Panasonic Viera 2012 LED and LCD TVs – all you need to know
Today, Panasonic unveiled its 2012 LED & LCD TV Viera models for the UK market, at its annual event in Hamburg. We were there to take a first look at the new sets. Here’s a summary of what’s coming out this year.
Panasonic Viera WT50 series – the flagship LED TV
The WT50 is Panasonic’s flagship LED range, and comes with all the bells and whistles one would expect from a high-end TV. Naturally the range has 3D (active shutter), and Viera Connect, which is Panasonic’s ‘smart’ TV system. New for 2012 is the ability to use Skype or Facebook while watching TV at the same time. This is thanks to a dual-core processor, which also appears on a couple of Panasonic’s top end Plasma models.
The WT50 is one of the few Panasonic LED models compatible with its Remote App Pro, which lets viewers ‘pull’ content from their TV and watch on a tablet or smartphone. From the conference it was apparent that using a secondary device with the TV is a big drive for Panasonic in 2012.
The WT50 comes with a second remote, called a ‘Touch Pad’. The aim of this is to make using the Smart TV functions of the TV easier, and users can move a cursor around the screen using the pad on the remote.
The WT50 range comes in 42-inch, 47-inch and 55-inch versions.
Panasonic DT50 series – a small step down
Next up is the DT50, which is very similar to the WT50, but lacking some of the ‘extras’, such as the touch pad remote. However, it does also suppor the Remote App Pro, and users can pull content from the TV, as well as pushing content such as videos, images or internet content, from a smartphone or tablet onto the TV. We saw this in action, (the user swipes the content on the screen upwards) and it appeared to work very well.
Panasonic has extended the size of its LED models this year, and like the WT50, the DT50 range comes will come in 42-inch, 47-inch and 55-inch sizes.
Panasonic Viera ET50 series – the entry-level ‘active’ 3D TV
The lowest end ‘active’ 3D TV from Panasonic, the ET50 features an 800hz panel, compared to the DT50 and WT50 which have 1600hz panels – in theory, the higher the number the smoother motion will appear on-screen. Clearly aimed as being an entry-level active 3D set, it comes with built-in wi-fi and smart TV functions. There’s also a USB recording function.
Just two sizes for the ET50 range – 42-inch and 47-inch.
Panasonic Viera ET5 series – Pansonic’s first ‘passive’ 3D TV
Things start to get interesting again when we get to the ET5 series. The ET5 represents Panasonic’s first passive 3D TV range, passive being the same method of 3D that cinemas use. One of the benefits of passive 3D is the cheaper glasses, and this is reflected in the fact that the ET5 comes bundled with four pairs. We first got a look at the ET5 in CES in January, so it’s good to confirm we’ll be seeing it in the UK.
The ET5 series comes in 55-inch, 47-inch, 42-inch, 37-inch and 32″
Panasonic Viera E5 series – the main ‘no 3D’ option
3D drops off the feature list with the E5 series, though smart TV functions remain. The built-in wi-fi is also dropped, in favour of an optional dongle at extra cost. The E5 is clearly marketed at those on a budget, though you still have the option of online features if you so wish. The E5 will come in 47-inch, 42-inch, 37-inch and 32-inch sizes.
Panasonic Viera X5 series – the budget option
This is Panasonic’s budget option. It’ll come in 19-inch, 24-inch and 32-inch sizes and lacks all the extra features, such as smart TV and 3D, of the more expensive models. Only the 24-inch model supports full HD (1080p) resolutions.
2012 Panasonic Viera TV range – Jack’s first impressions
Having attended this show for three years in a row now, it was interesting to see the focus of the 2012 event very much on smart TV functionality, as opposed to the 3D fanfare we have seen in the past. While 3D is becoming more of a standard feature (more of the LEDs feature it than not), it was very much glossed over for the most part. Even Panasonic’s first passive 3D model received little limelight.
Much was made of downloadable apps and streaming content, with internet content providers of various guises appearing on any and every screen. There was also a lengthy demonstration of MySpace, a Panasonic smart TV exclusive, which seems a little misplaced for 2012 with Facebook having taken its crown a few years ago. In fact, the most damning statement on this came when a demonstrator introduced the function with the phrase ‘You might remember MySpace from a few years ago’…
The filtering down of features, including 3D, built-in wi-fi and Freeview HD is refreshing to see, and even consumers at the lower end can access the features that a couple of years ago were reserved only for the high-end models. In fact, Panasonic told us that all of its 2012 models came with a Freeview HD tuner.
No word on launch dates yet, but rest assured we’ll be getting these models into the Which? labs in the near future and putting them through their paces.
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