Panasonic's previously confirmed exit from the plasma business remained the elephant in the room during the company's press conference at CES. And though it was not specifically addressed, the company did emphasize that it would be offering "plasma-level picture quality with LED technology." That's a bold claim that Panasonic will have to work hard this year to back up.
While there are developments on tap on the consumer end of the display business, it was clear that Panasonic recognizes the challenges it faces, and is shifting gears toward 4K displays for business applications, along with ultra-rugged tablets for the enterprise market.
On the consumer level, Panasonic introduced Life screen technology, which will be incorporated into all 2014 model 1,080p (wait, they still make those?) and 4K TVs. Life follows what many content providers are doing today: getting to know each user, and adjusting preferences accordingly, including recommendations for viewing, and personalized profiles of favourite content. Clearly TiVo was way ahead of its time. There's also voice navigation, Xbox-style, and automatic wakeup and information bar that senses when someone is nearby.
There was no mention of new developments on the OLED front.
And while Panasonic touched on areas like audio (with its Aupeo! Internet radio service, which will soon be able to stream high quality files), in-car navigation (with a head-up display, or HUD, option), and, as noted, enterprise tablets, what was most surprisingly was the focus on its new beauty line. Panasonic has always been a leader in the personal and health care markets, with everything from trimmers and shavers, to hair curlers. But aside from the high-end massage chairs, never before has this segment of Panasonic's business been features so prominently at CES. This year, the company will be giving female attendees (or perhaps nicely coiffed male ones) free blowouts using the new nanoe blow dryer. Salon services at CES? Now that's a first.