October 27, 2006
Blu-ray Disc players are still in the news. First there was the Sony delay, then the Panasonic player made its limited debut. Some later reviews of the Panasonic player are fully positive, reporting performance as good as (but not better than) the Toshiba HD-DVD players, but there is some reason to believe that video quality will improve with the release of dual-layer MPEG-4 BD titles.
Samsung has cut the price of its BD player from $1000 to $750, now that the competition has arrived. Part of that competition is the Philips BD player which is now available for $900 (Walmart is supposed to have it).
LCD flat-panel TVs continue to gain market share as performance improves and prices drop. Sharp Electronics has raised projections for LCD set sales to 150 million units worldwide in 2010, up from 45 million in 2006, 66 million in 2007, and 87 million in 2008.
The estimated growth rates for larger sets are particularly impressive. They estimate sales of LCD flat-panels 50" and larger to grow at an annual rate of 150 percent through 2010. Production costs for these big flat-panels are dropping with 8th generation plants now coming on-line.
And they're all moving to full-spec 1920 x 1080 resolution. Sharp says it will commercialize its 65", 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio LCD next year. Eat your heart out, plasma!
DirecTV is now providing local HD broadcast channels in 45 local areas serving 63 percent of TV households. When it launches new satellites next year, it will have the capacity to handle over 1500 local HD channels plus more than 150 national (cable) HD channels.
Let's hope a lot of those national channels will be ready with HD programming.