So Long, Syntax-Brillian!

Syntax-Brillian, maker of the once popular Olevia brand of LCD TVs, is scheduled to slip slowly beneath the fiscal waves later next month. The company has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, let go of all but eight employees, and is selling off its assets. It’s ill-fated Vivitar camera business is still running fine, so that is expected to be sold off separately.

The LCD TV business is going to be sold to a new entity, Olevia International Group, LLC, which will be owned by one of the S-B’s major creditors, TCV Group, which manufactures parts used in the Olevia LCD TVs. According to a company press release, the interim CEO said that the Chapter 11 status will let the company “honor our commitments to our retail partners, suppliers, employees and consumers, continue to advance initiatives that improve and develop our product lines, and better position us to capitalize on the demand for our products going forward.”

At this point, that sounds as though the new company intends to continue to make and market the Olevia products. Given the rocky performance of Syntax-Brillian in the recent past and the train wreck I foresee for LCD TV sales in the second half of this year, I am not optimistic that the new company is going to end up any better than the old one.

I also have to say that losing Syntax-Brillian is sad for me. The Brillian part of the company developed some excellent LCoS rear projection televisions, with arguably the best quality image in its time. It’s not enough to have good products — or even great ones — in this difficult market. We’re seeing the inevitable contraction of the HDTV business, with Pioneer’s ending of plasma production, and other big name companies pulling back or stopping production altogether. We saw all this happen 10 to 15 years ago in the personal computer market, and now it is the turn of the HDTV market to feel the squeeze.