Requiem for Rear Projection: Mitsubishi Exits TV Business

The end of an era

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Like Stonehenge, rear projector TVs are now just an icon from a former era.

A lot of people in the HDTV industry had been expecting this, but it’s finally official. Mitsubishi has announced that it’s leaving the consumer TV business, thus signaling an end of the rear projection TV market.

CE Pro’s Julie Jacobson broke the news over the weekend:

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Mitsubishi Electrical Visual Solutions America, Inc. (MEVSA), the group in charge of the RPTV and other video product lines for both residential and commercial markets, has sent a letter to authorized service centers indicating they are “discontinuing the manufacture of 73”, 82” and 92” DLP projection televisions.”

Jacobson spoke with Mitsubishi’s Max Wasinger, who told her that the company will exit the DLP TV business and concentrate on home theater projectors and display products for the B-to-B market.

Mitsubishi was one of the first companies to offer a DLP-based rear projector TV, and was the first, and only, to offer a laser-based rear projector TV. All the rest of the major TV makers left the rear projection business several years ago. JVC and Sony had pushed LCoS-based sets for a while, and Samsung offered some LED-based DLP TVs, but all of those were abandoned for flat screen or front projection markets.

Mitsubishi introduced several new models earlier this year, but they apparently weren’t enough to sustain the business.

While it’s disappointing to see an innovative company leave the business, it’s not all that surprising. Once flat panel TV prices began to dramatically decrease, sales migrated to the slim form factor rather than the comparatively large footprint of rear projection sets. Still, for a long time, Mitsubishi’s DLP TVs were the biggest bargain in the home theater world. Where else could you find 82-inch 1080p TVs for around $2,000? Buyers who could spare a little extra TV table space could score a huge screen for a modest investment. As a comparison, Sharp’s current 90-inch LED LCD TV costs about $10,000 while Mitsubishi’s 92-inch TV can be had for around $5,000.

We’re happy that Mitsubishi will be sticking around to offer home theater front projectors because, like the company’s TVs, their projectors offer a pretty good value/performance proposition.

If you’re still in the market for a big TV, we bet that you’ll be able to find some great deals on Mits TVs as dealers finish clearing out their current inventory. It’s might be a good time to measure your family room to see what size of a TV you can squeeze in there.

Check out Jacobson’s personal journey through Mitsubishi TVs here.

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