Will Rear Projection HDTV Improvements Help?

Rear projection HDTV sales continue to defy logic. When you get up to the larger sizes — especially 50-inches and larger — rear projection models enjoy a huge price advantage over the more popular plasma and LCD models. Why are buyers so interested in spending more for the flat panels? Only about one in six actually get hung on a wall, so it can’t be that feature. A 50-inch plasma on a table stand is within inches of the depth of a rear projection model of the same size, so it can’t be the depth of the case. Rear projection models have thinner bezels — there’s less of a frame around the image — and they typically weigh a lot less.

Rear projection manufacturers are working to find ways to attract customers to their designs. They are replacing the projection lamp with LEDs that never burn out and turn on instantly; Samsung is expected to be first to market with such a design, when they ship a DLP model this August. They are making the thin bezels even thinner, so that the frame all but disappears. Texas Instruments, manufacturer of the DLP chips used in many rear projection models, has shown new prototype designs of a 40-inch model that is only 9.5 inches deep.

Sony’s LCoS rear projection models using their SXRD imaging chip have been the exception, selling very well compared with other rear projection models, but it remains to be seen if manufacturers will be able to come up with designs that will succeed in attracting buyers away from the more expensive plasma and LCD models.

Do you know why buyers choose plasma and LCD over rear projection? I’d like to know, so please write me at alfred@hdtvprofessor.com.