The Year In HDTV - InformationWeek
11:29 AM

The Year In HDTV

Flat-panel displays emerged in a big way, while the battle between high-definition DVD formats is just beginning.

At time of the year, we have a tendency to reflect and look back on the events of the past year. I'm not just talking about the most popular stories that folks like you read, but the major trends and developments in the CE and semiconductor industries. In my earlier Blogs from this past year, I've talked about all of the hoopla that has surrounded HD DVD and Blu-ray. It continues to be a never-ending story. While Blu-ray is supposedly outselling HD DVD by 2-1, the current holiday season will tell the tale. That's, of course, if we can real sales figures and eliminating all gaming systems. Now that LG is in its 2nd generation dual format player, and Samsung has just introduced its 1st generation model, it will be interesting to see how they fare now and in 2008.

This past year has seen MicroDisplays retreating from the marketplace. While Sony continues with its SXRD technology, it's really only two companies " Mitsubishi and Samsung that continue to be bullish about DLP rear projection HD technology. Each company will be offering innovations including laser and LED backlighting that eliminates the color wheel and backlight, and continues to slim down the cabinetry. Of course, TI is also behind these innovations. Companies like Hitachi and Toshiba have already dropped rear projection models, and there's speculation that JVC may be considering a similar move.

2007 was the year that flat-panel displays especially LCD TV has come into its own. Everyone wants a flat-panel in all screen sizes. Plasma sales are losing out to LCD also as plasma tries to address its power-hungry issues. Although, Panasonic has become the leading plasma TV provider. It also seems that the goal of LCD TV maker is to make their panels as slim as possible. This tread will continue into 2008 as more manufacturers put their displays on a super slimming diet. Although, unless you're hanging the panel on the wall, does it really have to be that slim. If you look at the depth of the stand, it's more than 12-inches. A good salesperson could easily steer potential customers to a MicroDisplay that may be same depth.

Clearly, 2007 saw manufacturers trying to address inherent problems with LCD TVs. One of the biggest technological innovations for 2007 was the inclusion by virtually all manufacturers of 120 Hz refresh rates. The addition of this feature started at the end of last year, and will continue for 2008 as well. Other new technologies such as Dolby Vision and NXP's Adaptive Dimming are on the horizon for 2008 to improve images even further. We also see more and models that are now 1080p vs. 720p. Customers realize the benefits of having a 1080p set.

2007 finally saw the adoption of HDMI 1.3. We now have displays, AV receivers, and source components like Blu-ray and HD DVD players that all have HDMI 1.3. This is a good thing. Adoption will continue into 2008 as well. All I can say is that it's about time. I am so happy to do away with component video, digital optical, digital coax, and etc. in favor one cable passing digital audio and digital video signals. It makes thing so much easier. Of course, cabling companies now has to charge more for HDMI cables because they are selling less of the other varieties. The bottom line: it's a good thing.

As we look to the end of year, we wonder if we will ever see SED technology. Canon did lose its court case with Applied Nanotech, and is now reportedly in negotiations for a new licensing agreement. Reportedly, Canon has taken additional floor space at CES next month for an unspecified technology. Will it be SED? We can only hope.

Another new display technology was launched this month " OLED. Sony introduced its first 11-inch display at $1,700. Clearly, this technology is far from being mass market. Predictions are that it won't be a viable technology till 2012 or beyond. And, reports coming out of Japan say that Toshiba has shelved its plans to bring out an OLED TV in the 2009/10 timeframe. Reportedly, Samsung is developing OLED, but no timing has been announced as yet.

In part 2, I'll take a look at set-top boxes, DVRs, satellite & cable, IPTV, and etc. So, as the one of last Blogs of 2007, I want to say "Thank You" for reading Digital TV DesignLine, and I wish all of my readers HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

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