Sony's SXRD projection TV to take on DLP

Sony is taking aim at the US high-definition TV (HDTV) market with a new 70-inch Grand Wega rear projection TV, the company said on Friday.

The KDS70XBR100 will go on sale in January 2005 and is the first projection TV to use Sony's Silicon X-tal Reflective Display (SXRD) technology, hitherto used only in the Qualia luxury brand, the company said. The TV's 16:9 aspect ratio screen has a resolution of 1,920 pixels by 1,080 pixels.

SXRD technology is a development of 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.

True to its roots in the Qualia brand, the SXRD technology doesn't come cheap. The new set will cost approximately US$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 KDF-70XBR950 XBR Grand Vega LCD rear projection HDTV, which has a list price of US$7,000 and can be picked up for as little as US$5,200, according to PCWorld.com's Product Finder service.

Sony wants to launch it ahead of the U.S. football championship 'Super Bowl' game, which is a big driver of large screen TV sales U.S., it said.

The good news is that the new screen delivers a great picture. In a recent demonstration in Tokyo, it 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.

There is 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.

The TV has detachable speakers, and weighs 110 kilograms.

SXRD technology is Sony's answer to Texas Instruments' DLP, 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," said Inoue.

The flagship KDS70XBR100 is at the forefront of Sony's head-to-head battle with Samsung for a share of the U.S. market for flat projection TVs grows as it grows over the next four years, said Inoue. 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 spokeswoman. She declined to say how many of those would be of the new model.

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