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TV Panel Sees Green

New York — The importance of environmentally friendly practices and designs in the HDTV category is having an impact on product sales, but to what extent was the source of some debate among a panel of HDTV manufacturers and retailers at the Consumer Electronics Association’s Digital Downtown showcase here Thursday.

Richard Glikes, Home Theater Specialists of America executive director, cited “the green phenomenon” as a topic of increasing importance to customers visiting his members’ 103 storefronts in 37 states.

“We have customers coming in all the time asking us which display technology is the most green,” Glikes said. “I think this will have a huge effect on our industry.”

But John Taylor, LG Electronics public affairs and communications VP, said recent consumer studies have found only about 10 percent of flat-panel TV set shoppers list energy consumption as a top-of-mind consideration.

Still, Taylor did not downplay the growing importance of environmental practices, saying that LG is actively engaged in green initiatives from the start of production to the point where a TV is taken to the landfill.

Bill Whalen, Hitachi product development director, also pointed to the growing importance of “green” CE initiatives at Hitachi, adding that he is “excited that the U.S. is finally catching up to where Japan has been” for  a number of years now.

He observed that while plasma displays have been considered by some to be energy consuming products, they can actually consume less electricity than comparably sized LCD TV sets, due to the way the two systems display pictures. Plasma sets, he pointed out, consume less power in dark areas of the screen during real-time programs, while typical LCD TV backlighting burns continuously at the same rate, regardless of the displayed image.

The panel also had a difference of opinion on the growing importance of fashion in TV set marketing. While representatives from LG and Hitachi pointed to the recent design breakthroughs each has developed as a leading differentiator between flat-panel brands, Glikes observed that most manufacturers have introduced new design elements to play to lifestyle trends.

He said that picture quality remains a driving factor for consumer purchase preferences, although that is influenced to a great degree by floor salespeople.

Leon Temiz, CEO of the Electronics Expo retail chain, said flat-panel design has increasingly become a top purchase consideration among shoppers visiting his showrooms, particularly among women.