TI claims that new, slimmer rear projection sets with advanced features such as 3-D will soon boost sales.
"Most analysts use a rear view mirror when forecasting results," says Doug Darrow, a TI products and marketing manager. "They do not think of trends in the technology. We serve a different type of customer: the Home Theater enthusiast."
Texas Instruments, which makes chips for DLP (Digital Light Processing) rear projection sets, is arguably the category's leading booster.
In the early days of high-def, the rear projection set was a consumer favorite because companies could produce large-screen models more economically than flat-panel sets and therefore sell them at lower prices.
But prices for big-screen, flat-panel sets have declined sharply in the last 12-18 months. And Texas Instruments acknowledges that many consumers now favor the flat-panel model which looks more stylish and can be hung on the wall.
Recognizing the trend, The New York Times notes that Sony and Philips recently announced that they are exiting the rear projection business.
iSuppli, a research firm, estimates that rear projection set sales will fall 25 percent over the next two years. DisplaySearch says fewer than one percent of TVs sold in 2009 will be rear projection models with Digital Light Processing.
But Darrow tells the Times that DLP rear projection sales will soon rise for four reasons:
1. They consume less energy that Plasma flat-screen sets, which is rapidly becoming a concern among consumers.
2. Comparably-sized models still offer better prices than flat-panel models. (See the 73-inch Mitsubishi comparison above.)
3. Upcoming models will be just seven inches deep compared to the flat-panel, which is now between three and four inches in depth.
4. DLP makers are now integrating new 3-D technology into the rear projection set, which will entice gamers and movie fans.