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Televisions (June 2007)

Sony, Sony, Sony Days...
by John R. Quain
Are rear-projection sets about to join CRTs?

The ineluctable march of new HDTVs continued as Sony recently debuted its fall line of monitors and displays for the press in New York. The presentation revealed some attractive new models but also underscored the fact that rear-projection sets—no matter how sophisticated—may go the way of dinosaur CRT sets.
Sony TVs

Sony did introduce five new rear-projection Bravia SXRD HDTVs, all of which offer sharp 1080p pictures. And the company has added 120Hz high frame rate technology. The latter basically doubles the number of images put up on the screen per second, which reduces blur and increases picture sharpness in scenes with fast motion (particularly sporting events). The 120 Hz technology, which Sony calls Motionflow, also has the side-effect of improving the brightness of the rear-projection sets.

However, the top-of-the-line projection sets, the 60-inch KDS-Z60XBR5 and 70-inch KDS-Z70XBR5, will still demand premium prices--$5,000 and $6,000 respectively.

Compare this to Sony’s other line introduction: nine new Bravia flat-panel LCD HDTVs. All of the new models will be full HD as well, at 1080p, and the XBR versions will also include the 120Hz feature—a feature we consider essential if you’re shopping for a set this fall. The 120 Hz rate substantially improves LCD images, and Sony has added a “Theater mode” button to compensate for the lack of detail in dark movie scenes. Prices for the sets start at about $3,000 for the 40-inch models and range up to just over $5,000 for the top-of-the-line 52-inch sets.

The bottom line is that pricing pressure from LCDs is squeezing out rear-projection TVs (not to mention plasma sets) even at the high end and within individual company’s product lines. If you really want the biggest picture possible, rear-projection sets are still the way to go, but one has to wonder for how long….




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