Panasonic Shows Larger Thin-PDP Prototypes

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Panasonic unveiled its largest-yet slimline PDP (plasma display panel) at the IFA electronics show in Berlin on Thursday.

The prototype panel is a 65-inch model and was joined on the company's vast booth here by a 58-inch model. Both are just 24.7 millimeters thick, which is about a quarter the thickness of current models of a similar screen size. At the CES show in Las Vegas in January the company showed a prototype 50-inch panel of the same thickness.

After developing larger and larger screens over recent years, TV makers are now concentrating on making sets thinner. The latest prototypes from Panasonic will be competing with similar sets based on LCD (liquid crystal display) panels from rivals such as Sharp and Sony.

However the company was tight-lipped on exactly when the thin PDPs might be available. It said the technology is "market ready" but then said it won't be available until 2009. That likely means the company is waiting for the start of production at its new state-of-the-art PDP plant in Amagasaki, Japan, before commercializing the panels.

The flat-panel TV industry is incredibly competitive and top-tier makers like Panasonic are hoping the thinner sets will give them an advantage over second-tier TV makers which won't have access to the technology until later.

One advantage of the thinner sets is that they will be easier to mount because they are lighter. One of the prototypes at IFA weighed 29 kilograms versus 59 kg for a current model of the same size.

For this reason Panasonic said it is also planning to integrate wireless HD streaming into the sets so that only a power cable needs to be run to the set. That will add even more flexibility in mounting because home entertainment devices, like Blu-ray Disc players, won't need to be set next to the TV.

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