Sony's Hi-Rez Projector Pushes Performance Envelope; Company Predicts Lower Earnings

A picture density four times higher than standard 480i images and a resolution of 2500x2000 pixels are specifications worth bragging about. That's exactly what Sony Electronics is doing with its new CRT graphics projector, the VPH-G90U. The projector features new high-resolution, electromagnetically focused 9-inch CRTs and brightness up to 350 ANSI lumens. Sony is calling the VPH-G90U "the projector of choice for installation in large and medium venues, conference rooms, home theaters, and virtual-reality applications." Sporting a list price of $35,000, the new projector will make its debut at selected dealers next month.

The VPH-G90U "can easily accommodate either motion video or data/graphic displays," according to a company press release dated November 23. The projector can handle all standard video inputs, including composite, S-video, component (Y/R-Y/B-Y), RGB, and HDTV, at horizontal scanning frequencies up to 150 kHz.

Jim Sandy, vice president of display systems for Sony Electronics' Broadcast and Professional Company, calls the VPH-G90U "a flagship product resulting from our expertise in the display market. The projector incorporates new technologies and features for high-end applications that we believe will satisfy even the most demanding user, be it in the boardroom or home theater." Sony reputedly spends a bigger proportion of its annual budget on research and development than any large company in the world.

One technological advance in the new projector is a feature called Digital Reality Creation (DRC). Performing some of the same functions as a line doubler, the DRC circuitry not only doubles the number of active scanning lines, but also doubles the number of pixels on each scanning line. The resulting image "has four times the picture density of a standard 480i image," according to company publicity.

The VPH-G90U's CRTs yield a 20% reduction in beam-spot size. Its six-pole adjustment capabilities contribute to the projector's claimed resolution of up to 2500x2000 pixels. Other refinements include a 3-D comb filter to "eliminate more cross-color and dot interference."

Sony Electronics, the US division of multinational Sony Corporation, had sales of $10.5 billion in the fiscal year that ended on March 31, 1998. Approximately 50% of its US sales volume is in consumer audio and video products. The remainder are professional-broadcast products, computers, and PC monitors. According to Teruaki Aoki, president of Sony Electronics, the outlook for the current fiscal year is "level" in terms of volume, but profits will be lower than last year. Globally, Sony Corp. has experienced a 1% drop in sales this year, and it predicts a 23% drop in net income to $1.25 billion on sales of almost $50 billion.

Aoki attributes most of the decline to the appreciation of the yen relative to other currencies, particularly the US dollar, and he also blames the faltering economies in Europe, Latin America, Asia, Russia, and Japan. Aoki also says the US is "the only country in which we are doing well," while admitting that the outlook for the coming year is promising but unclear.

A program that began two years ago to provide on-time daily delivery to dealers has "strengthened Sony's basic structures," Aoki notes. Incidentally, DVD is one of Sony's many strong areas, where it claims about 30% of the market. The installed base of DVD players will reach 850,000 by the end of the year.