The Waterfront – Panasonics 4K Seat For Airplanes

Going to take a long flight in the near future? You may want to hope that Panasonic is the ones providing you with the in-flight entertainment though after they revealed the Waterfront, a 4k experience to keep you happy on the plane.

Concealed within a private seating area, not only are you welcomed to your own private refuge but the technologies there to make your flight as enjoyable as being at home. The lighting around your area is controlled by an app you can place on your phone, giving you control over the lighting in the front pocket and water bottle independently.

If that wasn’t enough from the app then you can take full control of the 24-inch 4K TV that sits in front of you for the duration of the flight. With video and music playback, with all the sound provided through a set of headphones placed neatly beside your head, the app can only be used to control your adjustable seats and a “do not disturb” function (complete with wake up time alert for the cabin crew) , the app continues to give you options when you’re enjoying your flight.

With a wireless charging area for your phone, power ports, and an HDMI input to let you play your own movies, you can even video chat with the built-in camera. Once you’ve got everything to your liking, you can save the settings and keep them for your next flight, the app even gives you a notification about where to pick up your bags. While it’s not set for release till 2019, you could soon enjoy the freedom and comfort of a 4K screen on your long distance flights.

Panasonic Claims to Have Developed World’s Best Weather Model

The private weather forecasting business is one that has been growing over the last two decades, with the weather forecasting industry now thought to be worth as much as $6 billion in the US alone. Regardless, these firms rarely collect their own weather data, instead repackaging modeled forecasts and government-collected weather data constructed by supercomputers across the world such as the ECMWF center in Europe.

Now, Panasonic wants to join the weather forecasting party. Neil Jacobs, chief scientist for Panasonic Weather Solutions spoke exclusively to Ars Technica, where he discussed the 11,000-core supercomputer that the company had been running to predict the weather for the last few years. He even makes the bold claim that the model developed by PWS had been outperforming the American Global Forecasting Model (GFS) for years, but was finally becoming competitive with the ECMWF model, which is considered the gold-standard for forecasting models.

Panasonic’s claim to accuracy uses one of the most widely recognized metrics for model accuracy, “anomaly correlation” at the 500mb level of the atmosphere over 30 days. According to Jacobs, the PWS model scores .926 on this scale, compared to .923 for ECMWF and .908 for the GFS, where a higher value is better. If this is to be believed, a small team of only 5 weather modellers, 5 software engineers and around 20 field experts on contract from universities have managed to trump some of the best government weather forecasting services in the world. Not everyone who works on the team shares Jacobs’ absolute confidence in their achievement quite yet but if it is true, then it is truly extraordinary.

The key to Panasonic’s advantage in weather modelling stems from their use of data collected by aircraft. Since the 90s, TAMDAR systems have been fitted to the majority of US airlines by a firm called AirDat, who were acquired by Panasonic Avionics in 2013. These TAMDAR systems are still fitted to aircraft around the world to this day and allow Panasonic to collect data on all levels of the atmosphere as planes ascend and descent to take off and land. While Panasonic hand over much of this data to government weather centers, much of the highest resolution data is kept by them, allowing them to power up their forecasting model.

Whether the PWS model is truly capable of outdoing even the ECMWF may become more apparent over time, with Panasonic appearing to have a clear commitment to continuing development. It is certainly a bold move for a private company to move into a sector almost entirely dominated by government organizations, but perhaps this could just be what weather forecasting needs to move to even more accurate predictions.

Panasonic Shows off New Assistive Robotic Exoskeletons

In a video released today, Panasonic has given us an idea of what our robot-assisted future may be like. The video showed off three different kinds of their Assist Robot technology, all of them robotic exoskeletons, but each possessing its own unique design for use in different types of task.

