Well, it’s that time of the year with CES coming in a little more than two weeks. Can there possibly be any news in the world of Digital TV and high-definition DVD? Sura>prising, the answer is YES! There was two developments that were noteworthy in the past week. The first was the public announcement by HP that it now also supports HD DVD, and the second was gleaned from a pre-CES meeting with Texas Instruments (TI). Each in their own way may have great significance.
Previously, HP only supported the Blu-ray Disc format exclusively. Although, HP had requested the Blu-ray Disc Association to adopt two customer-friendly technologies, Mandatory Managed Copy (MMC) and iHD. These are already included in the HD-DVD format. The BDA has only adopted MMC, and not iHD, which apparently left HP somewhat frustrated, and is citied as one of the reasons for deciding to back the HD DVD format. Of course, the other reason could be Microsoft, who is already a backer of HD DVD, putting pressure on HP. One of Microsoft liking HD DVD is because it sees Sony as a major threat and it’s arch-rival in gaming. So, this was one interesting development that may bolster HD DVD, who is now clearly seen as the underdog in the next-generation DVD format wars. So, while HD DVD seemed almost dead, and insignificant, HP has breathed new life into this optical disc format.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Texas Instrument’s DLP management group earlier this week to discuss their thoughts on the future of Micro-Displays (MD). The first question that I asked was regarding what many manufacturers claim, in which 2005 was the peak year for Micro-Displays. TI claims that that prediction is certainly overstated by those flat-panel manufacturers who have extensive LCD and plasma factories in Japan and Korea. TI sees growth for 2006 and beyond. While they admit that DLP technology has the largest share of the MD market, Sony’s SXRD (a variant of LCoS) is certainly a threat as their Pittsburgh should be close to optimization of their several assembly lines Previously, Sony has estimated that they could produce a million units a year of SXRD HDTVs in the Pittsburgh factory alone. So, between Sony and the several manufacturers who market DLP HDTVs, TI sees a very promising 2006.
A trend that TI expects to continue is to see more 1080p displays, and the prices coming down more in 2006. With the reduced depth of MDs, it makes a better buy for the consumer who wants larger screen sizes – 50-in. and above (plasma territory). TI indicated that sizes for DLP chips in 2006 will be 20-percent smaller packing brighter images and resolution is a smaller package. TI also indicated that they will be showing off a new light source at CES – LED. Instead of using UHP and other lamp sources, LED light sources may be used going forward in 2006/2007 by some manufacturers like Samsung.
I’ll report on more things to look for at CES next week. Stay tuned to Digital TV DesignLine for the latest news and developments in DTV, next-generation optical technologies, and set-top box design.