Pretty as a Picture
Panasonic knows that people who have a love-hate relationship with their TVs won't like the look of their plasma TVs no matter how Panasonic designs the chassis. The best solution is to disguise the customer's plasma TV with a custom-built frame that enables the homeowner to "add an elegant, personalized accent to their Panasonic plasma TV and transform it into a functional piece of art." Panasonic suggests that consumers who buy frames can use their plasma TVs to display high-resolution digital photos when they're not watching high-definition broadcasts of Bikini Destinations on HDNet.
If you're not too sharp with a digital camera, you always have the choice of using someone else's digital photography.
Plasma Window, for example, offers DVDs ($15 - $20 each) of still images as well as themed video. Some of their videos can help you avoid the endless hassle of fish feeding and algae scrubbing with an aquarium video or allow you to use the heat coming off your plasma and one of their fireplace videos to lull you into a video-induced romantic state. (Videos of virtual wine and candles are not available.) For under $20 a DVD, ScreenDreams will give you moving views of beaches, butterflies, and waterfalls if you want to expand your viewing options. Of course, at the moment, neither of these companies offer high-definition versions so you'll have to rely on the upconversion capabilities of your plasma. (There's another reason to buy a good TV...)
Other companies make frames for plasma TVs - Vutec's ArtScreen and Solar Shading Systems' VisionArt are two that come to mind - but Panasonic says they're the first plasma TV manufacturer to offer the option directly.
Panasonic will begin offering eight different styles of frames for select 42-inch and 50-inch plasma TVs. The Panasonic-specific frames will be available in gold, black, pewter, mahogany, walnut, and antique white finishes with prices ranging from $399.95 to $499.95 suggested retail price. Other options will allow customers to further customize their plasma TVs.
The frames will be offered exclusively through the Panasonic's direct e-business web site, www.PanasonicDirect.com.
Then you're going to have to go out and get one of those cool laser levels to make sure your plasma frame always hangs straight.