There aren’t many things that are bigger than China – there’s Russia, and Canada by a nose, but no-one by population, added to the fact that their manufacturing seems to be conquering the known world. So it’s a welcome sight when our Japanese friends, Panasonic, decide to grace Australia with a product that beats the Chinese at their own (Olympic) game.
Recently installed at opposite ends of the ANZ Stadium in Sydney, Panasonic’s brand new ‘Astrovision’ high definition LED screens are absolute giants and the largest anywhere in the world. Measuring 10 metres high by 23 metres across, which is the same size as three cricket pitches laid side by side, each of the Astrovision panels dwarfs the ones installed in the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing for last year’s Olympic Games.
Why no LCD?
And ‘LED’ isn’t a spelling mistake on our part. Neither plasma nor LCD, the massive televisions use high intensity light emitting diode technology (LED) to produce a far brighter image than normal, with excellent colour fidelity. They also allow for greater contrast, which is ideal for countering all the ambient light in the outdoor environment.
Panasonic launched the LED screens late last year and claims that the composition of the displays is a key selling point, allowing the company to dominate the commercial sector in providing such large displays. Comprising hundreds of individual LED units, their configuration can easily be changed to suit quite specific requirements. They’re both linked to the ANZ Stadium control centre via high bandwidth fibre optics, can be hooked into a LAN for remote operation and will accept images broadcast in resolutions up to 1080i.
Chop and change
With a 21:9 aspect ratio and a viewing angle that hits 145 degrees to accommodate the crowds, one of the most attractive features of the new Astrovision screens, aside from their sheer size, is the ability to ‘chop up’ the panel into discrete displays during sporting events. So alongside live footage of the actual on-field proceedings, the stadium owners can show the punters instant replays, information about the players and venue and, of course, run advertisements from sponsors. Well, someone’s got to pay for them.