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HDTV manufacturers must add more features to increase sales

If consumer electronics manufacturers want to keep up HDTV sales, it must quickly add new features now found only on very high-end models, new research has found.

DisplaySearch, a consumer electronics research firm, said built-in Internet access, 1080p resolution, PVR capabilities and upgraded HDMI connection standards need to become standard fare by 2009.

Calvin Hsieh, the director of research at DisplaySearch, told the “New York Times” current research shows that market growth will peak between 2009 and 2011. After that, growth will be limited without the availability of new features.

Fewer than half the digital TVs sold in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East with screen sizes larger than 40in have 1080p resolution (Japan has the highest penetration, at 90 percent), the “Times” reported. And while Internet access is beginning to show up in sets from Panasonic, Sharp and Sony, they now require an outboard box.

Once network connections are integrated into a chip instead of requiring an add-on box, we’re likely to see more applications that take advantage of the connectivity, Hsieh told the newspaper.

In another survey, Screen Digest, a media analyst, said there’s a content gap in Europe causing many HDTV set owners to mainly watch SD programming.

While sales of HD sets are doing well in Europe, the report forecasts that by 2012, the content situation will have improved little, with only 20 percent of the 85 percent of European households with HD displays able to actually watch programming available in full high-definition.