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Sony and Sharp Backing LCD TVs Over Plasma? 249

LostCluster writes "Several reports out of Toyko are indicating that Sony intends on dropping out of the plasma TV business and ramping up productions of LCD TVs instead. Meanwhile rumors have it that Sharp is planning on investing US$1.9 billion on an LCD production plant."
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Sony and Sharp Backing LCD TVs Over Plasma?

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  • by CdBee ( 742846 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @09:12AM (#11136197)
    • by BJH ( 11355 )
      Possible withdrawal from plasma market by Sony []

      "It was discovered on the 20th that Sony is considering reducing the scale of its plasma TV manufacturing and sales business. There is also the possibility that it will withdraw entirely from the market next year. Currently Sony manufactures and sells plasma, LCD and rear-projection types of slim TVs, but with the continued increase in size of LCD screens, it is looking at concentrating its business resources on LCD and rear-projection units, thereby increasin
    • Not surprising (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hoi Polloi ( 522990 )
      No company likes to have knowledge of its plans to discontinue a product released early since no one wants to buy a product that is going to be orphaned. I'm sure Sony doesn't want sales of its plasma screens to die off before it is ready to announce it so it can clear out its inventory and current orders and contracts.
  • by jmcmunn ( 307798 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @09:12AM (#11136198)
    I have been looking at LCD Tv's for my home for the past few months. Unfortunately up until this point the plasmas have been slightly more in my price range for the size I am looking for. Will this shift to LCD technology cause the plasmas to come down in price, because they are "outdated" technology, or will we see the LCD prices come down because there is more production?

    Also, any Slashdotters have recommendations on going with a plasma vs an lcd? Power usage, heat, image quality, overall life of product?
    • by cybrthng ( 22291 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @09:16AM (#11136215) Journal
      The US dollar is falling, so its highly doubtfull LCD tv's will fall that much unless they decide to saturate the market and cut earnings.

      3 new LCD plants have opened that i'm aware of so we may get lucky and see that saturation..

      HOWEVER, Buyer-Be-Ware - Not all tv's are the same. Look at those resulutions, refresh rates and pixel speeds before forking out the cash. Make sure you only buy from a place with a satisfaction guarantee & warranty.
      • The US$ has been falling more against the the Euro than against other currencies; it is is still worth a fairly respectable 105 Yen. Also, who knows where the currency markets will be by the time the plants get going. A weak dollar boosts exports, strengthening the economy, and eventually raising the dollar back up.
    • I wouldn't touch a plasma screen with a barge pole: after only two years of use the brightness will be down to less than half of what it was when you bought it.

      If I didn't already have a 54" back projection TV I'd be in the market for a decent LCD screen.

      That said: LCD displays rely on (non-user replacable) fluorescent(?) tubes and they can blow or dim as well: but from what I've seen LCDs are much cheaper than plasma screens.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 20, 2004 @09:40AM (#11136317)
        after only two years of use the brightness will be down to less than half of what it was when you bought it.

        This was improved a couple of years ago. Current plasma tv's will last roughly a decade before reaching the half-dimmed point.
      • I wouldn't touch a plasma screen with a barge pole: after only two years of use the brightness will be down to less than half of what it was when you bought it.

        This is inaccurate and misleading from several perspectives.

        First of all, plasma brightness loss is related to hours of use, not time in general. That means that whatever dimming you get is proportional to the hours you have the thing on -- so saying "after only two years of use" is a bit bizarre, unless you're talking about leaving the thing

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 20, 2004 @09:31AM (#11136272)
      Look at all the engineering required to make a CRT work. The only reason CRT images are as good as they are is that there is a century of engineering in steering that electron beam and figuring out the shape of the glass and what to coat it with to make it glow in the right colors.

      In other words, making CRTs is a cast-iron bitch.

      They're cheap because of economies of scale and engineering experience.

      Plasmas and LCDs, on the other hand, have (IIRC) direct connections to the pixels to light them up. No steering of a beam involved - just switching electronics, which we've gotten really good at in the last few decades.

      Now we're just waiting for economies of scale to knock down the prices, and engineering experience to make manufacturing more efficient.

