#VieraVIPClub Panasonic’s 2015 4K TVs and 2016 rumours

Panasonic CR730I spent yesterday, along with a select band of tech bloggers and commentators, at Panasonic’s UK headquarters. I am fortunate enough to have been allowed back for a second term as a member of the Panasonic Viera VIP Club which gives me a unique insight to what Panasonic has planned for the coming year as well as getting to play with the company’s latest tech.

Our little group enjoyed the hospitality of Sartika and Michael has we were guided through Panasonic’s 2015 Viera TV range, as well as being able to play with some of the latest Lumix cameras.

Naturally, being the Viera VIP Club, the focus is on the high tech tellies and the new range has some excellent features building on where their 2014 predecessors left off.

2014 was the first time that the team who previously had worked on the plasma sets were brought over to improve the LED TVs and now, a year later, we get to see what they have come up with now that they’ve settled in.

Panasonic 2015

Panasonic have concentrated on three distinct areas:

  1. Picture quality – natch! Let’s face it, this is what Viera’s 4K Ultra HD LED TVs are all about after all.
  2. Their shiny new Mozilla-powered user interface
  3. The upcoming launch of Freeview Play

Panasonic are, quite rightly, very proud of the quality of the picture on their 2015 range of Viera televisions. The colours really to leap out, especially on the sets loaded with the new 4K Studio Master chip. Panasonic have concentrated on getting closer to what the Director envisioned their masterpieces to look like rather going for adding embellishments. The idea being so that the home viewer gets to experience the imaging as close to the original source as possible. Studio Master colour is available on the CR852, CX802, X942, CX700 and CX680 series of Panasonic TVs.

A quick note on deciphering those names:

  • C = 2015
  • X = 4K
  • R = Curved screen
  • S = Smart HD
  • Higher the number = Better specification within that range

Those of you in the know might have spotted that the 2014 range were prefixed with the letter A and so, surely, 2015 should be marked with a B – yes, it should but then there would be some Panasonic ranges being full of BS… 😉 CS is somewhat better.

Yup, Panasonic has included a choice of three curved televisions in this years offerings even though the benefits of this style of panel for televisions is somewhat lost on me, there is clearly a market for them. Panasonic’s curved screens go up to 65-inches with the top of the CR730 series being the TX-65CR730. If you’re looking for the biggest TV currently available from Panasonic you’ll be after the X942 and its 85-inch screen.

Firefox OS

Mozilla OSThe new Mozilla Firefox operating system is as good in the flesh as it is on the demonstration coverage I published back in March. Even though there may be mixed feelings as to whether TVs actually require a smart interface when many people have either an Xbox, PlayStation or TV box attached which will offer similar functionality, I think that Mozilla have done a great job and navigating the Panasonic televisions are so much easier for everyone.

I did like the interface on the last generation of sets but the new bright, bold and simplified system will be more familiar to anyone with a smartphone. The app decks are overlayed on what ever you are currently watching rather than taking you to a new page and then you can select where you want to go from there.

Panasonic device managementI really liked the fact that you can easily access a list of all the devices on your network or directly connected to your TV. Even better is the fact that you can rename those connections to something more meaningful – HDMI can be renamed to PlayStation, USB 1 to Harddrive, etc.

You can pin any app, channel or even website to the main homescreen list and, as this is presented in a single line of left-right scrolling icons, you can organise them so that your most used shortcuts appear at the head of the list. For those of you with kids, you can lock off shortcuts you don’t want your little darlings to have access to.

I should be getting more hands on with this system soon so I shall report back with a more in-depth review.

Freeview Play

Panasonic TVs will be the first to host Freeview Play. This sees Freeview launch its new service which allows internet streaming of Freeview programmes you may have missed using the familiar TV guide rewind facility.

The televisions will require an update via their internet connection but once done you will not only have access to the usual catch up channels via Freeview but also UKTV Play and NowTV, although the latter hasn’t quite yet been rubber stamped.

This is all set to happen between now and December, it’s just down to the usual admin by the sounds of things.

OLED coming very soon?

Panasonic took their OLED prototype to CES earlier this year and then they’ve gone a little bit quiet about it since then.

Panasonic OLED FlowerIn case you aren’t familiar with the benefits of OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes) over your regular LED then, in my opinion, one of the more practical ones is that OLED screens allow for a very wide viewing angle without any loss of colour richness or contrast. This makes them better suited for living rooms where you haven’t got the space to create a mini cinema set up with everyone directly in front of the screen.

Panasonic have said that they plan to release their OLED TV this year. They have also said that they will be announcing a new television at IFA 2016 in Berlin next month. Coincidence? I’ll let you know as I will there!

I look forward to being able to share news and exclusives with you from behind the scenes at Panasonic Viera.