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Panasonic Bows 50W”, 58W” 1,080p Plasmas

Underscoring its intention to stay atop the plasma display market, Panasonic unveiled at a CES press conference 1,080p models in the 50W-inch and 58W-inch screen sizes to complement current 65W-inch and 103W-inch offerings.

In all, Panasonic is adding seven new plasma models to the line for 2007, the company said.

Panasonic also unveiled a prototype 42W-inch 1,080p high-definition plasma TV that, according to Andy Nelkin, Panasonic display group VP, “demonstrates Panasonic’s technological expertise in plasma development.”

Nelkin said consumers are showing a greater desire to move up into large-screen sizes, a trend the company sought to address in developing its 2007 assortment.

Plasma TV sales increased 138 percent in 2006 and are expected to almost triple in 2007, according to Nelkin.

The new line, which features a mix of models with either 720p or 1,080p high definition resolution, offers consumers a new cosmetic design featuring a piano-black bezel.

In addition, Panasonic is making use of two new PDP factories in Amagasaki, Japan, to address a planned 11.5 million-unit production schedule for 2008, the company said.

“In 2006, Panasonic broke new ground with the introduction of 65W-inch and 103W-inch 1,080p plasmas. We believe that consumer demand for size and a high definition experience will only expand in 2007,”said Nelkin.

The new 1,080p models — TH-58PZ700U and TH-50PZ700U — offer panel resolution of 1,920 by 1,080 progressively displayed pixels. Both will ship this summer at prices to be announced later.

The full 2007 line features both 720p and 1,080p offerings that include an improved EZ-Sync remote to link Panasonic consumer home entertainment and video products, and SD Memory Card slots with Photo Viewer software that enables the display to show digital still photo galleries and slide shows.

By utilizing high-definition images available from GalleryPlayer that are embedded on the SD cards, the consumer has access to thousands of images ranging from art masterpieces to photographs. GalleryPlayer’s content partners include National Geographic, the Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The New York Times and Time-Life, the company said.

Other new 720p plasma models announced at CES include the 50W-inch TH-50PX77U and 42W-inch TH-42PX77U, both which feature anti-glare coating, new cosmetic designs, side-firing speakers and are slated for a spring deliveries at prices to be announced.

The 58W-inch TH-58PX75U, the 50W-inch TH-50PX75U and the 42W-inch TH-PX75U also add new cosmetics and will ship this spring at prices to be announced.