The first design on show is one for industrial use, sporting a rather striking purple and green colour scheme. This assistive suit’s main functionality is to aid industrial and factory workers who do a lot of heavy lifting and carrying, providing extra support for the wearer’s lower back, reducing strain by as much as 33 pounds. Next up is the leaner PLN-1, which has a more catchy moniker of “Ninja”, focusing on aiding the motions of walking and running. One of the main functions of this suit on show was to make hiking and climbing up steep trails far easier. Using sensors on the feet and motors on the back, it allows the wearer to walk more naturally on difficult terrain. Future versions of the Ninja aim to include an upper body component too, to assist in carrying.

Lastly, looking like it just fell out of Aliens is the Power Loader. While perhaps not built with the purpose of combating xenomorphs, the power loader is built for construction and disaster relief. Panasonic aims to decrease the unit’s massive weight before it is released, but there already plans for mass production. Another design under development with Panasonic include beds and wheelchairs to aid in nursing.

The time when these systems will be ubiquitous is still a long way off, but if they are already as impressive as those Panasonic have on show, it could be sooner than we think.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zGmymin7d0o

Samsung and Philips Declare 3D TV Dead

Even when 3D first launched, its hold on consumers was tenuous. After all these years of struggling to put out 3D TVs and content haven’t really taken hold in most homes. A little over six years since 3D TV and content went mainstream, Samsung and Philips have given up. Both companies have dropped their focus on 3D and for 2016, will not be releasing any new 3D capable TV sets.

For Samsung, the choice was plain as “limited consumer demand for 3D, and the small amount of content being produced in this format” meant there was little point to dumping money on development. Philips went as far as to say that 3D is dead since there is no 3D content and no one really wants 3D. LG and Sony have both reduced the number of 3D capable units in their lineups and only Panasonic has any real 3D TV presence to speak of.

Personally, I see little need for 3D content other than for a few niche segments. Until passive 3D takes off and becomes relatively cheap, it’s hard to see 3D’s fortunes turning around. This is even more true for the PC space as the focus shifts to VR and its various forms like augmented VR. Unlike my thoughts when 3D first appeared, I expect VR to be much more successful despite it’s higher entry cost as it actually adds more value. It will be interesting to see if 3D will continue to limp along or will something change its fortunes in the near future.

Panasonic Develops New Solution for Full 8K Video Transmission

While the consumer world is starting to adjust and get up to date and 4K resolution monitors and TVs are starting to enter more and more homes around the world, Panasonic is already working on the next generation of 8K monitors. We have already seen a few large-screen monitors on display that could handle this high resolution, but it wasn’t really real. The 8K image was composed out of two 4K 60Hz images spliced into one.

The reason for this was the bandwidth limitation by the current cables and connectors, but Panasonic found the solution for this and presented the first single cable and connector solution for transmission of full-spec 8K video signals. For reference purpose, I can share that the official full-spec 8K resolution features 33 million pixels in a 7,680 by 4,320 pixel setup at 120 frames per second.

The new cable is a hybrid cable made of metal wire and plastic optical fiber and it overcomes the previous trouble of alignment. With detachable connectors like this on a cable, it is difficult to precisely align optical axes at the connection, which leads to poor connectivity and other defects. That has hampered the deployment of optical fiber cables in video transmission cables with detachable connectors, but that’s about to change.

Panasonic developed the new cable and connector type together with KAI Photonics Co., Ltd., a venture from Japan’s Keio University. The plastic optical fiber and its connection technology are using ballpoint-pen type interconnects and Panasonic further added their know-how on multi-level modulation of broadband signals to achieve a transmission bandwidth that exceeds 100 Gbps with a single cable. That should be plenty even for 8K 120Hz setups.

Professor Yasuhiro Koike of the Faculty of Science and Technology, Keio University, commented: “I am delighted that Panasonic successfully developed a prototype cable for transmitting 8K images based on ‘plastic optical fiber and its connection technology using ballpoint-pen type interconnect,’ which was developed by Keio University. We would like to further cooperate with Panasonic to respond to the variety of needs for audiovisual transmission.”

Naturally this is intended for corporate usage for now, but what starts in the corporate world usually makes it to the consumer market sooner or later. For now, we need the 4K format to take off with more available content.

