Panasonic Previews Future of HD Plasma Displays

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Panasonic Monday showed off a wide-ranging portfolio of new high-definition technologies at the International Consumer Electronics Show 2008, including the worlds' largest HD plasma display.

The company also spotlighted other advances in its HD technology that will soon hit the market, including super-thin plasma TVs, displays that consume less energy, wireless HD video content delivery and wall-sized touch screen displays, in a keynote address at CES by Toshihiro Sakamoto, president of Panasonic AVC Networks, the consumer electronics and PC manufacturing arm of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Osaka, Japan.

Panasonic sees its Viera HD displays as the center piece of the "Digital Hearth," the vendor's concept for using technology to promote family time and togetherness.

"Our flat-panel HD TVs have an effect we did not anticipate -- the ability to bring friends and family together again around the new Digital Hearth," Sakamoto said. "Families can spend time together, sharing family photos and videos, sports and movies."

Panasonic offered the first public viewing of its forthcoming 150-inch HD plasma display, which it touts as the largest in the world. It offers 2000 x 4000 pixel resolution, more than four times the 1080p HD specification and boasts an effective viewing area that is 11 feet wide and over 6 feet high, "bringing new meaning to the words 'reality TV,' " Sakamoto said.

Sakamoto said the big screen would likely end up in commercial deployments and a few high-end homes.

The vendor has sold 3,000 of the 103-inch plasma displays it showcased at last year's CES, which is currently its largest model.

Sakamoto also showed prototypes of new super-thin displays, including a 50-inch plasma TV that is less than one-inch thick and weighs half as much as previous models.

Panasonic also highlighted several environmentally-friendly "green" initiatives, including the development of a prototype of a 42-inch plasma display that offers double the luminance with a 50-percent reduction in power consumption.

"Reducing power consumption in all of our products is a top priority for Panasonic," Sakamoto said.

Panasonic also offered the first public demonstration of Home Base, a new wireless content delivery system that transmits full 1080p HD wirelessly to a TV, eliminating the need for clumsy cabling. Developed with SiBeam, the device offers "beam steering technology" that allows for uninterrupted picture quality, even when someone walks in between the Home Base and the plasma display. Sakomoto demonstrated a capability that enables a user simply to place a digital camcorder on top of the Home Base device to automatically capture and transmit content to the television.

The company also showcased a prototype of Life Wall, a wall-sized display that incorporates Internet connectivity, videoconferencing, face recognition and motion sensing to deliver immersive, life-size entertainment. It also includes a virtual decorating feature that enables users to customize the screen with virtual wallpaper, windows and artwork so it will blend into an existing room environment.

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