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Sony Takes Rear Projection HDTV to the Dump

by December 28, 2007
Sonys new OLED monitor

Sony's new OLED monitor

Sony will close its last rear-projector manufacturing plant next February. Affordable flat panel technologies and OLED has officially killed Sony’s interest in rear projectors.

That may explain the delays in getting your hands on the latest in Sony’s SXRD line.

Having already dumped plasma, Sony can now focus exclusively on flat panel LCD and OLED technologies. Now that prices of larger LCD panels have been dropping, most consumers probably won’t want a rear projector anyway.

The best advice to new HDTV buyers: If you’re looking at a rear projector, you might want to consider an extended warranty.

I can tell you first hand there is no love lost when I traded in my own Sony Wega rear projector for a Panasonic plasma HDTV. The idea of buying replacement lamps every couple of years just doesn’t sit well.

But it’s not just replacement lamps - Lenses, moving parts, fan noise, compromised viewing angle, thickness and weight can all be added to the list of rear projector’s shortcomings. According to Consumer Reports they’re the most serviced HDTV technology in its first five years.

Can Anyone Blame Sony for Wanting Out of that Market?
Sony seems to want to focus on fewer display types and that’s probably a good move from a research and development perspective. The company is now free to focus solely on LCD and OLED flat panels.

OLED Future?
Sony is investing heavily in OLED technology. The next-generation display technology will be flatter, lighter and consume even less energy than LCD panels. With a 3mm thick, 11-inch widescreen OLED monitor already out, Sony wants to be first to make the new technology for the mainstream. They certainly have the money and industry clout to make it happen.

Get ready for competition to heat up in 2008 as Samsung and LG have both announced plans to jump into OLED next year.

irfan posts on December 30, 2007 18:35
as nice as the cheap prices are… my biggest problem with RP is geometry issues. I know some people dead straight geometry, but not me. I have a 50" samsung 720p DLP… and the top edge bows down noticeably. bottom is flat, sides pincushion a hair but i never notice that… but the top is just flat out annoying. Samsung tech said it wasnt bowed enough to warrant a repair so im stuck with it. ive only had it for 15months, but i already know my next tv will be a flat panel.
Wayde Robson posts on December 29, 2007 21:00
I guess I didn't mean to bash rear projection so much. I just sold one and loved it for about four years. It had a great picture. I just got a good deal on a plasma panel and decided to jump ship.

I still think it's a good idea for Sony to narrow its focus on a smaller number of products and try to master those. Just like Colonel and his chicken!
DavidW posts on December 28, 2007 16:07
The Consumer Reports article cited for RPTV reliability is somewhat skewed as bulb replacement is included in the repairs tally.

As such, this is not anymore a repair than calling a floor lamp defective for needing a new bulb.

Another issue with Consumer Reports is does not deal with certain long term issues that affect the life cycle cost of flat panel displays.

With no mechanical moving parts, PDP and LCD have no mechanical reliability issues. But when LCD or PDP does develop a problem, the TV cqan only be replaced to solve the issue. Dead pixels and color deterioration leaves little that can be done to make a repair, and that certainly puts a hurt on the life cycle cost of flat panels.

DLP based RPTVs do not suffer dead pixels or color deterioration that is common in other display technologies. TI has tested the DMD/DLP chips with out damage to over a 119000 hour MTBF (13.6 years of 24/7 TV watching) based on field reliability testing data and a fresh bulb brings color back to new performance.

DMD Hinge Memory Lifetime

Long-Term Data Projector Color Performance Test

TI/DLP White Papers

While there may be potential mechanical problems with the color wheel and lenses, they are all repairable.

With some of the new light source technologies such as LIFI (LIght FIdelity), LED, and lasers bulb replacement will become a non-issue. Lasers and LED also may remove the need for a color wheel, further limiting potential mechanical issues.

TI has also introduced Brilliant Color and by using a 6 color wheel, the color gamut is extended beyond what RBG LCD and PDP are capable of.

All televisions have their pros and cons, flat panels are the current fad, but they are not inherently better.
gliz posts on December 28, 2007 14:37
I have an Akai/samsung PT5250A rear projection (CRT) got it for 700 bucks and it is 52 inch and 1080I I love it. I know that there are better but not for that kind of money. gotta go where the $$ are if you are Sony I guess
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Wayde is a tech-writer and content marketing consultant in Canada s tech hub Waterloo, Ontario and Editorialist for Audioholics.com. He's a big hockey fan as you'd expect from a Canadian. Wayde is also US Army veteran, but his favorite title is just "Dad".

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