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Industry tumult to bring cheaper flat TVs

Panasonic may be about to abandon its plans for world domination through giant plasma TVs.

The confusing world of flat-panel television sets is about to get a whole lot more mixed up if reports from Japan about the plans of major manufacturers are to be believed.

Just over a week after reportedly scrapping plans to make OLED TVs with Toshiba, Matsushita - AKA Panasonic - is in talks with

Hitachi

to make large LCD sets instead. The move has been prompted by fierce competition among producers of flat-screen TVs, particularly LCDs larger than 40 inches.

Plasma on the slide

Panasonic has long been investing in large plasma sets like the 103-inch jumbo pictured above, but the unexpected growth in sales of large LCDs has seen plasma sales dip, leaving the company with the double headache of misdirected investment and a lack of LCD know-how.

But it gets worse - at the same time, Panasonic and Canon are cosying up to yet another part of Hitachi, Hitachi Displays, looking for a stake in that venture. Confusingly, that would see all concerned working on small LCD televisions and - believe it or not - OLEDs as well.

Considering that worldwide sales of LCD TVs are expected to boom by 85 per cent to over $90 billion (£45 billion) by 2010, one thing's for sure - we're about to get more choice at lower prices, which can only be good for the man in the street. Bring it on.