Panasonic’s new AV gear hopes to tempt Aussies with AI voice control

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Panasonic's got a huge year planned for 2018, today announcing a smorgasbord of AV products for the Australian market that includes an updated 4K OLED TV lineup, multiple 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players and, for the first time, a range of smart hi-fi speakers with Google Assistant built in. 

Along with its smart speakers, Panasonic also announced that Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa voice control functionality will be arriving later in the year on its 4K Blu-ray players and television range via compatible smart speakers. 

Panasonic's first Google-powered smart speakers

Launching its first smart audio products with Google Assistant functionality built in, Panasonic's new SC-GA10 speakers promise room-filling sound and voice control across most major music streaming platforms. 

Working with the entire Google ecosystem, the new smart hi-fi speakers will also wirelessly link up to Panasonic's other Chromecast-enabled hi-fi products, including the new SC-HC2020 micro system, allowing you to control all of them with your voice alone. 

The SC-GA10's robust sound is achieved by the inclusion of two 20mm soft dome tweeters, as well as an 8cm woofer with dual voice coils for clean distribution of vocals. It's also got a 180-degree audio range.

The new smart speaker will also work in tandem with Panasonic's new Music Control app, which allows users to play music files stored on smartphones, tablets and even a NAS drive. 

The SC-GA10 is available in black and white colour options, and will be available in Australia starting May 2018 at a price of $379. The SC-HC2020 micro-system will also release in May, and is priced at $499. 

4K OLED and LED TV range

Following up last year's terrific EZ950 and EZ1000 OLED televisions, Panasonic has announced a new FZ1000 and FZ950 OLED series that will improve on its predecessors in a number of ways, including compatibility with the new HDR10+ standard, which Panasonic has officially thrown its support behind

Each OLED panel features an "absolute black filter" which helps absorb ambient light in an effort to eliminate reflections from the screen, as well as professional colour tuning from Hollywood experts, including the teams at Deluxe post-production studios and Technicolor. The 4K TVs also boast THX and Ultra HD Premium certification, as well as Panasonic's HCX video processor.

The top-end FZ1000, which sports a "Dynamic Blade Speaker", is available in a 65-inch model at $7,419, while the 55-inch version has been priced at $4,999. The FZ950 lacks the fancy speaker but includes the same display, and is priced at $5,999 for the 65-inch model and $3,849 for the 55-inch version. The new OLED range will start hitting Aussie stores in July 2018.

If Panasonic's OLED TVs are a little out of your price-range, you can also opt for the company's updated FX800, FX780, FX700 and FX600 series of 4K Pro HDR LED LCD televisions, which feature the same HCX processors as the OLED range and start at $1,549 for the 43-inch FX600A, all the way up to $5,999 for the 75-inch FX780A.

4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player range

Panasonic says it's deeply committed to physical media, and it's backing that up with the announcement of three new 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray players to be released across June and July of 2018, and there's a fourth "reference-class" player for enthusiasts coming too, which will be released in time for Christmas this year. 

The baby in the range is the new entry-level DP-UB320, which can also stream 4K Netflix and Amazon Prime Video via an Ethernet connection, and is priced at $329.

Following that model up is the DP-UB420, which boasts Wi-Fi connectivity and HDR10+ support, and is priced at $449.

Next up is the DP-UB820, which has all the functionality of the DP-UB420 but also includes analogue 7.1-channel audio support, Dolby Vision support and a stylish 3D Glass Cut Design, and is priced at $659.

The top-end DP-UB9000 will include all of the above (aside from the Glass Cut Design) and will boast advanced audio features. Pricing and exact release date details have yet to be revealed.

All of Panasonic's players from the DP-UB420 onwards will receive a firmware update later in the year, providing them with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa voice control functionality.