      Twenty or thirty years from now, I'd bet a flat-screen TV can be had for the equivalent of a few hundred bucks.

    • Do not go plasma. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @09:58AM (#11136406) Homepage Journal
      My friends have one. They got it last Christmas and you can already tell that it is not as bright as it used to be. Their problem is they got the TV without discussing with the sales people what their viewing habits were. They have a tendancy to leave their TV on all the time.

      Plasmas are good money makers because the bigger ones are not really that more expensive to make. Getting under 42" actually costs more. LCDs are the opposite.

      I have the old fashioned project 5-CRT based HDTV widescreen and have looked at LCD based solution. My opinion, unless you just have to have it NOW wait till later in the year as the prices have been dropping a lot lately and can only get better.
      • GO plasma... (Score:4, Informative)

        by the_skywise ( 189793 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @11:37AM (#11137071)
        "In fact, recent tests have shown that plasmas even increase in brightness and contrast over the first 10,000 hours while LCDs immediately begin to lose light."

        Plasma Myths []

        LCD's also have lousy contrast ratios and poor refresh rates compared to Plasma. However, in the market, one technology doesn't automatically trump another. You gotta shop SMART. Currently there are some good LCD screens that outperform some poor Plasma screens. So just buying Plasma doesn't guarantee you a better picture over LCD. It really depends on how much money you're willing to spend.

        Eventually LCD's are going to catch up and surpass Plasmas but that's not the case now or in the near future (next year or so).

        I myself have a demo Panasonic 42PX20 that has about 6000+ hours on it and I've not noticed any brightness changes at all. My only complaint is that the picture isn't as good as a CRT. But that's true of all flat panels I've observed.

        Important shopping tip kids: Contrast is the key, watch dark scenes. Most of the flat panel screens (LCD, Plasma and RPTV LCD screens) will crunch black. So as soon as you get to a dark scene, you don't see shades of gray, everything just goes to black. (Some TVs will auto-adjust their contrast/brightness to counter this but then you end up with brightntess shifts between bright and dark scenes).

        Caveat Emptor!

        • Re:GO plasma... (Score:3, Informative)

          by larryj ( 84367 )
          I agree. My Panasonic plasma has about 3,000 hours. No brightness issues at all.

          Contrast is a big issue. AFAIK, there isn't an LCD screen that can match the black levels that I get with my plasma (there wasn't in July at least). Yeah, maybe my plasma won't be alive and kicking in 10 years. But I'll enjoy 10 years of dark scenes that are actually black instead of grey.
    • by ChesireKat ( 601712 ) <> on Monday December 20, 2004 @10:06AM (#11136448) Journal
      Being a Circuit City employee, I say LCD is the best bang-for-your-buck, and everyone in our TV department agrees. Plasma is for people who like to show off they have a lot of money.

      And, you HAVE to get the extended warrenty on a plasma (its stupid not to). The LCD extended warrenty is "optional." Most people don't take that into account. Besides, LCD's have a much longer life expectancy.
      • "Being a Circuit City employee, I say [...] extended warrenty is 'optional'"

        Can't you get fired from Circuit City for saying things like that?

        Next you're going to tell me that my new laptop doesn't _really_ need this 1200W subwoofer.

        • Naw, we have a legal obligation to say its optional :).

          However, i AM in the laptop department, and i _know_ a laptop isn't REALLY a laptop without a 1200W subwoofer. AND, an extended warrenty (covers the laptop battery!)
        • You are assuming they pay him enough to care.

        • by caswelmo ( 739497 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @11:04AM (#11136803)
          I love (but am not "in love with") circuit city employees (not managers). I've had great luck with their people knowing about the products and telling me stuff that would probably be considered bad for their managers to know about. That's why I drive a little bit extra to go there instead of Best Buy or similar stores.

          One time I had a Circuit City guy tell me all about home theater options. He told me the Sony stuff pretty much sucked for the price. He then offered me alternatives. I left and thought about my choices some. It was nice to get the real scoop on the products.

