Google TV and Intel CPU snub

If Google thought it would be easy to get home entertainment companies to sign up to their Google TV project then they should probably think again.  Panasonic has become the latest company to turn their nose up at the idea of Android and Intel nesting in their HDTVs, claiming that the open-source OS’ processing demands would require too expensive a CPU to keep prices sufficiently low.

The move follows Samsung’s lead, the company having announced last month that it would be continuing with its own internet and widget platform rather than adopting one of Google’s design.  Panasonic will continue to use its own proprietary system, which allows for Netflix and YouTube access, together with basic internet-sourced information widgets, but which falls short of the full browser functionality that Google TV promises.

Still, Google may also have plans to bypass HDTV manufacturers altogether and push a set-top box that would daisy-chain in-between existing cable or satellite boxes and televisions.  However, they’re also rumored to be looking to work with media providers so as to reduce the cost of such a STB for end-users.


CES brings on 3D to the consumers

Televisions enhanced with direct internet access and 3D displays will be among the most anticipated products unveiled when the world’s biggest annual technology showcase kicks off in Las Vegas on Thursday.

This year could see a revolution in televisions on high street sale as they converge with the web, allowing viewers to watch services such as the BBC’s iPlayer and YouTube more conveniently.

Manufacturers including Sony, Panasonic and LG are expected to launch sets with a broad range of new capabilities at the Consumer Electronics Show, including High Definition TV (HDTV) screens with the internet telephony service Skype built in, so people can use their TVs for video chats with friends and family anywhere in the world.

The BBC launched a limited trial last month of the iPlayer on some high definition Freesat boxes – the free-to-air satellite service is increasingly integrated into TVs – and is anticipating even more viewers being online when the next generation of sets emerges.

There is a scramble to profit on the hype surrounding 3D after cinema hits Avatar and Up. A number of companies will be debuting their attempts at high-quality 3D screens. The Discovery Channel could even announce plans to launch a 3D TV channel next year.

The Las Vegas show is where the world’s most powerful electronics brands fight for top billing: launches in the past include the DVD, the Xbox games console and the puzzle game Tetris.

Last night’s launch of the Nexus One phone – Google’s rival to Apple’s iPhone – sought to upstage the start of CES and the next big moment will come tomorrow night with a keynote speech from Microsoft’s forceful chief executive, Steve Ballmer.

The company has opened CES in the past by outlining a vision of where Microsoft believes the future is headed. Two years ago billionaire founder Bill Gates demonstrated a table with a built-in touch sensitive computer, the Surface, while last year Ballmer showed off Windows 7.

Announcements likely this year include new mobile phones, concepts for home entertainment – perhaps even a launch date for Project Natal, the motion-sensitive video gaming system unveiled last summer. Whatever Ballmer has up his sleeve, he will have to compete with announcements from rivals such as Sony, Samsung, and Google.

Microsoft is not alone in looking for wow factor. Others include Nokia, the beleaguered mobile phone maker whose chief executive, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo, will attempt to excite Friday’s crowds with a new slate of gadgets. Alan Mulally, boss of car maker Ford, is expected to show off hi-tech concepts aimed at changing the future of driving.

“We expect them to say something fairly significant,” said Gary Shapiro, head of the Consumer Electronics Association, which organises the show. “They are positioning themselves as a tech company rather than a car company.”

It is on the show’s extensive floors that most surprises are likely. With more than 2,500 exhibitors and acres of floor space, weird and wonderful ideas have plenty of room to thrive. Exploding on the scene this year are tablet computers – touchscreen devices pitched between a laptop and a mobile phone. With Apple – which is not at CES itself – set to make an announcement later this month, rivals are hoping they can break into the market. Among these is Freescale, a US company which has announceda machine combining tablet and smartbook features. “We believe the tablet will emerge as a popular form factor for the next generation of smartbooks,” said Henri Richard of Freescale


Panasonic’s 1-inch thick Z1 plasma reviewed: playing with perfection


The plasma may be a dying breed, but the ones that are left are undoubtedly some of the best the world has ever seen. Take Panasonic’s 54-inch TC-P54Z1 for example, which wowed audiences (us included) when it was first unveiled way back at CES. The HD Guru recently had an opportunity to take this very screen into his abode for review, and after a labor-intensive (around “one hour”) setup process, the gazing was officially on. Panny’s engineers were able to slim the set down to an inch by requiring that a dedicated (wireless) set-top-box be used for tuning OTA channels and managing connections, and the result was nothing less than elegant. If you’re wondering what north of five large really buys in an HDTV these days, wonder no more — the set was deemed darn near perfect, with “outstanding” color, contrast and deep black levels. Potentially best of all, there were no motion artifacts to speak of, and anyone with a 120Hz / 240Hz set can testify to just how annoying those things are. Hit the read link for a detailed unboxing, setup and review, but don’t even bother if you’re looking for someone to talk you out of what you’re about to do.


