November 18, 2004 3:30 PM PST

Slimmer tube TVs to challenge flat panels

SAN FRANCISCO--New television-tube technology promises to shed several inches from the bulky displays and challenge rival flat panels at their own game--being thin.

Executives at a display conference here said Thursday that significantly thinner CRT (cathode ray tube) displays will be available next year and are expected to be less expensive than trendy flat panels that use newer technologies such as LCD--liquid crystal display--and plasma displays.


What's new:
New television-tube technology promises to shed several inches from the bulky displays and challenge rival flat panels.

Bottom line:
Television manufacturing executives said that starting next year, superslim tube models will hit the market at significantly lower prices than flat panels.

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"These superslim CRTs offer the best of both worlds--superior picture quality with a slim size," said Siegfried Trinker, director of corporate strategy at LG.Philips Displays International.

Despite offering a better picture quality and lower prices, and despite making up a large majority of the market, tube-based televisions have lost their luster compared with flat-panel sets using emerging technologies such as LCDs and plasma.

LG.Philips Displays is already making the tubes for the thin models in limited quantities and expects thin CRT televisions to be available in the United States starting in late 2005. The sets will initially be slightly more expensive than current CRT models, but prices should come down quickly.

The first of the manufacturers to offer the sets in the United States will be the joint venture's parents, LG Electronics and Royal Philips Electronics. The two electronics giants also teamed to form LG.Philips LCD, the second biggest manufacturer in the LCD market.

A 30-inch-tube television from Samsung Electronics will be about 16 inches thick, deeper than a flat panel set but about the same size as the typical stand on a flat-panel television, a Samsung executive said.

CRTs make up about 90 percent of the worldwide television market, but growth rates have been stable for some time. In fact, many companies that built their successes on CRT televisions are pulling back from the market and dedicating themselves to flat-screen sets. Shipments for flat televisions are up modestly, making up 5 percent of the market. But their hefty profits margins are driving interest.

Executives acknowledged that the CRT business is out of its growth phase but there are still opportunities as the market consolidates.

LG.Philips supplies the CRTs for tube sets and executives there said slimmer is better for the market.

New flat-panel televisions have captured the attention of consumers because of their thin profiles and large screen sizes. However, television manufacturing executives at the Flat Information Displays Conference 2004 said that starting next year, superslim tube models will hit the market at significantly lower prices than flat panels.

The move to thinner CRTs is meant to attract consumers who want a thin television but find current flat panels too expensive.

Samsung Electronics will also offer superslim CRT sets next year, according to Jim Sanduski, vice president of Samsung Electronics America's marketing visual display product group. During the first quarter of next year, the company will begin selling a 30-inch television in Korea. Sets will come to the United States by the middle of next year.

"These sets will prolong the appeal of tube-based televisions," said Sanduski.

Despite the growth of flat-panel televisions based on new technologies such as LCD and plasma, CRT is still expected to dominate the market in the years to come.

"CRTs are not going away anytime soon," said Riddhi Patel, an analyst with researcher iSuppli. "They will account for 70 percent of the market in 2008."

CRTs makers also benefit from lower prices. Flat panels tend to carry a heavier premium than CRTs for a number of reasons. They come in larger sizes--television maker Syntax, a second-tier maker, said at the conference that it will begin selling a 55-inch LCD-based television by May of next year. Flat panels are a relatively young market compared to the mature CRT industry, but prices are already dropping.

A build-up of LCD panel inventory is leading to excess supply and price cuts. Manufacturers are already driving prices down, leading some analysts to think this holiday season could be a good one for flat-panel buyers and a tough one for manufacturers.