Panasonic Releases 20-Inch Sized 4K Toughpad Tablet

When it comes down to it, a tablet is really just a laptop without a keyboard and a laptop is just an all-in-one PC with a battery. With that in mind, there is no reason why a tablet shouldn’t come in big sizes and with big power. Panasonic’s new Toughpad FZ-Y1 is both a large one and a powerful one that shouldn’t be discarded for going out of the norm.

The new Toughpad is designed for CAD designers among others and it is ready for one of the market-leading apps in this area, Solidworks. To back such a need, the Touchpad FZ-Y1 features a 5th generation Intel Core i7-5600U vPro processor with 2.6GHz base clock and a 3.2GHz Turbo. It is paired with an AMD FirePro M5100 graphics card and 16GB RAM. The storage space starts with a 256GB SSD and an optional 512GB upgrade is also available.

The display is a 20-inch IPS multi-touch that can recognize up to 10 fingers simultaneously and display 3840 x 2560 pixels. The 230 ppi and 15:10 aspect ratio should make the Toughpad tablet ideal for viewing and working with A3 size plans and designs. Touch isn’t always the most precise input and you can also get the optional Electronic Touch Pen that offers the ability to draw and make free-hand notes on the device with the freedom and creativity of pen and paper.

The Toughpad FZ-Y1 has plenty of connection options with USB 3.0, Gigabit LAN, HDMI 2.0 INPUT (support HDCP2.2), Mini DisplayPortTM Output and Docking connector. It naturally also features wireless connectivity through Bluetooth and WLAN and comes with a built-in HD Webcam, microphone, and speakers. The installed OS is Windows 10 that optionally can be downgraded to Windows 7 professional, allowing more people to integrate it into their current business infrastructure.

You might already have guessed that such a tablet won’t come cheap, and you are absolutely right here. The Panasonic Toughpad FZ-Y1 starts at £3180 without VAT and it will be available at the end of December this year.

The Best Free 4K Content to Show Off Your New TV or Monitor

4K monitors and TVs are quickly growing in popularity, but I’m often asked “where can I find 4K content?” and that’s something I hope to help you with today. Sure there’s some movies online, such as Amazon Prime and Netflix, where you can stream 4K content straight to your device, permitting you have the appropriate subscriptions, but what if you’re seeking some completely free content to enjoy? Here’s a quick round-up of some of the best free 4K resources you’ll find online.


Tears of Steel

This is one of the best out there, a short movie about robotics and the future that uses Blender for the CGI. The acting is a little silly, but it’s certainly an enjoyable watch and it’s a visual feast that’ll really flex your new 4K display and wow your friends with rich colours and detail. Download the full 6.3GB file for free for the best experience.

Download here


Big Buck Bunny

Another project that is available for free on Blender really pushes the limits of home cinema technology and computer displays, not only because it’s 4K, but you can also download it in 4K 3D and a 60fps HFR version, which really is a treat for the eyes and showcases some of the best of the best technologies, the same kind you can expect to see on Ultra HD Blu-Ray, which launches next year.

Download here


NASA

While not a movie as such, NASA has a simply mind-blowing array of 4K content and they update their library regularly. Now that the space station has its own 4K camera, as well as a library of space exploration content that has been given the 4K treatment, science and space fans will find a lot of wonderful things to view here, such as the recently released Jupiter video. To make it super easy, all of this content is ready to view in 4K on YouTube.

Check out NASA TV Videos here


Panasonic 4K

Another YouTube entry, with Panasonic showcasing all of their show-reel content on their channel. This isn’t the most exciting stuff, but when it comes to showing off the detail that 4K can do, time-lapse videos can be almost hypnotic and they’re well worth checking out if you’re eager to see the differences between HD and 4K (change the resolution on YouTube.

Check out the Panasonic YouTube channel here.


Reddit

Reddit is a huge community, offering all kinds of subreddits full of user-curated content and 4K is no exception. There’s a huge range of images, gifs, videos, downloads and much more on the 4kUltraHD subreddit and it’s regularly updated. Be sure to check out the Top section for the most popular and the New section for regular content.

