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The $500,000 TV

Even if you happen to have the cash and the space to accommodate the set, experts still say to proceed with caution.

By MSN Money Partner Feb 1, 2013 5:30PM

This post comes from Charles Passy at partner site MarketWatch.


MarketWatch logoIf that 55-inch TV set you bought last year suddenly doesn't measure up to your game-day fantasies, consider this Super Bowl-size alternative: A 152-inch one, yours for a cool half-million.


San Francisco 49ers' Colin Kaepernick (7) celebrates with Leonard Davis and Daniel Kilgore after the NFL football NFC championship game. (© Dave Martin/AP Photo)That's the price tag on Panasonic's model TH-152UX1, billed as the "world's largest, 4K2K plasma display" (we'll get to that 4K2K part in a minute). The set is indeed massive -- equivalent to nine 50-inch screens and weighing in at a whopping 1,272 pounds. (For one installation at a restaurant, a forklift was used to put the TV in place.)


The pitch

But Panasonic says it's not just about size; it's also about picture quality The 4K2K refers to the resolution -- meaning 4,096 by 2,160 pixels. In other words, it can deliver four times the resolution of a standard high-definition set, says Rick Albert, a Panasonic vice president. Albert adds that the resolution is key for commercial purposes, such as using the set to display graphics or charts at large gatherings. Indeed, the set's target market is the business crowd, not the high-end homeowner.


But Panasonic will sell to individuals as well. In fact, the set, which was first introduced in 2009, got a lot of buzz when Harrods, the famed British luxury-goods retailer, starting offering it.


Panasonic won't give sales figures -- and, by the way, that $500,000 price doesn't include installation -- but the company reveals that the sets are going everywhere from bars and restaurants to the 39th floor of an office building. Put another way, there's big business in really, really big TVs. "Sales of the 152 have exceeded our expectations," says Albert.

The reality

Obviously, most couch potatoes aren't prepared to shell out all their retirement savings for a new TV -- and Panasonic readily asserts they needn't do so. The company points to a 50-inch plasma set -- model ST50 -- it offers for under $1,000. There's also the issue of size: 152 inches of television is far too big to be viewed properly in most homes. Experts recommend a set of only 40 inches to 80 inches if you're viewing it from a distance of 10 feet. As the tech-oriented site Gizmodo warned about the Panasonic behemoth: "Just remember to sit a safe distance from the screen to prevent eye strain. Cleveland should do."


But if you happened to have the cash and the space to accommodate the set, experts still say to proceed with caution. For starters, at this point, commercial TV programming isn't transmitted at the high resolution the set offers. Buying a high-def set today "is a bit like buying a color TV in the black-and-white era," says Joe Kane, a TV-calibration expert.


Additionally, there's always a concern about image "burn-in" with plasma. "It doesn't matter how much it costs, plasma is plasma," says Sean Aune, the editor-in-chief of TechnoBuffalo, a gadget-review site.


Panasonic's Albert disagrees with some of the criticisms, saying that the set's picture quality still makes it ideal "for use in a boardroom or large conference room for high-resolution graphics" and that burn-in is essentially a non-issue for the brand at this point. "We are on our 14th- or 15th-generation plasma displays, and the materials used are far more resistant to burn-in than the first generations," says Albert.


It's also worth noting that higher-resolution TV programming is likely to be a reality at some point in the not-too-distant future. "Eventually, the broadcasts will catch up to 4K, and our cable companies will be able to pipe more data into our homes," says calibration expert Kane.


More from MarketWatch and MSN Money:


Feb 2, 2013 1:14AM
Let me explain the absurdity of this. Firstly that new resolution although visually stunning is a long way off from being commercially available. Cable and satellite providers are notorious for taking their time in adapting to higher resolution formats for purely profit driven reasons as the amount of data that these super high resolutions demand cuts into advertising space on their broadcasting bandwidth. Eventually blu-ray manufacturers will be the first to roll out 2k  players along with the compatible displays . But in this fickle consumer market who wants to buy completely new gear ? Also to add insult to injury one has to  replace all their old lesser resolution blu-ray discs to  new 2k discs, not to mention that sometime in the future the 4k resolution will also become commercially viable and everyone will be expected to buy new equipment all over again.Today's market can get you at a minimum a 110 inch plus  screen along with a state of the art front projector for a fraction of the cost of this behemoth.  No thanks even if I could afford it !!!!
Feb 2, 2013 12:13AM
If I hold my ipad real close to my face it looks like it is a 152 inch 
Feb 2, 2013 12:10AM
well hell iw illtake 2, one for the bedroom and one for teh bathroom.might as well get another one for the lving room,f okay so what if i livein a travel trailer? they w ill fit with some minor adjustments
Feb 1, 2013 11:28PM
It's like Dallas stadium. Now I can watch Jerry Jones suck in super hi def...
Feb 1, 2013 11:22PM
if you can afford the $500,000 for the tv,youre not watching the damn thing,its just being able to say you have one to all youre friends at the $100,000 dollars a round golf course,,,,,,,,bon appetit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Feb 1, 2013 11:13PM
when does this stop; they want to turn the world into lazy, obedient, mindless, couch-potato drones. 
Feb 1, 2013 11:11PM
seems over priced for something you could get for a few thou. new projector and screen tvs have really good pictures now days
Feb 1, 2013 10:54PM
Very good technology has existed for years that will provide a spectacular picture for those who want a ginormous picture - it's called a front projector.  JVC has plenty of models that can look excellent when properly set up, and I can guarantee you can buy some nice window treatments to make the room dark during the day for a little less than the $488,000 to 465,000 you'll have left over before you buy a screen. Another benefit, you move, it's a small box that weighs under 20 lbs - the plasma is staying as part of the house.....
Feb 1, 2013 10:52PM
That's awsome.  I wonder how the heat of the TV is.  Plasma televisions get HOT if you have them on to long at least the ones I have seen.  The bitch of it is though if I had the money I would probably get it.  >_<
Feb 1, 2013 9:56PM
Should not have to watch athletes makin 20M / yr. on anything less.  Has to be some perspectives, plus it makes their heads bigger than media machine could ever dream of.
Feb 1, 2013 9:43PM
Additionally, there's always a concern about image "burn-in" with plasma. "It doesn't matter how much it costs, plasma is plasma," Baloney. I've had a Sony Plasma TV in my office for 7 years that is on 12+ hours a day, and I STILL get compliments on how awesome the picture is. WS6 TransAm
, I own one too...and you are totally wrong when you say "Plasma TVs suck". Come see mine , it will change your mind.

Feb 1, 2013 9:26PM
I have a 42" new TV that cost 299 and I just love it.  It's certainly big enough.  My house isn't a movie theater.  Somehow I can't imagine spending 500,000 on a tv unless it's at a concert or something to accommodate those in the nosebleed area.
Feb 1, 2013 9:23PM
I'll wait a little bit until the price comes down.
Feb 1, 2013 9:22PM
It'll go well with my $600,000 Comcast bill.
Feb 1, 2013 8:46PM
I heard that Obama's new motto is, "A 155" plasma in every living room, if you don't have the money to buy one, the government, who doesn't want you to suffer poor self esteem will buy you one." And if you don't have a wall big enough to hang one , one will be built for you."
Feb 1, 2013 8:43PM

I could see sports stadiums investing in those.

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