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Wednesday, July 19, 2006
Matsushita Steps Up Plasma HDTV Drive

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. said on Wednesday it will launch four new models of high-definition plasma TVs, including the world's largest with a 103-inch panel, challenging LCD TVs' lead in offering higher resolution images.

The Panasonic brand maker plans to release the four new models in the PZ600 series VIERA plasma TVs, with panel sizes ranging from 103 to 50 inches. It now has only one full high-definition model.

The 50-inch TH-50PZ600, 58-inch TH-58PZ600 and 65-inch TH-65PZ600 models will be available on the Japanese market on September 1. The 103-inch TH-103PZ600 will be built to order with sales scheduled to commence on September 1 and delivery to start from late September.

Mr. Shunzo Ushimaru, Director of Corporate Marketing Division for Panasonic Brand in Japan, said, "Our VIERA TVs have become synonymous with high-quality images and real life theater experience. We are proud to introduce the new 1080p VIERA lineup which brings home entertainment to new heights. The new TVs offer easy operation with the VIERA Link and the convenience of wireless multimedia connectivity via SD Memory Card."

The new models incorporate the newly developed 1080p PEAKS (Picture Enhancement Accelerator with Kinetic System) plasma panel which achieves blacker blacks and a 4,000:1 contrast in dark surroundings. To maximize the performance of the panel, the new 1080p PEAKS driver supports 16-bit image processing that produces razor-sharp motion pictures and displays 100 percent more shades of gradation than the previous model).

The PEAKS system includes the new 1080p PEAKS Processor system LSI which is based on Panasonic's proprietary integrated architecture for digital consumer electronics. The new LSI incorporates the HD Optimizer that detects and reduces MPEG noise as it receives digital HD broadcast signals, producing crisp and clear images. The LSI also enables various features such as the Wide Intelligent TV Program Guide. Users can now browse, in one view, all the current and upcoming programs available on 19 channels for up to eight days (12 hours/day at a maximum). That makes it easy for them to search and record favorite programs.

The VIERA Link simplifies control of the home theater system. Using just one VIERA remote control, the user can command various HDMI-connected home theater components such as a DIGA DVD recorder or an AV amplifier). The new VIERA 1080p HDTVs have three slots for HDMI cables that support 1080p input.

The new TVs have an SD Memory Card slot for networking versatility with other SD-enabled devices. MPEG2 moving pictures shot with SD Video Cameras) or JPEG still images (DCF format) stored on the SD Memory Card can be viewed on a large VIERA screen just by taking it out from a camera and inserting it directly into the slot. The new models further support the SDHC (SD High-Capacity) Memory Card.

Rival Sharp currently offers six models of full high-definition liquid crystal display (LCD) TVs and Sony Corp. offers two LCD TV models with comparable resolution.

Full high-definition panels can produce images at the highest standard of 1,920 by 1,080 pixels of resolution.

TV makers target flat TVs with finer resolution as a growth area because high-definition digital broadcasting is starting up globally and high-definition optical disc players based on Blu-ray and HD DVD formats are starting to hit store shelves.

"It is said there are about 110 million TV sets in Japan. Of that, only about 12 million can receive digital broadcasting. Some 90 million analog TVs are still in use," Matsushita Senior Managing Director Shunzo Ushimaru told a news conference.

"With only five years left until the end of analog broadcasting (in Japan) in July 2011, the TV market is going to be a colossal market."

Matsushita will launch the TV overseas soon after the Japan release, monitoring each region's potential demand for high-definition models.

Measuring 2.4 by 1.4 meters (7 ft 10.5 in by 4 ft 7 in) and weighing 215 kg (474 lb.), the 103-inch panel is bigger than a double-sized mattress and almost as heavy as an upright piano.

The Osaka-based company expects the 103-inch TV to sell for about 6 million yen ($50,000) each and the 65-inch model for around 990,000 yen.

It aims to win orders for 5,000 units of the 103-inch plasma TV a year globally.

The plasma panel used in the 103-inch TV will be just one inch larger measured diagonally than a 102-inch model developed by Samsung SDI Co. Ltd. .

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