Panasonic expands reach, but still makes pretty cool TVs

A 56-inch, 4K OLED television set is displayed at the Panasonic booth during the first day of the 2013 International CES in the Las Vegas Convention Center Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. STEVE MARCUS

2013 International CES Opens in Las Vegas

Raman Chari prepares a display of convertible Ultrabooks at the Intel booth prior to the opening of the 2013 International CES in the Las Vegas Convention Center Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013. STEVE MARCUS Launch slideshow »

Panasonic's president stressed that his company no longer makes just TVs.

Yet it was the company's new television set that drew one of the biggest reactions from the audience during a keynote speech today at the International CES at the Venetian.

When Kazuhiro Tsuga described the 4K ultra-high-definition TV, people gasped. At 27 pounds and a half-inch thick, the 56-inch flat screen TV could hang with using the same hardware as a heavy picture frame.

"The television industry here in the United States is experiencing tremendous change," Tsuga said. "The next five years will transform it more than the last 25."

"What today's consumers are desiring in a TV is more than just beautiful picture quality," he continued. "They are expecting easy access to content, flexible choices, a simple and intuitive user experience. In other words, they don't want just another screen."

That's why Panasonic is making content available from the Internet. Products connect to the Internet so people can watch programs virtually and discuss them with their friends via social media. Panasonic's TVs can tell what your friends are watching and when they change the channel or turn off the set.

Tsuga also outlined Panasonic's work in the automotive industry on entertainment systems and batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles. The company also is developing in-flight technologies, such as Internet broadband for airlines, and point-of-service systems for fast-food chains.

Another division is developing ways to conserve and manage energy at home or at the office, including systems that will help people measure energy use and recommend ways to use less.

"Our future is being built on far more than a single productive category…and far beyond the living room," Tsuga said.

Tags: Business