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Preview: Panasonic's 3D and smart TVs for 2012

Kat Orphanides
22 Feb 2012
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Panasonic’s latest hardware improvements to its TV range come hand in hand with a wealth of network and smart TV functionality

We’ve been looking at Panasonic’s latest innovations in TV tech and there’s plenty to impress, from new remote control apps on your mobile phone to the latest advances in TV tech.

The forthcoming ET5 range is the company’s first passive 3D TV. It’s intended to give the company an entry-level model for budget-conscious buyers. Although Panasonic emphasises that it feels that the best 3D quality will always come with active 3D, the ET5’s quality is surprisingly good.

Panasonic SmartViera range 2012

At the top of the LED range is the WT50, a 3D model with an IPS panel that has 1,600Hz backlight scanning. This should minimises blurred edges on fast-moving objects, while its dual-core processor helps the WT50 produce some of the most accurate and motion smoothing that we've ever seen. The same technology allows it to smooth incompatible frame rates, such as those often found on web content, as well as 24p and NTSC frame rates.

Other features include built in FreeviewHD and FreeSat HD tuners, surprisingly rich audio courtesy of the V-Audio Pro Surround 2 system, the ability to record to USB or SD storage media, integrated media screaming and other SmartViera functions (see below).

The WT50 also uses facial recognition technology to improve the colour and smoothness of skin tones. The WT50 range is available in 42in, 47in and 55in models and comes with a unique touch-sensitive remote control in addition to a more traditional version.

The DT50 range is available in the same sizes and has many of the same features, also using a 3D IPS panel with 1,600HZ backlight scanning, although it’s not quite as feature-packed as the WT50.

We’re established fans of the rich colour depth and contras of Panasonic’s surprisingly thin plasma TVs. The new GT50 and VT50 NeoPDP ranges have a 2,500Hz Focused Field Drive, which increases the switching speed of the TV’s lighting, minimising motion blur. The plasma range also has the SmartViera features which are at the heart of many of Panasonic’s plans for the new year.

Panasonic SmartViera range 2012

SmartViera

The entire idea of SmartViera is making your TV do more. We’re not entirely sure that we’ll ever want to use our TV for making video calls on Skype – although it makes more sense than using a phone for the same – but we like the idea of getting a relevant Twitter feed alongside the picture when watching breaking news or sporting events and we definitely want to be able to stream content from the TV to a smartphone or tablet so that we don’t have to miss anything when we go to the next room.

Panasonic SmartViera range 2012

Some of this functionality is built into the TVs themselves, such as web browsing, hard disk recording, accessing social media and receiving both local and web-based streaming media. However, we were most interested in the forthcoming Viera 2.0 app for iOS and Android devices. Set for release in April, the app allows you to fully control all your SmartViera devices, transfer content such as web URLS, photos and video from your phone or tablet to your TV and stream TV to your phone across your local network.

All of this is obviously working towards encouraging users to stick with Panasonic products so that they can all work and be controlled together. At first glance, the added functionality of the update SmartViera system is putting forwards a compelling argument to do so.

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