          When I came back the next day the salesperson that helped me was actually a manager. He started pushing Sony so I told him what the person had said the day before. He got all indignant and wanted to know who that salesperson was. He said that Sony could punish the store for that sort of thing. When I asked him if they were forced to lie about all of their products & weren't actually interested in helping the customer get the best item, I was met by 10 seconds of silence. When he started into backtrack mode I politely informed him that since he was an asshole I would just go purchase my product online. That started an array of managers and owners trying to "help" me. It was awesome.

          The regular employees are great though.
      • I say LCD is the best bang-for-your-buck, and everyone in our TV department agrees

        Do any of the LCD tv's that have a great bang for the buck happen to include a digital tuner built in? Last time I looked there were lots of digital ready monitors, but no TV's other than NTSC analog. I'm looking for one that's not obsolete in 2 years without another purchase of a seprate tuner. 15-23 inch size would be nice. It shouldn't attempt to empty my nest egg. Price is important also. Price is a great killer of
      • I think you're confused. LCD flat panels are more expensive than plasma, and this is what the grandparent poster and the article were talking about.

        LCD projection on the other hand, is cheaper, but doesn't have the same picture quality as either Plasma or LCD panels. Though it may be the best value, as you say.
    • Unfortunately up until this point the plasmas have been slightly more in my price range for the size I am looking for.

      The home theatre market is limited because of the space required and the high price tag. They are a relatively low volume product with lots of contenders for the limited consumers. You hinted you are considering a TV, but due to price you are holding off. Join the ranks.

      The real void is TV's for the den, dorm, apartment, RV, kitchen, etc. Considering that analog is supposed to be gone
      • "If you know of an under $300 and under 25 inch TV (including the digital tuner built-in), please reply. CRT or LCD is OK. I quit looking last summer. The search was a waste of time."

        At that pricepoint it sounds like you're looking for a low resolution TV with a digital tuner. I would expect to see these the day after the FCC actually shuts off analog NTSC broadcasts to go all digital. There's no hurry to buy this now. They keep saying that day is coming, but the manufacterers are dragging their feet.

    • "Also, any Slashdotters have recommendations on going with a plasma vs an lcd? Power usage, heat, image quality, overall life of product?"

      LCD has better image quality, lower power usage, double the life of plasma, and it doesn't suffer from burn-in like plasma. The only thing I really give plasma is that it's faster. LCD is the superior technology by a long shot, imo.
    • It's a time consuming process that equals expensive product. The prices will never come down to our liking. Even projection screens haven't come down to the $500 dollar level. I have seen some for around $800-900. All of these technologies are not cheap to manufacture.

      There is one hope SED flat panel displays. Slash did an article a week ago. These use nonexpensive manufacturing processes but they wont be out for some time.

  • Not profitable? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FiReaNGeL ( 312636 ) <fireang3l@hot m a i l .com> on Monday December 20, 2004 @09:12AM (#11136199) Homepage
    Jeez... if it's not profitable at the insane price plasma TV sells, I guess it won't be profitable anytime soon...

    Early adopters might get burned on this one... we don't even know how long they last yet. How can a plasma screen fail? LCDs get annoying stuck pixels, CRT just pass out... what about plasma? Do we have an estimated life expectancy on those?
    • Re:Not profitable? (Score:4, Informative)

      by ocelotbob ( 173602 ) <> on Monday December 20, 2004 @09:19AM (#11136226) Homepage
      plasma doesn't last as long and is suceptible to burn-in, much like the video game screens of old had "Game Over" permanently emblazened in there. So if you watch one channel for a long time, you may find your $4000 set permanently branded with their logo.
      • Re:Not profitable? (Score:2, Informative)

        by uktroubs ( 816489 )
        Apart from the fact all plasmas made in the past two years have technology to prevent this from happening. A lil like the urban myth that Plasmas die after three years. This is NOT true, most last about 15+ now days. The technology has changed, manufacturers knew about the restrictions and the problems with the first generation devices, and worked hard to combat a lot of those problems.
        • Re:Not profitable? (Score:3, Interesting)

          by DrSkwid ( 118965 )

          how on earth does anyone know that a plasma TV will last 15 years ?

          • Life Testing (Score:5, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 20, 2004 @09:45AM (#11136335)
            how on earth does anyone know that a plasma TV will last 15 years?

