LAS VEGAS -- Panasonic, part of the Japanese electronics parent company Matsushita Electric (MC), has just introduced a very big plasma TV.

How big, you might ask? How about 150 inches, measured diagonally! That's 12½ feet. Panasonic says it's the biggest plasma TV in the world.

CES '08: The Biggest TV in the World

I've seen it and must admit it's very, very large. It's a lot larger than the 103-inch plasma that was introduced at last year's Consumer Electronics Show. Looking at it another way, it's the same size as nine 50-inch TVs.

Wow!

Some other random facts:
  • The TV boasts four times the resolution of a full, high-definition 1080p monitor.
  • I was told it weighs somewhere between 1,500 and 1,800 pounds. (Please, don't try installing one all by yourself.)
  • Panasonic believes that it will be best used for billboards and displays.
  • No price has been set for the jumbo screen set.
  • If you're interested, it should be available in 2009.

I thought the screen looked good, but not great. Maybe that's because I wasn't standing far enough away. I've heard that, according to experts, you should calculate the optimum flat-screen TV-viewing distance by dividing the screen size by five. Your answer would be in feet.

So if you have a 37-inch screen, the optimal viewing distance is about six feet away. A 60-inch screen would be 12 feet. For a 150-inch screen you should sit 30 feet away for the best-quality picture. That means you need a really big room to fully appreciate such a large-screen TV.

Blu-Ray's Day in the Sun

The other really big news at the show is Blu-ray. Because of Time Warner's ( TWX) decision to choose Blu-ray over the Microsoft-approved HD DVD disc standard, it was hard to find any displays touting HD DVD. There were lots of displays and exhibits touting new products adhering to the Blu-ray standard.

One of the more interesting ones comes from Buffalo Technology, best known for its wired and wireless networking, storage and memory products.

Buffalo has announced the MediaStation Blu-ray HD DVD. It's an external Blu-ray and HD DVD player. But more importantly, it is the first stand-alone device that allows users to both read and write Blu-ray content.

It provides the ability to save high-definition content, giving users an all-in-one solution to meet their entertainment needs. Users can also connect the player to a notebook or other mobile device via USB and view their favorite video content while on the go.

Sounds pretty cool.

Buffalo's Blu-ray HD DVD box will be available in the first quarter of this year at an estimated price of $650. I can't wait to try one.

Losing Its Edge

Two days into this massive show I've noticed something. There's not that much revolutionary or even very new and interesting here. Most of the thousands of square feet of show space is filled with hundreds of tiny Asian companies that make knock-offs of some very popular consumer-electronics designs.

For instance, how many replica iPods, iPhones, iPod docks, and USB memory drives can you stop and look at for over an hour? Or a few hours? Or a few days?

The Dumbest Thing I Saw @ CES: Day 3

Believe me, it takes long hours and a lot of legwork for experienced journalists to find interesting and innovating items to tell you about. CES seems to be losing its relevance to the industry.

Then add the incredibly high costs for companies to display their new goods -- as well as the astronomical prices attendees must now pay to travel and stay in Las Vegas. Some big companies are saving money by bypassing the actual show floor and moving their displays to nearby hotel suites.

That's not a good sign.

No wonder that the people who run the Consumers Electronic Show are threatening to move the entire exposition out of Las Vegas after the contract with the city ends in 2011.

They better do something -- and do it quickly.

With 34 years experience as a journalist -- the last 27 with NBC -- Gary Krakow has seen all the best and worst technology that's come along. Gary joined MSNBC.com before it actually went online in July 1996. He produced and anchored the first live Webcast of a presidential election in November 1996. With a background as a gadget freak, audiophile and ham radio operator, Krakow started writing reviews for both Audio and Stereophile Magazines in the 80s. Once at MSNBC.com, Krakow started writing a column to help feed his personal passion for playing with gadgets of all types, shapes and sizes. Within a short time, that column became a major force in many electronics industries -- audio, video, photography, GPS and cell phones. Readership soared, and manufacturers told him they had actual proof that a positive review in his column sold thousands of their products. Many electronics manufacturers have used quotes from his reviews in their sales literature as well as on their Web sites. There have also been a few awards too, including Emmys in the 70s, 80s and 90s.

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