Check out 4kUltraHD Subreddit here.


Vimeo

Vimeo is great for finding user-created 4K videos, from people showing off their stunning drone footage, to amateur and pro movie makers showing off their latest talents, there are all kinds of cool things to find here. Some of the videos require a premium subscription, but there’s still a lot of free content to enjoy in 4K.

Check out Vimeo here

Stationary Electric Vehicle Batteries May Be Getting Much Cheaper Than Anticipated

Have you heard the big headline in the electric car market? No? Well, some of you might have heard that Tesla is now selling its own stationery storage batteries. But you might ask, how is it a big thing? Those types of batteries were around for years, but they have never been cost-effective. The thing is, they are becoming more cost-effective than ever before, according to another study.

It is said that the price for installing one of these batteries in a home would have cost more than $23,000 last year. In May, Tesla announced that the price of such a Li-ion battery would start at $3,500, with an installation price of just $500. Ok, so it’s cheaper than ever before to install a battery in your home, but how is that cost-effective when charging it? Well, times are changing and businesses are making a lot of progress too. Tesla announced that it is currently building a “gigafactory” near Reno, Nevada, having Panasonic making its Li-ion batteries.

The above example is just what we would expect in the near future. However, two researchers from Stockholm stated that the cost of battery packs has fallen drastically. From $1,000 per kWh in 2007, it plunged down to $300 per kWh. Due to this price drop, Tesla and similar electric car manufacturers are now refurbishing old electric vehicle batteries to sell for stationary storage. Also, Tesla said that it also takes feedback very seriously and is now looking into increasing the discharge rate of batteries during continuous use, from 2.2 kilowatts to 5 kilowatts.

This does not mean we will see electric cars being a solution and everyone dropping gas cars overnight. Researchers state that the cost of battery packs needs to fall below 150 per kWh before significant shifts towards electric vehicles take place. However, they estimate that a cost level of 200 – 250 kWh might hit before 2020, so we are just a few years away from potentially switching to electric vehicles.

Thank you Arstechnica for providing us with this information

Panasonic Firefox-Powered Smart TVs Debuted in Europe

Panasonic is finally back from a long sleep. After they stopped selling those awesome Plasma TVs, they pretty much lost the market share. But finally they are back and are offering new products such as Firefox OS-powered 4K Smart TVs. Panasonic’s VIERA Smart TVs are the first ones to run Firefox OS on such platform and are being offered in Europe. Mozilla offers several unique advantages that other players like Google’s Android TV platform, Samsung’s Tizen and Roku doesn’t provide (yet), such as HTML5 web apps including Netflix and Hulu, along with the ability to share content from any device with a Firefox browser.

“We’re happy to partner with Panasonic to bring the first Smart TVs powered by Firefox OS to the world,” said Andreas Gal, Mozilla CTO. “With Firefox and Firefox OS powered devices, users can enjoy a custom and connected Web experience and take their favorite content (apps, videos, photos, websites) across devices without being locked into one proprietary ecosystem or brand.” he added.

Coming to the products, curved 4K Viera 65-inch CR850 and 55-inch CR730 with CX series 4K flat TVs. Panasonic is also bringing a new wide color phosphor “4K Studio Master” picture engine to the table. It will deliver professional color accuracy using 3D look-up tables (LUTs) used by film industry color professionals. The CR models will also feature HDR and 10-bit color capability for more detailed gradations between colors.

Thank you Mozilla Blog for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Dday.it.

Samsung, Disney, and Netflix Join Alliance For 4K Standardisation

A medium-spanning coalition of businesses has united to form the UHD (Ultra High Definition) Alliance with the aim of setting the standard for 4K and UHD content, terminology, and delivery. Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, and Sharp represent the TV industry, while Disney, Fox, Warner Bros., Netflix, and DirecTV cover content delivery, and Dolby and Technicolor as ambassadors of content creation.

