This week we began informing our dealers in the U.S. that Sony would be putting our focus in the television business behind our expanding line of flat-panel BRAVIA LCD high-definition TVs at the exclusion of our rear-projection line of micro-display sets, which we will be getting out of early next year. (However, I would expect there to be sufficient quantities of these sets on store shelves at least through January and Super Bowl time.)
While the latest BRAVIA sets with full 1080p HD resolution offer excellent color reproduction, brightness and detail, it is a little sad to see the passing of our top-of-the -line SXRD (Silicon X-tal ‘Crystal’ Reflective Display) based micro displays. These are simply among the best in the industry in terms of high-definition resolution, real life color reproduction, contrast and true blacks that replicated film-quality images. In fact, SXRD technology is the basis of Sony’s 4K digital cinema projectors now making their way into theatres around the country.
Obviously, the American consumer is enamored with the designs of flat-panel sets — be they LCD or plasma — even if they are not hanging them on their living room walls. And this is clearly a driving reason for the recent decline in the rear-projection market. But another disturbing factor – at least to this industry observer — has been the apparent acts of desperation (i.e. extreme price cutting) by competitors with most of their eggs in the plasma business, who fear that this may be the next segment of the TV business to fall.
Plasma does offer excellent black image reproduction and offers soothing contrasts, but there continue to be issues related to energy consumption. Today, LCD is clearly on the rise and has overtaken plasma, not only in the U.S. but around the world. I see this trend continuing as LCD panels continue to be produced in larger and larger screen sizes — previously a limitation — and as consumers see the performance to price value of LCD technology. The plasma camp has to be concerned and it shows.
But back to my main point, which is that this commoditization is simply not good for the industry or ultimately the consumer. In the vast majority of cases, you get what you pay for, be it a flat-panel television, a Blu-ray Disc player or any consumer electronics product that resides in a hotly contested segment of the industry.
It’s just too bad that one of the recent victims has been the rear-projection sector, which has offered terrific value to consumers who want a big, beautiful television picture for their family room and do not have the need to hang a set on the wall. This certainly has been the case in the U.S., where more than 90 percent of the worldwide micro-display market has existed.
Oh well…that’s progress…that’s business…and I must admit that I’m really digging the new 40-inch diagonal BRAVIA XBR HDTV with its cool “floating-glass” design hanging up on the wall in my new den. Let the college football bowl games begin!