By Matthew Henry

SYDNEY: NEC’s Australian subsidiary will bring back a 32-inch plasma to the Australian market this Christmas to offer consumers a sub-$1000 flat panel TV option at the popular 32-inch screen size.

LG Electronics also recently announced it will be revisiting 32-inch plasma panels – a screen size which went out of vogue years ago – but will not introduce the model in Australia.

NEC product manager – audiovisual, Paul Cunningham, believes there is still a big market locally for 32-inch flat panel TVs, and although the company’s new model will be a standard definition VGA panel with 852×480 resolution and HD digital tuner, it will have a price advantage over similar-sized LCD TVs.

“We feel that with a $999 recommended retail price, that there will be an opportunity to sell a 32-inch plasma in the market,” said Cunningham.

“How long its product life will be is hard to say, but we feel it is worth a shot. Our target is for a pre-Christmas or Boxing Day launch, and we think that at its price point it does offer another option to the consumer who just wants a 32-inch flat panel TV at a price point. The majority of consumers are not thinking about plasma vs LCD, they just want a flat panel.”

NEC will continue to focus on LCD in the 32-inch screen size as its key offering, but Cunningham believes the 32-inch plasma – which is styled like an LCD – will be a complementary offering in the range.

“Particularly with panel prices rising in LCD due to shortages, you cannot buy a 32-inch LCD for the same price point," he said.

"True, the resolution is lower with the plasma but it still has some of those characteristics that people look for in a plasma, like good fast moving images. Even though there has been a lot of advancement in LCD, I think plasma may still have a little bit of an edge in terms of picture quality in some areas.”

NEC will also update its plasma range this month with two new models featuring a better panel and a new picture enhancement processor, delivering a boost in contrast and better picture quality.

The existing D1 models will be replaced by the aesthetically identical D2 series models in 42-inch and 50-inch, which see contrast ratio jump from 10,000:1 up to 15,000:1 along with general picture improvements thanks to the new processor.

For more information on the plasma TV category, see the annual plasma feature in the next issue of Appliance Retailer magazine.