H.S. Kim, executive for Samsung displays, said of the alliance, “This is a game changer. Most importantly, for consumers,” asserting that their goal is to establish a “healthy UHD ecosystem.”

For starters, the alliance wants to differentiate between the terms ‘4K’ and ‘UHD’, which, though used synonymously, refer to differing resolutions.

“Nothing but good can come from it,” said Lee. “It’s just a great opportunity for the industry to rally around UHD.”

Source: The Verge

Panasonic to Launch First Compact Digital Camera with 4K Video Recording

This month will see Panasonic launch their latest digital camera, the Lumix FZ1000. Of course this is nothing especially crazy, the company releases new cameras all the time, but this one really stands out from the crowd.

The latest edition to the Lumix range will be the world’s first compact digital camera to support 4K video shooting. That means that early adaptors to the 4K product ranges will now have a more versatile way of shooting their own content to playback on their TV / Monitors.

The camera shoots the video at 30FPS, so no HFR 4K support for compact cameras just yet. The only downside in my opinion is that the lens is non-detachable, but it does have a focal range of 25mm to 400mm with the ability to shoot video in both close up and long range modes.

Prices are to be around 100,000 yen, which is just under $1000 without taxes.

Thank you Asahi for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Asahi.

Panasonic Recall Laptop & Tablet Batteries – Over 43,000 Units Affected

Toughbook manufacturer Panasonic has announced that they are in the process of recalling over 43,00 batteries from their Toughbook laptop and tablet ranges after three batteries in Asia malfunctioned and caught fire. The batteries in question are found in products purchased in the period of June 2011 to May 2012 and are Panasonic branded. Built for the CF-H2 tablets, the batteries in question have been found to overheat in some instances, resulting in some catching fire – a major safety risk for users where burns are a high risk.

The main bulk of these batteries are reportedly found in Asia, whilst a smaller number of units are found around Europe and the rest of the world. To prevent the risk of overheating, Panasonic are urging users to remove the battery from their tablet and run it through mains power until a replacement part is shipped out – free of charge.

The model numbers that are affected are as follows:

  • B6NA
  • B6YA
  • B71A
  • B74A
  • B75A
  • B76A
  • B7CA
  • B7VA
  • B83A
  • BBGA
  • BBJA
  • BBWA
  • Battery model number CF-VZSU53AW is also affected.

In addition to the recall on the CF-H2 tablets, a second recall is also being made on batteries that are found within the CF-S10 and CF-N10 laptop ranges. In this instance, the batteries in question are found within products shipped in the period April 2011 to October 2011. The batteries here are said to suffer from the same fault found in the tablet batteries and once again users should remove the parts as soon as possible, leaving the laptops to run from mains power until a replacement part has been shipped.

In all cases users should contact Panasonic support to report their device is one of those affected and replacement part will be arranged.

Source: BBC News

Japanese Camera Manufacturers Suffer Losses

Panasonic and other Japanese camera manufacturers struggle to keep up with today’s smartphones. Since most people nowadays prefer more portable and mobile devices, and most importantly, everything compacted, it appears that the smartphones and tablets are the best solution. Therefore, giants such as Panasonic and Fujifilm Holdings have been losing money and have suffered a fall of more than 40%, with only 59 million cameras sold.

On the other hand, sales of single-lens reflex (SLR) cameras are flourishing as users prefer connectivity above picture quality. Looking at a mid to long term, the imaging companies need to turn around and rethink their strategy or face the consequences in the future, and they aren’t looking pretty. Panasonic is said to have had a downfall of 0.7 form 3.8% to 3.1% during the course of this year.

“If you look mid-to-long term, digital camera makers are slipping and the market is becoming an oligopoly,” said Credit Suisse imaging analyst Yu Yoshida. “Only those who have a strong brand and are competitive on price will last – and only Canon, Nikon and Sony fulfil that criteria,” he added.

