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On Wednesday, July 18, Samsung unveiled its long-awaited 75-inch LCD TV to the public at an event held on the USS Intrepid in its Sea, Air, and Space Museum.


The fact that Samsung has a 75-inch LCD cut isn’t anything new. In fact, Samsung showed this very same product at last month’s InfoComm trade show, billing it as the “largest e-LED display available.”

Sharp's not the only one who knows how to serve up a monster TV.

But it was only a matter of time before the product was pushed out onto the market. Sharp has been making waves with their 80-inch LCD TV, which retails for about $5,000 and offers full 1080p resolution with LED backlighting.


While sales of this product are relatively small in the consumer space – the size and price are daunting to the average buyer – the commercial AV channel is another beast altogether. An ever-increasing number of dealers are now substituting the 80-inch TV for projector installations, motivated by client demand and a significant reduction in cost over a two-piece projection solution with motorized screen and ceiling mounts.


At InfoComm, Sharp took the wraps off of a 90-inch LCD monitor, and a week later, announced a TV version that will sell for about $10,000. That was probably too much ‘buzz’ for Sharp for Samsung to stay quiet about its plans. So, ready or not, here is a 75-inch ES9000 LCD TV product that supports Smart TV and 3D applications and has a built-in retractable camera for Skype conferencing.


And it will retail for $9,999.


My first take on the price is that it is too high. Even though this is a much skinnier TV than the Sharp and has a barely-noticeable .31” bezel, the damage has been done – Sharp has already established a price point of $5K for a comparable screen size. Look for Samsung’s MSRP to drop a few thousand dollars, especially if commercial integrators show enough interest and can get the extended warranty they managed to pry out of Sharp.


Of course, all of these large LCDs pose a real competitive threat to large plasma screens, such as Panasonic’s 85-inch offering which costs more than twice as much. As my colleague Ken Werner points out in his recent post, plasma display technology is not far from the endangered species list, if you go by market demand and units sold for the past four quarters.


And the cut-throat nature of the TV business in general is leading to some ridiculous price cuts. Earlier this year, you could buy the Sharp 70-inch LCD TV for just under $2,000, and the delta on 50-inch to 60-inch TVs has narrowed between LCD and plasma considerably.


For now, Sharp holds a strong hand with their Gen 10 Sakai LCD fab, the only one that big in the world. Samsung has to crank out their 75-inch glass on a smaller Gen 8 fab, which means fewer large cuts from the motherglass and presumably a higher production cost.


We still haven’t heard much from LG Display, who has shown they can build some nice-looking 84-inch panels with 2K and 4K resolution. I can’t imagine they are sitting on their hands and certainly will be a player in the commercial AV space with bigger LCD displays if market demand arises. Look for a ‘big’ LG LCD TV to make its debut this fall as a result.


As I mentioned earlier, the consumer TV business is in the tank for all but a handful of companies right now. But there is plenty of demand for commercial installation of these products either as public displays in areas with high ambient light or as replacements for two-piece front projector installations.


So are we seeing the beginnings of an LCD stampede? Might want to saddle up your horse and head for the hills, just to be safe…

Posted by Pete Putman, July 19, 2012 2:12 PM

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About Pete Putman

Peter Putman is the president of ROAM Consulting L.L.C. His company provides training, marketing communications, and product testing/development services to manufacturers, dealers, and end-users of displays, display interfaces, and related products.

Pete edits and publishes HDTVexpert.com, a Web blog focused on digital TV, HDTV, and display technologies. He is also a columnist for Pro AV magazine, the leading trade publication for commercial AV systems integrators.