            Well, it's an estimate, but an educated one. At the manufacturing plants we do life testing where we burn in the test units for a specified amount of time (usually three months or more) often under some extreme environment. This is the routine life testing and doesn't even consider the tests which the original design models go through. Anyway, from what we learn from the life tests, we can estimate how long the sets will last in the consumer's homes. 15 years might be a bit optimistic, but it's not a bad estimate. In all honestly, I would put it closer to 10-12 years.

            And yes, I make plasma TVs.
          • Because the ad says so!
      • So if you watch one channel for a long time, you may find your $4000 set permanently branded with their logo.

        And if that's the Playboy Channel, boy are you in trouble with your wife!

    • I saw an ad recently boasting a plasma TV with a 'double the standard lifetime' of 60,000 hours.

      • Reminds me of a joke I once heard:

        "I don't know whether to trust the three year warranty on my new Mercedes. After all, they said the Third Reich would last 1000 years and it only managed about 12."

  • by I confirm I'm not a ( 720413 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @09:13AM (#11136201) Journal

    Auntie Beeb [] claims that Sony are denying reports: it sounds as though industry analysts may be describing what Sony should do, rather than reporting what Sony is doing.

  • well... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by selderrr ( 523988 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @09:15AM (#11136210) Journal
    ... reports ... indicating ... intends ... rumors ... planning ...

    let's wait for real info shall we ?
    Plasma is in a stadium now where LCD was a few years back : cool technology but stuck in the circle of expensive->low sales->expensive->...

    Give it some time.
  • Seems to make sense (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ocelotbob ( 173602 ) <> on Monday December 20, 2004 @09:15AM (#11136211) Homepage
    Plasma TVs always had the appearance of being a niche item to me; only useful for when the cost and logistics of making a big LCD got overly prohibitive. I've got a feeling other makers are going to follow suit as well as LCD technology allows for larger, better screens than before. It just seems more beneficial to have one line that scales than two very separate technologies that require you to diverge your resources.
  • by hattig ( 47930 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @09:22AM (#11136238) Journal
    Plasmas are nice for moving images, although the resolutions don't typically match HDTV resolutions at the moment, and low-end plasmas basically suck for resolution (480P). LCD TV displays are often made now in HDTV compatible resolutions (1280x720, 1920x1080) which automatically makes them a better choice, until plasma displays also come with decent resolution at a comparable price. I'm not saying that there aren't cheap plasmas that have HDTV native resolutions of course, just that the majority of cheap 42" plasmas have 480 lines of resolution *still*.

    The sensible person, of course, will wait 3 years and then pick up whatever is the best techology then, for a much nicer price. Of course, I did promise myself my next TV would be at least 40" on the diagonal, and plasmas are much better at these sizes than LCD TVs which generally top out at 30" for a lot of money.
  • Kibbee (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @09:34AM (#11136288) Homepage
    I still think that CRTs offer the best picture out there, at least for the price. Sure they may take up a little extra space. But they are much better. Most CRTs I've seen last 10 years + with being on for many hours per day. You don't have to worry so much about burn in, and they look good from just about any angle. I don't think i'm going to buy anything other than a CRT for quite some time.
    • I still think that CRTs offer the best picture out there, at least for the price.

      They also offer the most efficient hernia creation out there too, at any price.
      36" Sony WEGA =~ 250lbs @ US$2100
      100" Optoma 939 front projector & screen =~ 20lbs @ US$1700

      • 36" is out of the speet spot for CRTs. CRTs are most price competitive around 25 and 27 inches and get far heavier and pricier beyond that.

        Projectors are most competitive for insanely large sizes.
      • Re:Kibbee (Score:3, Interesting)

        by plague3106 ( 71849 )
        Ok, i actually own a Sony WEGA 36", and its NOT 250lbs. Its still heavy, weighing in at 100lbs, but lets not over exaggerate here.
        • Re:Kibbles-n-bits (Score:2, Informative)

          Ok, i actually own a Sony WEGA 36", and its NOT 250lbs. Its still heavy, weighing in at 100lbs, but lets not over exaggerate here.

