Toshiba, Canon to invest AU$2.66 billion in SED TV plant

Toshiba and Canon have nearly doubled their investment in SED Inc. to build a plant that will start mass producing the SED TVs in 2007.

Toshiba and Canon are investing YEN 180 billion (AU$2.66 billion) to build a factory that will make panels for a new type of flat-panel TV based on SED (surface-conduction electron-emitter display) technology, Toshiba said Tuesday.

The investment is being split evenly between the companies for the factory at an existing Toshiba site in western Japan, in Himeji. Construction will begin later this year and the factory will start producing 15,000 50-inch panels per month in January 2007, according to Hiroko Mochida, a spokeswoman for Toshiba.

SED combines elements of CRT (cathode ray tube) and LCD (liquid crystal display) technologies and is being positioned by the companies to compete with plasma TVs.

SED TVs can produce pictures as bright as those of CRT TVs and without the slight time delay sometimes seen on LCD TVs, according to proponents of SED. The technology also uses up to a third less power than plasma panels, according to Toshiba and Canon, which have been developing the technology since the 1990s.

It marks the second major investment the companies have made in the new TV technology. Last September, they said they would spend YEN 200 billion to form a joint venture called SED that will mass produce the TVs.

SED will run the new factory, which will increase production to more than 70,000 panels per month by the end of December 2007, Mochida said.

Toshiba produced CRT TVs at Himeji until it closed that operation last September, she said. The site currently has 1,300 workers making a variety of TV components, she said.

The first SED TVs should go on sale before the end of March. Toshiba has yet to announce screen sizes and prices, but the TVs are likely to sell at a premium to plasma TVs of the same size, the company has said.

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Paul Kallender

IDG News Service
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