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You may have read about the new Panasonic 103-inch plasma – or seen it on the Footy Show, where it’s recently been installed. Installing this elephant sized beast was never going to be simple – and that’s exactly what John Archer from the SmartHouse team discovered when it came to getting a review unit delievered!

You probably think the SmartHouse team has a pretty easy life, don’t you? Sitting around watching high-definition programmes on big, state-of-the-art TVs all day, ‘testing’ DVDs and games, and occasionally having to type in a word or


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two. Well, we’ll have you know that sometimes our relentless pursuit of the home cinema dream is anything but straightforward. And to prove the point, we thought we’d show you what we had to go through in order to spend a few hours trying out Panasonic’s new record-breaking plasma TV: the 103-inch TH-103PF9WK.

The whole installation saga began with the discovery, following a site visit, that the screen was simply too big to fit into our offices. Too many stairs and tiny doorways.

So the search for a premises that was able to accommodate the screen began – and ended – at my door. A door which had to be measured for width and height, with further measurements of the turning space outside the door, and my test room’s ceiling-to-floor height, being required before Panasonic would even think of bringing the screen over.

If you’re wondering why the ceiling-to-floor measurement was needed, it’s because Panasonic’s installers had to know if they could fit their crane in… I kid you not. More on that later.

 

After finally satisfying all Panasonic’s site requirements with, in some cases, only millimetres to spare, delivery was arranged, and at 10am on the appointed date two guys from Panasonic’s installation company arrived ahead of the delivery truck – and proceeded to go all pale and quiet once they saw the size of the doorway the TV was to fit through.

A couple of cups of tea seemed to improve the mood – only for it to be dashed again by the arrival of the lorry. This, as with everything to do with the 103PF9WK, turned out to be huge. And, since my drive is made of gravel, nobody was willing to risk trying to trundle the TV down on its pallet’s spindly shopping trolley-wheels for fear we’d end up with $105,000 (yes that’s the RRP of the 103-inch beast) worth of AV gear stuck outside for the elements to have their way with.

An hour or so later, however, and following some inch-by-inch heroics from the truck driver, the truck was manipulated to at least somewhere near the entrance to my test room. At which point the real hard work began. This despite the fact that there were five of us around to help out.

To give you a sense of the true enormity of the 103PF9WK, the screen alone weighs in at a gigantic 220kg, which rises to around 350kg in all its packaging glory. Then on top of that there’s the floor mount, which adds a further 130kg to the overall bulk. That’s heading for 500kg in all – an amount which even five men will struggle to shift.

 

With the vast stand manoeuvred into position in my room, and the screen accessible from its gigantic box, all that remained was to get the screen on the stand. Cue that crane I mentioned earlier. Small enough to fit into most rooms, this  crane attaches to a screw-on hook on the panel’s top, and makes it possible to not only lift the screen, but leave it hanging there in mid-air like the world’s most expensive flag while it’s put into position over the mounting slots on the stand. Finally, the screen is lowered into slots on the stand, and the TV is actually ready to watch. And strangely, it’s only at this point that you really take in just how enormous it is.

Just saying it’s 103 inches doesn’t do it justice. Perhaps it might help you get a better feel for its vastness if we say that the screen acreage could fit in four 50-inch plasma TVs, and still have an inch or two spare.

What this boils down to in practical terms is a viewing experience truly akin to going to the cinema. And I’m not just talking in terms of sheer image scale, since the 103PF9WK also delivers picture impact that wouldn’t look amiss down your local Odeon.

The 103PF9WK is arguably the single most astounding home cinema solution I have ever seen. In fact, so genuinely awe-inspiring is the experience of watching the 103PF9WK that even given the huge headaches involved in getting the screen installed, if the people at Panasonic offered me the chance to have it again even for just another couple of hours, I’d bite their hands off.

 

If I thought my tribulations in getting equipped with the 103PF9WK were tough, they’re nothing to the lengths other customers are apparently willing to go to. One man in the UK who’s in the process of converting a pair of properties into a single dwelling is actually holding off the completion of a key wall until he can use the hole that’s currently there to get a 103PF9WK into his new home.

But our favourite tale is of the young man in a 12th-floor penthouse flat who’s so obsessed with having a 103PF9WK that he’s hiring an external crane to lift the TV all the way up the outside of his building, and having an internal wall completely rebuilt using steel supports so that it will be strong enough to hang the screen from.

Don’t you just wish you had more money than sense, too?

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