The conflict between BluRay and HD DVD as the new blue laser standard format for high definition DVDs is rapidly evolving into a religious conflict similar to the one between the Mac and the PC. You can find heated debate and impassioned defenses for both sides all over the Web. The staff at HDBlu.com decided to see how the early products are doing. They analyzed more than 120 reviews of a BluRay and an HD DVD player on Amazon. And they found that the HD DVD player is getting better reviews.
The average customer scored the HD DVD drive at 4.53 (out of 5), but the BluRay only at 2.25. That’s a rather large spread. The most negative topic about HD DVD was the load time, while the most negative point about the BluRay model was its price.
Clearly, these results are not enough to crown a winner, as newer models may change the customer reactions. All the same, the folks at HDBlu.com have done a great job of collecting some useful information. And the evidence is showing a strong consumer preference for HD DVD. Stay tuned.
Okay, this is not HDTV, but it’s too cool to miss. The Next Big Thing in front projectors is really something small: pocket projectors. A number of models are available, but the newest arrival is the BumbleBee from Boxlight. This projector is small — 4.75 “x 3.9″ x 1.9″ — and weighs less than a pound. How small is that? Think about half the size of a small paperback novel. That’s small!
The projector has SVGA resolution, so it’s only capable of projecting an EDTV resolution image, but it should do a fine job on DVD movies. It can handle 720p and 1080i signals, but will scale them down to fit its resolution. The light source is an LED lamp rated at 20,000 hours, so you’ll probably never have to replace it. And it lists for $799.
This is not a projector that you’d want to build a home theater around, but it gives new meaning to “portable projector” and I expect that people will find lots of new ways to put tiny projectors like this to work in a variety of tasks. How would you use one?
Is a front projector the right choice for your home entertainment needs? Get Professor Poor’s Guide to Buying HDTV to learn about the different technologies available.
It seems that competition in the courts is as important as what takes place on the store shelves these days. Pioneer filed a suit against Samsung on Monday, claiming patent violations in their plasma panel technology. Samsung reportedly will file a counter-suit.
This is a newsworthy development, but not shocking. There is a lot of valuable intellectual property involved in HDTVs, and it makes sense that a company would seek to protect these assets just as they would their products or their factories. Lawsuits such as this can also be a gambit to force another company into working out licensing agreements. Last year, LG Electronics and Matsushita (parent company of Panasonic) signed cross-licensing agreements to settle a suite. Pioneer and Samsung reportedly have been in talks for a similar cross-license agreement for more than a year, so this lawsuit may be an attempt to pressure the parties to come to an agreement.
A report from Nielsen Media Research states that the average American home has 2.73 televisions, but only 2.55 people. The Nielsen also reports that the average person watches about four and a half hours of TV each day.
Okay, let’s do some math about HDTV watching. Let’s assume that someone pays $2,000 (to pick a round number) for a large screen HDTV. They pay $100 a month (again, a round number) for HD digital cable service. Let’s assume that the .55 other people in the home are watching the 1.73 other televisions, so we have two people watching the HDTV for 4.5 hours a day apiece. And let’s assume that they keep the TV and the service for five years.
The total cost of the TV and the HD service over the five years will be $8,000. The set will be watched 8,212.5 hours per person, for a total of 16,425 people-hours. That works out to less than $.37 per person-hour of watching. A football game will cost a little more than a dollar. A movie will cost less than $.60. Sure, it’s not free, but when you break it down this way, it doesn’t sound all that expensive either.
To paraphrase the Stones, you can’t always watch what you want, especially if you’re an HDTV customer of DirecTV. As reported by Phillip Swann in TV Predictions, the service has selectively shut down certain HD channels on a temporary basis in recent weeks. First TNT HD, then HDNet, and most recently Universal HD.
The reason for the shutdowns was to make room for the system’s coverage of the NFL football games in HD. And this reveals a weakness in the satellite model for broadcasting television. It can cost tens or hundreds of millions of dollars to launch a satellite into space, and that’s not including the cost of the satellite itself. As a result, there are a limited number of satellites, and they have a limited amount of capacity — bandwidth – to broadcast signals. DirecTV does not have enough bandwidth to broadcast all the NFL games and still maintain their normal schedule of HD programming. The company is addressing this problem by launching additional satellites and using more efficient compression, but as HD programming expands, capacity will likely be an ongoing challenge for the satellite services.
Hurry, hurry, hurry! Step right up! See the big screen of your dreams right here in our store! Take home an HDTV today!
Sure, we expect to find HDTVs for sale in the major big box consumer electronics chains such as Best Buy and Circuit City. We even look for them in the discount clubs like Costco. And as I have reported here, the electronics part chain Radio Shack and the hegemonic Wal-mart have started stocking HDTVs. Who else is going to get into the act?
According to a report yesterday in the Wall Street Journal, lots of store chains are trying to get in on the action, though some of the choices may be a bit puzzling. When you think big screen entertainment, do you think office supplies? Office Depot is hoping that you will. Or if you need plasma along with some pine boards, Home Depot will sell you both along with the tools you need to install them. Or maybe you want to buy a new outfit to wear when you throw a party to celebrate the arrival of your new HDTV, in which case the department chaing Kohl’s will be ready to help you out.
