By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY: For a company that is routinely criticised for its premium pricing, Sony has today surprised the industry by releasing a competitively priced new Bravia LCD panel. As competitive as you can get in the $5,000-plus price bracket.

The new KDL52Z5500, shown off for the first time at a media conference this morning, is a 52-inch, Full HD, 200Hz panel, that is set to retail for RRP $5,199. There’s no doubt this is an expensive TV, but considering its standing at the top of the range, and accusations by some media that Sony is too expensive, it’s actually well positioned when compared to rival suppliers.

For example, the comparable Samsung LCD model is the Series 8, 52-inch LA52A850. This model is listed as RRP $6,299. Samsung might say this is a crude comparison, but even if one looks to the previous range, the Series 7, we see that the 52-inch LA52B750 is only $200 cheaper at RRP $4,999.

A comparable LG panel is the 52LG65, from the Scarlet range, which is a 52-inch, 100Hz, Full HD LCD. This model, which was released one year ago, is RRP $5,499. Panasonic do not market LCD panels in this size.

Sony product manager – CTV, Jan Ergen said Sony’s emergence as competitor on price, as well as features and screen technology, is due primarily to economies of scale.

“The good thing about the television market is that people have been willing to buy flat screens around the world, so you can achieve economies of scale by manufacturing more of them and, of course, the technology is maturing, and as technology matures, cost production comes down,” he said.

Ergen also noted that Australia is now very much a flat screen society, and that our enthusiasm for LCD panels is itself leading to price reductions.

“In Australia, it’s very much a large screen market, people like to buy large screen TVs, that’s why we’ve brought [out] the 52-inch Z series.

“More large screens are being bought, and the more people that are demanding the product, the more companies like ourselves are able to manufacture and achieve what is amazing picture quality at an achievable price.

“When you’re talking about $5,199 for a 52-inch 200Hz LCD, it’s a price point people will really like.”