Panasonic hosted an event in Sydney yesterday to launch their 2019 home AV range. We’re talking TVs, soundbars and other personal audio products here, and some of them feature some integration with the Google services you use every day.
The company is also celebrating a unique milestone amongst its peers – it’s now 100 years old. The centenarian is playing to its strengths, and its perception in the market as a provider of stable, reliable technology. Happy birthday, Panasonic.
The company’s products might not always be front of mind when considering purchases, so it’s important to know what’s on offer when you’re looking to buy your new TV, headphones, soundbar or Bluray player. There’s products in the range that hit a multitude of price points without going overboard on the marketing collateral – the end result might be a better deal for the consumer.
TVs – OLED and LED/LCD
First up of course is the TV range. Panasonic has a TV for every budget, and we were treated to some demos of their latest and greatest.
Panasonic’s TVs run a custom OS called My Home Screen, which is seeing its 4.0 release this year. It’s got the features you’d expect of a smart TV with apps for the major video streaming and catchup services available.
Like most manufacturers at the moment, Panasonic is trumpeting their on-device picture processing which allows their TVs to show pictures with superior brightness, detail and colour – just as the filmmakers intended. Panasonic’s processor is called the HCX Pro. The high end TVs also feature HDR 10+ support along with Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos.
Panasonic is using their Technics brand for the tuning of these sets’ audio performance. That’s a name that hasn’t been seen in Australia for a while, but it’s synonymous with audio visual quality for those of us of a certain age. It’s interesting to see the brand used in this way, and they say the response from retailers has been positive.
You can see the difference when you put different TVs side by side playing the same thing, but in isolation in your own home you’re likely to just think the picture looks great.
As you might expect, the 4K OLED range is the focus, with the GZ2000 at the premium end of the range is a 65″ set with a focus on colour, contrast and clarity. It’s a “professional grade” OLED panel, with a profile customised by Hollywood colourist Stefan Sonnenfeld. It also features some special smarts on the audio front, with upward-firing speakers supporting Dolby Atmos.
The GZ2000 will set you back a modest $8,299 but won’t be available until September. The GZ1500 and GZ1000, also in 65-inch models, are priced at $6,199 and $5,799 respectively and are available in July, along with a 55-inch GZ1000 model at $3,599.
Moving down from the OLED stratosphere, Panasonic’s LED/LCD panels are coming in five ranges – GX880, GX850, GX800, GX740 and GX600. The GX880 is the focus of this line, with a 75-inch model ($4,999) sporting a 200Hz refresh rate, with the same HCX processor as its OLED compatriots and local dimming for more precise colour and graduation.
Down a little, the GX850 series comes in 65- and 55-inch varieties also offer similar features at a smaller size (and budget), while the GX800 drops the 200Hz refresh rate but brings a twin HD tuner setup and Bluetooth audio support. They’re priced from $2,499 down to $1,749.
Hanging in at the low end is a surprise, with a 65-inch set coming in the GX600 range at $1,999 while the cheapest, a 43-inch model, comes in at just $999.
Soundbars, Shelf Units and Bluray Players
Panasonic’s bringing three soundbars to market this year, with the HTB900 the focus at $1,349 while the HTB700 is $899 and the HTB510 $549.
The highest end of these, the HTB900, supports Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and High Res audio, and comes with a total of eight speakers inside and a wireless subwoofer. It works with Google Assistant and comes with built-in Chromecast (audio) support. At the lower end (HTB510) you lose support for Dolby but gain 240W of output for bass performance.
Panasonic’s also releasing two new shelf units, one aimed at the more party-focused youth market with DJ effects and 450W output (AKX320, $359) and the other a more traditional refined design (PMX92, $549) with CD, FM/DAB+, Bluetooth and AUX input.
Finally, we come to Bluray players with the company’s premium offering UB9000 now supports home automation controls. There’s support for Dolby Atmos and Vision at various points throughout the line, while the UB150 at the low end of the range ($279) brings 4K HDR10+ and 10 with Dolby Atmos.
Finally, Panasonic’s entries into the headphone market are the wireless over-ear HD610N with noise cancelling and Google Assistant compatibility ($500), HTX90N wireless with noise cancelling and 24 hours of playback ($300), and the HTX20B wireless in-ear headphones with 8h30m playback on a single charge.
Panasonic’s new audio products are mostly available now (with a couple of the soundbars to follow in July) while the TVs are coming to market from now through to September.