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Sony Corp. started selling three-dimensional televisions Thursday, joining its rivals in the competition over 3-D TVs and hoping to expand demand as the soccer World Cup opens Friday.

Sony is offering two models in its Bravia series, both of which come with special 3-D glasses.

Competition for 3-D TVs is expected to be intense and crowded this year with Panasonic Corp. and South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. already rolling out their models in the wake of renewed interest triggered by blockbuster 3-D movies, such as the science-fiction film “Avatar.”

Sony has said it expects to post a net profit for the first time in three years in fiscal 2010 partly due to an anticipated rise in demand for televisions, with the electronics giant keen on boosting its business in the increasingly popular area of 3-D TVs and related products.

Sony’s 40-inch 3-D model carries a suggested retail price of about ¥290,000, while the 46-inch model has a price tag of around ¥350,000.

Sony officially launched the 3-D TVs on Thursday, but some electronics stores began selling them a few days early.

Panasonic goes big

Panasonic Corp. said it will begin taking orders from corporate customers July 1 for what it says is the world’s largest 3-D TV, with a 152-inch plasma display panel.

Among the expected buyers are automakers, which would use them in their car showrooms, while amusement facilities offering 3-D games could also be interested, the company said Wednesday.

Shipments for the 152-inch model and two smaller models measuring 103 inches and 85 inches will begin in the fall for both the Japanese and U.S. markets, the electronics maker said.

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