It's a new year, and that means it's time for a new lineup of Panasonic's Smart Viera HDTVs, with both its plasma and LCD / LED lines once again divvied up into several classes. The company unveiled the entire family today at CES in Las Vegas and we've got the details below.
Plasma televisions remain Panasonic's bread and butter in the home theater space. The company's award-winning sets have earned a loyal following from HD enthusiasts. Last year's models were hailed as the company's best yet, so naturally the pressure is on to deliver a tangible upgrade for 2013. Leading the charge is the flagship ZT60 series, available in 65- and 60-inch configurations. Panasonic is claiming the black levels on this model are deeper than any it's ever offered, the result of fusing the display's glass layer directly to the plasma panel — which itself is improved over 2012's iteration.
Panasonic is tasked with making the industry's best HDTVs even better
Moving down the line, next comes the VT60 series, which omits some of the ZT60's most luxurious specs but also introduces a smaller 55-inch model. Go any lower than the ST60, successor of our favorite 2012 HDTV, and you'll start to lose out on some desirable features like custom menus and the ability to stream media from a smartphone. The bottom two models (S60 and X60) omit 3D viewing entirely. Prices aren't yet available for the 2013 family of plasma sets; the company has made a habit of announcing that information later.
Panasonic's LED HDTV family is led by the WT60 series, available in 47-inch and 55-inch classes. Featuring a Full HD 1080p panel, it's also the company's first Viera Smart HDTV with an integrated camera. The company's Viera platform has previously supported external video chat cameras, but we'd imagine apps like Skype will see an uptick in usage thanks to the fully-integrated solution. Unlike Panasonic's plasma sets, which don't come in any size smaller than 50 inches, its lower-end LCD TVs go all the way down to 32 inches.
The company isn't radically changing its connected TV platform in 2013, instead focusing on a few much-needed features. My Home Screen acts a customizable home menu where you can place shortcuts to content. The company has also updated its Swipe and Share streaming functionality, letting you beam photos and video to your living room's big screen once you've downloaded the requisite Android / iOS app. And voice control is also available on the company's higher end sets (both plasma and LED), but the feature seems geared for accessibility purposes rather than something most users would use frequently.
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