The big exposition of the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA) begins this morning at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver. Yesterday afternoon and evening, several of the large display manufacturers mounted elaborate events to convey their corporate views of the world to the sizeable corps of press people and analysts who descend on the CEDIA Expo.
Senior Analyst and Editor
Here are some nuggets from two of those press conferences.
Toshiba’s Scott Ramirez noted that the rear-projection TV market is contracting rapidly, except for the 55- to 59-inch segment. Even the 60-inch-plus segment - which was once regarded as the segment least subject to competition from flat panels - is on the decline.
On the LCD-TV side, the 19- and 20-inch segment is growing rapidly on the strength of lower prices and more products. Ramirez didn’t say it, but it’s also true that high-quality CRT-based TVs in this size segment are getting hard to find.
Somewhat surprisingly, 23- and 26-inch sets - formerly a hot category - aren’t growing any more. Why not? Because, Ramirez opined, nobody ever really wanted a 26-inch set. They just couldn’t afford a 32-inch and now these have become affordable. And the 32-, 37- and 42-inch segments are growing robustly. In fact, the continued growth of 37-inch is something of a surprise. Ramirez suggests this size fits in the same entertainment armoire that previously held a 32-inch CRT.
Although many fewer units are being sold in the 46/47-inch segment than in 32/37/42 range, the percentage increase is very high. That’s because, said Ramirez, offering from Tier 1 suppliers hit the strategic $2,499 price point in Q2. Look for another surge at $1999.
Plasma TV sales at 50 inches and over grew more than 60%, with excellent price positioning for 720p sets, but plasma share for 42-inch sets is dropping rapidly. LCD pricing at 42-inch has reached approximate parity with plasma, but Ramirez noted that the share loss is being accelerated by retailers who are giving more floor and shelf space to LCD and less to plasma.
Toshiba has risen into the top 5 manufacturers of LCD-TVs in most categories, on the strength of good image quality and clear differentiation of product lines within its Regza brand. The company’s high-end Cinema Series has a 120Hz frame rate to sharply reduce motion blur. This isn’t unusual among Tier 1 manufacturers. What is unusual is Toshiba’s realization that 120Hz frame rate is hard to explain to typical consumers and sales people. While Ramirez didn’t expressly say this, Toshiba actions imply it. The company has incorporated a chip in each 120Hz set that contains a split-screen demo of 120Hz vs. 60Hz frame rate. Clever.
Sharp’s Michael Troetti talked about the recently announced super-thin LCD-TVs that will be made on the company’s new Gen 10 fab beginning in March 2010. The 52-inch will weigh only 55 pounds and consume half the power of a conventional 52-inch LCD and one quarter the power of a PDP-TV he said. (Of course that assumes that plasma won’t be reducing its power consumption, which it is already doing.) Troetti confirmed that contrast ratio will be100,000:1, but added that the new thin-film solar cell plant that will be part of the same industrial park as the Gen 10 plant will also ramp up operation in March 2010. In previous announcements, no start-up date was given for the solar cell plant.
On one side of the room a sample Gen 10 glass substrate was being shown. Measuring 2850×3050mm (112 by 120 inches), the substrate can accommodate eight 57-inch panels. This is one big piece of glass, folks.
Is Sharp looking at any other technologies for large-screen TV? "Sharp is investigating OLED," said Troetti, "but Sharp believes LCD will be the technology of choice for the foreseeable future."
I don’t know if we needed to be reminded that we’re approaching the end of a television era, but Sharp’s Bob Scaglione commented that Sharp’s November production of CRT-based TV sets will be the company’s last for the U.S. market. And the company’s new BD-HP20U Blu-ray Disc player will be the company’ first non-LCD-TV product to carry the AQUOS brand name.
This is just a start. For extensive team coverage of CEDIA Expo 2007 see Insight Media’s next Projection Monthly with Enhanced Flat-panel Coverage.