It wasn't much of a surprise when Panasonic announced its 150-inch plasma at its keynote press conference. We'd been hearing rumours about it for some time, and you can always be sure that CES will bring the usual "ours is bigger than yours" TV punch-up. Still, Panasonic must have been laughing at the rumours, because no one actually managed to guess the little surprise it had up its sleeve.
And what a surprise it was, because it turns out that not only was the Panasonic massive -- it certainly makes the 103-inch model look weedy -- but it is also a 4k-resolution screen. Meaning it has four times the resolution of a 1080p TV. And what makes that even more remarkable is the fact that 4k is the resolution of choice for digital cinema, so this screen really brings a new meaning to the term 'home cinema'.
The full resolution is 4,096x2,160 pixels, which means you couldn't fit a whole movie on a 50GB Blu-ray disc -- you could get just over an hour. So if you were wondering what will be the next format war, prepare yourself for super-Blu-ray and mega-HD DVD in a few years.
We have to admit though, this TV is really very special. The picture quality was simply breathtaking, and at the resolutions involved everything looks very lifelike, apart from the fact that it's magnified to the size of a VW Golf. We certainly wouldn't want to see anything involving spiders, scorpions or snakes on this TV, it would be truly traumatic.
It isn't even just Panasonic that's going all out for the 4k TVs, Sony has one on its stand too. At its CES press conference it claimed that "4k will happen one day", so it's quite clear that sooner or later we'll all be thumbing our noses at 1080p and falling over ourselves to go and pick up a 4k TV.
Of course, there's no pricing or availability information as yet, but if and when it does go into full production, you can bet your bottom dollar it will make the £40,000 of the 103-inch plasma look as tiny as the 103-inch TV does next to this mammoth set. -Ian Morris