Panasonic’s PT-AE4000U HD projector

When it comes to home theater gear most guys want the biggest image that they can get. Unless you are loaded and can afford a 100-inch HDTV, what you are going to be shopping for is a projector when you are out for a really big picture. Panasonic has announced a new home theater projector called the PT-AE4000U that is designed for the home theater enthusiast.


The projector has 1,600-lumen brightness and a 100,000:1 contrast ratio. The projector has Panasonic’s Hollywood tuned high picture quality and Lens Memory feature. The new projector is also VIERA Link compatible and has a programmable 12V trigger. The projector supports 2.35:1 wide aspect ratio screens.

Other features include support for 120 frames per second and 60 frames per second signal input as well as 24 frame per second support. The programmable 12V trigger is for automated theater setups with things like automatic rollup screens. The projector can throw a picture 120-inches from only 11 feet away. The 1080p projector has HDMI inputs and will be available this month for $2,499.


Projected 46 Million 3DTV by 2013

3DTV will be a huge market in the coming years. I mentioned a 50-inch Panasonic 3DTV set to hit the market next year last week that will be among the first 3DTVs to land in homes around the world. The Panasonic 3DTV certainly won’t be the last set to hit the living room though.

According to research firm GigaOM, the market for 3DTVs will boom over the next three years. By 2013, 3DTV shipments are set to hit 46 million units. The research firm reports that both Sony and Panasonic are both betting that 3DTV sales will help to rejuvenate their sales.

Over the next several years, 3D is expected to become a slight cost premium feature along the lines of how 120Hz refresh rates are today. The belief is that many consumers will opt for 3D capable sets even if they watch mostly 2D content. The advent of 3D gaming will also push more consumers to purchase 3DTVs as well. The research firm does point out that active 3D glasses need to get cheaper before 3D grows more popular


Panasonic CY-BB1000D in-car Blu-ray player revealed

Panasonic revealed the very first Blu-ray player meant to be installed in a car today. It’s called the CY-BB1000D. Also announced was the HX-3000D, which is an HD standard DVD player, also for your car.


The Blu-ray player has a 7-inch display with a 1,280 x 720 resolution along with an HDMI input and Bonus View content compatibility. It is slated for a September 10th release in Japan for about $1,060.

The NX-3000D, on the other hand, has an SD card slot, 50W audio, a DVD drive, 5.1 channel audio support, an 80GB hard drive and a USb cable. It will be available on the same date in Japan for about $3,874.


Onkyo – HDMI compatibility issue with 2009 Panasonic TVs

onkyotxsr606hdPanasonic has today confirmed that it too is aware of the problem and is working on a fix.

“Panasonic Japan knows that there’s a problem and is working with Onkyo Japan on a counter measure,” says a spokeswoman for Panasonic UK.

A recent firmware upgrade on Panasonic’s 2009 Viera G10, V10 and Z1 TVs was not related to this issue – it was a picture quality upgrade, says Panasonic.

We’ll let you know the minute we have more information.


Onkyo says it’s aware of HDMI handshake issues between its TX-SR606 and TX-SR607 AV receivers and Panasonic’s 2009 range of Viera TVs, and is investigating the problem.

The issue came to light on Forums, when a poster who had bought a Panasonic TX-P42V10 plasma tried to connect it up to his existing Onkyo TX-SR606 receiver and Panasonic DMP-BD30 Blu-ray player.

When he tried to play his first Blu-ray disc at 1080p/24fps, the Panasonic ‘V10 failed to synch with the receiver and Blu-ray player, and the TV displayed a blank screen. If the video signal is sent as 1080i, he says, it works fine.

The owner contacted Sevenoaks, from whom he bought the Blu-ray player and receiver, and says both the retailer and Onkyo were quick to respond to the problem. “I have been very impressed that they’ve wasted no time in verifying there is an issue,” he says.

A spokesman for Onkyo UK says: “Onkyo is aware of the issue and is investigating.”


Panasonic Puts High-Definition Video in Small Packages

pansmallhdPanasonic’s forthcoming HDC-S10 and HDC-TM10 are among the lightest HD camcorders on the planet, recording to SD/SDHC media and offering a 16x optical zoom.


Panasonic has announced two new high-definition camcorders that, at just half a pound, the company says are among the lightest on the plaenet…at least for full HD AVCHD camcorders as of today. Issues of weight (or lack of it) aside, the new HDC-SD10 and HDC-TM10 record 1,920 by 1,080-pixel high-definition video direct to SD/SDHC memory, and sport 16× optical zooms and optical image stabilization to make sure users get exactly the shot they want.

“We recognize that users are looking for camcorders that capture high-quality, high definition video, but they also want something lightweight that has advanced, yet easy-to-use functions,” said Panasonic Consumer Electronics’ senior product manager for imagine Chuck Kirkman, in a statement.

