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Flat-panel Parade Marches On; Micro-displays take a Hit

by Team Sony 12/20/2007

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!
 
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  1. guest_user wrote: December 21, 2007 12:12pm

    Rick,

    I just read that Sony is going to discontinue the rear-projection tv’s and concentrate only on lcd models. I was set to buy a Sony KDS A3000 60″ model this week- now I don’t know what to do. Will Sony still back up my tv in 5 years? I had a spot made for a 60′ set in my under-construction home theater. A plasma is too costly inthat size and an lcd is several years away. Your advice please!

    Reply
  2. guest_user wrote: December 21, 2007 1:54pm

    Louis,

    I can assure you Sony stands by the warranty for all of it’s products.

    -Blog Moderator

    Reply
  3. guest_user wrote: December 22, 2007 1:10am

    Thanks for confirming the news, as I read it first at Engadget.com I kinda knew that some day SXRD will be phased out. Those sets have become slimmer in the past year, but I still did not buy into that tech. One has to exchange the lamp in the set every so often, plus I find the color reproduction not always to my expectations (except maybe for the Qualia 006 model). Sorry to hear about the new 70 incher SXRD slated to be due in early 08 to not see the light as well, I liked the
    design of it. Anyways, the future is in LED and OLED sets I am sure…Triluminos technology rocks (loving it on my
    Qualia 005).

    I just wanted to wish Merry Christmas to both Rick and Marcy, and to the whole Sony Group and of course to Sir Stringer! Wishing you all the best in 2008!
    Sony Loyal,
    Stan Medvedenko

    Reply
  4. guest_user wrote: December 26, 2007 5:43pm

    Happy Holidays to you as well Stan,

    And I’ll be interested in your reactions when you get up close and personal with our latest OLED-TV.

    By the way, please note that Sir Howard is paying attention to the blog as well. He just sent me a note saying something to the effect that the progress with blog has earned me my Christmas goose this year (more of that dry British humor I guess).

    Reply
  5. guest_user wrote: December 27, 2007 11:05am

    Rick,

    While I understand that Sony needs to make tough decisions based on changing consumer trands and competitive pressures, I am disappointed with the way Sony has handled the discontinuance of the SXRD line. I was in the market for a large screen set (70+ inch) and passed on Sony’s previouse XBR2 generation after the introduction of the new XBR5 line. I received a number of glossy marketing mailers featuring the new tv, researched the new features on the Sony Style website, and ultimately placed an order with my local dealer. Additionally, to accomodate the new tv I had a custom built-in media cabinet constructed (cha-ching > $10,000) and completely redisigned my home entertainment center. I now have a cabinet that was built, with some additional tolerace, for the 70″ XBR5 that will never come out, the XBR2 that was great in its own right is no longer available, the next best option does not hold a candle to the quality of the Sony, and some of the available options will not fit in the custom cabinet.

    So here is where I stand today. I have invested more than $35,000 in cabinet and equipment and the centerpiece of the system was to be the 70 inch
    XBR5. The LCD version in this size will run me an additional jaw dropping $33,000, a far cry from the $6,000 for the rear projection. I have no need for a flat panel as the tv will be in a custom built-in cabinet. The best competitive option in this size range can’t compete in picture quality, which for the size of the investment picture quality was the point.

    My point is that these decisions have downstream effects on consumers. Manufacturers must understand that the announcement and active marketing of new products in this category can require consumers to prepare for installation and these costs are sunk. When last minute changes are made, the impact can be significant from both a cost and consumer confidence perspective. Unfortunately, I love Sony’s quality and would have happily written the check for the XBR5. However, I am regrettably not in a position to spend $33,000 for the LCD version. I will now fill the vacancy in my cabinet with a lesser quality tv that I have to settled for and will always remember the bad taste this has left in my mouth.

    I love Sony quality, but shame on you!

    Regrettably,

    Bill

    Reply
  6. guest_user wrote: December 27, 2007 3:35pm

    Sorry Bill about your expectations not being fulfilled. I totally understand your pain especially after investing so much into your custom made cabinet. I guess Sony could always post a little disclaimer on their upcoming products under asterisk that the production maybe postponed or canceled. Sony has a notice in their manuals that say: “Design and Specifications are subject to change without notice” – something like that would be good to have in the newly announced products. There are only single cases when Sony had to wrap up certain production lines. Anyways, I am sure all this is not really going to help you feel any better, however a solution for you in this case would be getting hold of a Sony Qualia 006 70 inch TV, that model has been discontinued a while ago but you can still pick it up on eBay from time to time or maybe Sony could hook you up =) It offers great PQ, check out the AVS Forum thread line devoted to it, you will understand why I recommend it. The 33K LCD is definitely a bit overpriced (sarcasm intended)…

    Rick, yes, I look forward to check out your latest OLED TV and I might write up a review on it as I usually do when I get the latest and greatest from Sony. And it is great to know that Sir Stringer is checking up on this blog, it is one of the ways to see how Sony is doing through readers comments. I would love to meet you all in person some day.

    Sony Loyal,
    Stan M.

    Reply
  7. guest_user wrote: December 28, 2007 8:36pm

    I appreciate your comments Bill ,will share them with both our television marketing and customer service teams. I too have had custom cabinets built for home entertainment systems, so I know where you are coming from.

    Reply
  8. guest_user wrote: January 2, 2008 12:32pm

    What I need is a battery powered HDTV.

    Since 9/11, millions of people have dutifully purchased emergency supplies and equipment. Among these are battery powered televisions, so they can receive television signals from local stations when the power is out.

    On February 17, 2009, all those battery powered televisions that all those dutiful citizens bout, will be useless. That’s the day that analog TV goes off the air. It will be replaced by digital TV, and in order for all those old analog TVs to receive digital TV signals, they’ll need to be connected to converter boxes.

