With the Z1 series, Panasonic has joined Samsung in slimming plasma TVs to an inch thick.
The epic battle between plasma and LCD manifests itself in numerous ways -- Hz one-upmanship, contrast-ratio and viewing-angle specs, and lifespan claims, for example -- but, until now, panel depth was a frontier comfortably dominated by LCD, exemplified by ultra-thin models like the Hitachi UT37X902. Panasonic and Samsung are now aiming to claim that frontier for themselves.
Panasonic's press material uses the term 'Z1 series', which indicates that the company is planning other screen sizes with inch-deep panels. But, for now, the only size the company has announced is the 54-inch TC-P54Z1, due in the US in summer for an undisclosed, but surely sizable, chunk of change. UK pricing and availability are also yet to be announced.
Thin panels pose a number of design quandaries, such as where to connect the cables. Panasonic has solved the problem by supplying a separate AV box, with a tuner and connections like HDMI and component-video, that streams audio, video and control signals to the panel wirelessly.
The company uses a 60GHz millimetre wave radio system that sounds similar to the one employed by LG for its wireless displays. Like LG, Panasonic claimed the ability to transmit full, uncompressed 1080p video.
Aside from Digital Cinema Color, the P54Z1 incorporates all of the features of the thicker V10 models, including improved 24p compatibility; Viera Cast; the power-saving, high-contrast, NEO PDP panel; 'infinite black'; and a 600Hz sub-field drive.