This past week I spent a couple of days at Sony's Technical Center in Pittsburgh as they unveiled their new line of Grand Wega SXRD Micro-Displays. They were certainly a sight to behold producing stunning 1080p screen resolutions. Sony has finally brought Silicon X-tal (Crystal) Reflective Display down to mass market from its lofty QUALIA line in both 50-in and 60-in. screen sizes. Sony also put forth its vision for the future of the display market in the coming years.
Sony is retreating from the plasma display market entirely to focus on LCD displays in 26-in. to 40-in. sizes, and above 40-in. will be MicroDisplay only. Its MicroDisplay Grand Wega line will be comprised of 3LCD products with screen resolutions of 720p, and SXRD of 1080p. What's interesting here is that Sony's future of display product is quite different than other manufacturers. Why do I say this? Well, for example, CE companies like Hitachi, LG, Panasonic and Pioneer, for example, envision a future for display products dominated by plasma model in the larger screen sizes. Panasonic and Hitachi have further noted that Micro-Display devices will disappear by 2008 or 2009 completely. Do you think that's possible? Sony believes just the opposite that 1080p Micro-Display devices will dominate the large screen projection TV business. While last week, Pioneer claimed that the "burn-in" problem had been licked in plasma, Sony says it just isn't true and that it continues to be a problem. Its one of the reasons that they have shifted their large-screen display products to Micro-Display.
Toshiba, on the other hand, believes in an entirely different future based on SED, which is a combination of flat-panel displays and CRTs. In a private screen last January at CES, Toshiba and Canon previewed this ground-breaking 1080p technology that also produced stunning images. We hope that it will be on the floor at CEDIA next month, but it seems unlikely. SED will definitely be placed on the main show floor at CES in January 2006.
What's interesting about all of this is that each of the major CE companies has a distinctly different version of the future of television displays. Who is right? I do not have a clue. Since I am fond of Micro-Displays, I find it hard to believe that they will go away by 2008 or 2009. Why? First, of all, they fulfill a specific display need. While the largest models are in the $5,000 range for 1080p product, these prices will come down in the next year or so. They are easily the most affordable for the average consumer, and produce some exceptional images. Going forward, they will fulfill the need for HDTV displays. To paraphrase old saying goes, "I have seen the future and it is SED." SED offers the promise of giving all of the benefits of flat-panel displays such as form factor, and the clarity and brightness of CRT sets. The question is can Toshiba ramp up production in 2006 and get them to market in significant quantities to make a difference? It’s a good question, and will remain unanswered till next year. So, for the time being, it’s a horse race to see which technology will be the front runner, and which technology will be the nag. The only certainty that everyone agrees upon is that LCD displays are replacing CRT sets in the 26-in. to 40-in. screen size categories.
Stay tuned for further developments.