By Martin Vedris

SYDNEY: With 4.5 billion people expected to be watching these Beijing Olympics Games, Panasonic has ensured it will capture a big slice of the viewing action, literally.

Panasonic loves its big screens. The company’s ‘world’s largest’ 150-inch plasma TV, shown at the CES show this January, is testament to this. With large price tags however (around US$150,000), the larger the screen, the smaller the potential market.

So while they are not going to generate huge revenues for a company, the super large screens are mainly a show of a company’s technical capabilities.

Sharp had created what it called the ‘world’s biggest’ TV with its 108-inch LCD Aquos, until the 150-inch Panasonic plasma dwarfed it this year. It is the equivalent of nine 50-inch panels and has a resolution four times greater than 1080p.

However, some screens are simply too big, they’re definitely not for consumers, and that’s the case with Panasonic’s Astrovision screens. These screens are the type you see at sports stadiums. Currently Panasonic Astrovision screens are located in situ at prime viewing sites such as Times Square in New York, the San Fransisco Giants stadium and currently at 18 venues at the Beijing Olympics.

Panasonic has installed 25 Astrovision screens across 18 venues at the Beijing Games. The company says that the screens can reproduce over one billion colour variations and have a 140° horizontal viewing angle.

The smaller Astrovision screens are 15.75 sqm, measuring 4.5 m wide by 3.5 m high, while the largest screens measure 16.5 m wide by 9.2 m high, for a massive area of 151.8 sqm.

In terms of sound, Panasonic has also developed its RAMSA (Research for Advanced Music Sound and Acoustics) professional audio systems. The company has installed 284 of these audio systems at 41 venues at these Beijing Games.

For anyone at home watching the action on their TV screens, you might miss out on the action live at the venue, and the massive screens and the huge sound, but there is still plenty of HD coverage. Panasonic said that the footage of the Beijing Games is expected to exceed the 35,000 hours of global coverage broadcast from the Athens Games in 2004.