Matsushita to sell 42-inch plasma TV


TOKYO - Panasonic maker Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. said on Tuesday it planned to launch the world's first 42-inch plasma TVs with full high definition panels on April 27 in Japan.

Matsushita hopes to challenge liquid crystal display TV makers by providing a better lineup of full high definition models, which can produce images with a resolution of 1,920 by 1,080 pixels.

Matsushita is the world's largest plasma TV maker and competes with Sony Corp., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Sharp Corp. in the $84 billion flat TV market.

Plasma TV makers already offer 50-inch and larger full high-definition models, but it has been difficult and often costly to pack this technology into smaller models.

Rival LCD TV makers already offer some full high definition models in the sub 50-inch market.

The 42-inch TVs from Matsushita are expected to sell for ¥410,000 to ¥430,000 ($3,449-$3,617), the Osaka-based company said.

It plans to manufacture 25,000 units of them a month for the domestic market. The Japan launch will soon be followed by overseas debuts.

Matsushita's plasma TV sales came to an equivalent of about 4 million 42-inch models in the year ended March 31, and the company aims to boost those sales by 50% to 6 million units in the current business year, a company spokesman said.

Matsushita, which controls one-third of the global plasma TV market according to DisplaySearch, plans to bring its $1.5 billion plasma display plant onstream by summer 2007 to take on the LCD camp.

Matsushita also plans to spend $2.4 billion to build the world's largest plasma display factory, doubling the capacity of its existing plants, including the one due to come on line this summer.

Matsushita shares closed down 1.6% at ¥2,445, underperforming the Tokyo stock market's electrical machinery index IELEC, which lost 0.57%.