The first major press event of IFA was this year from Panasonic, celebrating its 100th anniversary, and delivering news that was short on product releases but high on the company’s desire to create a better world through the connection of people, devices or places through technology.
So the launch event highlighted initiatives in smart cities, energy management, battery technologies, and Hyperloop transportation.
Indeed the event opened with an accelerated simulation of a Munich-to-Berlin Hyperloop trip taking only 30 minutes (it's 1 hour 5 minutes by plane) to bring the first presenter Mr. Laurent Abadie to the stage. Aside from fastest arrival, Mr Abadie is challenging for longest job title of IFA 2018, being the "Managing Executive Officer of Panasonic Corporation, Regional Head for Europe & CIS Chairman & CEO of Panasonic Europe Ltd".
He was soon, however, trumped by the next presenter, the charming Ms. Michiko Ogawa, who has the job title of Executive Officer of Panasonic Corporation, in charge of Technics Brand, Vice President of Appliances Company, in charge of Technology Director of Corporate Engineering Division and General Manager of Technics Business Promotion. (We didn’t dare ask for her business card, for fear of it not fitting in our luggage.)
Ms Ogawa highlighted the company's 100th anniversary, noting that its very first product was a double light socket. While that doesn’t sound particularly exciting, back in 1918 Japan, all products had to be plugged into a hanging light socket. Electric irons were just becoming popular, but in order to use them, the light bulb had to be removed, so that people had to iron in the dark. Panasonic solved the problem with its double socket, paving the way for a wider range of electrical products to be used in the home.
It’s perhaps understandable given Panasonic’s breadth of technologies that AV and audio got only a brief look-in at the end of the presentation — even then, it was nothing entirely new.
Ms Ogawa did expand on the introduction of HDR10+, the High Dynamic Range video system which was announced at IFA last year (our report from then ‘What is HDR10+?’ can be seen here) as a joint venture among 20th Century Fox, Panasonic Corporation and Samsung Electronics. This year the first certified products and first adopters for the HDR10+ license program were announced, with Panasonic and Samsung unsurprisingly among the first to announce firmware and firmware updates to ‘select 2018 television models’ enabling support of HDR10+.
In technology terms, HDR10+ advances on the basic HDR10 by allowing dynamic metadata to each frame, and thereby countering the rival of Dolby Vision, though as we understand it Dolby Vision still uses as 12-bit datastream rather than HDR10+’s 10-bit system, thereby allowing far greater accuracy of colour and brightness specification. So HDR10+ is also being positioned as a consumer guarantee of quality — Panasonic’s release saying the following:
“The HDR10+ license program and logo ensure that HDR10+ compliant products meet high standards for picture quality and that the true intent of filmmakers is preserved within these key parameters:
- The display performance certification qualifies requirements on the display mode, peak luminance level, peak luminance stability, transfer function and white point tracking performance and color gamut coverage.
- The metadata processing certification qualifies carriage and accuracy of metadata over interfaces. The display management performance certification qualifies tone-mapping based on HDR10+ Metadata such as shadow preservation.
- The Ultra HD Blu-ray player certification qualifies the processing and accuracy of HDR10+ Metadata carriage over the HDMI interface.”
Ms Ogawa also gave us the latest on Technics, a Panasonic brand once ditched but now revived for high-end audio, including turntables.
The Technics news at IFA repeated that from Munich High End, including the OTTAVA S SC-C50 Premium Wireless Speaker System, due for release in September in Europe. Despite such wonders as the speaker unit having four JENO Engines, Load Adaptive Phase Calibration and Space Tune, there’s no point getting excited about it over in Australia, since we’re not yet getting any Technics products (to our latest information). We gather it’s not because Panasonic Australia doesn’t want them, rather that production numbers are not yet sufficient to deliver to all markets, and our humble Aussies didn’t make the list. We hope the situation will soon change!
More info (except on Technics): www.panasonic.com.au