Panasonic announces pricing and launch date for 3D TV

50in VT20 plasma TVs to arrive in June, larger models at end of year

The VIERA TH-P50VT20A is Panasonic's first 3D plasma television to hit the market, with a June release expected.

The VIERA TH-P50VT20A is Panasonic's first 3D plasma television to hit the market, with a June release expected.

Panasonic has announced the availability and pricing of its Full HD 3D plasma televisions and accessories. The company's 50in plasma panel will go on sale in June, with larger models to follow in October and November, Panasonic revealed at its 2010 home entertainment product launch in Melbourne yesterday.

Panasonic's VIERA TH-P50VT20A Full HD 3D plasma television is the company's first 3D-ready model to go on sale, with a June release slated. The 50in television will cost $3299 and will be bundled with a single pair of active shutter 3D glasses. Larger 58in and 65in 3D models from the VT20 series will not be available to consumers until October, and the mid-sized 54in panel arrives in November.

Panasonic's top-end VT20 series plasma televisions feature an entirely new panel with faster phosphors to deliver the rapid changes between frames needed to display 3D imagery. Panasonic rates the contrast ratio of its flagship plasmas at 5,000,000:1, significantly improving upon last year's 2,000,000:1 figures. A low-glare filter on the panel cuts down on reflections from external light sources.

VIERA Cast online access is also integrated into the Panasonic VIERA TH-P50VT20A, with 2010 models able to stream content from Yahoo!7's PLUS7 video-on-demand service. Twitter access will follow in upcoming months while Skype video-conferencing is supported now with an optional camera available for $199. A side-mounted USB port on the Panasonic VT20 plasma television series allows for playback of various media file formats such as AVCHD and DivX HD, with recording of digital television to a connected external hard drive also supported.

The eyewear supplied with the Panasonic VT20 series 3D plasma televisions synchronises with its plasma televisions to display 3D imagery. Alternating images on the television screen are combined through a process of rapidly opening and closing lenses over each eyepiece on the 3D glasses to trick the viewer's eyes into perceiving a single three-dimensional image. Panasonic's active shutter 3D glasses are powered by disposable CR2032 lithium batteries, with a 100 hour lifespan. The glasses are priced at $199 per pair — significantly more expensive than Samsung's and LG's glasses.

Since Panasonic's televisions cannot convert 2D content into 3D like Samsung's models, a compatible 3D-enabled Blu-ray disc player must be connected to display 3D video — specific 3D Blu-ray video content is also required. Panasonic's DMP-BDT300 Blu-ray disc player will retail for $599 and be released in June. 3D content is currently difficult to come by, but purchasers of a Panasonic VIERA 3D-ready plasma television in the first three months after launch will receive bundled copies of the 3D Blu-ray movies Ice Age 3 and Coraline.

Campbell Simpson travelled to Melbourne as a guest of Panasonic.

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Campbell Simpson

Campbell Simpson

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