Panasonic unveils super new products for 2009

We pick the hottest new kit from Panasonic's new batch of goodies

Panasonic Lumix TZ7

Panasonic has this week announced dozens of new products at its annual launch event.

This year it was held in chilly Amsterdam, and TechRadar was on hand to have a snoop around all the newest, most exciting kit.

While there was nothing particularly jaw-dropping at the show, Panasonic did display its muscle in certain key areas, and demonstrated some real improvements across many product ranges.

Here's our pick of the top 7 Panasonic products to look out for in 2009.


Viera Cast internet TV service

Viera cast
Anyone thinking of buying a Panasonic TV or Blu-ray player this year is going to come across the phrase 'Viera Cast' a lot. It's Panasonic's new online video service, and it's built into many of its new home entertainment products.

The idea is that you connect your TV or BD player to a broadband connection, and then watch videos not only on YouTube, but also from national broadcasters - on your TV. Expect to see BBC iPlayer built into Viera Cast at some point in the future then.

Viera Cast also gives you access to other services such as news and weather updates. In an age where many people use netbooks to digest info on the move, it's hard to access how useful Viera Cast is destined to be. For now though, it shows real promise.


Panasonic viera z1 series
Viera Z1 neoPDP plasma TV

All of Panasonic's 2009 plasma TVs look very nice indeed. The Z1 series, V10 series, G15 and G10 series promise dynamic contrast of over 2,000,000:1 - that's very hefty indeed.

That's thanks to the increased brightness achieved by Panasonic's new NeoPDP technology along with refinements to its Real Black Drive System (a pre-discharge system).

The Z1 Series is the flagship model, combining superb picture quality with a thickness of just 1 inch. And that's not one inch at its thinnest point - it's one inch all the way across the TV.

The Z1 includes Viera Cast as well as the ability to playback DivX movie files direct from an SD card. The Z1 plasma series will be available as 46-inch (TX-P46Z1) and 54-inch (TX-P54Z1) models.


DMP-BD80 Blu-ray player

Panasonic dmp bd80The Panasonic DMP-BD80 takes over as the brand's flagship Blu-ray player and it looks like a good 'un. It launches alongside the DMP-BD60 which clocks in one notch lower on the awesomeness scale.

Both models come packing a new high-image-quality processing technology which supposedly reproduces clear, vivid colours that are extremely faithful to the original film. It certainly looked good in the demo we were given.

Each model also features a high-definition Audio Decoder (Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD Master Audio Essential) to take advantage of the exceptionally high-quality 7.1-channel surround sound now incorporated in Blu-ray discs.

They've also both got Viera Cast built in – so it looks like there'll be no escape from internet TV if you're buying a new Panasonic product this year!


DMP-B15 portable Blu-ray player

Panasonic dmp b15
Meet the world's first portable Blu-ray player. First spied at this year's CES, it comes with all the features of the BD60, with the addition of portability, and, of course, an 8.9-inch WSVGA LCD screen (800x600).

The three-hour battery life might be a problem though if you're looking to watch Ben Hur when it comes out on Blu-ray later this year.


Panasonic dmr bs850 blu ray recorderDMR-BS850 Blu-ray recorder

Sporting dual Freesat HD tuners, the BS850 will go head-to-head with the Humax Foxsat-HDR. But the Panasonic has a trump card – it can burn HD broadcasts onto Blu-ray discs as well as recording on the hard disk.

Blu-ray recorders have been available in Japan for more than two years, but they're only just starting to emerge in the rest of the world. That's largely because Panasonic has been waiting for the big TV stations in individual countries to launch their HD offerings before unleashing Blu-ray recorders on the public.

Now that Freesat HD is carrying both BBC HD and ITV HD in the UK, Panasonic thought the time is right to give us this product. The UK is the second European territory to see a Panasonic BD recorder - France was the first.


Lumix DMC-TZ7 compact camera

Panasonic lumix tz7The TZ7 could well represent a new age of amateur photography. While internet TV makes it into the new Viera TV sets and BD players, the convergence trend is just as evident in the digital stills line-up.

The TZ7 is the world's first digital stills camera that records video using the AVCHD Lite codec. The idea being that a single model can perform admirably as both camera and camcorder while achieving smooth, easy operation in both modes.

The TZ7 takes 10.1 megapixel still images and can film video in 720p high definition. It also incorporates all of the latest features, including face recognition.


Panasonic hdc sd200
HDC-SD200 camcorder

Moving on from last year's fantastic SD100, here we have the SD200 – a semi-professional HD camcorder which incorporates a new 3MOS system to provide the world's highest total pixel count of 9,150,000 pixels.

The 80GB HDD inside the SD200 is good for over 33 hours of recording, and you can boost that by plugging in additional SDHC memory.


It's a cracking line-up then, and you can be sure that TechRadar will be reviewing all the above products, as well as all the others launched in Amsterdam this week, in due course.


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