LG Electronics and Funai Electric are the latest TV makers to jump on the tru2way bandwagon, both signing the tru2way Memorandum of Understanding and officially pledging their support for the CableLabs-developed platform that allows delivery of two-way interactive digital cable services without a set-top box. Most of the premium name TV brands have already signed on including Sony, Panasonic, and Samsung as have the six biggest cable operators in the United States. Funai Electric-produced home theater devices are sold under the names Philips, Magnavox, Sylvania, and Emerson in the US.
LG is a rapidly growing flat panel brand in the US and the pact with American cable operators could make it even bigger. Starting with LG's 2009 HDTV models, cable subscribers with Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, CableVision, Charter and Bright House Networks will no longer need a set-top box. The tru2way technology platform will be built into LG's 2009 HDTV models so that cable subscribers will be able to access video-on-demand services, interactive games, and even shop right from the TV screen. Maybe you can buy something that'll fit nicely right where that set-top box used to be.
Pantel is the world's premier maker of outdoor HDTV's, but as of late the company has found that the need for waterproof, rugged TV's with a high-quality picture is moving indoors. If you've ever dreamed of building an HDTV right into your shower wall or over top of your bathtub, Pantel's new MirrorTV line is the answer to making those dreams come true. At early September's CEDIA Expo in Denver, Colorado, Pantel will launch three MirrorTV models-in 20-, 32-, and 42-inch sizes-that feature all the trimmings of a typical home theater HDTV, plus a few extras. The MirrorTV line delivers a 720p picture for the two smaller models and 1080p for the 42-inch display when in use but actually functions as a mirror when turned off making it aesthetically perfect for, uh, bathroom use. You'll pay a premium for the Pantel MirrorTV extra's however. The 20-, 32-, and 42-inch models are priced at $1200, $2755, and $5800 respectively.
Hotels everywhere are jumping on the HD bandwagon, bringing high-def programming and giant flatscreens in-house to spice up the visitor experience. In fact, research firm iSuppli expects hotel TV sales to increase by a factor of 11 in the 5 year period between 2007 and 2012 as more people travel for both business and pleasure. 9.7 million units are expected to ship in 2012, up from less than 900, 000 in 2007 as an industry that once brought big money to CRT TV makers upgrade to the likes of LCD and plasma sets.
If you thought Sharp's LB-1085 108-inch LCD HDTV was a monster, you'll be absolutely stunned by Toshiba's new 880-inch LED HDTV dubbed Toshiba Vision Times Square. Okay, so you won't be seeing this in any living room in the near future-it looks over New York City's Times Square from 285 feet above the ground-but with high-def resolution and support for over one billion colors it's definitely worth mentioning. The 51.2 x 52.5 foot LED display integrates 1280 x 1248 LED's outputting a HD image using Toshiba's TECHNOVIRTUAL technology, pixel-sharing technology that uses adjacent pixels to create virtual pixels with a 12.5 mm pitch. The Godzilla of high-def outdoor displays is environmentally friendly thanks to its use of LED's and will be used to market Toshiba products to New York's giant population of gadget geeks.
Syntax-Brillian, the Tempe, Arizona-based maker of Olevia HDTV's, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection after struggling in the past year with weak sales and a failed restructuring attempt. Like nearly every major flat panel maker in the world, Syntax-Brillian has struggled with narrow profit margins thanks to plummeting flat panel prices, but being a second-tier TV maker hasn't fared well with its partnership attempts and executive changes.
The only company under Syntax-Brillian that wasn't under the Chapter 11 filing was their digital camera arm, Vivitar, which will be sold. But a newly formed company called Olevia International Group LLC will take on $60 million of the company's secured debt by purchasing certain assets. Which in the end makes us wonder--is the Olevia TV really dead?
As a wearer of contact lenses and a person that has a wild imagination I've often wondered what it would be like to have some type of display in the lens sitting on my eye. Sitting on the bus home from work, I could just sit there, tune out, and watch a movie and no one would know the difference. An engineering professor at the University of Washington named Babak Parviz is doing just that, embedding electrical circuits on a contact lens and now working on adding LEDs. If he's successful in adding the LEDs, he'll have created the tiniest "personal display" in history.
There are some tough problems to overcome though. First off, the tiny display has to be powered some way. Second off, your eye can't actually focus on something that close so light rays have to be manipulated by the lens itself to enable you to see a clear picture. Plus Parviz has to make sure that the electronics making up his invention don't do any harm to the eye. The engineer behind this feat has his detractors too, but in the future we'll keep our eye on Parviz because who wouldn't want a little TV basically embedded in their eyeball.
While most of us think OLED and "networked" home theater products when looking at the future of Sony, they have yet another television technology up their sleeve. The company recently took over an old Pioneer plant where they plan to start mass producing FED panels in 2009. What is FED? Short for field emission display, FED is a next-gen display technology that takes all of the benefits of cathode ray tube TV's and crunches them into a super-thin display. Think about the deep blacks and total lack of motion blur in old CRT TV's and you have a worthy competitor to LCD and plasma, and OLED since FED panels are much easier to make.
Sony plans to peddle the so-called "dream panels" to big broadcasters and the medical industry first and then slowly work their way into the mainstream consumer market with a 60-inch FED TV debut.
Mitsubishi has roadmapped the release schedule for the 65- and 73-inch LaserVue laser TV's, something we've been anticipating since they unveiled the new models at CES 2008 back in January. The 65-inch LaserVue will be the first to ship sometime in the 3rd quarter, followed soon after by the 73-inch set. What's so great about Mitsubishi's LaserVue TV's? Well, the big advantage of laser technology is that it can deliver roughly twice the color of major brand LCD and plasma sets at only half the energy cost, running at 200 Watts. They're fairly bright too, with a brightness measurement of 500 nits and also feature 120Hz refresh and x.v. Color technology. The big downside with the new LaserVue sets is that they're 10-inches thick, fat as all hell in an industry where thin is in, but not entirely surprising given Mitsubishi's DLP-based TV background. As for price, there hasn't been official word yet, but expect them to be similar to those of comparably sized LCD and plasma sets.