Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. said on Wednesday it will launch four new models of high-definition plasma TVs, including the world's largest with a 103-inch panel, challenging LCD TVs' lead in offering higher resolution images.
The Panasonic brand maker plans to release the four plasma televisions, with panel sizes ranging from 103 to 50 inches, in September in Japan. It now has only one full high-definition model.
Rival Sharp Corp. currently offers six models of full high-definition liquid crystal display (LCD) TVs and Sony Corp. offers two LCD TV models with comparable resolution.
Full high-definition panels can produce images at the highest standard of 1,920 by 1,080 pixels of resolution.
TV makers target flat TVs with finer resolution as a growth area because high-definition digital broadcasting is starting up globally and high-definition optical disc players based on Blu-ray and HD DVD formats are starting to hit store shelves.
It is said there are about 110 million TV sets in Japan. Of that, only about 12 million can receive digital broadcasting. Some 90 million analog TVs are still in use, Matsushita Senior Managing Director Shunzo Ushimaru told a news conference.
With only five years left until the end of analog broadcasting (in Japan) in July 2011, the TV market is going to be a colossal market.
Matsushita, the world's largest consumer electronics maker, plans to begin selling 65-, 58- and 50-inch models on September 1 in Japan, and start taking orders for the 103-inch model on the same day.
It will launch the TV overseas soon after the Japan release, monitoring each region's potential demand for high-definition models.
Measuring 2.4 by 1.4 meters (7 ft 10.5 in by 4 ft 7 in) and weighing 215 kg (474 lb.), the 103-inch panel is bigger than a double-sized mattress and almost as heavy as an upright piano.
The Osaka-based company expects the 103-inch TV to sell for about 6 million yen ($50,000) each and the 65-inch model for around 990,000 yen.
It aims to win orders for 5,000 units of the 103-inch plasma TV a year globally.
The plasma panel used in the 103-inch TV will be just one inch larger measured diagonally than a 102-inch model developed by Samsung SDI Co. Ltd. (006400.KS).
Matsushita held a 21.6 percent share of the global plasma TV market in January-March, followed by LG Electronics Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., according to DisplaySearch.
Following the announcement, shares of Matsushita closed up 0.7 percent at 2,100 yen, outperforming the Tokyo stock market's electrical machinery index, which was virtually unchanged.