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Panasonic announces 58-inch plasmas, Blu-ray player

Panasonic announces 58-inch plasmas, Blu-ray player

Panasonic today announced that it is adding two 58-inch plasma HDTVs to its forthcoming 2006 lineup. Both models feature 1,366x768 resolution and two HDMI inputs that utilize Panasonic's HDAVI control system, which should allow control of multiple HDMI-connected devices via one remote.

With the addition of the two new sets, the TH-58PX600U and the TH-58PX60U, the company will now offer two lines of plasmas with screen sizes of 37, 42, 50, 58, and 65 inches. The two lines are very similar--the less-expensive 60U models lack the CableCard slot and onscreen electronic programming guide found on their pricier counterparts, for instance (see our coverage of Panasonic's previously announced plasma lineup at January's Consumer Electronics Show for more details). Panasonic expects the 58-inch models to be available in the early summer; prices have yet to be set.

While the 1,366x768 resolution of the new 58-inchers is more than enough to resolve every pixel of detail of 720p high-def broadcasts, only the 65- and 103-inch models in Panasonic's line currently boast state-of-the-art 1080p resolution (1,920x1,080), despite the fact that company showed a prototype 1080p 50-incher in Japan last autumn. And we're not really interested in the 103-inch model; even if we believed the company's line that it will be available "later this year," the price would be astronomical--it's more a marketing vehicle than a consumer product.

The company also provided some basic information on its inaugural Blu-ray player, the DMP-BD10. The unit will cost "less than $1,500" and be available in September. By that time, we hope, there will actually be some Blu-ray movies available.