By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Silicon Valley-based startup MicroDisplay Corp. said it will deliver to manufacturer partners next year a line of 1,080p Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCoS) HDTV sets positioned for mainstream consumers.
The company, which has named former Mitsubishi product development director Marty Zanfino as its marketing VP, will design and build to order LCoS TVs for well-known CE brands and to a lesser-degree private label retail partners.
MicroDisplay is banking on the explosive growth of flat-panel TVs and the sustained popularity of high-value MD rear-projection HDTVs to encourage leading TV brands, who no longer wish to carry the liability and cost burden of manufacturing rear-projection TVs, to seek out the company as a resource for high value 1,080p MD rear-projection products, Zanfino said.
Products will be priced and positioned for big-box and mass-market sales, instead of higher-end boutique stores that focus on specialized products from some top-tier brands.
The company plans to produce the sets through assembly plants based in Mexico.
Zanfino said MicoDisplay Corp. figures its sets will take the place of CRT-based rear-projection TVs that are being phased out by many companies, and will offer a strong value for big screen sizes compared to plasma, LCD TV and even DLP rear projection TV sets.
MicroDisplay Corp. has developed what it calls "unique and proprietary 1,080p LCoS digital projection imaging devices."
In a move similar to an aborted attempt by Philips, MicroDisplay has opted for a single-chip LCoS design, in order to hit key price points. The system uses a color wheel, and "provides an exceptionally high-quality HDTV picture at a lower manufacturing cost," Zanfino said.
The company plans to be the first to mass-produce LCoS devices with a response time fast enough to yield high quality 1,080p images from a single-chip design.
"With our technology, TV manufacturers will now be able to offer bigger screens and impressive 1,080p picture quality to their customers at much lower price points," said Zanfino. "This stands to revolutionize the industry and bring the market price for a 50-inch plus, 1,080p rear-projection HDTV down below $1,500."
Initial sets will include the 52W- and 62W-inch screen sizes, which are expected to appear on retail floors under the brands of major CE marketing partners in the summer 2007.
MicroDisplay will show prototype models at International CES in January and may be ready to announce some customers that will be carrying the sets under the brands.
In addition to Zanfino, MicroDisplay has recruited a number of familiar CE industry veterans.
The CEO and president is Christopher Norris, former VP and GM of Cypress Semiconductor, the CFO is Ted Siegler, former VP and CFO of Komag; the sales VP is Ray Brown, former VP and GM of merchandising for Sears Roebuck; the VP of operations is Marcel Gregoire, former projection display business unit director for Philips; quality and manufacturing engineering VP is Paul Robusto, former president of Hughes-JVC DILA and the engineering VP is Long Yang, former engineering VP at JDS Uniphase and former technical engineering manager for HP and Bell Labs.
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