Jan 13

C.E.S. 2013: Panasonic’s TVs Can Recognize a Face (New York Times, Jan 7, 2013):

Panasonic’s new product introductions at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas touch on what is becoming a common theme —–making your TV do the work of finding shows you want to watch.

The company announced a feature called “My Home Screen” that will show a viewer customized suggestions of TV shows, streaming shows and Internet content, all on one screen. The idea is to put all of the content in one place so a viewer does not have to search separately for TV shows and video on demand, for instance. Each family member can have a personalized screen, and will not have to sign in — the higher-end Panasonic TVs will have a built-in camera that will use face recognition to determine whose preferences to display.

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Nov 25

I told you even before Fukushima that Japan is finished.

And again, this is the ‘Greatest Depression’ & the greatest financial/economic collapse in world history is coming.

Whistleblower Woodford warns of Japan’s ‘collective economic suicide’ (Independent, Nov 23, 2012):

In the case of Japan these days, no news is ever good. The third-biggest economy in the world will next week release another set of numbers that will, in all likelihood, paint more detail of an economy laid up on the terminal ward.

In the third quarter of the year, Japan’s GDP crashed 0.9 per cent. In the West, we talk about Japan’s “lost decade” of zero growth and deflation, but in reality, they’ve lost two decades and are about to lose the third.

Meanwhile, its politics lurch from one crisis to the next. New parties are now uniting to kick out an old guard of politicians who have brought such listless drift to the country for so long.

But the new parties are of the right, sending worrying signals about how the general population is starting to think about getting itself out of the mire.

Recent days have seen shocking numbers from Panasonic and Sony, whose debt has been downgraded to junk status.

Sharp is like a walking zombie, warning earlier this month that it may not be able to survive, and the country’s “megabanks” have declared $6.7bn (£4.2bn) in losses on the value of their equity investments.

Meanwhile, the population is ageing faster than Dorian Gray’s portrait. The birth rate is so low that the country’s population shrinks each year, while the pensioners live ever longer. National debt as a proportion of GDP is running at 235 per cent – that’s even worse than Greece.

This is the compelling narrative of the country told by Michael Woodford, the whistleblower who won The Independent’s businessman of the year award last year for his brave exposure of a multibillion-dollar fraud at the heart of the Olympus cameras empire.

As the former chief told The Independent yesterday: “Japan is on an inevitable decline to oblivion.”

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Sep 18

An anti-Japanese protester throws a gas canister during a demonstration over the disputed Diaoyu Islands in Shenzhen, China, on Sunday.

Panasonic, Canon shutter China factories amid violent anti-Japan protests (MSNBC, 17, 2012):

Major electronics firms Panasonic and Canon have temporarily suspended production at factories in China after a territorial dispute over a group of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea triggered violent anti-Japanese protests.

Sites linked to auto manufacturers Toyota and Honda have also been attacked in the unrest, which has forced frightened expatriates into hiding and sent relations between Asia’s two biggest economies into crisis.

Ratcheting up tensions further on Monday, Chinese state media warned Japan it could suffer another “lost decade” if trade ties soured. Japan counted China as its top trade partner last year, with total two-way trade of more than $340 billion.

A demonstrator kicks a glass window of the Japanese Seibu department store during a protest in Shenzhen, China, on Sunday.

A report in the Japan Times on Monday, posted on Twitter, said 1,000 fishing boats were sailing towards the disputed islands – a move likely to further inflame tensions.

“I’m not going out today and I’ve asked my Chinese boyfriend to be with me all day tomorrow,” said Sayo Morimoto, a 29-year-old Japanese graduate student at a university in Shenzhen.

Protests broke out across dozens of Chinese cities at the weekend, some violent, in response to the Japanese government’s decision last week to buy some of the disputed islands from a private Japanese owner. The move incensed Beijing.

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Jun 25

Don’t believe manufacturers’ claims. We put Panasonic’s Toughbook through real survival tests.


BURLINGAME, Calif. — Call it the James Bond of laptops.