Competition is already tough in this market and margins are slim. If the existing customers don’t buy these new big screens, then these chains will have to attract new customers, which can be costly. The real test will be to see how many are still selling HDTVs a few months after the holiday buying season ends.
Sometimes I wonder whether the only people making money in this business are the trucking firms, who get paid to haul all those boxes around the country.
Who’s advertising the best HDTV deal this week? Find out in Professor Poor’s Weekly Price Intelligence Report, for just $9.95, baked fresh every Tuesday!
One of the mysteries of rear projection HDTVs remains why consumers continue to favor LCD and plasma for large screens, even though the rear projection models of the same size cost hundreds or thousands of dollars less.
A number of Japanese companies have banded together to form the Micro Device Display Consortium (MDDPC) to promote rear projection HDTV, covering all three technologies: DLP, LCD, and LCoS. The group has created a Web site at www.md-display.com, where they cite the following advantages of rear projection displays:
• High quality, large screen images in a lightweight and stylishly designed package
• Low power consumption saves on household utility costs and has a lower lifetime cost of ownership
• Long product life (with capability to restore screen brightness through lamp replacement)
• Runs cooler and saves on air-conditioning costs
• Low energy consumption from total energy for manufacturing
• Reduced CO2 emissions from total energy for manufacturing (MDDP as well as plasma Display and LCD TVs)
• Less waste for disposal of set, parts and materials
I continue to expect that as the HDTV market expands, the average buyer will become more price sensitive, and will demand that retailers make more rear projection models available. The average buyer will also come to appreciate the fact that you need a larger screen to get an adequate HDTV viewing experience, which will also favor the rear projection models. The activities of the MDDPC may help to accelerate this process.
If you’re confused about the different rear projection technologies, or want help in choosing the right size display for your room, get Professor Poor’s Guide to Buying HDTV. Act now and get free bonuses worth $40.
October 10th, Warner Home Video will release a dozen new high-definition DVD titles. The actual titles are not nearly as interesting as two other facts. First, 10 of the 12 new titles will be on HD DVD format, leaving only two on Blu-Ray. And the HD DVDs will list for $28.99 while the Blu-Ray titles will list for $6 more, at $34.99.
Hmmm… more choices for HD DVD, a 20% premium for Blu-Ray discs, and less-expensive HD DVD players. Oh, and the HD DVD players appear to be in greater supply than the Blu-Ray models. I definitely am beginning to see a pattern here, as HD DVD appears to be extending its lead over Blu-Ray in the high-definition, blue laser DVD race.
One of the knocks against rear projection HDTV is that you have to replace a lamp every few years to maintain the brightness. That problem is being addressed through the use of solid state lighting, using high-brightness LEDs such as the PhlatLight from Luminus Devices. The other major problem is that rear projection HDTVs are too deep, compared with the thinner plasma and LCD models.
Well, that’s less of a factor now. At CEDIA last week, Samsung showed a new 42″ 720p model that was only about 10″ deep. Not only is this thinner than an equivalent plasma or LCD when mounted on a tabletop base, it also weighs about half as much which makes it easier to hang them on the wall. The weight is approaching one pound per inch of diagonal screen size. Samsung also showed a wall-mounted shelf to hold the new HDTV, with room for a DVD player or other device as well.
As a bonus, the HDTV has a very thin bezel: just the thinnest strip around the edge of the screen. The result is a stylish and trim appearance that is far smaller than the plastic or glass frame that surrounds plasma and LCD HDTVs of the same size. And with an advertised price of $1,799, it will cost hundreds less than most plasma or LCD choices.
This is expected to be just the first of many slimline rear projection models, which may help increase their appeal for buyers. The lighter weight, smaller footprint, thinner bezel, and lower cost may lead more buyers to consider rear projection for their HDTV purchase.
CEDIA is the Consumer Electronics Designer and Installer Association show, which was held last week in Denver. The exhibit hall was filled with high-end products for the custom install market, such as motorized mounts for large plasma HDTVs, plush seating for home theaters, and gorgeous wooden housings for 7.1 channel surround sound speaker systems.
So it is a bit surprising that a large number of the displays on exhibit had low prices. I expected to see only top-end pricing. I already reported on Sharp’s new LCD line with a $2,499 list 42″ 1080p LCD HDTV. Olevia also had a 42″ 720p LCD HDTV monitor with a $1,399 street price. That’s about the same price as an EDTV plasma.
CEDIA was not just about lower prices on flat panel LCDs. Dramatic new prices were announced for front projectors. 1080p projectors have been the domain of the elite home theater product manufacturers. You can expect to spend $15K to $50K for them. But Sony announced a new 1080p front projector using their acclaimed SXRD version of LCoS imagers, for a list price of $4,999. And Mitsubishi had a 1080p three-LCD projector for even less, at $4,495.
It is little surprise that I spoke with many dealers and custom installers who were singing the blues about not being able to compete with the prices of HDTVs at Costco and Best Buy. Their customers are used to spending more on the installation services and accessories than on the display itself, but now they are looking to pay less for the displays. This is similar to the what I witnessed more than 20 years ago in the personal computer market as the VARs — value added resellers — saw droves of potential customers buy their new computers off the shelp at retail or direct from the manufacturer. I expect that the same is going to happen to the CEDIA market; it will continue as there will always be high-end customers who will need those services, but as the HDTV market continues to grow rapidly, they won’t share in much of that growth.