Panasonic introduces 65-inch plasma screen

Panasonic introduces 65-inch plasma screen

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. will introduce a high-definition PDP (Plasma Display Panel) television with a screen measuring 65 inches diagonally to the Japanese market on Oct. 1, and in the U.S. market in early 2005.

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. will introduce a high-definition PDP (Plasma Display Panel) television with a screen measuring 65 inches diagonally to the Japanese market on Oct. 1, and in the U.S. market in early 2005. The display is the largest available through consumer sales channels and is capable of rendering 3.62 billion colors, 2,048 shades of graduation and the world's highest contrast ratio of up to 3000:1, Matsushita, better known for its Panasonic brand, said in a statement Monday.

The TH-65DX300, which will be sold under Matsushita's Viera line, has a plasma panel with 1,049,088 pixels and a service life of about 8,000 hours. The TH-65DX300 weighs 109 kilograms including the stand, and has a width of 1,554 millimeters, a height of 1,012mm and a depth of 393mm. The suggested retail price is ¥2.08 million (US$18,845), the company said.

Matsushita plans to sell the TH-65DX300 in the U.S. within about seven months, but has yet to decide whether to sell the product in Europe, company spokesman Mike Takeda said on Monday. Matsushita launched the Viera brand in August 2003 and sells 37-inch, 42-inch and 50-inch models internationally, he said.

The display brings Matsushita into the lead in terms of bragging rights over which company makes the largest plasma panels for the consumer home entertainment market, Takeda said.

"What's new and what's the biggest news is that it's the biggest you can buy in the shops," Takeda said.

In January, LG Electronics Inc. said it would be selling a 76-inch PDP model with a resolution of 1,920 pixels by 1,080 pixels and measuring 83 mm deep to the U.S. market in the fourth quarter of this year. Also this January, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. said it would be selling a 70-inch PDP model before the end of 2004, and an 80-inch PDP with a high-definition tuner before the beginning of 2005. LG started selling a 71-inch model in July this year available on the international market, but the PDP is aimed primarily at businesses, according to Leon Sharp, an LG spokesman, in an interview on Monday. LG still plans to release a 76-inch version in 2005, but will not reveal when, the spokesman said.

"Sometime in 2005 is accurate, it depends on the market and how we see demand," he said.

The 65-inch PDP TV will be produced at Matsushita's PDP plant in Ibaragi prefecture, east of Tokyo, the company said. Matsushita has three plants in Japan producing a total of 90,000 panels a month. The company said this May that plans a major boost in its PDP manufacturing.

Expansion at the company's Osaka plant is expected to take total monthly production to 130,000 panels by April 2005. This will rise further when initial production begins at the new factory in November 2005, and is expected to hit 380,000 panels per month in early 2007. Matsushita Plasma Display Panel Co. Ltd., a joint venture with Toray Industries Inc., expects to complete what will be the world's largest volume PDP manufacturing plant in 2007. The new facility in Amagasaki, a town in western Japan close to Matsushita's headquarters in Osaka, will be capable of producing 250,000 panels (42-inch equivalent) per month when it reaches full production in 2007, the company said.

The Amagasaki plant represents an investment of ¥95 billion (US$831 million). Matsushita owns 75 percent of the joint venture, and Toray owns the remaining 25 percent.

Global PDP shipments in the fourth quarter of 2003 were 613,000 units, a rise of 176 percent on the same period a year earlier, according to Austin, Texas, analyst DisplaySearch. By value, the market was worth US$846 million in the quarter, a 160 percent jump on the year earlier.

In addition to Matsushita, LG and Samsung, other leading panel makers include Fujitsu Hitachi Display Ltd. and NEC Corp. -- IDG News Service

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