Matsushita Plans to Sell 103-Inch Plasma TV

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. (MC), the maker of Panasonic brand electronics, said on Monday it hoped to start selling the world's largest plasma television by early next year.

Measuring 2.4 meters by 1.4 meters and weighing 215 kg (about 8 feet by 4½ feet and 475 pounds), the 103-inch 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 (LCD) TVs encroach on the market for 40-inch TVs and above — which had previously been seen as plasma TV's turf — developing even larger-sized panels is important for plasma TV makers to remain competitive.

Sharp Corp. plans to bring on stream the world's first plant that cuts LCD panels from eighth-generation glass in October.

Eighth-generation glass is bigger than seventh-generation glass now used by Sony Corp. (SNE) and Samsung in their joint venture, and allows LCD makers to produce large-sized panels economically.

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 the 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, which gained 1.2 percent.