3DTV: Panasonic’s Next Top Model

Panasonic NZ expects to be selling two Full-HD 3D-capable Viera plasma TVs here by July/August.

TV and Blu-ray products manager Grant Shaw told ScreenScribe.tv initially two sizes will be offered: 50 inches and 65 inches.

Pricing hasn’t been disclosed but the premium they’ll command won’t be as steep as that of Panasonic’s wireless Z1 plasma ($10,000) over the company’s comparable wired models in the V series (the 50-inch costs $4000 and the 58-inch, $8000).

Shaw isn’t bothered by statements from Sky TV boss John Fellet that he has “no friggin’ idea” when the satcaster will broadcast in 3D here, even though Britain’s BSkyB will offer a 3D channel from April and Australia’s Foxtel plans one for next year.

Instead, he argues consumers will be buying an exceptional 2D display that has 3D as a feature.

They will be among the first Panasonic sets to benefit from the input of the engineers who made Kuro plasma TVs hands-down the best in the world until Pioneer quit their production.

Moreover, to deliver 3D images, Panasonic’s had to develop new, faster screen phosphors. Coupled with their 600Hz sub-field drive, the new displays output alternating imagery at 60 frames a second to each eye. The brain then combines the images and interprets them as 3D.

“Our factories have worked very hard at improving plasma technology,” Shaw says. “So even if you don’t run 3D [content], they’re still superb 2D sets.”

He acknowledges broadcast content will be scarce and that initially the only Full-HD 3D product will be on Blu-ray movies.

Panasonic will launch its first 3D Blu-ray player at the same time as the Viera TVs. Walt Disney has announced its first slate of 3D Blu-ray movies and you can bet the blockbuster that’s driven excitement about 3D at home, Avatar, won’t be far behind.

Both the 3D player and plasma TV won Innovations Awards at the Consumer Electronics Show, and Panasonic will include a pair of its 3D shutter glasses with every TV it sells.

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