By Matthew Henry

SYDNEY: Samsung will launch the follow-up to the celebrated R7 LCD TV series at its AV Roadshow event in Sydney tonight, the R8 series, which boasts a distinctive new cabinet design and comes in sizes up to 46 inches.

According to Samsung, the R8 series has big shoes to fill and will be one of the focal points of the company’s 2007 TV range, which will be officially launched tonight and rolled out over the next few weeks.

Sales of Samsung’s 12-month-old R7 LCDs topped three million units worldwide last year – a sales record which makes it the most popular LCD television to date.

“It has been the best-selling LCD worldwide and quite convincingly so,” said Samsung AV marketing manager, Michael Apte.

“Locally, it was the number one selling LCD TV in 2006 and it is still the number one selling TV and currently holds the number one, number two and number three positions in the LCD market in units.”

The 32-inch R8 will retail for $2,199, while the 40-inch R8 will retail for $3,299 – the same pricing of its current range but with upgraded performance and design.

Samsung will also launch its new flagship full HD resolution M8 series LCDs tonight, featuring 1920x1080p resolution, Super Clear Panel and a built-in HD digital tuner.

“We think this year 1080p will be the key growth engine in the market. Certainly if you look at the US, it went from six per cent 1080p to over 50 per cent 1080p in just over 12 weeks as a proportion of the total LCD market in units. From an Australian perspective, we are early technology adopters and we tend to buy ahead to be future proof. And you can see it starting to take off even with very limited players in that 1080p space, so this is our gambit to take 1080p mainstream,” said Apte.

Samsung will also display its first 1080p resolution plasmas, the 50-inch and 63-inch P series.