Panasonic Shows OLED, Highlights Technics and New UHDTVs

Panasonic’s 2016 CES press conference focused largely on industrial and business-to-business products and services, but the brand highlighted a few choice tidbits for the A/V consumer sector that included new OLED and LCD UltraHDTVs, an Ultra HD Blu-ray player, and an expanded line-up of Technics products—among them the return of the Technics SL-1200 direct-drive turntable, a true audiophile classic.

Surprisingly little information was shared or available at the press conference about the company’s upcoming video products, even in Panasonic’s supplied press announcements; check back later for our coverage from the show floor. But the company did show off the stunning CZ950 65-inch OLED UHDTV it introduced in Europe late last year. The set is said to use an LG-supplied OLED panel, and Panasonic says the image was tuned in cooperation with Hollywood colorist Mike Sowa, who worked on Insurgent and Oblivion, among others. No mention was made about when the CZ950 will come up for sale in the U.S.

In her presentation, Julie Bauer, president of Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company, also said that Panasonic would release a new DX900 series of high end LCD Ultra HD models that will meet the just announced Ultra HD Alliance specifications for Ultra HD Premium certification, which in essence means they meet specific requirements for HDR and wide color gamut functionality. (They are among several TV makers at the show with certified models, though Panasonic claims to be the first to receive that designation). Also, Panasonic will introduct its first Ultra HD Blu-ray player “this year,” though again, no product details or market timing were shared.

More info was available about the expansion of the Technics brand revival, which began last year with an integrated amp, network audio player, and some speaker models. This year, Panasonic will add the OTTAVA, a premium hi-res compliant desktop system; two Grand Class series components including a media server and network player; the EAH-T700 over-ear headphones; and the SL-1200G turntable, a reinvention of the classic direct-drive turntable that was the ambition of many an audiophile and DJ from the 1970’s onward.

The new version, Panasonic says, uses a newly designed “coreless” direct-drive motor that essentially eliminates the cogging that caused degrading mechanical vibrations in all earlier direct drive turntables. Microprocessor-controlled sensors help to further reduce any micro-vibrations that remain. Other advancements include a three-layer platter composed of brass, aluminum, and rubber; a four-layer cabinet design that adds rigidity while providing a sleek finish, and refinements in the gimbal suspension tonearm. Two versions will be released: the SL-1200GAE, a limited edition model limited to 1200 units worldwide and designated with a name plate, will be available in the summer. The standard SL-1200G will appear later in the year. Pricing was not announced or immediately available.