February 23, 2007 4:00 AM PST
Don't bury the tube TV quite yet
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Last year, LG introduced one new CRT model for the North American market. Also last year, Sony introduced a line of CRTs that it will sell "for the foreseeable future," but it isn't planning on any updates to the technology, said a company spokesperson.
Though Sony isn't rolling out new models stateside, Sony India is pushing a technology called Sparkling Wega, which it claims will better hold contrast and brightness.
There's a reason for that. At 71 percent of the total market, CRTs are still ruling the global TV market, specifically China, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, where they have a stronger hold, said iSuppli's Patel.
"In markets like North America and Europe--because of increased spending power and consumers ready to move to the next set, new technology--(consumers) are willing to spend a couple hundred dollars more. But if you look at emerging countries, even $50 more becomes a lot of money. In those markets flexibility of spending is not as high as it would be in some of the mature markets," she said.
But why, here in the U.S., did CRTs sell so well leading up to the day of the Super Bowl? Because LCDs are getting less expensive, but still can't beat the price of a 30- or 32-inch CRT, said Ross Rubin, director of industry analysis for NPD.
Standard CRT TVs experienced the most growth of all types of TVs the week prior to the Super Bowl this year, according to the data released this week by NPD. Unit sales of CRTs grew more than 60 percent, while revenues increased 46 percent. Super Bowl week can be an opportunity for retailers to lower prices to push inventory leftover from the holiday sales season.
"Clearly there's a segment of the market that, if you look at the average selling price, LCD has not yet been able to capture a large enough screen size, so direct view is going to be a factor for the next several years," he said. CRTs will also continue to be attractive for the significant number of consumers who have not yet made the jump to HD, Rubin said.
Special effects and CRTs
Meanwhile, the technicians behind some of today's most cutting-edge film effects are loath to switch from CRTs to flat-panel monitors because of the color and contrast that they haven't been able to accurately reproduce on flat panels.
John Knoll, visual effects supervisor at Lucasfilm's Industrial Light & Magic, and an Oscar nominee for his work on Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, said calibration is the biggest issue.
"We need to have consistent color across all the monitors in the company," he told CNET in a video interview. "We've been using these Sony Artisan CRTs for a bunch of years because they can be calibrated and they have a really good black richness and a nice dynamic range, but they're not manufactured anymore. Almost nobody's making CRTs anymore, and we're definitely having supply problems."
Knoll said it was "inevitable" that ILM would have to make the move to flat panels, of which he's still not convinced yet. "We're getting the first batch in to see how they really work in production...It's not exactly the calibration as much as the dynamic range of the monitor, how good the blacks are, and all of that."
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