Panasonic's New TVs Include Multi-Tasking, Web Browsing, Home Streaming And More Movie Options

Panasonic launched its Australian 2012 Home Entertainment range today, including its first passive 3D LCD panel, TVs with lots of app functionality across Android and iOS and the announcement of both Telstra BigPond Movies and Quickflix Movies for this year's crop, and selected 2011 TVs as well. Panasonic's mix of TVs will include both Plasma and LCD panels, with the LCD range running from the low end $489 TH-L24X5A panel all the way up to the $3499 TH-L55WT50A LCD, while in Plasmas pricing starts at $1,199 for the TH-P50XT50A all the way up to $5,999 for the mammoth TH-P65VT50A.

Panasonic's keen to talk up improved picture quality, but that was rather hard to objectively assess at the launch. What's interesting about the new models are some of the new features; there's a passive 3D LCD panel ET5 series that eschew active shutter glasses -- although those are still present on certain models. Likewise, there's the promise of actual multi-tasking between smart tv applications, which at least from the demonstration I saw looked slick; the proof will be in independent testing, naturally.

Panasonic's also gone rather app mad, with most TVs supporting Android Apps for controlling and streaming content to and from selected panels. The very top tier displays also have DLNA server capability, meaning they can share content recorded on external hard drives out to other devices for multi-screen viewing; this tallies with Panasonic's own Australian research that suggests that around 65 per cent of entertainment content that comes into Australian homes gets shared across multiple devices.

The Web Flicks app allows users to shift web page viewing from smartphones or tablets directly to selected displays; the idea here is that rather than passing over a phone or tablet, you can simply share the page on your larger screen TV. Speaking of the Web, Panasonic's also offering up a full web browsing experience -- again, look for it on the more high-end models.

On the entertainment front, Panasonic also announced that it's signed up two new content partners; Telstra BigPond Movies will be available from today, while Quickflix will come on board from the 17th of April. They'll also be added -- along with some of the new app functionality -- to "selected" TVs from Panasonic's 2011 crop.

Panasonic also showed off a number of new Blu-Ray players and recorders, headlined by the very Wii-esque $399 DMP-BBT01. It's tiny, and it comes with a rather odd semi-touch based remote. I wasn't able to assess how well this actually worked, as the demo model had no batteries in it. Like the TVs, selected models have smartphone/tablet app control and streaming functionality as well.