DTV Primer

Chris Llana, Editor


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Tech Delays

March 15, 2006 - updated 3/20

The heir-apparent king of TV technologies is struggling to meet its future. Toshiba and Canon have announced that their Surface-conduction Electron-emitter Display (SED) TVs will be delayed for 18 months or so in order to reduce production costs.

SED TVs were to have been launched this spring, at least in the Japanese market. The commercial roll-out is now expected to coincide with the 2008 summer Olympics to be held in China. Limited trial production of 55-inch panels will begin in July 2007, with SED introduction set for late 2007.

With LCD and plasma sets dropping in price about 20 percent a year, SED was facing market pressures, notwithstanding its superior performance.

Let's hope they find all the right solutions.

Meanwhile, LCD production technology is moving right along. Next-generation LCD panel production capacity continues to increase at a rapid pace.

Royal Philips Electronics claims to have a new electronics design for small high-definition LCD sets that can reduce materials costs by up to 50%.

LCD sales have now surpassed CRT sales in revenues; if the trend continues, LCD sets will overtake CRT sales in units-sold as well.

Expect to see a lot more smaller LCD models with digital tuners out in time for the Christmas buying season (as the March 2007 DTV tuner deadline approaches).

Makers of CRT sets are not rolling over, however. Tube-supplier CPT (Taiwan) expects CRT sales to reach 100 million by 2008 as new CRT technologies are introduced (eg. thin tubes--less depth).

Of interest: CPT has halted plasma screen production for the time being.

DVD

On the high definition DVD front, it seems that Warner has delayed release of its HD-DVD format movies from March 28 until un unspecified later date. Universal and Paramount also will not release their HD-DVD titles until April at the earliest.

Toshiba now says it will start selling its HD-DVD players on April 18 (formerly March 28), so that there will actually be something hi-def to watch on them.

Rival Blu-ray Disc has taken a hit. Sony has delayed the introduction of its highly-anticipated Blu-ray-equipped PlayStation 3 game console from this spring until November 2006.

Since the PS3 units will be capable of playing Blu-ray high-def movies, the delay means that the Blu-ray Disc format will not get the early boost from the expected millions of PS3 units that would have been in the hands of consumers.

Sony is nevertheless set to release a number of Blu-ray movies on May 23, including The Fifth Element (hooray!), House of Flying Daggers, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, xXx, and The Last Waltz, among others.