          Sorry, I meant the Sony WEGA 34" [] model which, as you can see is spec'd at 194lbs unpacked. Packed it is in the 240-250 range. I know this, because a friend, against my counseling, bought one last month.
      • Re:Kibbee (Score:2, Funny)

        by mopower70 ( 250015 )
        Which is why I call Comcast any time I need my 36" Wega moved. They usually send two guys, neither of whom is usually very smart, and it's generally easy to convince them that for some reason - the "cable" problem goes away if the TV is "over there".
    • When I was researching what HDTV to buy last year I watched my favorite movies on lots of different setups and (IMHO) for movies like Blade Runner with lots of dark settings LCDs just don't cut it at all.

      So for me, it wasn't bang for the buck, it was just a better viewing choice for what I like to watch. Of course it weighs a ton and is on the small side, but...
    • CRTs are a better picture than plasma or lcd yes, but you're forgetting about DLP. Best picture bar none, and slightly smaller than CRT. There is NO reason to get a CRT over a DLP.
  • IMHO, as long as plasma TVs are trendy, Sony can't afford NOT to make them. There are people who buy Sony just because they see it as a high-tech company, and I don't believe they can afford to loose that. Their speed in denying this report prooves it.
  • A wise decision (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Kosi ( 589267 )
    These plasma screens are inferior in so many ways:

    - less lifetime
    - more power consumption / heat
    - less resolution
    - deteriorating display quality

    Is there even only one discipline where the point goes to plasma?
    • Is there even only one discipline where the point goes to plasma?

      Out of the box, plasma usually has a brighter, clearer display. It's almost false advertising in a way. Plasma looks clear and beautiful when you buy it, but it quickly fades.

      Anybody have details on this new DLP technology? I know nothing about it except that it supposedly has the clarity of plasma without the long term fading.
      • DLPs have been around for a few years in front projectors for presentations. They offer about 10 times the conrast ratio and pixel speed of LCD projection. This is due to the fact that DLPs use tiny mirror to actually switch each pixel in and out of view. LCD are just light filters and leak even at full black.

        There are two more new display technologies that will gain on these in a few years: Field Emision Display (FED) and Organic Light Emmiting Diodes (oLED).
  • Makes sense. Plasma TVs are not really worth it, money-wise. Beautiful picture, yes, but they have a fairly limited lifespan as the gas starts to lose its charge. I couldn't justify thousands of dollars that I'd have to end up spending again in a few years as the picture fades.
    • by Technician ( 215283 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @12:42PM (#11137675)
      Beautiful picture, yes, but they have a fairly limited lifespan as the gas starts to lose its charge.

      Nice guess. The real killer is the plasma. Plasma is made of excited high speed atoms. (speed equates to heat at these geometries) If only a photon hit the phosphor then things would be fine, but the plasma (hot gas) hits the phosphor and sputters it away (much like a sputter dep tool or etcher in the manufacture of semiconductors). The display is a plasma etcher sputtering away the phosphors that produce the pretty colors.

      In newer sets they are trying to reduce this erosion of the phosphors. I'm not sure how they are doing this, but a hot plasma near a soft phosphor still equates to some sputtering.

      At least in an LCD TV, the lamp is replaceable for less than $50 in parts. (cold cathode tube) This is not the case in a plasma set.
  • Good News (Score:2, Interesting)

    by twalls ( 789774 )
    This is good news considering one of my Sony plasmas refused to turn on after only a year (instead flashing an error code). After months of fighting Sony for support, they finally shipped a refurbished replacement from one end of the US to the other. This unit was purchased from Sound Advice as a consumer product and yet was treated as an "industrial" product, from both companies, when the need for support came along.
  • Brightness and noise (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gilesjuk ( 604902 ) <<giles.jones> <at> <>> on Monday December 20, 2004 @09:52AM (#11136370)
    Will LCD avoid the need for cooling fans or will the required brightness for a larger screen mean brighter backlights and therefore more heat?
  • Since there seem to be quite a few postings that are negative on plasma display technology, here are some reasons to purchase a Plasma TV over an LCD TV:

    - Display size. Plasma is available in much larger sizes, and is cheaper at the 42" size than LCD.
    - Black level. Good plasma (i.e. those based on Panasonic glass) panels display a darker black. LCD blacks often are very bright gray - especially noticable when viewing in a dark room.
    - Viewing angle. LCDs usually offer a narrower viewing angle than pla
  • We went with LCDs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Therlin ( 126989 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @10:04AM (#11136441)
    We were looking at installing some displays around the offices to show news, PR, etc (you know, that "modern look" you see everywhere).

