Panasonic’s European get-together in Frankfurt covered everything the company’s involved in. From sponsorship of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to personal grooming products, from bomb-proof laptops to bread-makers, there was something for everyone - but these are the five announcements that really caught our eye.
1. Panasonic’s TV game is strong
Panasonic’s 2019 flagship OLED TV was revealed at CES earlier this year, and we got our hands on it soon after. And now it’s dished the details of the televisions that are supporting it. A total of four OLED models are coming, and the UK is getting two-and-a-bit LCD ranges too.
As well as the range-topping GZ2000, we’ll see the GZ1500 (pictured, with forward-but-not-upward- firing Dolby Atmos speakers) and the GZ1000 and GZ950 ranges. Neither of these last two have dedicated Atmos speakers (although they will both accept an Atmos signal), and they’re only really differentiated by the arrangement of their stands. So we’re looking at Dolby Vision, HDR10+, Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility, and Panasonic’s HCX Pro intelligent processing. All the OLEDs will come in 65in and 55in variants.
The LCDs top out with the 75in GX920, with - deep breath - 4K UHD, HDR10+, Dolby Vision and Atmos, Alexa and Google, Freeview Play and HCX Pro processing. Beneath it there’s the GX800 (65in, 58in, 50in and 40in) which go without the ‘Pro’ part of the HCX processor. And finally the GX700 (in the same sizes as the GX800), which is giving away voice control and Dolby Vision.
Prices are yet to be confirmed, but frankly we’re just happy to see a TV brand with at least a few realistically sized screens in its 2019 line-up.
2. Dolby with everything
As outlined above, Panasonic - one of the prime movers behind HDR10+ dynamic metadata, let’s not forget - has gone pretty much all-in with Dolby Vision across its TV ranges. And not only that, it has revealed the Dolby-happy SC-HTB900 soundbar - it’s tuned by Technics, features upward-firing Dolby Atmos drivers as part of its eight-driver array, and comes with a subwoofer that’s good for more than 500 watts of power.
3. Technics is back in the real world (sort of)
Recent Technics ‘comebacks’ have been disappointing, generally because a) the products have been wildly expensive and b) they haven’t been much cop. Panasonic (proud custodians of the Technics brand, don’t forget) is looking to right those wrongs with some good-looking new offerings.
The new SL-1210mk7 has the highest profile. Finally Technics has reintroduced the classic DJ deck at a vaguely realistic price (£799), and it’s accompanied by the SL-1500C - it’s a direct-drive turntable with all of the unburstable heft of the 1210 but with none of the DJ gubbins. Naturally, then, it’s going to be more expensive (£899).
There are also a couple of pairs of Technics headphones worth getting excited about. The EAH-F50N (pictured) are wireless on-ears at £299, while another £100 buys the EAH-F70N, which add active noise-cancelling and aptX Bluetooth wireless sound.
4. Lumix - the best gets better
Everyone loves a Lumix - and Panasonic wants its new Lumix FZ1000 II to be the camera for every occasion. It has the sort of bogglingly impressive numbers every camera-fancier admires (20 megapixel sensor, 4K video and photo capture, focus time of less than 0.1 seconds), an OLED viewfinder and 16x optical zoom by Leica. £749 is a lot of money for a camera, but as far as the FZ1000 II is concerned it sounds a bit of a bargain.
5. There’s a party - and you’re invited
If you want to join in with music rather than just listen to it, Panasonic has announced TMAX just for you. SC-TMAX40 and SC-TMAX50 are a couple of tower-style speaker systems with karaoke capability, enough lighting for a small nightclub and something Panasonic is modestly calling ‘airquake’ bass. In practice that means the ‘50 is kicking out 2000 watts through its 6cm tweeter, 10cm mid/bass driver and pair of 20cm subwoofers - which should prove more than enough to get the party started.