The epic battle between plasma and LCD manifests itself in numerous ways--Hz oneupsmanship, contrast ratio and viewing angle specs, lifespan claims--but until now, panel depth was a frontier comfortably dominated by LCD, with ultrathin models like the Hitachi UT37X902. Now Samsung and Panasonic aim to claim that frontier themselves, the latter with the new inch-thick Z1.
Panasonic's press material uses the term "Z1 series," which indicates to us that the company is planning other screen sizes with inch-deep panels. But for now the only size the company sees fit to announce is the 54-inch TC-P54Z1, due in summer for an undisclosed, but surely sizable, chunk of change.
Thin panels pose a number of design quandaries, such as where to connect the cables. Panasonic solves the problem by supplying a separate AV box, with a tuner and connections like HDMI and component-video, which streams audio, video, and control signals to the panel wirelessly. The company uses a 60GHz millimeter wave radio system that sounds similar to the one employed by LG for its wireless displays, and like LG claims the ability to transmit full, uncompressed 1080p video.
Aside from Digital Cinema Color, the Z1 incorporates all of the features of the thicker V10 models, including improved 24p compatibility, VieraCast; the power-saving, high-contrast, NEO PDP panel; "infinite black;" and a 600Hz sub-field drive. Check out our V10 series write-up for more details.