    After some reasearch we chose LCDs due to the aging and burn-in issues of Plasma TVs. An LCD would be more expensive, but give us a much better life.

    Other offices went with Plasma TVs instead. Fast forward a few years, now they are complaining about brightness issues, logo burn-ins, etc and they are budgeting to replace them. Our LCDs are happily chugging along.

    So these news, true or not, do not come as a surprise to me.
  • Makes sense! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Zog The Undeniable ( 632031 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @10:05AM (#11136447)
    Not just because Sony don't actually manufacture plasma panels, but because it's a dead end technology. Plasma screens are horribly expensive (and not potentially as cheap as LCDs could become), they run hot and have a surprisingly short service life. LCD is the way to go, and it's catching up fast.

    /insert flames from irate plasma TV owners below

    • Re:Makes sense! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MtViewGuy ( 197597 )
      I think what will relagate plasma displays to the dustbin of history will be a combination of cheaper rear-projection TV's using DLP, HD-ILA or LCD projection technology and the arrival of long-life Organic LED diplays over the next 24 months.

      Anyone who's seen the current Samsung HL-5063W DLP projection TV knows they've finally mastered the problems that plagued earlier DLP sets; for picture quality the current Samsung DLP sets are hard to beat. =)
    • /insert flames from irate plasma TV owners below

      The current lack of such responses indicates that irate plasma TV owners abstained from posting out of shame.
  • London installed big plasma TV screens all over the place to use as status boards. This was a few years back.

    Let me see: they're on 24 hours a day and they tend to display the same image for very long periods of time. Can you guess what happened? Yup, within six months they were badly burnt, and after a couple of years they were nearly unreadable.

    They've recently all been replaced with orange LED-grid displays. They're brighter, bigger, much easier to read, and probably have huge lifetimes.

    I hat

  • This debate rears its ugly head again. Well, after two years experience with both Technologies (LCD & Plasma). I still prefer the Plasma over the LCD and IT cost less and is a larger screen size 42" as opposed to 30" for the LCD (purchased online of course). While the LCD is a true HDTV (720p), and the Plasma is EDTV. The Plasma still looks better IMO for all video sources. The couple of advantages the LCD has are weight savings and Brightness in sunlight (the plasma isn't pleasing with a bunch of
  • Who says plasma is horribly expensive. $1850 for a 42" screen is nice: 9 3- EVEREST-22213DKMLK838&ic=TH42PWD7UY

    Panasonic plasmas 4000:1 contrast ratio actually is watchable in dark movies. LCD looks awful in dark scense. It's just a gray mess.

    Why do you think all the professional users at TV News studios use Panasonic plasma and not LCD? Because it looks much better for video. Black is black not gray.

    You don't need HDTV resolution at 42" if you are s
  • Let them kill off plasma, it has a short part life and is expensive to maintain. LCD still lacks contrast and pixel response times. I'll take DLP any day of the week over either one.
  • A projector. At least the bulbs are easy to replace when they go.

    Half open the blinds, and project porn onto them so that the whole street can watch!.

  • by jmichaelg ( 148257 ) on Monday December 20, 2004 @02:22PM (#11138645) Journal
    A year before the dot com bust, Sony bought the display rights to Silicon Light's [] GLV technology. GLV is a reflective grid that can dynamically steer laser light onto a wall. They were talking about 1080p x 1920 real resolution [] back then. Native 1080i x 1920 alone is still rare and as far as I know, no display technology available today is delivering 1080p.

    The GLV itself isn't tough to build so I'm curious what the hang up was in getting GLV displays to market. Do lasers die young or did Sony just buy it to kill a competing technology?

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