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1,080p Panasonic PDPs Bow

3/29/2007 03:45:00 PM Eastern

New York — Highlighted by an expanded assortment of 1,080p models, Panasonic formally introduced 10 new plasma HDTVs among its 2007 television offerings, during a press conference here Thursday.

The full plasma line will stress improved gloss-black frame cosmetics, higher resolution and SD card slots for new HD content choices, Panasonic said.

“With our 2007 HD plasma line, we’ve maintained and continued to improve upon the same expertise that resulted in numerous ‘best of’ awards last year,” said Dennis Eppel, Panasonic display products VP. “And we have every intention of maintaining the market share lead that we’ve held for virtually the last two years. Toward that end we will soon have two new PDP factories in Amagasaki, Japan, to address a planned 11.5 million-unit production schedule for 2008.”

The company reiterated plans to add 1,080p resolution in three additional plasma screen sizes: 42 inches, 50 inches and 58 inches. These will join the currently shipping 65-inch and 103-inch models.

Plasma models will be positioned across four lines, including two 1,080p series. The 1080p 700 series, which will be introduced in late April, will include the new 58-inch TH-58PZ700U ($4,799), 50-inch TH-50PZ700U ($3,499) and 42-inch TH-42PZ700 ($2,499).

In May, two additional 1,080p models will be introduced through the premium PZ750U series. These will include the 50-inch TH-50PZ750U ($3,999) and the 58-inch TH-58PZ750U ($5,499).

The 750 Series models will add H.264 MPEG4 playback from the SD card slot, and a Studio Reference Mode, which Panasonic said provides the consumer with the exact color reproduction as seen on the reference monitors used in film editing studios. Also added is a Pro Setting Mode allowing professional calibration.

The step-up models also add three HDMI connections and a black chrome ornament cosmetic.

Panasonic will also offer two lines of 720p plasma models, including the PX75 series, which is shipping now in the 42-inch ($1,599) and 50-inch ($2,499) screen sizes. Cosmetics include gloss-black frames with bottom-mounted speakers.

The PX77 series will start shipping later in April and will also include the 42-inch ($1,799) and 50-inch ($2,799) screen sizes. Models feature side-mounted speakers and an anti-glare screen.

All models offer improved EZ-Sync remotes to link Panasonic consumer home entertainment and video products and allow integrated control of the entire system.

All new plasma models also include SD card slots which will accept hi-definition still screen images through a new program Panasonic has arranged with HD still image content provider GalleryPlayer.

Panasonic said it has entered an agreement with GalleryPlayer, for the first-ever collection of high-definition art and photographic images on secure digital (SD) cards that are compatible exclusively with Panasonic’s 2007 plasma and HDTV lines.

GalleryPlayer launched two new branded “Ready to View” SD cards, “The Art of HD” and “National Geographic’s Wide Angle,” which are launching online and in retail.

The exclusive feature will let Panasonic TV owners download hundreds of additional HD images from their favorite artists and photographers onto any SD card memory card through the GalleryPlayer Web site (www.galleryplayer.com).

Consumers may download images from such collections as The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston: The Art of Claude Monet, The Art of Edgar Degas, Explore Hawaii and others.

A year-long multi-million dollar marketing and promotional campaign will kick off GalleryPlayer’s Ready to View SD Card product launch to promote the SD card offering.

In LCD, Panasonic is focusing on the 26-inch and 32-inch screen sizes in two series — the LX70 (March) and LX700.

Models in the LX70 series carry suggested retails of $799 and $999, respectively and will compliment the PX75 plasma series with 720p resolution. The step-up 32-inch 32LX700 ($1,199) will add such features as Motion Picture Pro with 120 fps image interpolation to reduce motion blurring. It also offers Alpha In Plane Switching for a wider viewing angle and an SD card slot.

In rear projection, Panasonic again said its consumer lines have transitioned over to 3LCD models that will employ the proprietary LiFi image lighting system that uses a non-filament bulb source.

The lamp technology, which carries a five-year warranty, is said to offer a five-times longer bulb life than conventional UHP lamps, improved color reproduction and an improved startup time.

The LiFi sets will be available in the 50-inch ($1,799), 56-inch ($1,999) and 61-inch ($2,399) screen sizes in the LCZ series, which ships in May with models offering1,080p resolution. The 720p LCX series ships in April in the 56-inch ($1,699) and 61-inch ($1,999) screen sizes.

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