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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 1, 2013 9:22PM
It'll go well with my $600,000 Comcast bill.
Feb 2, 2013 12:13AM
If I hold my ipad real close to my face it looks like it is a 152 inch 
Feb 1, 2013 9:23PM
I'll wait a little bit until the price comes down.
Feb 1, 2013 8:43PM

I could see sports stadiums investing in those.

Feb 1, 2013 11:28PM
It's like Dallas stadium. Now I can watch Jerry Jones suck in super hi def...
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 2, 2013 3:21PM
70" is big enough for my double-wide
Feb 1, 2013 8:41PM
The coolest thing about 4k2k is that it looks 3D because the picture is so clear . . . UltraHD can't get here soon enough!
Feb 2, 2013 2:34AM
Lets see, if you buy 9 50 inch TVs @ $1000 per, and stack them three high and wide (and make sure you get the ones where the picture goes right to the edge with no border on the TV, I'm sure some TV guy could tell you the make and model).
Maybe spend another couple thousand properly mounting them by professionals. I figure if your rich enough to do this you'd hire someone else to do all the work.
Then fork out a couple grand for a decent computer and program  that can split up a TV image and display only portions on each TV (you see where I'm going)
It would only be HD not their 4K2K 'super HD' but the human can't see much beyond 720p anyhow.
And this setup would cost you under $20,000.

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 2, 2013 4:21AM
ill just pull the money from my swiss bank account.
Feb 2, 2013 1:05PM

It's still too small in screen size for me!

I want something at least 200" or more. Aaahhh, technology...!

Feb 2, 2013 2:28AM
If I had $500,000 a TV would be the furthest thing from my mind. How about selling my present home.a few belonings and gather as much cash as I could and then I would settle for a nice as close as I could get ocean front home in La Jolla Calif. To each his own.
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 2, 2013 2:41AM

Neh, Coyboy's Stadium has a 11,200 square foot high def tele that cost $40 MILLION. That's more money than what it cost to build the previous home of the Cowboys, Texas Stadium.


When a TV cvosts more than an entire's BIG, BAD, and took an idiot to commission it's construction. You reading this, Jerry? Get us COACHES and a WINNING TEAM and stuff your television.

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 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 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.

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