In the meantime, Panasonic, Fujifilm and Olympus are trying to fend off the smartphone threat by cutting compacts, targeting niche markets such as deep-sea diving, and launching the higher-margin mirrorless models. The mirrorless format promised mid-tier makers an area of growth as the dominance of Canon and Nikon all but shut them out of SLRs, where Sony is a distant third. Neither Panasonic nor Fujifilm makes SLRs, and Olympus stopped developing them this year.

“SLRs are heavy and noisy, whereas mirrorless are small and quiet. While some people say SLRs still have better image quality, mirrorless (cameras) have improved to the point where they’re equivalent, if not superior,” said Hiroshi Tanaka, director of Fujifilm’s optical division.

However, Sony still keeps up to date with its two QX lenses released this quarter. These come with their own sensors and processors, and clip onto smartphones through which the user operates them wirelessly. They are pocket-sized and produce photographs of a quality rivaling that of a compact camera. But Sony appears to have connected with consumers as demand soon outstripped production. Some are even using the lenses in a way Sony didn’t intend, like place them at a distance while they press the shutter on their smartphone to take self-portraits, or selfies.

“We had no idea how much the QX would sell initially when we put it out. We didn’t set any targets,” said Shigeki Ishizuka, president of Sony’s digital imaging business. “There are so many consumers that were hungry for Sony to do this,” said Chris Chute, IDC’s digital imaging research director. “They’ve (waited for Sony) to come out with something really innovative, almost like the Walkman (portable music player).”

Thank you Chicago Tribute for providing us with this information

Panasonic ToughPad UT-MB4 20 Inch 4K Tablet Coming January – Costs $5999

Panasonic’s ToughPad UT-MB4 has captured the interest of avid consumers all over the world since CES 2013. Measuring in at 20 inches this tablet boasts an impressive 4K display with a slightly unorthodox resolution of 3840 x 2560. That gives the ToughPad UT-MB4 9.8 million pixels, much higher than a conventional 4K desktop monitor of 3840 x 2160 which has 8.3 million pixels. That resolution of 3840 x 2560  means it has a 15:10 aspect ratio and it also uses an IPS Alpha LCD panel.

In terms of the internal specifications an Intel Core i5-3437U vPro processor combined with an Nvidia GT 745M provide the horsepower. 8GB of RAM and 2GB of VRAM should provide more than enough memory to deal with most applications at the extremely high resolution. A 256GB SSD is home to the Windows 8.1 operating system which features improved scaling to ensure that your Windows is still usable at such a high resolution.

Connectivity is abundant and includes Bluetooth 4.0, USB 3.0, Wi-Fi (AC and B/G/N), a card reader, docking connector, and an SDXC card slot. The device is apparently protected from drops up to 12 inches from 26 different angles, when the device is not operating. When being used the device can be dropped up to 30 inches on its back side before any damage is incurred. The only down side of an otherwise impressive tablet is its battery life – just 2 hours from a full charge.

The price for this beast of a machine? $5999 USD and it will be made available from January in the USA. As expected Panasonic are not targeting consumers but instead business users, content professionals and the usual crowd who’ve got lots of money to spend.

Image courtesy of Panasonic

Japanese Display Vendors To Start Focusing On Small UHD Displays In 2014

Digitimes reports that Japanese display vendors are gearing up to focus on small UHD displays in 2014. Japan Display will begin to mass produce 12.1 inch 365ppi tablet panels with low power consumption as of 2014 for the high end tablet market. Panasonic have jumped on that compact UHD display bandwagon quite early with the 20 inch Toughpad UT-MB5 which features a 3840 x 2560 display with 176 degree viewing angles.

This compact UHD display trend is only going to accelerate in 2014 and analysts look towards the Samsung ATIV Q, Samsung ATIV Book 9 Plus and Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro (all of which feature 3200 x 1800 276ppi 13.3 inch displays) as proof of this trend. Observers stated that UHD tablets would become the trend of 2014 for major vendors but we may also see the displays pop up in other devices like Ultrabooks and notebooks.

