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After Sony’s exit, can lasers save projection TV?

by User Not Found | Dec 19, 2007

Sony in the US has confirmed that it will stop selling rear projection TVs (RPTV) based on LCoS and LCD technology once its current inventory is exhausted. Given that the company still has a quarter of the 1.5 million unit market, this would seem to be a significant sacrifice in revenues, but in fact it is a useful indication of the sales volume (~400,000 units) below which major vendors cannot afford to participate in consumer electronics markets. Sony's decision, which is justified by the need to focus on flat panel technologies, seems to confirm the inevitable eventual disappearance of projection-based TVs from the consumer market. For the last couple of decades, RPTVs had been selling relatively well in the US, with sales typically above the 2 million a year level (sales in Europe and elsewhere have never approached these levels). Only in the last couple of years has the decline accelerated, just as flat panels - both plasma and LCD - have begun to provide serious competition in the largest display sizes. Year after year at CES we are presented with new approaches that could save projection technology. Given that Hitachi also withdrew from RPTV earlier this year, one of the last major suppliers is Mitsubishi, and, sure enough, this company is planning a major announcement in Las Vegas. The new approach is based on lasers, and we are sure to be blown away by very big displays and even bigger sound (any demo of a new video technology is always accompanied by sound systems that would put most sports arenas to shame, never mind the average home - cynics might wonder if our attention is being drawn deliberately to the sound rather than the picture). The best Mitsubishi can hope for is that lasers will give RPTVs a short-term lifeline. At 60" and below the battle is over for any display technology that is not flat and thin, and before long this will apply to 70" and 80" as well (we also expect the usual, meaningless race to claim the biggest flat panel at CES). Even in US homes, that is likely to be big enough for most people. Client Reading: Digital Home Entertainment Devices: Quarterly Report Q307 Add to Technorati Favorites
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