Toshiba's SED TV a no-show at electronics show

Toshiba's long-awaited SED TV will not be appearing at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January after all.

SED (surface-conduction electron-emitter display) televisions will provide a better picture than LCD (liquid crystal display) or plasma TVs, according to Toshiba and its partner, Canon. Toshiba also claims that the companies have managed to cut the manufacturing costs so that the TVs won't cost much more than similarly sized LCDs or plasmas.

The TVs, however, have been stung by a series of delays. Toshiba and Canon started working together on SED in 1999 and said that the first TVs would hit retail shelves in 2005. In October 2006, Toshiba pushed out the release saying the first SED TVs, a 55-incher, would come out in late 2007.

The two companies have previously shown off various SED prototypes at CES, Ceatec (a large Japanese trade show) and other conferences. Toshiba showed off a 55-inch TV, similar to the one that will be hitting the shelves sometime in 2007, for the first time in October at Ceatec. At most of these shows, the SED exhibit attracted large crowds.

The delays, according to analysts and competitors, have hurt the chance for SED to secure a place in the market. Prices for LCD and plasmas TVs have been dropping rapidly over the past few years, often faster than expected, while sales have climbed. Competitors thus allege that SED will be too expensive, despite manufacturing advances, to compete effectively.

Toshiba did not state whether the cancellation at the show will affect the release date of the first SED TVs. Nonetheless, analysts and competitors will now likely begin to speculate on another delay as a result of the cancellation.

A Toshiba representative declined to explain the reason for the cancellation, but a note sent to people with appointments to see the SED TV at CES said it wasn't due to technical issues.

"The reason is neither a technical nor business issue, but we are not allowed to disclose details due to a confidentiality obligation," the note read. "Toshiba further believes that the issue will be resolved soon, and then we will be able to come back to the U.S. for a 55-inch SED demo."

According to a source that works with Nano-Proprietary, the delay is related to an ongoing lawsuit between Canon and Nano-Proprietary, whose Applied Nanotech subsidiary licensed technology to Canon relating to SED TVs. The deal subsequently devolved into a lawsuit. Nano-Proprietary and Canon are now in closed-door settlement talks.

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