Image courtesy of Panasonic

Panasonic To Stop Production Of Plasma Screens Next Year

If the rumours are true and Panasonic really are pulling out of the plasma TV trade next year, then this is indeed a sad day. Not only are Panasonic one of the few companies left in the world that actually make plasma screens, but the ones they currently do make are some of the best home cinema screen in the world.

Many people have jumped to LCD and LED tech for their screens, but Plasma has been loved by home cinema enthusiasts for many years as it can often offers better black levels, bright colours and some of the best colour reproduction when compared to its LCD/LED counterparts.

The end of their plasma line would mean Panasonic would have to close their Amagasaki plant, which would then be put up for sale next year.

It seems likely to suspect that this will all go ahead, the plasma side of Panasonic’s business has been loosing money for a few years now, despite the critical acclaim of their Viera range, especially the TX-P60ZT65 which won the European home cinema TV of the year 2013-2014.

While I will mourn the loss of another great range of plasma displays, maybe it is time to lay it to rest as 4K OLED technology may be the way to go and could be the perfect thing to soften the blow.

Thank you BBC for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Panasonic.

Panasonic Guilty Of Price Fixing Car Parts & Laptop Batteries, Fined $56.5 Million

Panasonic have pleaded guilty to charges that they conspired to fix prices in two major markets, laptop battery packs and auto parts, of course we are a little more interested in the battery scandal than we are the car parts but it is still good to see that justice caught up with people who have been effectively ripping people off for years.

The US government has stuck a whopping fine of $56.5 million on Panasonic for the two conspiracies, while 15 executives across several companies will be serving jail time for the crimes committed, and since some parts of the price-fixing stem back 15 years, we can only assume they may be getting locked up for quite some time.

Panasonic have been ripping off auto manufacturers for 15 years by working with other companies to inflate prices in a bid to “fix, stabilize, and maintain the prices” of lighting equipment that was sold to companies such as Honda, Mazda and Nissan.

SANYO Electric, which is owned by Panasonic since an acquisition in 2009 was also charged with working with LG Chem to price fix cylindrical lithium-ion battery packs that are used globally for laptop computers, although it is unclear at this time which models were effected.

“The conduct of Panasonic, SANYO, and LG Chem resulted in inflated production costs for notebook computers and cars purchased by U.S. consumers,” said Joseph S. Campbell, an FBI official involved in the investigation, in a statement released Friday by the Justice Department.

This is a win for consumers and while we may have lost out in the past, this is one scam that has been brought to an end.

Panasonic To Exit From Plasma TV Business

Japan based consumer electronics giant Panasonic is considering to withdraw from manufacturing of plasma televisions as a part of its television business downsizing. The consumer electronics maker has been in a troubling financial position for sometime, where they had no choice but to sell away assets, including their real estate.

According to its business plan that would be announced on March 28th, Panasonic will start this process over a 3 year period starting fiscal year from April as reported by Japan based business daily “Nikkei”. Panasonic’s main TV Plasma plant in Amagaski in Western Japan will halt products around fiscal 2014 and has already put the value of their production equipment at the three buildings.

According to Jiji Press, Panasonic will be also withdrawing from healthcare business, along with selling its healthcare unit and its buildings.

Panasonic suffered so much because of slumping sales due to global economic slowdown and also faced huge restructuring costs. Last month, Panasonic record a 9 month operating profit of USD 1.29 Billion despite facing significant net loss all thanks to fixed cost reductions and streamlining material costs. But because of the weak demand in flat panel TV business, sales went down at 8.8% which made a loss of 5.44 Trillion yen.

A Panasonic spokesperson said,”We are considering a number of options regarding our TV business. But nothing has been decided yet.”

As of now, the Japanese firm already halted their new development of plasma TVs. The company also decided that both plasma and LCD TV models will be an inefficient business, especially in Japan. Since even flat-TV market is shrinking as said by Panasonic, we may see a dark day when one of the most respected and deemed underrated by many end-users would be shutting down their plasma TV operations for good, even ending the era of the good old plasma TVs.

Source: Reuters  | Financial Express