Panasonic Announces LIFI Rear-Projection Technology - Twice

Panasonic Announces LIFI Rear-Projection Technology

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Las Vegas — Panasonic unveiled a line of 1,080p plasma panels, a new LCD microdisplay technology and a prototype of a 42-inch 1,080p plasma television at its press conference, here, Sunday.

According to Andrew Nelkin, display group VP, Panasonic would focus on 3LCD rear-projection TVs powered by its new LIFI backlighting system. The company has used DLP and 3LCD rear projections in the past.

"The LIFI lamp system works best with LCD so we are going to flip this all over to 3LCD. We are going in the [LIFI] direction," Nelkin told TWICE.

LIFI promises to deliver an enduring light source for LCD microdisplays “that may never need replacement,” Nelkin claimed.


 
Andrew Nelkin

Unlike UHP lamp technology typically used in microdisplay rear-projection systems, the LIFI lamp does not use filaments. Instead the new system sends plasma radio frequencies through the lamp itself to emit a glow. There is nothing to wear out, Nelkin said.

The technology shares many of the benefits of new LED systems used by Samsung and others in DLP rear-projection systems, but at “an extremely competitive cost.” Nelkin said the color advantages of LED and LIFI are equal, and the “length of the [LIFI] product is far superior." Whereas a traditional lamp-based set would take 60 seconds to power up and display a picture, a LIFI-based set would take 10 seconds, Panasonic said.

The company’s LIFI line will consist of the LCZ and LCX series with 61-inch, 56-inch and 50-inch inch screen sizes and a new floating panel design. The LCZ series will be available in 1,080p, the LCX in 720p resolution. The LCZ series, consisting of the PT-50LCX70, PT-56LCX70 and PT-61LCX70, will ship in April. The LCZ series (PT-50LCZ70, PT-56LCZ70 and PT-61LCZ70) will ship in May. Pricing was not announced.

Pricing was announced on the ELS Home Theatre system (see TWICE CES Daily, Day One, p. 4), produced in conjunction with audio engineer Elliot Scheiner. The surround sound system will be available in the summer for a suggested $4,499.

Plasma television will remain the company’s standard bearer, according to Yoshi Yamada, Panasonic North America chairman/CEO.

Panasonic will incorporate 1,080p resolutions into televisions larger than 42 inches, Nelkin said, though he highlighted a prototype 42-inch, 1,080p panel to demonstrate that the company had “the know-how to bring 1,080p to 42-inch screen sizes.”

“Last year, we focused on the wide screen market and customer satisfaction,” Yamada said. This year, he said, the company will strive for a 30 percent market share in flat-panel, high-definition televisions. “It is an ambitious goal, but achievable.” For consumers, “extreme customer satisfaction” would be the goal in 2007, Yamada said.

Surveying the company’s plasma achievements in 2006, Yamada said Panasonic achieved a 51 percent plasma market share during Black Friday. The company devoted a question-and-answer session between technology alliance VP Jeff Cove and global business planning GM Atsuya Makita to dispelling several “myths” regarding plasma TV performance and contrasting it with the performance of LCD technology.

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