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Samsung Gives Video Road Map

LAS VEGAS — Samsung doesn’t plan this year to exit the rear-projection TV market despite the market’s decline, and it will launch its second dual-format HD disc player later this year as planned despite Warner’s surprise decision to pull out of the HD DVD market.

The technology road map was outlined here for the press during a Samsung-moderated roundtable in which executives from Korea also said the company will ship its first 3-D-ready plasma displays in late March for use with 3-D PC games. The company also said it doesn’t expect to commercialize OLED TV technology until 2010.

Although Warner is pulling out of the HD DVD market, Samsung will go ahead with previously announced plans for the launch of its next-generation dual-format Blu-ray/HD DVD player, dubbed HD Duo, said Kevin Morrow, director of the digital A/V division’s product planning group. “The white flag for HD DVD hasn’t been raised yet,” he said, noting that “very important players” are still supporting the format. Many consumers have already invested in HD DVD discs that need to be played back, and the PC industry could still embrace HD DVD more aggressively, he said. The HD DVD market, he concluded, “realistically won’t go away right away.”

Morrow said Samsung was surprised by the Warner announcement but that, even had it known of Warner’s plans, it would have gone ahead anyway with its Duo introduction later this year.

In rear-projection TV, the company will go ahead with a spring launch of new DLP models despite faster growing demand for flat-panel displays, said Charles Park, senior manager of the PDP management group within Samsung’s visual display division. The company will also continue development of later-generation DLP models, including laser-based projection sets, but will remain in the rear-projection market only if it can drive down rear-projection prices enough to maintain “a price gap” with flat-panel TVs, he said. “We will stay there this year, and next year we will have to see.”

In plasma TV, the company is demonstrating its first 3-D-ready models, complementing 3-D-ready rear-projection TVs already available. They’re designed for connection to an outboard module to deliver the 3-D graphics of 3-D games running on a connected PC. Two 3-D-ready plasmas ship in March in 42-inch and 50-inch sizes, said Park. About 100 game titles are available in 3-D, he noted.

In OLED, the company is demonstrating a 31-inch concept model, but OLED introductions from Samsung won’t occur until 2010, and then only in 20- to 30-inch sizes, he said.

In the meantime, the company will remain in the plasma and LCD TV markets, and although one competitor has launched a small 32-inch plasma in other markets, Samsung said it has no concrete plans for this size in plasma. “It depends on the shortage in LCD,” he said.