Invasion of the MicroDisplay’s

November 1, 2004

 HDLP50W151Rear-projection TV sales continue to grow, even as many find their “bulk” unsightly compared to the newer thinner flat panel displays. However a new generation of RPTV’s may change some buyers impression of what a rear projection television looks like.

Enter the MicroDisplay, this category of television may be harder to define, than say a LCD or Plasma, but for the most part they are slim cabinet RPTV’s powered by either a DLP or LCD projection device. The difference between these sets and the rear projection units of the 1990’s is depth and resolution, more of the latter and less of the former.

MicroDisplay’s have actually been around for almost four years, but only recently have they experienced a boom, mainly in part due to the recent collaboration between InFocus and RCA. In the last few months alone over 5 new thin cabinet rear projection televisions have been introduced to the market with even more to follow in 2005. One of the major advantages to this style of television is price, specifically those using DLP as a projection source. Several thousand dollars can be shaved off the price of a similarly sized plasma or LCD panel, while only adding on average 6 to 7 inches of cabinet depth.

Size, price, resolution, and form factor are driving MicroDisplay televisions growth in the RPTV category. While LCD, Plasma, and even LCoS to some degree still rule the flat panel market, we’re predicting an explosive growth for MD’s in the next two years. Simply put, the rear projection product model has a little life left in it yet. Look for sales of thin RPTV’s to continue to grow, especially in the larger size range of 50 to 60 inches.
A recent consumer survey found that more than 70 percent of consumers want a 40 inch or larger television, but they also want it for an affordable price. The most that consumers in this study were willing to pay was under $4,000. So it’s evident that consumers are willing to pay more for new technologies, but maybe not ‘that’ much more. Also many of the participants stated their desire for a ‘less bulky’ rear RPTV, adding additional fuel to the microdisplay fire.

While InFocus has taken a decidedly high end direction with their MD’s, some retailing for almost what a similarly sized plasma would sell for, RCA has aimed for a broader target with their 50” 16:9 set priced around $3899.00. It’s likely that those prices will drop even further in the coming months. One interesting thing to spring from this new/old technology is the nomenclature surrounding it. I’ve called them several different names just in the preceding text. Some dealers use terms such as “DLP TV”, “table top DLP’s”, or even “slim rear projection televisions”. What ever you decide to call them, take a look and see what’s available, especially if you’re in the market for a set larger than 42” and plasma prices haven’t quite ‘gotten there’ for you.

Posted by Bryan Greenway | | Filed Under Display Technology