In his Display Daily of October 26, avowed flat-panel advocate and Sr. Analyst Ken Werner wrote “Projection Displays Ain’t Dead Yet,” citing a recent positive report from Pacific Media Associates. In yesterday’s news, we learned that iSuppli confirms this conclusion with a report of its own. In spite of dire challenges from flat-panel TVs, the report contends microdisplay-based RPTVs will continue to adapt and improve, making them an attractive price/performance alternative to large-size LCD-TVs.
It wasn’t long ago that everyone used to ask me what kind of HDTV they should get. But recently it seems that everyone has already made up their minds on one of the sleek new LCD-TVs. Long-heralded as the juggernaut of large display technology, LCD-TVs above 40-inches have recently begun to approach the budgets of many HDTV buyers, made possible by global capacity expansion and recently fired up Gen 7 and Gen 8 fabs in Taiwan and Korea.
Nevertheless, iSuppli predicts shipments of rear-projection TVs (RPTVs) will remain stable through 2010, with only a small decline expected, despite facing intensifying competition from LCD and PDP technologies. The research firm anticipates the overall market for RPTVs will amount to 5.5M units in 2010, decreasing from 5.9M units in 2006. This is not as bleak a future as many had thought, even with the anticipation of LCD-TV prices continuing to fall at their historical rates.
Microdisplay-based sets will continue to have the lowest pricing among 55-inch and larger TVs, especially at 1080p resolution. Also noted is the expected arrival of sets that use LED light sources, rather than traditional UHP and xenon arc lamps, improving the lifetime and avoiding the expense of bulb replacement after a few years.
Furthermore, RPTVs are getting thinner with advanced optics, such as introduced by JVC, as I noted in my Display Daily of October 5.
Although we agree that rear projection has a future I have a few points of difference with Ken’s statement that “the problem with RPTV sets is that most people really don’t want them. What they want is a large, FHD flat-panel LCD or plasma TV. But many people will accept an RPTV if it’s full high-def and a lot cheaper than a similarly-sized flat panel.”
One should not forget is that flat-panel TVs have their own image-quality issues, including color gamut, blurring, brightness, and compression, which Ken chose not to mention.
How much will consumers care about a TV having a thickness of 10 inches instead of 6 inches? Hard to say, but once 1080p broadcasts and movies become prevalent, what many consumers with an average size living room will want is a quality 60-inch image for under $2,500. Anything smaller and they won’t be able to see the definition they’re paying for - at least not if viewers continue to watch their sets from traditional viewing distances.
If they do, you can speculate for yourself which technology they will choose.