Sony's SXRD Projection TV to Take on DLP

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Sony is taking aim at the high-definition TV (HDTV) market with its new 70-inch Grand WEGA rear-projection TV. The KDS70XBR100--scheduled to ship in January 2005--is the first projection TV to use Sony's Silicon X-tal Reflective Display (SXRD) technology, hitherto used only in the Qualia luxury brand, says Sony.

SXRD has been developed from LCD (liquid crystal display) technology, and features pixels that are much smaller and more densely packed than in a conventional panel. In a projection TV, the image is displayed on a small panel and projected onto a larger glass screen using a system of lenses, which means that HDTV resolution requires a large number of pixels in a small panel. The SXRD technology was first announced in early 2003 and introduced into the company's Qualia 004 front projector.

SXRD Technology Carries Premium

True to its roots in the Qualia brand, the SXRD technology doesn't come cheap. The new set will cost approximately $11,000, according to Tatsuya Inoue, senior general manager of Sony's Home Electronics Network Company. That's considerably more than Sony's current-generation 70-inch Grand Vega LCD rear projection HDTV, which carries a list price of $7000 and can be picked up for as little as $5200, according to PCWorld.com's Product Finder service.

In a recent demonstration in Tokyo, the new screen--which has a 16:9 aspect ratio and a resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels--delivered a great picture. The screen provided high enough resolution and subtle enough colors to allow viewers to notice the repaired dings in the bodywork of a Ferrari sports car featured in a demonstration video.

The TV also has detachable speakers and a 200-watt high-output lamp that delivers bright colors and improved color rendering, especially for reds, according to Sony. The Ferrari certainly looked fiery in the demonstration.

Niche Audience

Sony says it wants to launch the new model ahead of the U.S. Super Bowl football championship game, which is a big driver of large-screen HDTV sales.

SXRD technology is Sony's answer to Texas Instruments' DLP (digital light processing) technology, used in almost all rear-projection HDTVs. Given the new model's price, Sony is not aiming to go into direct competition with DLP models.

"This is not for the mass market," says Inoue.

The flagship KDS70XBR100 model is at the forefront of Sony's head-to-head battle with Samsung for a share of the growing U.S. market for flat projection TVs, says Inoue. Inoue expects that market to grow over the next four years. Sony claims a number-one spot with a 30 percent market share of TVs of all types sold in the US, according to company data. Next year, Sony wants to sell 730,000 projection TVs.

Within this figure, the company plans to sell 430,000 non-CRT (cathode ray tube) TVs, according to Mina Naito, a Sony spokesperson. She declined to say how many of those would be of the new model.

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