However, it will be some time before enough price cuts

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What About OLED and Field Emission Displays?
I'm glad CRT's are still hanging around because plasma and LCD are dead end technologies when you look at the amount of work that still has to go into them to make them perform similar to CRTs. Two new techologies to look out for that work as well or better than the ol' CRT are OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes) displays which use organic material to put a LED at each pixel making them extemely bright an efficient. Another is field emission displays which look to use the same idea as the CRT, but instead of a large electron gun shooting electrons across the screen, there will be a mircon sized electron gun using field emission (quantum mechanical effect) with electron emittersw at each pixel. These will have all the advantages of current CRTs but be thin and light.
Posted by cschlise (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Yes, where ARE the field emitter displays?
I'm with you, Chuck. Ever since I read about FEDs I felt they were the ideal solution: the brightness and black levels of CRT but the thinness of LCD or Plasma. Anyone that has seen a CRT HDTV can attest to the fact that they look better than RPTVs and flat panels, especially in the range of color (black levels), but they are just so big and heavy beyond about 30". If someone could bring FEDs to market, they could snatch it from CRT/LCD/Plasma/RPTV in a heartbeat, but I wouldn't hold my breath; they have been in development since the early 1990s and even with names like Samsung behind the research, I haven't seen any products in the market. From what I read, their initial plans were for small displays for gaming. By the time they can scale up to the larger displays, I think we'll find that DLP, LCD etc. have far exceeded them. So I think it is a case of a fantastic technology that is too far behind the market curve.
Posted by ConsiderateGuy (2 comments )
Link Flag
No big Deal
The 30" set is still going to be 16" deep. That's really no big deal.
Posted by Xiltheria (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I think they meant 6"
"same size as the typical stand on a flat-panel elevision". Look at the picture.
Posted by chojinjia (5 comments )
Link Flag
No big Deal
The 30" set is still going to be 16" deep. That's really no big deal.
Posted by Xiltheria (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
comparison is a beautiful thing
Oakies..... my 17" monitor is about 16" deep and the 20" TV is about that deep again.A rule of thumb, the traditional CRT is a cube. If these new "thin" CRT's are 16" deep for a 30" screen doesn't that mean they've shaved off nearly have the depth? Competition, whether it be other companies or technologies, is the driving force and we the consumer are the better for it. However, Ive got to agree with some of the other posts in regards to the weight issue. A 30" screen requires a lot of glass regardless of its other dimensions, so in changing the depth have the manufacturers had to thicken the rest of the tube?? Leaves me with the question, "Does being thinner, mean lighter?"
Overall I'm a fence sitter though. TFT, CRT or LCD it doesnt bother me, so long as I can watch the vision I wish to and the price suits my stretched budget.
Posted by j3st3r (70 comments )
Link Flag
The lcd projections are around 16 inches thick for a 55 inch widescreen. That's no big deal. What interests me is the maximum size of these new CRTs and the weight difference between them and the old ones. It's nice having a 55 inch television around 100 pounds that I don't need a delivery team to move.
Posted by jgemberton (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What about power consumption?
In the computer area LCD monitors consume about one half the power of an equivalent CRT based display, generating about 1/2 of the heat needed to be removed by office airconditioning. How does this new CRT compare?
Posted by mizeras (3 comments )
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But what will they weigh
How much will these things weigh, compared to a plasma?
Posted by rexworld (46 comments )
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200 pound gorilla
A 300 pound gorilla could shed 100 pounds and make the claim to be "significantly thinner", but it's still a 200 pound gorilla.

I don't want to be too close when someone tries to hang one of those "superslim CRTs" on their wall.
Posted by (61 comments )
Reply Link Flag
30", What Aspect Ratio?
it seems to me that a 30" tv with the same aspect ratio as a flat panel technology tv would be deeper than a 30" tv with the typical crt aspect ratio. i never found in the article what the aspect ratio of these tv's is. that's an important detail; far too important to "assume", or to attempt to derive from a photo of a demo crt tv turned at an awkward angle.

are these tv's identical to regular crt's in aspect ratio, are they identical to flat panel tv's, or are the mfg's gaming the system by giving us some "in between" aspect ratio that is wider than a crt, but not quite as wide as a flat panel? until i hear different, i assume the latter.

mark d.
Posted by markdoiron (1138 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Two gun CRTs
For wide screen(16 X 9)CRTs why not use two 3 beam "guns"? Each would cover half the screen
an 8 X 9 area. The angles should be easier to work and the depth should be thinner that way.
Posted by Freddetucson (1 comment )
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