Matsushita unveils new flat panel displays

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd., better known by its Panasonic brand name, unveiled a range of new flat-panel displays and televisions on Thursday, some with built-in DVD (digital versatile disc) players.

The two largest displays were 37- and 50-inch monsters based on Plasma Display Panels (PDPs). Designed to be used as televisions, they include digital satellite receivers and can support high-definition broadcasting at up to 720 horizontal lines, said the company. Other features include a 3000:1 contrast ratio and brightness of 650 candela per square meter.

An IEEE1394 port provides connectivity to digital home networks and an SD (Secure Digital) memory card slot allows pictures taken with digital still cameras to be viewed on the TV sets.

Matsushita's smaller sets, both of which have built-in DVD players, are based on widescreen LCD (liquid crystal display) technology and have screen sizes of 11- and 15-inches. The contrast ratio of the screens is 400:1, brightness is 500 candela per square meter and the company said the 12 millisecond screen refresh rate is the fastest in the industry.

Both displays will make their public debut on October 2 at the CEATEC electronics show near Tokyo.

Matsushita plans to begin selling the 37- and 50-inch PDP televisions from October 20 for 780,000 yen and 1.35 million yen respectively (US$6,500 and $11,300). The 11- and 15-inch LCD sets will also appear at the show and go on sale from November 20 priced at 145,000 yen and 181,000 yen respectively.

By launching the new displays, Matsushita expands its range of LCD TVs from three to five and joins a growing number of electronic equipment manufacturers that is beginning to take the nascent market much more seriously. Global demand for LCD TVs is forecast to reach 1.2 million [m] units in the current fiscal year, according to the company, and several other manufacturers, most notably Sharp Corp., are already heavily promoting LCD televisions in Japan.

Sharp launched a wide range of models in late 2000 and added more this year. Just under half of its television models, 23 out of 47 models, are now based on LCD panels. The company has said it wants to completely eliminate CRT (cathode ray tube)-based sets from its TV range by 2005.

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