A report in DigiTimes states that Hitachi is pulling its rear projection HDTV products from the North American markets. The article staes that the company’s Mexican factories have shut down, and shipments have dropped from 340,000 units in 2006 to just 30,000 units in 2007. The company apparently will focus on plasma and LCD HDTV models instead.
Samsung, Sony, Panasonic, and JVC appear to remain committed to the rear projection market, and we still expect to see laser-illuminated models come to market soon. The other solid state lighting solutions — high brightness LEDs as used by Samsung and the LIFI microwaved plasma used by Panasonic — are addressing the concerns over the reliability and cost of projection lamps. The sets are getting thinner and thinner, and no other technology comes close in terms of the narrow width of the bezel around the screen. And on a per-inch basis, rear projection still offers the best combination of cost and image quality for larger screens.
Still, consumers stay away in droves from rear projection models, and some of the less companies are bailing on the market segment. It’s hard to get shelf space with all the different brands available these days, so narrowing their focus may be an important survival strategy for some of the companies with smaller sales volumes.