Pitching enhanced picture and sound quality, Panasonic is set to launch a host of plasma and LCD flat panel TVs into the Australian market in mid-September.
The visual entertainment products, dubbed Viera, have successfully been launched in the Japan, North American and European markets, Panasonic Australia managing director, Toshiro Kisaka, said.
“There’s a worldwide surge in flat panel TVs," Kisaka said. "In Japan, it captured 20 per cent of all TVs sold in 2003.”
It would bulge to 48 per cent by the year 2005.
The Australian product launch will include four widescreen flat panel TVs ranging from a 26-inch LCD to a 50-inch plasma.
The technology incorporates high definition (HD) TV (users can watch digital TV via an optional HD digital receiver), a Secure Digital (SD) memory card slot and a PC card slot, category marketing manager of visual products, consumer electronics, Ritchie Djamhur, said.
“Viera is a new design and visual experience that goes beyond the simple monitor format, combining picture, sound and connectivity technology,” Djamhur said.
The launch addressed the trend towards offering consumers a home entertainment centrepiece, he said.
Beefing up on connectivity, the models allowed users to view images taken on a digital camera or camcorder, and also connect games consoles, Djamhur said.
The PC input, meanwhile, lets users connect the panel to a laptop and use it as a computer monitor.
On the plasma front, Djamhur said key features include the addition of the real black drive system, which reduces emissions when reproducing black; an acuity core, which reduces the halo effect around high-contrast edges; and the addition of an integrated smart sound speaker system, which uses wide speakers at the left and right of the screen.
“The flat panel market has gone from the aspirational to the accessible,” Djamhur said.
Sixty thousand units had been sold in the last 12 months in Australia (representing $300 million). This figure was expected to jump to 150,000 units next year.
In Australia, more than 350,000 consumers have the capacity to receive digital TV - a figure which was expected to double in the next 12 months, he said.
As part of the distribution strategy, Panasonic was taking the message to mass merchants over the next four weeks, Panasonic Australia consumer electronics director, Geoff Hannaford, said.
While the identity of the merchants was still under wraps, the company planned to assist retailers with instore displays of the plasma and LCD technology, he said.
Resellers - including niche integrators and traditional dealers - were also on the radar screen, Hannaford said.
The company wanted to help partners take advantage of the digital convergence trend.