We're finally starting to buy flat panel LCD HDTVs again, according to a research report released by DisplaySearch today. The report states that 3rd quarter shipments of LCD HDTVs rose for the first time in a year, and predictions for the 1st quarter of 2010 indicate that TV sales could surpass those of 1st quarter 2009, the first gain in 6 quarters.
Total TV shipments will grow to 218 million units next year, compared to 205 million units this years. The market share of LCD HDTVs will also increase from 140.5 million units this year to 170 million units next year.
Demand will be especially strong in North America in the 19-32 inch display sizes thanks to dirt cheap prices. In fact, 2009 brought an average 9 percent price decline on all TVs and prices will drop even more in 2010. That also meant a drop in revenues this year a full 10 percent from $112 billion to $101 billion.
I find the stats for frame rate market share especially interesting. According to the DisplaySearch research, 100/120 Hz frame rate displays will soak up 26 percent of the market in 2009, but 200/240 Hz displays will only account for 5 percent of the market. Amazingly, things won't grow too much by 2013. 120 Hz display share will grow to 31 percent while 240 Hz share will increase a bit more to 20 percent.
Plasma, and believe it or not, CRT TV sales will also remain a factor. 14.6 million plasma TVs will ship in 2010 due to growing demand centered in China. 32 million CRT sets are expected to ship--but where and to who, who knows?
If 3D TV takes off, 2010 will be the year. It's been a long time coming and the success of Avatar over Christmas has really brought the idea to the forefront of mainstream consciousness. At CES next month, I expect there to be a ton of 3D-related products announced. I didn't think satellite cable providers would be first to jump on the 3D bandwagon in 2010, however.
Apparently though, DirecTV will bring the United States its first 3D HDTV channel next year. The satellite which will make this possible will be fully operational by March and existing set-top boxes will only require a firmware update to support 3D. The problem lies in the fact that not too many people have 3D-capable HDTVs. That'll be a requirement for the DirecTV content to work.
Next week we'll see 3D HDTVs on display at CES from Sony, Samsung, Mitsubishi, LG. Expect price to remain an issue for a few years to come.
Androidforums.com user kwaping dug up a nifty piece of info in the FCC database a couple of days ago that could be of importance to home theater fanatics. According to the filing, the upcoming Google Nexus One mobile phone will have an add-on Bluetooth dock dubbed the "Nexus One Dock" or the CR B410. Interestingly the Nexus One has built-in Bluetooth so the dock could be, for example, connecting the Nexus One to a home theater AV receiver as a remote or something similar. It'll be impossible to verify this until an actual commercial release which could be in early January, but it's a possibility nonetheless.
Oppo Digital, maker of the $499.99 BDP-83 Blu-ray player and an $899.99 special edition of the same, will be releasing a lower-cost Blu-ray player in early 2010. This according to a Twitter tweet from the company that specifically pointed out "early January 2010" as timing for the announcement. This could only mean that Oppo will announce the new Blu-ray player at CES 2010 though it said to check out its website around that time for more information. No specifications or pricing information are known at this time.
Yamaha continues its pre-CES 2010 product release frenzy with the YHT-S400 sound bar home theater audio package. Made up of a 2-inch high sound bar small enough to sit in front of most 32- to 50-inch HDTVs without blocking the screen, and a subwoofer-integrated receiver, the Yamaha YHT-S400 is capable of receiving HD audio signals from Blu-ray players, has 3 1080p-compatible HDMI inputs and a single output, and includes a number of proprietary audio technologies. The YHT-S400 also supports the company's YDS-11 iPod dock and the YBA-10 Bluetooth wireless receiver enabling streaming of A2DP audio from mobile phones, laptops and desktop computers. Available now, the Yamaha YHT-S400 is priced at $599.95.
LG Display released an ultra-thin 5.9 millimeter LCD panel back in May of this year, and while that was impressive, it's positively thick compared to the 2.6 millimeter panel it claims it has now created. The panel measures 42-inches, weighs less than 4 kilograms (making it ideal for wall-mounting), sports a 120 Hz refresh rate, and uses an edge-lit LED backlighting system and optical film technology to bring the thickness down. The 1080p panel will be on display at CES 2010 in Las Vegas next month.
ZDNet is reporting that Sony has partnered with 3D tech firm RealD to bring 3D technology to Sony Bravia HDTVs and the Playstation 3 Blu-ray player. The latter we've heard about already, mentioned with the release of the Blu-ray 3DTM 3D viewing standard, but the addition of the Bravia line is new.
By adding RealD technology to its products, Sony will enable viewers to watch compatible media in 3D, with the help of special glasses, of course. I would expect some serious product announcements at CES 2010 this coming January in Las Vegas, followed by a massive 3D home theater trend that will take up a heck of alot of headlines during the rest of the year.
The Blu-ray disc Association today finalized and released the Blu-ray 3DTM specification, bring true 3D Hollywood content a little closer to our living rooms. The specification encodes 3D video using the Multiview Video Coding (MVC) codec, an extension of the ITU-T H.264 Advanced Video Coding (AVC) codec currently supported by all Blu-ray players. The new MPEG3-MVC standard compresses both left and right eye views roughly twice as much as typical 2D content, and can 1080p backward compatibility with 2D players. Blu-ray 3DTM also supports 3D Blu-ray playback on the Playstation 3 and will enable 2D playback of 3D discs. The complete specification will be available to the public shortly.
