Oh, the indignities of being a flat-screen TV purveyor. Each year companies guess and plan and read tea leaves and pray, trying to find that magic number of inches that will make one brand’s giant lightbox gianter than that of its competitors, in time for the CES pissing contest. Last year, plasma screens outperformed LCDs, with records for the largest of the former hovering around 100 inches and the latter somewhere in the 70s.
So design engineers for Sharp, Panasonic, LG, etc. gambled big in ’07, increasing LCD screen sizes by up to 30 inches, and then crossing their fingers. CES lore has it that the big-screen market race is so intense that companies—not knowing what their competitors will bring to the table— often create posters in advance of the show proclaiming things like “World’s Largest TV,” which they keep ready to unfurl in the event that their claims turn out to be true.
What I want to know is, what is it like to be the guys who get beat out by just an inch? Or, perhaps more humiliatingly, who get beaten by a full eight inches? That is, in fact, what happened this week to the poor fellas at LG, who proudly trumpeted that theirs was the “World’s First” 100-inch LCD TV— an impressive piece of equipment to be sure, don’t get me wrong—mere hundreds of feet from Sharp’s 108-inch LCD. Okay, maybe it was first in that the LG booth got set up before the Sharp booth or something, but still: Ouch. I imagine the feeling must be akin to being Kobe Bryant and having your wife leave you for Manute Bol.
In the video below, Jonathan Coulton and I talk to the winners—and more entertainingly, the losers— of CES 2007’s battle of the big screens. —Megan Miller