SED HDTV is DED

In February, I stated that it was not likely that SED HDTVs would ever come to market. Pundits don’t always get it right, so I’m going to take full credit on this one. Last week, both Toshiba and Canon announced that the the launch of SED HDTVs due by the end of this year has been postponed. And no specific timetable for the launch was offered.

SED is a flat panel display technology that is thinner than LCD but emissive like a traditional CRT television. Those who have seen the demo panels in recent years have been stunned by the excellent color and deep blacks offered by these displays. Predicitions of commercial production have been made and revised for years, and a lawsuit last winter forced Toshiba to withdraw from its partnership with Canon on the project.

These setbacks were certainly a factor in the technology’s demise, but the killer was time itself. SED panels might have been competitive a few years ago, but as LCD and plasma prices have plummeted, there’s no room for reasonable pricing. At this point, they cost too much to make and still have any hope of recouping the initial investment. It’s conceivable that we may yet see SED HDTVs come to market in the future, but don’t hold your breath.

The moral of the story is that it’s not enough to have a better technology. You also have to have the idea early so that you can get it into production before the door to profitability is slammed shut by the established solutions.