Today JVC has introduced two new soundbar home theater systems--the 5.1-channel TH-BA3 and the 4.1-channel TH-BS7.
JVC claims the TH-BA3 is the world's first dual wireless home theater soundbar featuring both a wireless subwoofer and wireless surround speakers. The system pumps out 280 Watts and built into the soundbar is a power amplifier, surround decoding, system controls and the transmitter for the wireless surround speakers. Capable of decoding Dolby Digital, DTS and Dolby ProLogic II surround signals, the TH-BA3 also includes one analog and two optical digital inputs. The soundbar system is now available for $549.95.
The TH-BS7 is differentiated by its slim design meant to complement today's super-thin HDTVs and its ability to be wall-mounted. The soundbar is only 1.4 inches tall, the wall-mountable amplifier is even slimmer (1.2 inches) and the unit also includes a wireless subwoofer (with a 6-inch woofer powered by a 100 Watt amp). According to JVC's press release, the slim design is in part due to the design of its "Direct Drive speaker technology that uses a unique voice coil design and strong neodymium magnets" to deliver sound. The four Direct Drive speakers are all pushed by 20 Watts while the entire system boasts 180 Watts overall. Like the TH-BA3, the TH-BS7 is capable of decoding Dolby Digital, DTS and Dolby Pro Logic II sound and has one analog input. However the TH-BS7 throws in an extra optical digital input making it three available for use. Also available this December, the TH-BS7 costs $599.95.
Would you bet the working life of a 60-inch HDTV on the outcome of an NFL football game? I personally wouldn't, but Wayne A. Spring definitely would. Last weekend he offered his TV up to gunfire if the New Orleans Saints beat the Washington Redskins. Lo and behold that's exactly what happened. I won't bore you with anymore textual details--simply watch the video above in its entirety!
With the holidays just around the corner, it's about time us home theater buffs got the show on the road before the best of the best is all sold out. With the wide gamut of products available on the market--whether HDTVs, Blu-ray players, home theaters in a box--it's tough to know what the best buy is for your cash. Here's 3 separate HDTV series' that definitely are worth your hard earned money. Just print off this list and either head out to your local electronics shop or your favorite online retailer and get shopping!
Cheapies but goodies
Prices have come time quite a bit over the past couple of years and a smart buyer can net a decent HDTV for under $1000--even something in the 40 - 50 inch range. So what do we recommend? Here goes.
Panasonic X1 and S1 series plasma HDTVs
The Panasonic X1 series may only boast 720p resolution, but according to many reviews it also offers the best black-level-for-dollars-spent ratio available. Available in sizes ranging from 26 to 50 inches, the largest size offers the best deal. The cheapest online right now for the TC-P50X1 is $699.99. Features include 600 Hz motion refresh, three HDMI inputs, 30000:1 contrast ratio and more.
The Panasonic S1 series is a step up from the X1 family with full 1080p resolution, 40000:1 contrast ratio, 600 Hz motion refresh, and until December 12, a free Blu-ray player is included. The 42-inch model is a pretty great deal priced at $764.99 from Amazon.
This LCD series from LG has been reviewed by many of the major A/V media outlets and has fared well every time. With models ranging from 32 to 47 inches, the LH30 has a model for every room in the house. The best deal currently seems to be in the 47-inch variation, available from Amazon for only $879currently.
Looking to bridge the gap between physical Blu-ray and DVD disc sales and streaming video sales, Amazon has just announced a new promotion that enables disc buyers one month to watch the purchased film instantly via streaming. It sounds good, but the Disc + On Demand deal only consists of 313 movies right now, and none of those are particularly new. Hopefully this changes if the promotion becomes a permanent fixture within the company.
Most home theater fanatics probably aren't all that interested in a 32-inch HDTV. Not only is the picture resolution, etc. less obviously better or worse on smaller screens, but bigger just tends to be plain ol' better. If you happen to be looking for something smaller, however, whether it be for a bedroom or other secondary viewing area, CNET says the 32-inch Sharp LC-32D47UT should be a possibility on your shopping list. Why? Not because of an extraordinary picture quality. In fact, compared to most entry-level LCD HDTVs, the D47UT could probably use some spicing up. But three HDMI inputs, two component video, and a PC input provide plenty of connectivity, and the black levels and energy efficiency are both worth mentioning as well. Plus, with a price tag of $390 you can't really complain about the dollars you're shelling out either.
It's unlikely the 23-inch LG LM230WF4 computer monitor will be available for sale in North America anytime soon, but it's still worth mentioning because it is the first of its kind to offer both 3D capability and 1080p resolution in the same LCD panel. Using a 3D controller and copper bus line, the LM230WF4 show both 3D and 2D images, has 400 cd/m2 brightness, a 3 millisecond response time, and 1000:1 contrast ratio. As with most 3D technologies in these early days, this LG monitor requires shutter glasses. No word on when and if the LG LM230WF4 will ship, and if so, for how much.