Epson announced last week that they will be shipping two new LivingStation rear-projection LCD HDTVs for the Japanese market before the end of this year. The 55-inch ELS-55GL1 and the 65-inch ELS-65GL1 will have 1080p resolution, and memory-card slots. There’s no word yet when or if they will be available in the USA market, but since more RPTVs are sold here than anywhere else, it’s likely that they’ll show up sooner or later.
While I’m waiting for it to show up in this country, I have two comments about the features mentioned in the announcement. First, why buy 1080p? There’s no 1080p content available; 1080i is the highest resolution content you can get these days. Well, in the personal computer market, hardware has always been out in front of the software. Computer makers put USB ports in their systems for years before there was a reliable operating system to support them. So if you can get 1080p without paying a huge premium, I think it’s the best bet to future-proof your HDTV purchase.
And as for memory-card slots, they may seem a bit silly at first glance. But keep in mind that watching a big screen is a group activity. People don’t need a big screen for solo projects, such as surfing the Web. (Hard-core gamers may be delighted to have a large screen to themselves, but as they would be the first to admit, they are a breed apart.) Looking at photographs is definitely a group activity. Can you remember times when you had to crowd around a photo album? Pop a digital camera’s storage card into the screen, and then run through the shots with the remote control. And everyone gets to ooh and ahh over the pictures of baby Seamus together. I admit that I was surprised how often we use this feature on the big screen at home, but I would not be without it now. So keep that in mind when you’re making your list of features for your next TV.