Plasma Problem for Panasonic – There is conflicting information out about Panasonic giving up on plasma HDTVs or not. Rumors came directly from Japan that they were reducing or shutting down production of plasmas, but at the January CES in Las Vegas they introduced 32 new Smart-Viera models of which half were plasma and half LCD. The company has the broadest line of plasma panels – usually the winners in magazine comparisons – of any HDTV manufacturer, but shipments of plasma dropped 23% last year and the market is now dominated by LED-lit LCD panels. Panasonic has reportedly improved on the legendary Pioneer Kuro plasma design with their new Studio Master Panel HDTV, but the claim has not been tested as yet. Some plasma engineers have already been transferred to OLED research, and a Panasonic VP said that the new plasmas will be the last plasma panel that the company will develop.
Toshiba Portable HDD Ships in May – The new Canvio Connect v. 3.0 portable external storage device from Toshiba will be available in four capacity sizes ranging from 500GB ($99) to 2TB ($189). Software with it allows remotely accessing and sharing its data, and 10GB of free lifetime Cloud storage is also included.
Car Video and Multimedia Up in Q1 – NPD Group’s Retail tracking Service has found that retail-level aftermarket sales of video and multimedia products for the car surged in the first quarter of this year. Nevertheless, excluding portable navigation devices, total sales of aftermarket car AV fell 8% from the first quarter a year ago. While dollar sales of in-dash AV-navigation systems fell 22%, in-dash multimedia and car video sales rose 19%.
LG Takes Korean Orders for Its Curved OLED TV – LG Electronics is taking pre-orders only in the domestic market for its 55-inch curved-screen OLED TV (about $13,500), with delivers to start in May. LG is the only company so far to commercialize both a flat-screen OLED TV and a curved-screen variation. The curved screen is intended to produce an IMAX-like viewing experience in the home, with the entire screen surface equidistant from viewers’ eyes, eliminating the problem of screen-edge visual distortion and loss of detail. LG’s WRGB technology adds a white sub-pixel to the three usual colors to enhance color output. Other features include infinite contrast ratio and thin transparent film speakers.
Problems of UHDTV – The industry has decided that the new 4K format (with supposedly four times the resolution of the present 2K standard) will henceforth be called UHDTV or UltraHD. Their pixel count is double that of present HDTV in both vertical and horizontal directions, but still lower than the theatrical digital-cinema maximum. The huge content size of UHDTV material makes online streaming virtually impossible, and the time required for downloading is longer than most consumers will accept. A standard is under development but not yet settled on. UHDTV sources will need a DisplayPort or two DVI connections because HDMI cannot deliver the bitrate necessary without considerable lossy compression. To see the visual benefit of UltraHD, screens larger than 60 inches are required. There are many problems of little source material being available, sometimes poor upconversion quality, and true video bandwidth. If these aren’t perfect, pixel count means little. While several companies demonstrated UHDTVs at CES, none showed the same material on a standard HDTV for comparison, so quality could be judged.