updated 12:35 pm EDT, Tue May 20, 2008
Panasonic PZ850 plasmas
First announced in January, Panasonic's PZ850-series Viera plasmas have at last been given final details, prices and release dates. The sets are luxury models sized in 46, 50, 58 and 65-inch formats, and feature built-in Internet access, allowing users to view YouTube clips or Picasa photos without a separate player or interface. Support for more websites should be added automatically as Panasonic announces them.
Specifications include four HDMI ports, PC input, and a native contrast ratio of 30,000:1, with a maximum dynamic contrast of 1,000,000:1. The sets additionally feature H.264 decoding and built-in SD slots, allowing owners of HD camcorders to watch video immediately and without conversion.
The first 850s should become available in mid-June, beginning with the 46- ($3,100) and 50-inch ($3,500) models. The remaining 58- and 65-inch sets are only expected sometime in the fall, at prices of $4,300 and $8,000, respectively.