Coming Soon: A Shaq-Sized Plasma TV - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

7/21/06

Coming Soon: A Shaq-Sized Plasma TV

There is no question that electronics are taking over our lives. Now, thanks to Panasonic, one television will actually take over your living room.

Measuring 103 inches diagonally - or roughly the size of 7-foot-tall Shaquille O'Neal - Panasonic's new high-definition plasma TV is the largest available to U.S. consumers.

But the gargantuan monitor arrives at a time when many experts say fewer people in the U.S. are spending the big bucks needed for next generation TVs. And, with a price tag of $69,999.95, it's safe to say that this TV will not be flying off the shelves or saving slumping high-definition TV sales.

"It's not a mainstream product, that's for sure," said Michael Gartenberg, vice president and research director with Jupiter Research in New York. "It's not an impulse purchase."

Consumers Better Start Saving

The large screen and high price may be unwelcome among consumers, many of whom are holding off on making large electronic purchases, analysts say.

Despite this trend, Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis at the NPD Group, says there is strong growth in the plasma TV industry, and at a certain point, consumers will just have to dig deep and make the investment. "We'll reach a point where the technology just demands a certain amount of investment," Rubin said. "They will continue to be more expensive than most sets in American homes today."

In February 2009, consumers won't have much choice. That's when the Federal Communications Commission has mandated that all analog broadcasts cease.

Though the prices of high-definition TV technology, such as plasma, LCD and DLP, have dropped considerably in the last few years, they're still expensive. That, coupled with the space requirements for these units, may be factors affecting the market.

Who's Gonna Buy This Thing?

The enormity of Panasonic's new monster-sized TV begs the question: Who needs a television quite this big?

"Panasonic didn't create the world's largest plasma TV as a technology demo for a trade show," said Andrew Nelkin, Panasonic's display group vice president in a press release. "We created it because, as worldwide sales of plasma TVs continue on a meteoric rise, the market is seeking bigger displays on which people can experience high-definition lifestyles."


But Rubin says he can't imagine that a 103-inch TV is meant for personal use and figures it will most likely be used for commercial applications.

"Clearly this is something that can provide a cinematic experience and the size would overwhelm the average living room," Rubin said. "This is probably something considered for...a corporate theater kind of environment."

Gatenberg thinks Panasonic's intentions in releasing the television are multi-faceted. He says the company now enjoys the bragging rights to manufacturing the world's largest plasma television. Also, the gadget highlights the technological advancements by the industry over the past year.

But, Gartenberg says, plasma technology in general holds a special place in the hearts of consumers and Panasonic wants everyone to know that they're making them.

"It creates an aspiration sense within the mainstream," Gatenberg explained. "I may not be able to afford a 103-inch TV, but maybe the 42-inch or 30-inch is at my price point. There is a technology halo associated with the purchase."

The television will be built to order and will be available from high-end electronics retailers this December, Panasonic said.

Start saving.

Source: ABC News

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