New York -
staged an elaborate send-off Wednesday at the retailer's Union Square outlet for the launch of Panasonic's first FullHD 3D TVs.
The event, which drew a media circus, included officials for Panasonic, Best Buy, and Panasonic's content partners DirecTV and Fox Home Entertainment. As an event capper, Best Buy completed the sale of the first Panasonic FullHD 3D plasma TV system to Brad and Ashley Katsuyama, a local couple who work in the financial industry.
"At Best Buy, one of the things our customers expect from us is to bring them the latest and the greatest. That is something that we take very seriously. We are out there everyday bringing them to market, and today we are bringing 3D and the Panasonic 3D system to our customers," said Mike Vitelli, Best Buy Americas president. "And with 3D, we are as excited about it as we are because it is a completely different experience. The only word I can think of to describe it is - â€˜immersive.' "
Vitelli said the sale of the first Panasonic FullHD 3D system was representative of the full range of products and services Best Buy will offer customers.
"It's connecting the product, the content and the services that bring the entire experience together for the customer," Vitelli said. "That's what Best Buy does ... and we have an additional service offering when we have a 3D system. When we come to your home and bring this in, not only will we do the installation, but we'll make sure that it is connected to the wireless network that is in your home so that the Internet connection that is on the BD player and product itself is accessible. We will also make sure that the 3D glasses and emitter will do that demonstration so that Brad and Ashley and everyone else will know how that product works when we leave. That's what our 155,000 Blue Shirt Geek Squad agents do everyday."
Bob Perry, Panasonic marketing senior VP, said that his company is using advances in its plasma technology to take a leadership position in the 3D TV market. Due to a new phosphor formulation, Panasonic 3D plasma sets will have some of the fastest switching times in the industry — a characteristic that is critical for delivering two fields of full 1080p resolution, one to each the left and right eyes — to properly present FullHD 3D content.
During the press conference, he said, Panasonic was rolling out its first 3D TV products to "hundreds of Best Buy stores" across the country.
Shiro Katajima, Panasonic president, said Best Buy was selected as its launch partner because of its ability to give a proper demonstration of 3D, for which the Magnolia environments are well suited.
Katajima said that it is critical that consumers' first experiences with the new 3D TV technology be properly executed in order to give the concept the credibility it deserves.
Vitelli said that initially 3D demonstrations will be set up in 400 of 1,100 Best Buy stores that have Magnolia home-theater showrooms and services.
Best Buy will have an exclusive on a Panasonic FullHD 3D home-theater system, which carries a $2,899 package price. The system includes a 50-inch TC-P50VT20 ($2,499 suggested retail price) plasma 3D HDTV, including one pair of Panasonic active shutter glasses (TY-EW3D10U, $149 individually) and a Panasonic BDT300 3D Blu-ray Disc player ($399).
Mary Daily, of Fox Home Entertainment, said that starting in April the studio will allow Panasonic to begin to bundle a copy of the newly announced 3D Blu-ray Disc "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs" with Panasonic 3D TVs and Blu-ray Disc players. It will be the first of a number of planned 3D titles to be produced by Fox on Blu-ray Disc this year, she said, although she could not comment on home entertainment release plans for the current blockbuster "Avatar," which Panasonic helped to sponsor.
Panasonic also reiterated its earlier announcement, that it will be a primary sponsor for three new 3D channels that the satellite-TV giant DirecTV will begin to broadcast in June.