Panasonic enters the white goods market

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Panasonic has started off 2009 with a bang by announcing a raft of new products and technologies, including its first white goods products aimed at the European market. Also being launched over the next twelve months are a new range of eco products, an internet-based TV service, super-slim plasma displays and Blu-ray recorders.

Speaking at Panasonic’s 2009 Convention, held in Amsterdam, Yorihisa Shiokawa, managing director of Panasonic Marketing Europe, admitted that the economic downturn, coupled with the strengthening yen, had made life harder for Japanese exporters. But he remains optimistic about his company’s prospect for 2009 – Panasonic aims to become the number one brand in four key categories: large flat display televisions, digital cameras, Blu-ray recorders and high definition camcorders.

The white goods agenda

Announcing Panasonic’s entry into the European white goods market, Shiokawa said: “We will be offering high value products that will differentiate themselves from competitors’ [products] with energy saving technology. We will succeed and build a new business pillar that will drive future growth.” Panasonic’s first white goods are initially being launched in seven European countries in March – Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the UK.

The first white goods products include the NR-B30FX1, an A++ rated, no-frost, fridge-freezer, which includes Inverter technology and U-Vacua vacuum insulation panel. These features make the NR-B30FX1 quieter and enable it to be constructed with thinner insulating walls to increase storage capacity. Panasonic is also launching three new washing machines – a premium model, NA-16VX1, a deluxe model, the NA-16VG1, and a standard version, the NA-14VA1. All have an A-20% energy efficiency rating, and include 3D Sensor Wash technology, which controls the drum motor rotation and output for the best possible washing performance. Panasonic has also tilted the drum at 10 degrees, lowering the water level in the drum to improve drum control and washing action.

Eco ideas

Panasonic has also launched ‘eco ideas’, a global strategy for improving the environment that includes a new range of Superior Green products that will be launched by March 2010. The Superior Green product range includes Blu-ray players, fridges, cameras, DECT phones and vacuum cleaners. Panasonic also aims to reduce CO2 emissions by 6000 tonnes (10%) across its European manufacturing sites. Panasonic’s TV factory in Pilsen, Czech Republic, will become the company’s first eco ideas factory in Europe – all employees have signed an agreement that commits them to voluntary activities on recycling, handling waste and energy saving.

TV services

Viera Cast is a new internet-based TV service exclusively offered by Panasonic and built into a number of Viera TVs and Blu-ray players and recorders. The free service enables users to connect any Viera Cast-compatible TV or Blu-ray model to a high-speed home broadband link and watch content from services such as YouTube, Bloomberg News and Eurosport.  Panasonic is offering  new NeoPDP technology on its Z1 series, V10 series, G15 and G10 series of plasma sets, with the thinnest panel just 1in (25mm) thick – and  there are plans to reduce this to 8.8mm in 2010. The new range of Viera LCD models feature an IPS Alpha panel, which offers clear moving pictures, high contrast, and a wide colour viewing angle, says Panasonic. New Blu-ray offerings include the DMP-BD80 and DMP-BD60 players, which have a high definition audio decoder and Viera Cast, plus the portable DMP-B15 player, with an 8.9-inch screen. Panasonic also plans to launch the DMR-BS850 Blu-ray recorder in the UK, which will include a twin Freesat tuner.

Amongst the new Lumix camera range is the DMC-FT1, a “Tough Camera” designed for outdoor use – it’s waterproof to a depth of 3m and is shockproof from falls up to 1.5m. There was also a chance to see Panasonic’s 150in plasma display, and some future technology, including a Blu-ray-based 3DTV system, which Panasonic hopes to launch in 2010.

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