What Will 2008 Bring to HDTV?
2007 saw HDTV prices continue to drop (around 25-30 percent), greatly improved plasma and LCD flat panel image quality and the additional of more HD channels by both cable and satellite providers. It was a heck of a good year for HDTV!
On the downside, the year also witnessed the continuation of the ruinous Blu-ray vs. HD DVD format war, a drop in small size (<30Ã¢â‚¬Â) LCD flat panel image quality due to price compression pressures on the set makers, industry consolidation and market turbulence with Hitachi, Toshiba and Sony announcing their exit from the rear projection market, and plasma maker Fujitsu deciding it will vacate the US HDTV market altogether. Here are the HD GuruÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s predictions for 2008 1) Laser TV
Missing its planned 2007 introduction, Mitsubishi will ship large-screen DLP rear projectors using three (Red, Blue and Green) lasers for illumination. The HD Guru expects the sets will ship in late second or early third quarter 2008. WhatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the promise of laser HDTV? Incredible, rich deep colors never before seen in a display, record brightness with extremely high contrast ratios and possibly the best image quality available. Mitsubishi will demo Ã¢â‚¬Å“Laser TVÃ¢â‚¬Â to the press on January 7 at the 2008 CES. The HD Guru will be there to report all the details.
2) Price Reductions
HDTV prices will continue to drop, not as much, however, as in 2007. The HD Guru predicts about 20%. Flat panel manufacturing costs have been trimmed almost as far as possible, so the pace of the price reductions will finally begin to slow.
3) Greener HDTVs
2008 will bring HDTVs with higher efficiency and much lower power consumption. HD Guru expects a number of 2008 plasmas HDTV will consume half the power the 2007 models, making them far more efficient than fluorescent backlit LCD flat panels (called CCFL).
More companies will offer LED backlit LCD flat panels like the SamsungÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s LNT-4081. There will be more 120 Hz LCD sets with smaller price premiums than in 2007. The higher refresh rate decreases motion blur, but it will not save energy, as all 120Hz panels to date use inefficient multiple CCFL backlighting .
Laser-driven rear projectors will produce high light levels with very little power consumption.
4) HD Disc Format War Continues
Expect Blu-ray and HD DVD to continue battling it out in 2008. Currently, both LG and Samsung offer players that accept both formats. Look for more companies to introduce new combo players, at lower prices. A combo high definition disc player is the best insurance against being stuck with an orphaned format beyond 2008.
5) 3D HDTV
3D TV (it is actually stereoscopic but is universally referred to as Ã¢â‚¬Å“3DÃ¢â‚¬Â) will arrive for HDTVs with the anticipated release of 3D movies on HD discs using a 3D compatible Blu-ray player and HDTV from Mitsubishi. The player will be compatible with MitsubishiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s DLP rear projectors including the new Laser TV. LCD 3D flat panels may also arrive in 2008.
6) OLED HDTV
It has been reported that Samsung will show a 31Ã¢â‚¬Â Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) with HDTV resolution with a ship date in late 2008. Expect Sony and one or two other vendors to announce OLED HDTV for 2008. OLED TVs are just a few millimeters thick and have excellent contrast ratios and black levels. Expect the first generation OLED HDTVs to be expensive. The big question is will the drive circuitry provide good motion resolution or will first generation HD OLED TVs suffer from motion blur? Stay tuned for an evaluation.
7) Thin Plasmas and LCD Flat Panels
Both technologies will go on a diet with Hitachi and at least one other vendor offering really thin (about 1.3 inch depth) LCD HDTVs. Plasmas will shrink down too. Expect them to be in the two-inch deep range.
8) Many More HD Channels
2008 will see a seismic shift to HD for a very wide array of cable channels. In addition, HD newsgathering will commence for the network news and all major sports and events such as the Democratic and Republican conventions and the summer Olympics. To accommodate the expansion of HD offerings, many cable companies will need upgrade their systems. DirecTV will launch another HD satellite to provide the bandwidth for all these new channels.
9) The Return of CableCARD
A number of top tier HDTVs will return to using CableCARD to allow reception of HDTV and standard definition cable channels without a cablebox. In 2007, most manufacturers abandoned the CableCARD due to lack of support by the cable providers. An FCC mandate in mid 2007 forced the cable providers to utilize CableCARD in their own set top boxes.
10) More Screen Sizes
Expect the return of the 32Ã¢â‚¬Â screen for plasma as well as more affordable plasma HDTVs in the 60-inch and larger sizes. Look for an plasma in the 80Ã¢â‚¬Â size range from at least one vendor.
The set makers will concentrate on image improvements in the 50Ã¢â‚¬Â and above category, while pricing pressures will force under 40Ã¢â‚¬Â LCD flat panels to lose features once considered standard
11) Chinese Brands to Enter the US Market
As reported earlier by the HD Guru, a Chinese LCD panel maker will enter the US HDTV market to compete directly with Vizio, Polaroid and other Ã¢â‚¬Å“off brandÃ¢â‚¬Â HDTVs. If anticipated LCD panel shortages occur, the panel maker will have price and supply advantages that will cannibalize sales from the off brand companies they supplied in 2007.
To all our readers, a Happy High Definition New Year!
Copyright Ã‚Â©2007, 2008 Gary Merson/HD GuruÃ¢â€žÂ¢. All rights reserved. The content and photos within may not be distributed electronically or copied mechanically without specific written permission.
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