What that article was stating is rather harsh. Japan has been a great visual technology producer for decades. The is not here for these brands. TVs today are highly competitive indeed, there are some reviews about that on http://www.standsandmounts.com/plasmaandlcdmounts.aspx. It will be interesting to watch the evolution of this industry in the next few years.
Can you adjust your surround sound?
I use a so-called "Hafler circuit" for surround sound. Initially, I had the same problem you describe. The surround sound, on some material, drowned out the dialogue. Very annoying.
The fix, in the Hafler circuit situation anyway, was to add 16 ohms in series between the two surround speakers (which are wired in series with this scheme). That was enough to tame the surround effects.
I would expect that any actual Dolby surround processor has a volume setting for the ambience level. Turn it down, and that should solve the problem.
I suspect that younger people in executive positions at consumer companies don't see it as an issue.
Also the music + voice is an integral part of the program makers's package.....so the director likes it that way....while audio description and subtitles are a service that is added and can therefore be omitted easily.
I tried to watch Line of Duty last night but found the music drowned out the conversation so that I heard about 60% of it. I find this with a lot of the programs on TV. It is time that TVís were fitted with a mute button to turn unwanted back ground noise off. Audio description can be turned off as can subtitles so why are we not able to turn off irritating loud music. It may be possible for younger people to hear through this music but older people will have trouble hearing the dialog. This has been brought up many times in the past and we are informed that people like this noise,but next time you do a survey about this please ask older people
I think there are a few misunderstandings in the history of the TV industry. The issues that Zenith and RCA faced are radically different than those faced by Sony, Panasonic, and Sharp, and had very little connection with "America's industrial decline."
Visio is the best example of today's reality: They don't make the glass, they don't make the ASICs, they don't make the low-level display processing algorithms. What they do amazingly well is integrate readily available components into great products.
Sony's problem, and it's been eveident for years, is that in the post-CRT world, they had no inherent advantage. Since there are only a small handful of glass manufacturers, and a small handful of display processor manufactors, everyone had access to the exact same building blocks, and there could be little differentiation in performance. Usability, interoperability, and secondary "value-added" differences are what make a TV from one vendor better than another. Sony could no longer charge a premium for non-existant "better picture quality", nor were people willing to put up with the crappy propritary interconnection networks that they came up with. It became integration (with a little manufacturing) rather than technology.
Zenith became LG because of structural problems in the company caused by the idiot CEO running the company into the ground. Remember, they were also a computer and stereo manufacturer, set top box manufacturer, CA provider, and one of the major contributors to the HDTV grand alliance. It all imploded overnight.
RCA had bled itself dry by backing a number of losing technologies, including their Laser-Disk competitor. It was a husk when it was sold.
The TV is still the center of most households. The difference is that it has, from the CE perspective, become a commodity.
its not much to do with quality, Japanese are still leading in development of technologies, where they are lacking is *marketing.
Japanese industry and Korean are fueled by completely different ideologies.
it is hard to compete against Korean company on price with their weak currency and strong government backing and market flooding tactics, the country is basically run by Samsung.
Their "nation branding" initiative is surely to backfire if it is not already beginning to occur.
"Abandoning TV business was unthinkable in Japan -- as far as I remember."
That was my impression as well, but I suspect the notion was based on corporate ego and national pride, not economic fundamentals. Those same factors will complicate stemming the losses and getting out of the TV business.
"China is next, btw."
If you mean, "China will be subject the the same phenomenon, and stop being low cost producer, I agree.
We are already seeing leading indicators. That pool of cheap labor comprised of peasants off the farm flocking to the cities to get factory jobs that pay better and are less arduous isn't as big as it was, and Chinese manufacturers are increasingly having to compete for workers and pay higher wages as a result, driving up their cost. One of the big manufacturers announced a full-scale push into robotics precisely to get around that problem and be competitive in the future.
Who will replace China as low cost producer is uncertain, but *someone* is likely too.
Yes, but why is this surprising? As others have noted, US manufacturing went through the same evolution precisely. for TVs, for all other consumer electronics, for home appliances, for cars, for outboard motors for boats, you name it. All areas where it was "unthinkable" that the US would not dominate forever.
China is next, btw.
My only point was, just because the TV business is less profitable, because it is a mature business, does not mean that people aren't buying TVs. Or actually, aren't buying large screen displays. They still are. It just so happens that these large screens are not used ONLY for watching broadcast or cable television shows, per se. So clever innovation, meaning not the half-baked "connected TV" variety, should pay off in TV design still.