At a glance, you'd be hard pressed to discern between Panasonic's new Toughbook and the one it's replacing. Both sport a thick, rugged exterior made of magnesium alloy and rated for MIL-STD-810G tests, both offer a spill resistant keyboard, and both just look tough. But the new Toughbook 53 weighs more than a pound less at 5.6 pounds and features a smaller 14-inch HD screen instead a 15.6-inch panel.
Japanese consumer electronics giant Panasonic announced late last week that they are in the middle of a “major restructuring”, which could see cuts to at least five percent of its work force in the coming months. Based on current staffing estimations which peg the company ranks at close to 367,000, this could result in a whopping 17,000 jobs cut, most of which will likely be in Japan. Panasonic officials claim the company will be refocusing its efforts on three key market segments as a result of changing global business environments, down from the five it was pursuing currently. In addition to the refocusing, Panasonic claims at least a small percentage of the cuts will be a result redundancies found following the acquisition of Sanyo and Panasonic Electric Works.
Not a lot of folks can justify paying a premium for a Blu-ray burner and then the media to go along with it. At the other end of the pricing spectrum, DVD burners and media are dirt cheap, and so are mechanical hard drives, for that matter. But if you are going to spend a portion of your fun money on Blu-ray backups, it certainly helps if you can write to discs more than once, something you'll be able to do with Panasonic's upcoming 100GB rewritable Blu-ray disc.
More plant closures are coming as a result of the devastating earthquake in Japan. Toshiba, for example, said it is shutting down a liquid crystal display plant in Fukaya for about a month as the firm assesses the damage and goes about making repairs. Meanwhile, Hitachi is stopping production of small panel LCDs at a factory near Tokyo, also for about a month.
Whether or not the closures lead to panel shortages is still up in the air. The plants in question mostly deal with displays for mobile devices, like smartphones and navigation devices, and could affect the auto industry, Reuters reports.
"Given that car production in Japan is down anyway, a one-month stop in production may not be as problematic as it might seem," said Damian Thong, an analyst at Macquarie Capital Securities in Japan. "However, given that the market for smartphones outside Japan is pretty active, supply disruptions there could cause problems for some handset makers of some models."
According to iSuppli, Panasonic's 6th generation LCD fab in Japan was also affected by the quake. That plant produces LCD TV panels for use in Panasonic televisions.
Skype continues to make a mad dash for your living room any way it can. The latest union of Skype's VoIP service and your living room hardware comes from pairing Skype with Panasonic's Viera Cast Blu-ray player lineup, which includes the ability to make Skype video and voice calls supported by the Freetalk Conference Camera.
Full HD recording is quickly becoming a standard feature in new point-n-shoot digital cameras, and this, along with several other features, are packed into Panasonic's new Lumix FX78 ultra-compact.
Despite its diminutive size, Panasonic equipped the FX78 with a 12.1 megapixel high-speed CCD sensor. It also boasts a new Smart Touch operation on its sizable 3.5-inch 16:9 LCD screen. One of the cooler bullet points is the ability to auto focus on a subject just by tapping it on the screen. Once touched, the FX78 tracks the subject, even if it/he/she moves about.
Other features include a Scene Selector mode, 24mm ultra-wide angle lens, 5x optical zoom, F2.5 aperture, image stabilization, face tracking, and more.
Panasonic will offer the Lumix F78 in gold and white models starting in March for an as-yet undetermined price.
Much of the Maximum PC and Maximum Tech staff is in Las Vegas right now at CES 2011, checking out all the newest gadgets on display. We've got a film crew down there, putting together high-quality videos of the show, but sometimes we know that you just want a quick glimpse at what's hot on the show floor. That's why we're bringing you guerrilla footage, shot by our editors using handheld cams.
First up, Jon Phillips takes a look at the Viera, the newest, thinnest, bad-ass-est 3D TV from Panasonic. Check out our review of the last-gen Viera right here.
Panasonic on Thursday introduced its new Lumix DMC-GF2, the company's smallest and lightest digital interchangeable lens system camera (with flash) yet.
"The Lumix GF2 is key in the Panasonic DSL Micro line-up, as it's the smallest and lightest model we offer, while still offering superb image quality, which our consumers have come to expect from Lumix. Compared to the GF1, its predecessor, the GF2 has been reduced approximately 19% in size and approximately 7% in weight yet is still retains its signature built-in flash," said Darin Pepple, Senior Product Manager, Imaging, Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company. "We expect the Lumix GF2 to be an attractive model for consumers who want to step up to a more powerful camera that is easy to use, and a camera that is 'future-proof' with its 3D capabilities."
The GF2 uses lenses from the Micro Four Thirds standard, as well as Panny's new 3D interchangeable lens. It has a 12.1MP sensor, Full HD movie mode, 3-inch rear touchscreen, and an ISO range of 100-64000.
Look for the GF2 to ship in January 2011 with pricing info to be announced a month prior.
From the makers of the ill-fated 3DO game console comes the “Jungle” handheld gaming system. Let us rephrase the last line for accuracy's sake: from one of the four manufacturers of the … . If you haven't guessed it already, we are talking about Japanese consumer electronics company Panasonic.
With the 3DO debacle buried under tons of “time sand,” Panasonic is gearing up to invade the handheld gaming space on the back of an upcoming portable device focused entirely on online gaming and MMORPGs. The Jungle, as the device is called, reportedly runs a Linux OS, and according to Fudzilla, features a Tegra chip.
Not a lot is known about the Jungle. Even the official site only features a video teaser and a sign-up-to-stay-updated form at this stage.
Panasonic on Monday announced its MW-20 digital frame, but unlike most other photo frames, this one pulls double-duty as a stereo system with full support for your iPod and iPhone devices. It will even charge them while they're plugged in.
"The Panasonic MW-20 has a stylish and slim design that will complement any home decor and given its versatility to display photos, videos, play music and even charge an iPhone – we think this will be a welcomed addition this holiday season," said David Fisher, Product Manager, Imaging, Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company. "Beyond its design and versatility, the MW-20 is also a powerful gadget – with exceptional sound quality to listen to music and a large nine-inch screen to view digital photos and videos."
Equipped with a high-res adjustable 9-inch screen, the MW-20 works in both portrait and landscape mode and can be hung on the wall. It comes with 2GB of built-in memory, plus an SD memory card slot.
Look for the MW-20 to ship in late November for $250.