We dropped the Panasonic CF-30 “Toughbook,” kicked it, stood on it and tried to back over it with a Volkswagen JettaTDi. (That left a mark–on the pavement.)

We poured Diet Coke on the keyboard. Then we used the lid to crush the can.

You might think this is unnecessary testing for a laptop. Advertising is always brimming with over-the-top claims. We’ve heard about “durable” notebooks before. But the ones we lug to press conferences seem to be as touchy as a bunch of squirrels. Surely, Panasonic’s claims of toughness are, well, over-the-top.

We found, however, that Panasonic’s Toughbook performed as promised. Fair enough. So we came up with some tests that were decidedly unfair.

We used the Panasonic Toughbook to serve Doritos. Then we crushed the chips to dust between the keyboard and the screen, the same screen we used as a dartboard. The darts poked holes in the screen’s protective coating, but the display underneath remained undamaged. Not a single dead pixel.

So we presented the $3,460 Toughbook to Nalin, a white tiger who lives at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, Calif. Nalin treated it like a cat toy, knocking it to the ground, gnawing on the screen and licking every inch of its surface. He must have smelled those Doritos.

The tiger chewed off five keys, but that turned out to be just cosmetic. We could still type without them, and were able to glue four back on later (we made sure Nalin didn’t swallow anything). The fifth just snapped back into place.


Next, Liz, a 10,000-pound Asian elephant, stepped on it, stood on it, dropped it onto a concrete slab, stood on it again–balanced on three legs–and then tossed it around some more. Liz put two small cracks in the laptop’s magnesium alloy lid and popped the hard drive out.

The drive slid right back in to the Toughbook’s chassis, which rebooted without a glitch. The screen was undamaged, although it was hard to see through the tiger hair and congealed drool.

That’s when we remembered: We’re allergic to cats.

Five days later, we turned from tests to something better described as execution: We took the laptop to the Jackson Arms firing range in South San Francisco to shoot it with a Ruger Mark III .22 pistol from 15 yards.

Dell declined to loan us a rugged laptop to shoot, saying they didn’t have the “inventory excess to participate this time around.”

Panasonic, meanwhile, was about to have one less notebook. We removed the battery to minimize the mess, and aimed.

Goodbye, Mr. Toughbook.

Or so we thought. We put a bullet through the laptop. Then we booted it up. We were able to log in. Our test file was still there. The screen had a hole in it, but was still usable.

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Feb 14

Its electronic gadgetry is gathering dust on the shelves of high street stores, nobody is buying new fridges and the mountain of unsold plasma televisions is growing by the day.

However, in desperation, Panasonic has hit on the perfect counter-attack against the consumer slump: it has ordered every member of staff to go out and buy £1,000 of Panasonic products.

Large swathes of corporate Japan are expected to follow suit, either by directly commanding or indirectly “pressuring” employees to divert part of their salaries towards the goods that their employers produce.

Toyota has already tacitly applauded a “voluntary” scheme in which 2,200 of its top brass decided to buy new Toyota cars, and the president of Fujitsu recently e-mailed 100,000 staff and gently pointed out how nice it would be if “employee ownership rates” of Fujitsu PCs and mobile phones were a little higher.

The 10,000 Japanese staff affected by Panasonic’s unorthodox strategy do not have long to consider their purchases.

Management insists that staff buy their Panasonic goods – whether they need them or not – by the end of July.

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Feb 04

Panasonic’s Director in charge of Financing and Accounting Makoto Uenoyama speaks during a press conference in Tokyo Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2009. Panasonic Corp. said Wednesday it will slash 15,000 jobs and shut down 27 plants worldwide to cope with plunging demand for its TVs, semiconductors and other electronics products. (AP Photo/Kyodo News)

TOKYO (AP) – Panasonic Corp. said Wednesday it will slash 15,000 jobs and shut down 27 plants worldwide, joining a slew of major Japanese companies announcing deep cuts as the global slowdown batters the world’s second-largest economy.

The world’s largest maker of plasma display TVs also announced a net loss for the October-December quarter and lowered its forecast for the fiscal year through March to a net loss of 380 billion yen ($4.2 billion), its first annual loss in six years.

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