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

Long-awaited surface conduction electron emitter display TV won't be shown at CES, and that will set tongues wagging. Photos: Something you won't see at CES

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

Televisions with SED, which stands for surface conduction electron emitter display, 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 the first TVs would hit retail shelves in 2005. In October, Toshiba pushed out the release again, saying the first SED TVs, a 55-incher, would come out in late 2007.

The two companies have shown off various SED prototypes at CES, Ceatec (a large Japanese trade show, and other conferences. Toshiba showed off the 55-inch TV, which is similar to the one that will hit shelves, for the first time in October at Ceatec. At most of these shows, the SED exhibit attracts 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 TVs and plasmas have been dropping rapidly over the past few years and 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 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."

The delay is related to an ongoing lawsuit bewtween Canon and Nano-Proprietary, according to a source that works with 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.