The (Near) Future of Flatscreens
Dual-view screens, 3D capabilities, absolute blacks and even lasers and are just a few of the technologies coming soon to a flatscreen near you.
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February 20, 2008 by Rebecca Day

Gamers continue to get TV engineers’ attention as a desirable demographic unto their own. Last year Sharp was the first company to introduce a TV aimed at gamers and at this year’s CES Samsung and Toshiba followed suit. Toshiba has added a gaming mode to its full line of Regza LCD TVs, which allows users to bypass video processing circuitry and thus avoid delay that can occur when playing games. The TVs feature side-mounted input for easy connection of consoles.

Toshiba, joining Mitsubishi, Syntax-Brillian and JVC, showed thin bezel designs measuring from 1.5 to 2.13 inches, and Sharp expanded its D64 series of thin-bezel TVs with 32- and 37-inch models. Sharp says the new cabinets are 25 percent slimmer than previous models allowing for more screen size in less space with weight reduction benefits as well by as much as a fifth over previous TVs. JVC’s 42- and 46-inch thin-bezel models measure 2.9 inches at the center and 1.5 inches thick over the rest of the panel. JVC says its LCDs are thinnest of any TVs with built-in tuners.

Thin may be in but size still counts, too. Panasonic showed a prototype of a 150-inch plasma TV—billed as the world’s largest—at CES with no release dates or pricing. The company’s 103-inch plasma still rings in at $70,000, though, so you do the math.

Dual-View DLP TVs from Samsung and Mitsubishi were spotlighted at the Texas Instruments booth. Dual-View technology enables two gamers to enjoy full-screen, high-def games simultaneously on the same screen for a cool twist on head-to-head gaming. Although all 3-D ready DLP HDTVs are capable of DualView it will be awhile before you see it in a store near you. The TI demo used two game players merged into one, and Schinasi of Samsung says a Dual-View-compatible game player would have to be developed to make the concept viable. “It’s phenomenal technology but more of a future statement,” Schinasi says.

The whole approach to TV is going through a revolution. HP’s new MediaSmart Receiver turns any HDTV into a Media Center Extender. That means you can bring in photos, music, movies and videos stored on PCs around the home into the family room TV. The MediaSmart Receiver works with Microsoft XP and Vista PCs and includes wired and wireless (802.11a, b, g and draft n) network connectivity. HP hasn’t officially tagged a price but the $300 figure is a good bet when the product ships this spring.

Sony has taken the modular approach in its Bravia line, allowing consumers to pick their own features from add-on modules that snap to the back of the set. Modules are available for Internet connectivity, HDMI expansion and wireless HD transmission. The latter enables you to store equipment away from the TV. “This way, when you bring in your 52-inch Bravia,” says Waynick, you don’t have to detract from the look with racks or an entertainment center.” Another module is a compact DVD player that fits unobtrusively on the back of the TV—with side access to the slot. When modules are connected, their functions are automatically imported into the menu system of the TV.

No question about it. These aren’t your father’s TVs.

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