I have to admit that the latest developments in TV technology interest me, even though we are still talking about very expensive products. There are three different options apart from the traditional CRT screen: Plasma, LCD and projection. Ever since I first saw a plasma screen I have believed they are the best option, but recent LCD screens from Samsung do look very good, and seem like a good choice for smaller screen sizes. I have never quite seen the benefit of projection systems - the quality doesn't seem good enough, though I guess they are a good option for bars or anywhere that needs a large screen.
So, I'm not quite sure what to make of this report in the New York Times. Judging by the picture, the sets have got smaller, and I suppose the image quality must have improved as well. I think that the film being shown is Antz, presumably from a selection that includes Toy Story 1 & 2, Monsters Inc., Shrek, Ice Age, etc. There's something about those computer-generated animations that makes them a natural for TV shops - they make the picture look great whereas live-action tends to highlight the flaws. Anyway, the story is that Samsung under-estimated demand for projection TVs, so customers have to order them and wait for delivery. Customers apparently like plasma and LCD but not the prices. There's a great quote in the story:
"Unless you're going to actually hang it on a wall, you don't need a flat panel," said Edward Maloney, president of Cowboy Maloney's Electric City, a 13-store chain based in Jackson, Miss. "Plasma's a futuristic Jetson product."
What does that mean? Personally, if I was living in the States and you gave me a choice between a 32" plasma screen for US$4,000 or a 43" projection TV for $3,500, I'd pay a bit extra for the higher quality and reduced bulk of the plasma screen. Or perhaps I would buy a 42" plasma set from Dell for US$2,900 (and I've seen plasma displays from no-name manufacturers on sale in Fortress in Hong Kong for a similar price). Or a good CRT set. Not a projection TV (unless the picture has improved dramatically).
Incidentally, the view seems to be that prices of LCD and plasma screens will fall substantially in 2004, possibly by 30-40%. So, no, not a "Jetson product", I think.
Here in Hong Kong, cheaper DVD recorders and HDD recorders (around HK$3,000) finally seem to be available, though I'm still waiting for a reasonably priced unit that combines both technologies. I reckon that they will soon be less than HK$5,000 - still expensive, but worth considering.