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Panasonic's 2012 Smart Viera plasma HDTVs offer improved panels, expand app ecosystem

Panasonic's 2012 Smart Viera plasma HDTVs offer improved panels, expand app ecosystem

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Panasonic has unveiled its 2012 lineup of Viera plasma HDTVs. 17 models will be released in all, grouped within six series.

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Gallery Photo: Panasonic 2012 Smart Viera plasma CES booth
Gallery Photo: Panasonic 2012 Smart Viera plasma CES booth

Panasonic remains one of the last manufacturers using plasma displays in consumer HDTVs, yet if its presence here at CES is any indication, the company remains fully invested in the technology. Its 2012 Viera plasma lineup totals 17 products in all, grouped into six product lines — U50, XT50, UT50, ST50, GT5, and the signature VT50 series. Self-illuminating panels are utilized in all devices, providing the deep black levels that have garnered Panasonic a loyal following of home theater enthusiasts.

The real hardware refinements are reserved for models beginning with the UT50 line, where the addition of NeoPlasma Black 2550 FFD (Focused Field Drive) technology results in improved motion fluidity over last year's product, according to Panasonic. A comparison on the show floor demonstrated the change, which we found to be noticeable albeit minor. The company has also made enhancements in terms of built-in sound — a notable weak point in years past — with 8-Train speakers (found on the ST50 series and above) promising to provide a superior listening experience. The top tier VT50 represents Panasonic's finest offering, with exclusive use of the manufacturer's most dynamic Infinite Black Ultra Panel and a luxurious single-pane-of-glass design carried over from last year.

On the connected TV front, Panasonic has added a web browser to select 2012 models to complement the apps it unveiled earlier in the week. Things didn't seem fully baked when we pointed it at The Verge homepage, and sure enough, a company rep confirmed that final touches were still being applied. Panasonic is expected to announce availability info and pricing for the upcoming plasma line within the coming weeks. Until then, take a look at our photos of its showcase here at CES below.


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