Reuters News Services
Updated: 6:18 a.m. PT July 10, 2006
TOKYO - Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd., the maker of Panasonic brand electronics, said on Monday it planned to launch the world's largest plasma television by the end of the year.
Measuring 2.4 meters by 1.4 meters (94 by 55 in) and weighing 215 kg (473 lb.), the 103-inch (measured diagonally) panel is bigger than a double-sized mattress and almost as heavy as an upright piano.
The world's largest consumer electronics maker has yet to set the price, but Matsushita's 65-inch plasma TVs, its largest available now, sell for about $7,500 in Japan.
The plasma panel used in the Matsushita TV will be just one-inch larger measured diagonally than a 102-inch model developed by Samsung SDI Co. Ltd. The South Korean company has not launched the model commercially.
Matsushita is the world's largest plasma TV maker competing with smaller rivals such as South Korea's LG Electronics Inc.
As liquid crystal display TVs encroach on the market for 40-inch TVs and above -- which had previously seen as plasma TV's turf -- developing even larger-sized panels is important for plasma TV makers to remain competitive.
Matsushita also said it had started taking orders for the 103-inch panels in the United States for business use, such as studio monitors at broadcasting companies and electronic billboards, and planned to deliver them from this autumn.
Matsushita aims to sell 5,000 units of 103-inch panels a year, with TV demand accounting for little less than 20 percent, which can be calculated into annual sales of some 1,000 103-inch TVs.
The new panels will meet full high-definition specifications, meaning they can produce images at the highest standard of 1,920 by 1,080 pixels of resolution.
Osaka-based Matsushita controlled 21.6 percent of the global plasma TV market in the January-March quarter, followed by LG Electronics with 17.8 percent, according to DisplaySearch.
Shares of Matsushita closed up 1.5 percent at 2,390 yen, outstripping the Tokyo stock market's electrical machinery index IELEC, which gained 1.2 percent.