Analysis by Patrick Avenell in Melbourne

MELBOURNE, VIC: For the second year in a row, Panasonic has gone to great lengths to launch and promote its new Viera TV range.

At the Melbourne Exhibition Centre this week, media and retailers from across the country are getting their first look at Panasonic’s diverse range of home entertainment products.

In a clear point of differentiation from its Tier 1 competitors, Panasonic is exclusively releasing its 3D solution on plasma.

As written about extensively last week, Samsung is releasing 3D across its plasma, LCD and LED range. Samsung said at its launch that LED LCD was the best screen technology to watch 3D.

Sony, which only manufactures LCD and LED LCD, will obviously not have the opportunity to release plasma 3D.

LG Electronics, which has not yet announced or launched its 3D range, is believed to be in line with its Korean rival, Samsung, in releasing 3D across all platforms.

But today is very much about Panasonic.

There are four new 3D TVs to be released, nine new LCD models and a whopping 13 new (non-3D) plasma screens. In addition, Panasonic today announced its first ever range of LED LCD screens, of which there are five models at launch.

The key words and phrases at today's launch were “immersive”, “highest quality” and “plasma”.

Panasonic is adamant that plasma is the best technology, and it’s prepared to wager that consumers will both wait for its plasma screens (for three months, to be exact) and will pay more than the prices Samsung’s first-to-market screens are currently retailing for.

It's a bold strategy, and one that requires confidence, both in itself and in the consumer.

The internal confidence is built upon Panasonic’s experience in the US.

Panasonic consumer electronics group director, Paul Reid, quoted US newspapers articles that declared Panasonic’s 3D TVs the best on the market. He also cited research from the Consumer Electronics Association that found 50 per cent of consumers were prepared to pay a premium for 3D televisions.

Confidence in the consumer, however, is a harder beast to tame.

The buying public, especially in the age of extreme consumer advocacy, and picky and fickle. To win them over, Panasonic is, in its own words, taking to streets, with a road show to showcase and promote both its 3D TV solutions and 3D technology in general.

It’s somewhat disappointing that consumers and retailers have to wait until June for both Panasonic and Sony to enter the fray at shop level.

Just as the TVs on show are the height of design, technology and entertainment; the battle between the suppliers themselves is set to be just as enthralling.