The DVD market is still alive and kicking, but Sony and Panasonic have already revealed the next-gen follow-up to Blu-ray Disc. The new format, dubbed Archival Disc, will allow for optical discs with storage capacities of up to 300GB, a six-fold increase over current dual layer Blu-ray Discs. As time goes on, Sony and Panasonic plan to expand the recording capacity to 500GB and eventually 1 terabyte. With a terabyte of data on a single disc, 4K suddenly becomes a viable option for home video releases. According to the press release, Sony and Panasonic plan to launch the first Archival Disc systems in summer of 2015. What this means for DVD, Blu-ray and the new game consoles remains to be seen, but with the stated goal of “expanding the market for long-term digital data storage,” we might see the proliferation of three separate formats next year.
Panasonic unveiled its Toughpad line of tablets back in 2011, which originally consisted of two Android devices with adequate specs. Two years later, the company is ready to release what might be the most visually impressive tablet on the market in the Toughpad 4K UT-MB5, the world’s first 4K tablet. Measuring in at an enormous 20-inches, this professional-grade tablet features an Intel Core i5 vPro processor, 256GB SSD, 8GB of RAM, 2GB of VRAM, 720p front-facing camera and Windows 8.1 Pro OS. In terms of its drop rating, the tablet can survive “a 30-inch drop to its back while operating, and 12-inch drops to 26 angles when nonoperational.” The whopping 5.27-pound tablet will cost $5,999 when it goes on sale in January 2014. Panasonic’s full press release follows below. More →
Sony and Panasonic are reportedly in talks to develop the technology needed to mass produce next-generation OLED televisions, according to Reuters. The two companies would be playing catch up to their South Korean rivals, Samsung and LG, both of which plan to market 55-inch OLED TVs later this year. “Overseas competitors have gotten a head start in this area and I feel like they’re stepping into this too late,” said Masayuki Otani, chief market analyst at Securities Japan. “There’s no question OLED TVs are going to be the mainstream. The issue is price and size of the displays.” OLED panel technology, which Sony pioneered in 2007, provides users with improved picture quality, deeper color saturation with high contrast, and allows vendors to make TVs as slim as 4 millimeters that consume less power than traditional LCD sets. There is a barrier, however: current OLED TVs are very expensive — Samsung’s upcoming 55-inch OLED TV will cost $9,000 when it launches in South Korea in the coming months. More →
NTT DoCoMo, Samsung, Fujitsu, Fujitsu Semiconductor, NEC and Panasonic announced plans on Tuesday to establish a joint venture in which the firms hope to work together to create LTE and LTE Advanced products. The fabless JV will specifically focus on the development of “feature-rich, small-size, low-power-consumption semiconductor products equipped with modem functionality” for LTE and LTE Advanced networks. Products developed by the companies will be sold globally. NTT DoCoMo will invest $5.8 million in the joint venture but it is unclear how much of an ownership stake it will have, or how much the other five companies plan to invest. They hope to have the partnership fully established by March of next year. NTT DoCoMo’s press release follows after the break. More →
Panasonic announced Friday that it intends to expand its smartphone business into Europe in March 2012, and it hopes the move will be a stepping stone into the global smartphone market. Panasonic didn’t name its first smartphone, but did say that it features an ultra-slim form factor with a 4.3-inch qHD OLED screen. The phone is also waterproof and dust-proof, and will be manufactured in one of Panasonic’s Malaysian factories. Panasonic hopes to sell 1.5 million smartphones in Europe next year, and by 2016 the company aims to be selling 15 million phones cell phones annually, 9 million of which it expects will be smartphones. Panasonic’s full press release follows after the break. More →
Panasonic’s line of Toughbook notebooks can handle a whole heap of abuse, and the company is now cleverly expanding into the tablet market with the same basic principles of durability and security. Panasonic on Monday unveiled its Toughpad family of Android-powered devices, with both 7 and 10-inch options. The first model, the Panasonic Toughpad A1, is a 10-inch tablet that features a 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 16GB of storage, FIPS 140-X compliance, optional LTE or WiMAX connectivity, GPS, a drop rating of 4 feet and 10 hours of battery life. Panasonic’s tablets will also be able to withstand a wide range of temperatures and are resistant to dust and water, in addition to sporting anti-reflective and anti-glare displays. The first Toughpad, the 10-inch A1, will go on sale starting in Spring of 2012 for $1,299, and the 7-inch Toughbook B1 will go on sale later in 2012. Panasonic’s full press release can be found after the break.
