I am so excited to be able to announce that I have been invited by Panasonic to join their Viera VIP Club. Over the next year I, and a select handful of other tech bloggers and AV Forum members, will be working with Panasonic to bring you news and reviews of the latest Viera television technology. I will get exclusive access to the Panasonic experts to bring you all the essential information you need to know about their range. Regular readers will know that I’ve already worked with Panasonic on both their home appliances and home audio visual ranges, and I can tell you I’m delighted to be working with them again this year.
Last Saturday I took a trip down to Panasonic head office in Bracknell to meet my fellow VIP Club members, and have an introduction to the programme. In a room surrounded by the latest 4K televisions we learned a little about the history of Panasonic, and took a tour around a showcase of all the different technology they manufacture. We were then told about the television features that Panasonic have been focussing on with their 2015 range. These are picture quality, user interface and Freeview Play.
It should be no surprise that picture quality is Panasonic’s top priority with their televisions. Screens are getting better and better all the time, and with the new 4k resolutions we have reached the stage where your television display now has a higher resolution than your desktop computer (unless you’ve got a shiny new 4k iMac). Panasonic’s focus with their television screens is to display the picture as the director intended it to be. So they don’t try to do any clever post-processing to even out contrast, they try to get the images as close to the original source as possible. Given that Panasonic also make cameras and playback monitors for the film and television industry they know quite a lot about this stuff. (They’ve also earned two Emmy awards for their services to the industry I learned). This video explains a bit more about the philosophy behind their 4k televisions:
Operating System (user interface)
Previous incarnations of the Panasonic smart televisions have had a rather “clunky” user interface, which was not very intuitive for non-geeky users. When we reviewed a Viera Smart television last year we didn’t struggle with the home screen set up, but I can imagine how many users would have found it a little baffling. The good news is that Panasonic have done lots of work on their user interface, and their 2015 televisions have a completely new operating system based on Mozilla’s FirefoxOS. It’s clean, and it’s simple and it’s easy to navigate. I think it’s a great improvement.
The last feature that Panasonic have been working on is support for Freeview’s new service (coming soon). Freeview is still the way most of the UK watches live television, and Freeview Play will introduce catch-up functionality to Freeview’s line-up. Instead of having to head into different catch-up apps (iPlayer, ITVPlayer etc), you can simply scroll backwards in the on-screen programme guide and access television shows for up to 7 days in the past. I had no idea this service was coming, although I’m told Freeview will be doing a lot of advertising about it when the Live date is announced. I think it sounds like a great service. Panasonic are the first television manufacturer to have Freeview Play built in to their televisions – all the 2015 models have it, although they’ll need a software update when the service launches.
After we’d learned all about the Viera features for 2015, we got to have a play with some of Panasonic’s cameras that shoot the new 4k photo mode. This is a very interesting technology, where the camera actually shoots video rather than a single still, but does so in such a way that you can pause the video on any frame and you’ll have a perfect, 4k still which you can then save off as a photo. Think of it as a 30-frame-per-second burst mode, which you can leave running for as long as you have space on your SD card. Now the geekdaddy is really the photographer in the family, so I was a little nervous about being let loose with a digital SLR that I had no clue how to operate, but I’m pretty pleased with this effort:
Watch out for more Panasonic news and reviews over the next year, and you can find more about the Panasonic Viera range over on the official Viera website.
Disclosure: I am a member of the Panasonic Viera VIP Club. I will be working with Panasonic over the course of the year to bring you news and reviews relating to Panasonic’s Viera range. Panasonic paid my travel expenses for my trip to their Head Office for the Viera VIP Club introduction session. All words and opinions are my own. I’m pretty sure the bee photo is one of the ones I took, but there were three of us sharing the camera so it might be the work of Mellow Mummy or Girls n Gadgets instead.