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Panasonic Prices 3D Plasmas for U.S. Roll-out

MULTIPLE CITIES: Panasonic has priced its new line of plasma 3DTVs for a full U.S. roll out. The move comes after a limited introduction in March when the 3D-capable models were snapped up. Panasonic and other TV manufacturers are concurrently staging 3DTV deployments in the U.K. market.

The Tokyo consumer electronics maker is offering four sizes of a new Viera model plasma set with active-shutter type 3D capability. The 50- and 54-inch models, priced at $2,600 and $3,000 respectively, will become available next week. The 58- and 65-inch models are priced at $3,400 and $4,300 respectively for a June roll-out. All models will come with one set of Panasonic 3D Active Shutter glasses; additional eyewear will run $150. (More set specs.)

TV manufacturers started introducing 3D sets into the U.S. market in March. Samsung was the first with a $2,600, 46-incher and a $3,300 55-incher available through online retail outlets. Panasonic made an event of its U.S. 3DTV introduction with an unveiling at a Best Buy specialty Magnolia store in New York on March 10. The 50-inch Viera 3D set was bundled into a home theater system.

Panasonic reported the 3D home theater systems sold out within a week, though it didn’t say how many systems had been made available. The brisk sales was enough to motivate the company to increase production of 3DTV sets by 30 percent, Financial Timessaid. Panasonic will introduce its 3DTV sets into the U.K. market next week, where the Samsung was again first out of the gate with a $12.4 million ad campaign. The Guardian even reported the name of the Brit who bought the first 3DTV system there. That would be one Matt Rajah, a 38-year-old East Londoner.

For the time being, Rajah will have to watch 3D DVDs. Satellite TV provider BSkyB won’t be launching its 3DTV channel until later this year. It recently commissioned a feature for the channel, “Flying Monsters 3D” to be narrated by David Attenborough, Hollywood Reportersaid.

Other TV manufacturers are staging U.K. 3DTV introductions. Sony has announced a June roll-out for its 3D Bravias with integrated Freeview HD tuners. For a limited time, Sony will also offer free 3D upgrades of certain game titles for PlayStation3 owners, Unbeatable said. LG’s U.K. 3D strategy hasn’t been publicized, but its high-end Infinia LED 3DTVs are coming to U.S. shores next month. -- Deborah D. McAdams

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