    Herein lies the problem.

    Those converter boxes won’t be battery powered. So they won’t be available when the poser goes out. So all those people that need to know what to do, won’t be able to use their battery powered TVs to find out.

    When can we expect to see battery powered HDTVs?

    Reply
  9. guest_user wrote: January 3, 2008 2:39pm

    Hi Tom,

    While there is no current plan for a battery-powered television, I understand that technically it might be most conceivable with the future development of OLED-TVs.

    Of course, then the question will be: Is there a market for them, which would have to be seriously considered.

    Reply
  10. guest_user wrote: January 3, 2008 3:13pm

    Superb discussion; agree with missing SXRD; though very pleased with my XBR5. Curious why Sony excludes referencing presence of PIP, which in my case almost caused alternative purchase (since multiple stock market views concurrently are essentially; ditto for sports on on occasion). As this is an
    attribute; why bury it in sub-menu’s, even if it takes multiple sources which everyone typically has (cable HD / DVR / DirecTV; or even PC for checking email while watching sports; and swapping windows at the big play times. I recommend Sony return to promoting PIP/POP within the LCD units.

    Also; will OLED and/or LCD (which does not have LED backlighting) switch to ‘laser’? Prior CES had a prototype or two; and another company also is moving in this direction. QPC Lasers signed a contract with someone for initial deliveries of RGB laser power, which could illuminate either LCD or others in lieu of LED vs. outgoing cold florescent backlighting. Can you ‘illuminate’ us?

    Finall suggestion: Bravia module that streams ‘anything’ from the ‘net versus just partnered inventory; example of another earlier Cupertinon TV product is enough to show how unattractive controlled content is to consumers. How about controling ‘paid’ content; but not basic ‘net surfing; but not with crude browsers such as in the PS 3. thanks!

    good luck at CES!

    gene inger
    tech stock / market analyst
    http://www.ingerletter.com

    Reply
  11. guest_user wrote: January 3, 2008 4:46pm

    Gentlemen: My present TV is a 36 inch and has begun to cause some prpblems. It is not a Sony. I am thinking about replaceing it with a Sony. My cabinet has room for about a 36 or 37 inch TV. What do you have in that lline and at what cost? Any INformation you can give me will be appreciated.
    Where is your nearest Sony dealer in this area. My Zip Code is 47451.

    Reply
  12. guest_user wrote: January 3, 2008 6:11pm

    I have to say Sony, I am very disappointed and disgusted with the decision to drop te rear projection SXRD line of Tv’s. I like Bill have designed my theater
    and actually my life around the up and coming 70″ XBR5. I have taken a position at work that is going to hae me away from my family, for the most part, for a whole year to make this vision a reality. I find out all of this within less than a week of making the commitment to the position. I do not think this is a wise business decision and could not believe my eyes when I read the horrible news. I hve to agree with Bill when I say “Shame on you”. It is like holding candy in front of a baby then taking it away.

    I have been very loyal to Sony for a long time. I even stood in line for both the PS2 and PS3 launches. 18hrs for PS2 and 32hrs for the PS3. Yes I said 32hrs
    (imagine my disappointment with that decision so far). It seems to me like you are losing touch with the consumer. I can’t see any increased Bravia sales even coming close to covering the losses from not selling the SXRD models any longer. You can count me out n the smaller over priced picture frames. I am sorry to
    say that my commitment to Sony is depreciating more and more each day. I hope there is a GOD and you come to your senses and take a long, hard look at this decision.

    Upsetfully yours,
    Brian Smith

    Reply
  13. guest_user wrote: January 3, 2008 6:30pm

    Sony has so many different model LCD Televisions – How does one decide just how to go about in selecting one that fits the desired needs. I don’t trust retail merchants in fully explaining these differences. I would like to purchase a 46″ size. Any real suggestions?

    Reply
  14. guest_user wrote: January 4, 2008 1:40am

    HI and thanks for reading my comments,let me start by saying I am devastated by the decision to deep 6 the sxrd 70 inch xbr5.I was set to buy the xbr2 but new the 5 was due.I am an average hard workin common guy (post office for 30 years)always bought sony,love sony.I think you always loose site of the average guy(screw him)and you base your decisions on the rich (33grand for the 70lcd)that is WRONG.As a reward to myself i was goin to purchase the 70xbr5 for me but now what?The Bravia are great lookin but i want something larger than 52 inches. How can I stay loyal to you when you have NO LOYALTY to people the likes of me. I’m still a huge fan but how long can you continue to kick me in the gut?

    Reply
  15. guest_user wrote: January 4, 2008 2:39am

    As a happy owner of a KDS-R50XBR1 I was disappointed to hear of Sony’s decision to discontinue rear-projection TVs.

    Reply
  16. guest_user wrote: January 7, 2008 9:53am

    “While there is no current plan for a battery-powered television, I understand that technically it might be most conceivable with the future development of OLED-TVs.”

    “Of course, then the question will be: Is there a market for them, which would have to be seriously considered.”

    Thanks for the response, but …

    IS THERE A MARKET FOR THEM?

    Google “battery powered tv”. When I did, I got 510,000 results. Lots of companies are selling them, yet none of them will work in a little over a year.

    With even a mediocre advertising campaign, everyone that might buy one of those other ‘soon to be useless’ televisions, will buy one of yours instead!

    Are you familiar with the expresion “license to print money”?

    Reply
  17. guest_user wrote: March 9, 2010 2:58pm

    I think they stopped making them becasue Sony knew there were design flaws in the OB’s. I hope the people below did not go and buy one of these only to have these “blobs” appear on their screens a few years down the line.

    Reply

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