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Clash of the flat-panel titans

Clash of the flat-panel titans

Live from CEDIA
It appears that competition in the ultra-high-end, supergigantic flat-panel television arena is reaching a fever pitch. Possibly in an attempt to solidify its self-affixed reputation as the "next elite brand," Samsung will ship its hand-built, 80-inch plasma, announced at CES, in early October. It will see "very limited" distribution and cost "no less than $100,000," according to the company's flat-panel rep. He mentioned that (formerly P.) Diddy and (formerly VP) Al Gore are on a waiting list to preorder sets for themselves.

Not to be outdone, LG said that it's also shipping its hand-built plasma from CES in November, this one measuring 71 inches diagonally and costing $75,000. Of course, at 9 diagonal inches smaller and $25 grand less than Samsung's offering, LG's high-end TV has probably been outdone in any case. The company didn't even leak a list of celebrity pre-buyers.

Moving down the line, Sharp confirmed that it will ship a $21,000, 65-inch flat-panel LCD TV in November, another CES announcement and to date the world's largest flat-panel LCD to hit stores. For those keeping score at home, that's still 10 times more expensive than most of us can afford, though still less than the difference in cost between Samsung and LG's hulking behemoths.

Samsung showed sympathy for the plebeians who can afford televisions in only the five-digit price range by confirming the availability (again, before year's end) of two big-screen flat-panel LCDs announced at CES. The 57-inch LNR579D should retail for a measly $20,000, while the LNR460D, a 46-inch model that uses LED backlighting, will sell for $15,000. Samsung decided to scrap its third-backlight technology, known as flat fluorescent lamp (FFL) and mentioned at CES in the LNR4909D; instead, that set uses standard backlighting.