Both the SD10 and TM10 sport Panasonic’s Intelligent Auto function which automatically picks out a scene mode for a given shot; the cameras also sport face detection technology so faces are properly exposed in video, and intelligent contrast control. Both cameras also offer autofocus and auto-exposure tracking so users can follow a moving subject; the tracking technologies are supposed to work even if the subject moves around or turns to the side. The cameras both feature a pre-recording function that automatically retains three seconds of video prior to a user pressing the Record button.

Both cameras record video to SD/SDHC memory cards, with the TM-10 also sporting 8 GB of onboard memory. Users turn the cameras on and off by opening and closing the LCD viewfinder; the cameras are supposed to fire up in less than two seconds, and will automatically shut off after five minutes of idle time to preserve battery life. Both cameras feature a video light and flash for filming in dark places.

The SD10 and TM10 should be available in September for suggested prices of $549.99 and $599.99, respectively; the SD10 will be available in black, while the TM10 will be available in black or silver.


Panasonic 150″ Plasma: Massive 4K2K Display

Panasonic 150″ Plasma Specifications

Display: 150″ Plasma Display Panel (PDP)
Pixel Format: 4096 x 2160 (4K2K)

Panasonic 150


The massive 150″ plasma TV from Panasonic is a go. As soon as Panasonic’s plasma display panel (PDP) fabrication plant commences production in May 2009, the 150″ PDP will be on its way to stores so you can plunk down an unheard amount of money for it. But what will you do with it?

You will most likely not have any 4K2K video sources. And even if you did, you’ll need to play it somehow. You might have managed to secure a yet-to-be-available JVC 4K2K super high-definition player to pump the 4K2K video via dual-link DVI to the massive 150″ plasma, but I doubt it. What I’m getting at is that there is little infrastructure to support 4K2K as of now, in terms of viewing 4K2K video that is. Getting a computing environment on a 4K2K-capable display, on the other hand, would be easy since dual-link DVI is fairly easy to find.

But the day will come when you’ll be able to get 4K2K disks via Netflix or at Blockbuster (if they’re around by then). Many versions later, both the PlayStation and Xbox gaming consoles will probably have 4K2K-ROM read capability. Just imagine what games will look like on 4K2K! You’ll need to get a doctor to give you a clean bill of health so your heart can take what will seem to be happening for real. Other changes will happen. What will be interesting are the changes that will undergo in terms of movie-making. Even now with the transition from 480i to 720p/1080i the actors and actress must have perfect faces. If you have a tiny pimple somewhere, viewers will notice. Got a single nose hair that’s protruding beyond the confines of the nose by just 1mm? Well, gotta get rid of that before you get in front of the 1080/24p video camcorder. Or else people will notice. Now, can you imagine how much more perfection will be demanded by the time video is shot at 4K2K? Maybe we’ll see virtual characters that look and act so human, we won’t be able to tell the difference.

A technicality: Thomas Ricker at engadget incorrectly states in his blog post that the pixel format is 2160 x 4096. Certainly it looks to be 4096 x 2160, in landscape orientation. The second mistake that he makes is in stating that it is “4 times 1080p”. Well, first off, 1080p is a video format, but I’ll overlook that. To show 1080p without scaling, you’ll need a display that has a pixel format of 1920 x 1080. If you quadruple this, you’ll get 3840 x 2160. 3840 x 2160 is Quad Full HD, or in Thomas’ words “4 times 1080p”. Panasonic’s 150″ plasma, on the other hand, is 4096 x 2160 and would be more accurate if referred to as 4K2K. Just my opinion.

Source: engadget


Panasonic open 3D Blu-ray labs

panasonic3dhdWith the aim of producing consumer Blu-ray 3D Home Theatre products by 2010, Panasonic have opened an advanced authoring laboratory in Hollywood.

Based in Universal City the new 3D labs will work towards establishing a 3D Full HD (3D FHD) Blu-ray format and will carry out development work directly with Hollywood studios offering 3D title development services for 3D FHD Blu-ray titles.

As far as the consumer is concerned, Panasonic plan to develop a Plasma 3D Full HD home theater system (which it demonstrated in prototype form at CES 2009), a 3D-ready digital cinema projector (Theatrical Dolby 3-D system) with a 380-inch screen theater for 3D HD picture quality evaluation, and a 3-D ready MPEG-4 AVC High Profile encoder.

Eisuke Tsuyuzaki, Managing Director of Panasonic Hollywood Laboratory stated: “Panasonic recognizes that for 3D FHD to succeed, just like Blu-ray, collaboration on research, development and production with studios and content providers is absolutely essential”. He added: “The creation of the new PHL Authoring Center will enable Hollywood to start trial production and ultimately create commercially available 3D FHD titles to realize a new window into reality, and elevate the level of High Definition entertainment that consumers can enjoy in their own homes.

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