Wireless and Internet connectivity next trend in HDTVs

Over the last few years, manufacturers of high definition televisions have dramatically improved black levels, increased the native resolution of their panels and made them faster and thinner.

Now that consumers can get a 1920 x 1080p HD flat panel that sports 2ms or better response time, 100,000 hours lifespans, incredibly high contrast and is about an inch thick, they are now beginning to ask, what’s next?

The reality is that, from a picture quality perspective, modern day plasma televisions and high end LCD panels with LED backlighting have pretty much improved as much as they are going to. Consumers are bound to see some moderate improvements in picture quality over coming years in LCD and plasma, however, dramatic improvements will only come with new technologies such as OLED which is not likely to be a mainstream technology for many years to come.

The result is that manufacturers can no longer market improvements in  millisecond response time or native resolution to sell their panels. Going forward firms marketing flat panel HDTV’s will need to rely on supplemental features such as Internet connectivity and wireless HD connectivity to differentiate themselves from the competition.

An example of this growing trend is the Panasonic Z series of plasma television. This 54″ television features 1080p resolution, 1″ slim design, Wireless HD connectivity, image viewer to view images from an SDHC memory card, and Viera Cast, a technology by Panasonic that makes it possible to stream multimedia content from the Internet directly into select Viera HDTVs.

Panasonic_TC-P54Z1

Panasonic TC-P54Z1 Plasma - $7,000

The set retails for $7,000 today but over the next few years, many of these advanced technologies will be incorporated into mid-level and eventually budget level HDTVs.

Research firm In-Stat expects that by 2013, 36% of digital sets sold throughout the world will be network-enabled. Typical

“DTVs are competing with computers to be the entertainment hub of the home,” says Brian O’Rourke, In-Stat analyst. “Sets with Internet connectivity are already commercially available in the US, Europe, and Japan. Models from Hitachi, LG Electronics, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp, and Sony can connect directly to the Internet without a home computer.”

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