With Pioneer and Vizio recently announcing their exits from the plasma market, there's been a lot of chatter about the technology's short and long-term viability. Some of plasma's problems are PR related. Lingering questions--justified or not--about burn-in and energy efficiency have become part of the public conscious and remain a stumbling block at point of sale. Ultimately, however, there are more simple economics at play. Far more factories are available to produce LCD displays than plasmas, which haven't been able to maintain their price advantage as margins have eroded and the performance gap between the technologies has narrowed.
But let's not dwell on how we got here. The key question is how can plasma survive? And for better or worse, the answer is really in the hands of Panasonic, the brand that has most closely linked its TV fortunes to the technology. Yes, Samsung and LG make lots of plasmas--and some good ones, too--but both are also well-committed LCD and well hedged should plasma go away (Panasonic makes some LCD TVs as well, but nothing larger than 37 inches, while plasma starts at 42). Alas, with Pioneer's departure--a sad day for those who value great TV picture quality--Panasonic is left to carry the plasma mantle largely on its own.
Can it keep plasma from perishing? Well, I hope it can, because the TV space is already commoditized enough and it would be shame if we went down to one flat-panel technology (sure, OLED is being hyped as the display technology of the future, but it's years away from mass-market adoption). However, Panasonic's got to take make some key moves to keep plasma from running out of gas. Here they are: … Read more
We debate the proper pronunciation of WebOS from Palm. Does it rhyme with Huevos? In any case, Palm has killed the old Palm OS, so may it rest in peace. We also analyze the state of the TV industry. LCD shipments are down, so everybody's getting out of the plasma business? I guess that's why I'm not CEO of an electronics company.Listen now: Download today's podcast EPISODE 910
Buzz Out Loud chat auction to benefit Kiva http://www.humanety.com/
MS to offer free Windows 7 upgrade to Vista users http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=09/02/11/238222 … Read more
Compact-camera manufacturers have begun testing the waters with a wealth of high-end features as they search for new ways to gain revenue, market share, and recognition.
In earlier digital photography days, a camera with an extra megapixel of resolution, face recognition, or image stabilization could stand apart from the herd. But now that herd has grown larger, most folks who'll buy a digital camera already have done so, the economy has put consumer spending on ice--and camera makers are making some bolder bets with high-end features.
Among them: Nikon's built-in GPS support to record where a photo was taken, Casio's high-speed video, and the Micro Four Thirds camera system from Panasonic and Olympus.
Premium features aren't an easy sell. They tend to appeal to market niches rather than the mainstream. Early implementations are often rough around the edges. And it's hard enough to convince people to buy a new camera, much less one with the higher price of premium features.
But winning those customers can have a good payoff with better profit margins. And that's critical in this day and age. Market research firm IDC expects that after years of growth, the shipments of digital cameras will decline in 2009.
"It's crowded, and it's getting crowdeder," IDC analyst Ron Glaz said of the digital camera market. "We're anticipating that with the slowdown in economy and disposable income, we'll start seeing consolidation of the vendors." In other words, even though something in the neighborhood of 38 million digital cameras are sold annually, some companies will throw in the towel. … Read more
If you think the most you can do with a microwave is bake a potato or two, think again. Panasonic just announced a new collaboration with The Culinary Institute of America (CIA). What does this collaboration mean for you? Oh, only that some of the best chefs in the country will develop no-fuss gourmet recipes for cooking with Panasonic microwaves, as well as create key microwave-cooking technique videos that will be hosted on Panasonic's microwave Virtual Test Kitchen Web site.
The recipes are designed to be affordable, easy, and quick to prepare, with broad appeal. The CIA will also … Read more
Over the past several weeks, we've noticed that our favorite standalone Blu-ray player to date, the Panasonic DMP-BD35, seems almost impossible to find. The player is either out of stock at nearly every retailer, or priced at excessive premiums ($700 at Amazon Marketplace--more than double its $299 MSRP).
Indeed, a Panasonic rep we contacted confirmed that the DMP-BD35 has been discontinued. (The same is presumably true for its big brother, the DMP-BD55.) The good news is that it will soon be replaced by the Panasonic DMP-BD60, which offers a nearly identical spec sheet plus the addition of Viera Cast (… Read more
Despite the fact that Pioneer has exited the HDTV business, we still consider its Elite Kuro plasma TVs, such as the PRO-111FD, the best-performing televisions we've ever tested. Now Panasonic has released a new lineup of so-called Premiere plasmas that takes direct aim at the Kuros. While they deliver a superb picture, they still fall a bit short of the mark.
We reviewed the 65-inch member of the series, model TH-65VX100U ($9,995 list), and there's a 50-inch version coming in late February, model TH-50VX100U ($4,995 list). Aside from their high price tags, these displays must overcome the fact that Panasonic announced a slew of new plasmas at CES that use the company's next-generation NEO PDP panels, which consume less power and deliver even deeper black levels, according to the company. Before somebody asks, no, the Premiere series does not use the new panels.
Still, there's a lot to like about these expensive displays. Picture quality is excellent, with deep black levels and superb shadow detail, although color accuracy (along with black level) didn't match the Kuro. The Premiere plasmas have the same build quality we lauded on Panasonic's standard professional monitors, like the TH-50PF11UK. They also share some of the same "professional" characteristics, such as the necessity to purchase a separate stand and speakers if you need them, and relatively sparse input selection.
The Four Thirds system governs image sensor sizes and the mounting mechanism for interchangeable lenses on the companies' SLR cameras, and the companies announced a new variation called Micro Four Thirds for smaller cameras that have SLRs' interchangeable lenses but not SLRs' "reflex" mirror, which directs light through an optical viewfinder before a shot is taken.
Four Thirds SLRs have a smaller sensor than lower-end SLRs from market leaders Nikon and Canon, which poses image quality challenges because there's less surface area to gather light. However, the sensor size is the same for Four Thirds and Micro Four Thirds, which means that cameras using the latter have a much larger sensor than typical compact cameras have. … Read more
The next iteration of the Wii Fit may be getting professional medical credentials.
Nintendo is roping in Panasonic Medical Solutions, Hitachi, and NEC, to develop accessories to enhance the popular fitness game. One of the features would uploading personal data to medical professionals for health assessment and advice. Some of the data collected through the games that could be passed along include height, age, agility as recorded from the balancing games, weight, and body mass index.
The new Wii Fit is expected to launch in Japan around April. There's no word on availability or pricing.
(Via Crave Asia)