Once again, Panasonic has move the goalposts in the “Mine Is Bigger than Yours” contest. The latest is a 145-inch diagonal plasma television; that’s more than 12 feet from corner to corner. According to a news report by Tech-On, the behemoth was a joint effort with NHK (Japan Broadcasting System) and was produced in one of Panasonic’s idle plasma panel fabrication lines. It’s not a big surprise that NHK is involved, because they have been at the forefront of higher-than-1080p resolutions for a long time.
There are several points of interest about this demonstration. First and foremost is the resolution; the panel has 7,680 by 4,320 pixels. I’ve done the math for you already, and that is the equivalent of sixteen 1080p resolution panels tiled together. The tiled panels would be only about 36-inches diagonal apiece, which is on the small size for current plasma products. As a result, the display has a pixel pitch of 60 ppi, which is smaller than a typical 42-inch plasma. This means that each sub-pixel is smaller and has less surface area for phosphors, which would mean that the panel can emit less light per pixel. This is one of the limitations of plasma technology.
One detail that is a surprise is that Panasonic engineers have come up with a way to divide up the scanning signals for these panels. Apparently they scan multiple horizontal lines at the same time, in order to refresh the 4,320 lines without flickering.
Finally, the article quotes Yoshio Ito, director of Display Devices Business Group and senior vice president at AVC Network Co, Panasonic: “It is possible to experience video with realistic sensations from a distance of 1.6 meters, which is the optimal viewing distance.” That’s just over five feet, folks. (That’s just about the distance that I’d recommend for a 36″ 1080p screen, which would have the same pixel size.) So I don’t want to hear any more complaints when I recommend a bigger screen for your viewing distance; here’s the SVP from Panasonic saying that five feet from a 12-foot diagonal screen is “optimal.”