CES: Panasonic Highlights Wearable 4K Camera

LAS VEGAS – A wearable 4K point-of-view camera, was among the highlights of Panasonic's CES press conference, which was dominated by Ultra HD innovations in both consumer and business-to-business markets.

The camera was demonstrated by being strapped to the side of a presenter's face, appearing far more obtrusive than smart glass. It's intended for hands-free use in action sports, for example. Panasonic further said it was developing a digital single lens mirrorless camera compatible with 4K video.

The company confirmed an April shipping date for the 4K Varicam camcorder, previewed at various trade shows over the past couple of years. It will feature frame rate capture from 24 to 120 fps recording to Ultra HD P2 cards.

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The company also has added a new high-performance model of its 20-inch 4K tablet intended for data-intensive use such as video production, it said.

Julie Bauer, president of Panasonic's consumer division, spoke of “redefining what a 21st century TV should be,” saying “it should know what you and your family want to watch and guide you to content by facial and voice recognition.”

That functionality is at the core of a new range of Viera Ultra HD Smart TVs dubbed Life+Screen, which will arrive in 58-inch and 65-inch screen sizes at U.S stores this year. An 85-inch 4K LED model is also planned; a prototype will be displayed on the show floor. Pricing wasn't announced.

Life+Screen will automatically wake from standby mode when it senses somebody nearby and will display information graphically, such as the time, date and weather – a feature called Info Bar. Working with Panasonic’s cloud service, My Home Cloud, Life+Screen forms a network to share information and content with smartphones and PCs.

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On the business side, Rance Poehler, president of Panasonic in North America, said: “We intend to lead 4K technology in the business community by delivering the widest range in the 4K space.”

This includes a new 4K projector for the events market and the debut of a 7-inch ToughPad priced at $2,099 and reckoned to be the thinnest and lightest tablet on the market. The FZ-M1 carries Window 8.1 Pro and is intended for use in retail, military, aviation or transport venues.

The installation of a 15,000-square-foot (171 feet wide by 90 feet tall) 4K LED board at Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, which features a 170-degree viewing angle, was also highlighted.

Showing what is possible, rather than practical, the company's CES booth will be dominated by a massive 4K OLED video wall. “This is a business solution unless you are the head of a hedge fund,” quipped president and CEO Joe Taylor.

For automotive, the CE vendor has teamed with Abbey Road Studios to unveil a premium in-car sound system. Incorporated at the show in a 2014 Mini Cooper Clubman S are 12 speakers and a 12-channel 580-watt amp with two EMI TG12412 equalizers designed and built at Abbey Road. The addition of these two equalizers, used at Abbey Road since the early '70s, is said to “help bring out some of the unique sound characteristics present in recordings made at the studios.”