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Panasonic's 150-inch plasma TV part of Japan's push at CES

Big TVs from Panasonic and slim ones from other vendors will highlight the products from Japan at CES.

Japan Inc. will put on the hard sell at the Consumer Electronics Show next week.

Panasonic is expected to unveil a 150-inch plasma television during a keynote speech Monday by Toshihiro Sakamoto, president of the Panasonic Audio Visual Networks Company. (Matsushita Electric goes by Panasonic in the U.S.) Sakamoto, a new speaker to the CES keynote circuit, is also expected to unveil a number of other products during his speech.

Rival Hitachi, meanwhile, will show off a series of ultraslim LCD TVs that have yet to be exhibited in the U.S. The 32-inch TVs, shown first at Ceatec outside of Tokyo last October, measure 19 millimeters wide. These TVs are expected to come out in 2009. In the meantime, Hitachi plans to release a series of 35-millimeter-wide TVs in 2008. Several Executives from Hitachi, which is making a push to expand market share in the U.S., will also attend the show.

Sharp and JVC, which showed off similar slim LCDs at Ceatec, will likely bring them to CES for a U.S. debut as well. Expect other slim TVs too. And, as usual, Sony will be there with a host of products and execs.

Back in 2004, traditional electronics manufacturers were besieged by competition from PC makers and small companies such as Westinghouse Digital entering their field. "Five or six years ago it was a peaceful marketplace, now people from the outside are coming in like hunting tribes," Hideki "Dick" Komiyama, then president and chief operating officer of Sony Electronics, said in 2004. (Komiyama is now president of Sony Ericsson.)

The onslaught didn't turn out exactly as anticipated. Companies like Westinghouse and Vizio have succeeded, but Dell and Hewlett-Packard have not done as well as expected in electronics. Moreover, members of the old guard like Panasonic and Sharp are still standing and in some respects are becoming more aggressive in terms of pricing and product design.