Up close with Panasonic’s latest plasma TVs at CES 2012

Panasonic’s Monday press conference may have been overshadowed by the appearance of Justin Timberlake late in the game, but there’s no question that when it comes to plasma, Panasonic is still king. The company’s 2012 lineup comprises six new lines: the VT50, GT50, ST50, UT50, XT50, and U50. All move forward with both incrementally better plasma panels and a completely revamped smart TV platform called – no surprise – SmartViera.

The most unique aspect of SmartViera is its complete reliance on the cloud for not just content but the menus and interface. Since Panasonic’s servers deliver it all without relying on internal hardware to run a bloated operating system, the company can essentially revamp SmartViera at any time without pushing firmware upgrades or making changes that only work with one generation of the system.

The latest NeoPlasma Black 2500 panels also have improved black levels, longer life spans (100,000 hours) and faster switching phosphors. Panasonic also introduced even lighter Bluetooth glasses that weigh just 27 grams, a unique touchpad for the high-end models, and a refined glass and metal design.

Stay tuned for more details on the individual series as we have a chance to see more!