The HD Guru welcomes in 2009 with forecasts on content, pricing and products. You can expect confirmation on a number of these predictions as early as next week when the 2009 International Consumer Electronics Show begins in Las Vegas.

(Photo above is a copy of an invitation emailed to CES registered press to see Panasonics’s 3D HDTV system)


The digital transition will be completed in February, ending an industry journey that began with the introduction of HDTV displays and broadcasts in 1998. The manufacturers have laid out plans to take HDTV to the next level with 3D HDTV.

2009 will be the first year of a multi-year push to upgrade HDTV to 3D (stereoscopic) television. Panasonic, Sony and other major HDTV makers will demo 3D televisions with a live satellite broadcast of the BCS National Championship game at the International CES next week and at least one HDTV manufacturer will announce plans for production in 2009 of the first Full HD 3D compatible displays. Expect other major players to commit to early 2010 delivery. HD Guru predicts these 3D HDTVs will be supported by at least two movie studios in 2009, with the first products shipping date to coincide with the introduction of 3D Blu-ray players and discs.

Rumors persist Sony will introduce a 3D upgrade to its PS3 Playstation, turning it into PS3D. 3D gaming will be part of a long-term three part 3D strategy by the major HDTV makers that will include console video games, Blu-ray HD movies and (eventually) regular live HD 3D sports broadcasts.

Currently only Mitsubishi and Samsung make 3D capable DLP HDTVs. Samsung also produces two 3D capable plasma TVs, though neither are “Full HD” 1080p.

HDTV Pricing

An oversupply of LCD panels will force HDTV prices to continue to drop during the first quarter of 2009, followed by relative price stability.

Currently LCD panel makers, due to the oversupply, are selling their inventory to TV makers, at or below actual cost. This situation will probably last another eight or so weeks as panel makers cut back production to meet lower demand and attempt to raise prices later in the year.

The overall year-to-year savings for HDTV in 2009 will see prices drop an additional 15%- 20% down from the 26%-30% savings we have seen in year to year for the past several years. Why?  Component cost reductions on the smaller screen HDTVs, are nearly maxed out with current technology.

Wireless HDTV

The long awaited change over from HDMI cables to wireless HD video and audio will finally arrive in 2009, (a year after my 2008 prediction) allowing consumers to hang a flat panel on the wall connected only to an AC power cable. Wireless will be built-in step up feature for top of the line HDTVs. Wireless upgrade kits will be available as well. The net result, reduced consumer demand for long (relatively) expensive HDMI cables and easier TV installations.

HDTV Goes Green

Plasma HDTV makers will attempt to capture a larger big screen market share by citing lower power consumption with increased brightness and high motion resolution besting their LCD competitors. Expect a wider selection of plasma models from the core producers (Panasonic, Samsung and LG) as well as Hitachi and Pioneer, which will now be sourcing their plasma panels from Panasonic. The mix will include very thin plasma monitors and HDTVs.

Thin HDTVs Will Rule

Expect every major LCD and Plasma flat panel maker to introduce a line thinner flat panel HDTVs in a variety of sizes. They will carry a price premium over thicker displays, leaving the big question: how large of a price premium will the masses be willing to pay for a thinner form factor?

The Motion Resolution Race Continues

Just a few years ago, when all LCD HDTV refreshed at the HD standard of 60 Hz, set makers never talked about “motion blur”, which is a measure of how much resolution a given display can produce when motion is introduced (such as in football when a receiver is running or a camera panning). Then came 120 Hz LCDs claiming to significantly improve motion resolution (HD Guru’s tests confirmed motion resolution increased from around 330 lines with 60 Hz displays to around 600 lines of resolution for the 120 Hz models).  Last Sept., Sony announced a 240 Hz HDTV with delivery expected sometime this year.

For 2009, LG has just announced LCD with a claimed refresh rate of 480 Hz. Expect other vendors to introduce a variety of new 240 Hz (or higher) HDTVs in 2009.


With street prices dropping below the $200 this past December, you should anticipate a $149 Blu-ray player by year’s end. The big news will come from the content providers. With a significant installed base of players now in consumers hands, HD Guru predicts many Blu-ray movie disc titles will drop to within $5 of DVD standard def version in the first half of 2009. This should result in a spike in Blu-ray disc sales.

Streaming and Widgets

The major TV makers will add many new models with specialized Internet connectivity to provide movie-streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon. Expect new companies to pop up and announce new movie streaming or download services in the first quarter of 2009, all offered as an alternative to DVDs and Blu-ray discs.

In addition, an expansion of Internet services such as photos, weather forecasts and sports and some new ones will appear as another HDTV feature as the top TV makers try to differentiate themselves from the competition and the tier three offerings.

Rear Projection Exclusive

Finally, HD Guru predicts Samsung will drop out of the rear projection (RPTV) market leaving Mitsubishi as the sole maker of HD RPTVs. Expect lower prices for this category, which includes LASER HDTVs.

Copyright ©2009 Gary Merson/HD Guru® All rights reserved. HDGURU is a registered trademark. The content and photos within may not be distributed electronically or copied mechanically without specific written permission. The content within is based upon information provided to the editor, which is believed to be reliable. HD GURU is not responsible for errors or omissions.

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