Panasonic says new 4K LED TV has plasma-like picture quality

Panasonic's AX800 series packs 4K LED backlight that promises quality akin to praised plasma HDTVs

Panasonic's 65-inch TC-65AX800U.

Panasonic's 65-inch TC-65AX800U.

Panasonic no longer makes its popular plasma TVs and those hoping for an exciting new offering at the Consumer Electronics Show this year were in for a disappointment.

The manufacturer didn't unveil any jaw-dropping products at a press conference Monday, but announced the AX800 series, a 4K LED LCD that's part of a category it calls Life+Screen.

It's a 4K Ultra HD panel with a 3840 x 2160 pixel resolution. A feature called Studio Master Color is supposed to provide accurate color reproduction, according to Panasonic, which said the set's LED backlight produces a color gamut that's nearly as good as a plasma screen.

Resolution enthusiasts may doubt Panasonic's claim to produce picture quality on par with plasma screens using LED technology, however. The company announced last fall that it will exit the plasma TV business, leaving fans of acclaimed sets such as the ZT60 high and dry. It's expected to end plasma TV sales in March this year.

"Technology has brought us access to a seemingly endless list of content options directly through your TV and it is getting harder to find what to watch," Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company President Julie Bauer said. "So we decided it was time to redefine what a 21st-century TV should be by taking into account how people live their lives today, and how that will change in the future. The result is our new 2014 Panasonic Viera Life+ Screens."

The 65-inch TC-65AX800U and 58-inch TC-58AX800U models will debut this spring, the company said. The former, which was on stage at the press conference, is supposed to be available for preorder already but the price was not immediately announced.

Panasonic's Life+ Smart TV interface is designed to learn individual or family viewing preferences. It makes use of a "My Button" on the remote control, and offers personalized viewing options in a channel called My Stream. Aside from the AX800 series, Life+ Screen series include the AS680, AS650, AS640, and AS530 series, all 1080p.

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