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Panasonic Extends Plasma Half Life

Panasonic became the first company to announce that it extended the phosphor half life of its consumer 1080p plasma displays to 100,000 hours from 60,000, exceeding the announced performance of competitors’ plasmas.

The two-thirds gain in “life to half brightness” appears in the company’s current 2007 model lineup, already available in stores, a spokesman said. If a household watches six hours of TV per day, it would take almost 46 years for the display to dim to half it original brightness.

Announced specifications for competing brands cite typical 60,000-hour half lives, although one company’s lab data shows 100,000, said William Schindler, electrical engineering VP for Panasonic Display Laboratory of America.

Panasonic is also studying other improvements to future consumer-market 1080p plasmas, including the ability to accept a native 24Hz video signal from high-definition disc players. Panasonic’s current consumer plasma displays accept 60Hz signals after a high-definition disc player converts the 24Hz content to 60Hz in a process called 3:2 pull-down.

“The factory is studying this,” Schindler said, but “I don’t believe 3:2 pull-down is much of an issue. We have an excellent algorithm.” Panasonic’s professional-market plasmas accept a variety of video frame rates natively, including 24Hz, he noted.

Schindler also said Panasonic is looking at materials and improvements to enhance its plasma contrast ratios beyond 10,100:1 for its 720p plasmas and 5,000:1 for its 1080p plasmas, but he noted that even with 20,000:1 contrast ratios, “in most living rooms” with room lights on, consumers would see “no big difference.” With no lights on, “consumers might see a difference at 20,000:1,” he said.