looked amazing.

    • How could you judge PQ at

      How could you judge PQ at CES? 

      • Obviously it’s not ceteris

        Obviously it’s not ceteris paribus; many factors including lighting, calibration, source material, booth focus* (I think this is telling where each thinks their relative strengths are), etc. but I agree with Kyle that the Panasonic PDPs demoed much better than the other sets we saw (excluding 4K of course :)); including the Elites (which despite their strengths have LCD problems). That was my initial impression, and it didn’t change after I went back later in the week when the crowds died down and spent 15-20 staring at each top-end display looking for problems.

        * Samsung was all about “Smart TV”, LG was beating people with poorly implemented 3D, and Panasonic was more focused on PQ (which was good because their apps platform is still slow and lagging everyone else).

        • Thanks Andrew, couldn’t have

          Thanks Andrew, couldn’t have said it better myself….I would visit the Panasonic booth after visiting the other booth and they just nailed it on the head with the displays and demo’s..I am surely purchasing a Panasonic TV after that. The Press Conference was not all inspiring, and that was beat out by everyone.. but the Demo’s on the floor 2 thumbs up…

        • Gotcha.I think it is pretty

          Gotcha.

          I think it is pretty difficult for most people, myself included, to take the flagship offerings and make any definitive PQ assessment unless all things are set equal and a side-by-side demo is put in place, especially since the differences in the flagship panels are relatively small to begin with.

          • Aaron Ledger wrote:
            Gotcha.
            I

            [quote=Aaron Ledger]

            Gotcha.

            I think it is pretty difficult for most people, myself included, to take the flagship offerings and make any definitive PQ assessment unless all things are set equal and a side-by-side demo is put in place, especially since the differences in the flagship panels are relatively small to begin with.

            [/quote]

            There was a huge difference in demos and you could really tell the difference…

          • Demos are one thing, but they

            Demos are one thing, but they are not a real substitute for calibrated sets being fed a bunch of different types of content to help highlight the strengths and weaknesses of each.

          • How about if we said

            How about if we said Panasonic did a good job of demonstrating their displays PQ and everyone else didn’t*

            * still excluding 4K displays, which looked pretty damn awesome no matter where they were sitting 🙂

          • This sounds similar to the

            This sounds similar to the 2011 CES. Panasonic’s booth was better with regards to showcasing their displays. Samsung doesn’t really push their plasma like their LCD, but they still make a plasma that is competitive with Panasonic. Each panel has nitpicks, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s hard to go wrong with either.

          • Even more so when you

            Even more so when you consider price. The VT30 demanded a premium over the 8000 series on the street.

          • Aaron Ledger

            [quote=Aaron Ledger]

            Gotcha.

            I think it is pretty difficult for most people, myself included, to take the flagship offerings and make any definitive PQ assessment unless all things are set equal and a side-by-side demo is put in place, especially since the differences in the flagship panels are relatively small to begin with.

            [/quote]

            You could really tell the difference….

  • Well, at the very least, I

    Well, at the very least, I think it’s clear that Panasonic is the way to go in terms of PQ.  LOL!  Now, I just need to figure out if I should pick up the current model or the 2012 model…  signs are pointing to waiting for the 2012 model, though.

    • You’ll probably need to wait

      😀

      You’ll probably need to wait until ~June for availability to be fairly widespread on the 2012 models unless they push sets out before March.