NTT DoCoMo, Fujitsu, NEC and Panasonic are discussing a joint venture with Samsung that could be created as early as next year, Reuters reported recently. The companies will develop new smartphone baseband chips in an attempt to compete directly with Qualcomm, which currently has an 80% grip on the baseband chip industry. NTT DoCoMo will be the majority owner in the Japan-based joint venture and the total investment is expected to be about $390 million. The joint venture will help each firm cut down procurement costs. Samsung has considered using the new chips in its future family of GALAXY-branded handsets, but the group will also sell the new chips to other smartphone manufacturers. NTT DoCoMo, Fujitsu, NEC, Panasonic and Samsung have not yet announced formal plans for the venture. More →
As Netflix continues to barrel into living rooms across the country, the thriving company announced new agreements Tuesday that will enable one-click access to its streaming video services on compatible partner devices. The new deal will place a dedicated Netflix button, complete with the Netflix logo, on remote controls that ship with various consumer electronics including Watch Instantly-enabled televisions, Blu-ray players and set top boxes. Manufacturers on board include Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, Toshiba, Dynex (Best Buy’s in-house brand), Haier, Memorex, Boxee, Iomega and Roku. The deal is big news for Netflix, and it stands to substantially increase brand visibility. Netflix claims that there are currently more than 250 devices on the market compatible with its streaming video service. Hit the break for Netflix’s full press release. More →
Here’s a bit of good news: Hulu has just announced that its Hulu Plus premium subscription service will shed $2 from its monthly price tag. As the press release reads: “The monthly price for Hulu Plus moving forward is just $7.99. Any current subscribers who joined during our preview period will receive a credit for the difference from the $9.99 preview price. This credit will automatically be applied to their next billing cycle.”
But the juice doesn’t stop there. Hulu has also announced the following promotions:
• One free week trials for all new subscribers. In addition, current subscribers who joined during the preview period will receive a credit for one week of Hulu Plus toward their next month’s subscription.
• Two free weeks of Hulu Plus for both current subscribers and friends they invite through our referral program. Subscribers can learn more by clicking on the “Referrals” tab on their Hulu profile page.
• 11 weeks ($20 worth) of free Hulu Plus with the purchase of a Sony BRAVIA connected TV or Blu-ray player through January 31, 2011. (See sony.com/huluplus.)
• One free month of Hulu Plus with the purchase of a Roku device through December 15, 2010. (See roku.com/hulu.)
The release also notes that the service is launching on Roku today and will be coming to “Internet-connected Vizio, LG Electronics, and Panasonic Blu-ray players and HDTVs; TiVo Premiere DVRs; the Xbox 360; and Western Digital’s WD TV Live Hub Media Center and WD TV Live Plus Network Media Player,” in the coming months. Updates to the Hulu Plus iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Samsung, and PlayStation 3 players will be made available this week.
Anyone reconsidering Hulu Plus after the price drop? More →
Today, Panasonic announced that they will add Twitter to the list of built-in web entertainment technologies on their VIERA CAST enabled HDTVs and Blu-ray disc players. The company already offers Skype, Netflix, Pandora, Fox Sports, Amazon Video-On-Demand, YouTube, Picasa, Bloomberg, and weather services on VIERA televisions with the IPTV functionality built-in. Panasonic’s VP of corporate development had this to say:
Since we introduced Panasonic VIERA CAST IPTVs three years ago we have added more and more of the top entertainment and social networking sites in the world. The addition of Twitter to VIERA CAST further strengthens the interactive options Panasonic VIERA HDTV owners can now use to communicate with family and friends worldwide. Consumers with VIERA CAST-enabled HDTVS can now tweet on Twitter, video chat via Skype, share videos on YouTube and digital photos via Google Picasa right from the comfort of their living rooms.”
Maybe the future of HDTV isn’t in 3D and ridiculous refresh rates… maybe it’s applications? We’ve got the full press release for you after the break. Let us know if functionality like this is something that interests you, or if you think it is just something that will get in the way of your television-viewing enjoyment. More →
In a world where BlackBerry, Android, iPhone, Symbian, Windows Mobile and webOS dominate the mobile OS space, it’s been tough for LiMo to get a little love. Sure Android and webOS are Linux-based, but it’s just not the same. In an interesting move, Panasonic and NEC have chosen to go with LiMo — unveiling nine new devices that will feature the open-source operating system. Japanese mobile carrier KDDI and touchscreen company Immersion Corp are teaming up for the project but LiMo is hoping to the move grabs the attention of larger manufacturers such as Nokia, Samsung and LG. Good luck with that. With less costs involved in running open source systems it could be more enticing for manufacturers to look to LiMo in the future. The mobile OS space is already pretty cluttered however, so don’t expect LiMo to start popping up on anything relevant from amongst the big boys any time soon.
On Monday, April 20, Panasonic and NEC are expected to unveil nine devices that run on the Linux-powered LiMo operating system. While not much is known about the soon-to-be-announced devices at this time, proponents of open source operating systems will apparently have plenty of cause for celebration in 2009. Current members of the LiMo Foundation include Motorola, NEC, Panasonic, LG and Samsung, though the latter two have yet to unveil a single LiMo device to date. Still, the foundation does have an all-star line-up of carriers backing it up as NTT DoCoMo, Orange, SK Telecom, Telefonica, Verizon Wireless and Vodafone have all announced they will be carrying LiMo devices at some point this year. While there might not be too much to account for at the moment, the LiMo picture is apparently about to get a whole lot clearer.