Panasonic Puts Rear-Projection Sets in Rearview Mirror

In a press briefing touting the virtues of its expanded line of Viera plasma and LCD televisions, Panasonic indicated that it's quietly exiting the rear-projection television business. "We're out of that market," Panasonic spokesman Jeff Samuels told Sound & Vision contributing technical editor Michael Trei. "There are no new 2008 models - though we're not officially announcing that we're going to stop making [RPTVs]. We may have an official announcement soon."

Though some RPTVs are still cheaper than plasmas and LCDs in the very large sizes, apparently they're not cheap enough, and consumers would rather pay the same price or less for a smaller TV with flat-panel technology.

Can't say we blame Panasonic: U.S. Revenues for RPTVs shrank 54% from $5 billion in 2006 to $2.5 billion in 2007 according to home theater research firm Quixel Research. But there's nothing inherently obsolete about RPTV technology, save from the fact that its tough to get the sets thinner than about 11 inches (too fat to wall-mount). Though not all plasma and LCD owners wall-mount their uber-skinny displays, they seem to enjoy the slim profile nonetheless. -Rachel Rosmarin