Panasonic's 2007 press event Sunday at the CES was devoted primarily to extolling the virtues of the company's television cash cow: plasma HDTVs. It featured numerous presentations covering the myths and realities of plasma, plasma picture quality, and the ways plasma TVs can help you "live in high definition." The press event was a snoozer, but just about my favorite thing at CES this year was the amazing display at the Panasonic booth, which consisted of a pair of 103-inch plasmas dancing on articulated mounts that moved up and down and rotated in synch, displaying video that some how stayed straight, regardless of the screens' angles. It was great.
Stripped of the glitter and hyperbole, Panasonic's actual plasma announcement lacked one essential detail: price (see chart below). The most notable item it did announce was the presence of a pair of new 1080p (1920x1080) native resolution models, at 50- and 58-inches, to complement the existing 1080p resolution TH-50PF9UK. All of the new sets have SD card slots, and the company's new partnership (details about which were vague) with GalleryPlayer allows customers to download HD-resolution still images--of art, for example--to SD cards for display on the big screen.
The company would not confirm one way or the other, but we suspect that the two 700U models, available this summer, will include HDMI 1.3 inputs. People annoyed at the two-tone silver-and-black finish of the 2006 models, like the TH-42PX60U, will be glad to hear that Panasonic has gone with an all-black, glossy finish for the 2007 line. Briefly, the baseline models consist of the 75U series in 42-, 50- and 58-inch sizes, which replaces the current PX60U series. They have 1024x768 (42-inch) and 1366x768 (50- and 58-inch) native resolution and bottom-mounted speakers.
The step-up 77U series has side-mounted speakers and the antiglare coating so popular among plasma makers this year (e.g Samsung and Pioneer), but doesn't have a 58-inch version...yet. The line-topping 700U series, in 50- and 58-inch sizes only, adds "EZ-Synch" HDMI inputs (again, perhaps 1.3), 1080p resolution, and a third design cosmetic.
Finally, the company is carrying over a pair of huge-screen plasmas from 2006, the 65-inch TH-65PX600U and the pimp-my-mansion-worthy TH-103PZ600U.