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Why we need consolidation of HDTV technologies

As more display technologies hit store shelves, Don Reisinger thinks it adds unnecessary confusion to an already confusing industry. According to Don, it's time we find one technology that works and stick with it.

Sorry, but we don't really need you, plasma. CNET Networks

In what could be the final blow to rear-projection HDTVs, Sony has announced that it will abandon its production of those sets and focus all of its efforts on "what people really want"--LCDs.

Of course, the news doesn't quite end there for LCD proponents. Rumors are swirling that Matsushita--Panasonic's parent company--is looking to get out of the plasma business and focus its efforts on developing LCDs. Not only would this move prove to be devastating to another LCD competitor, it could create an industry landscape that's dominated by LCDs and totally bereft of any other technology.

And in the end, is this consolidation of technologies really what we want? Is it really what we need? The answer may not be that clear cut--after all, do we really want LCDs for the next 10 years? Regardless, we need one technology--the best technology--to lead us into the next decade.

Let's be honest--was anyone actually expecting rear-projection HDTVs to last? Of course not--they're expensive to produce, offer little in terms of overall benefits, and pricing is such a concern that most people have all but forgotten they exist. Oh, and let's not forget the biggest issue--they're too darn big.

I don't know how many times a week I'll get a letter from a reader asking me what the difference is between plasmas and LCDs. Worse, I've found that the average person really doesn't know the difference, and going to the store to decide on a set can be daunting.

Instead of wasting our time trying to figure out why a plasma might be better for sets over 42 inches in size, or deciding on which manufacturer makes the best LCD, I truly hope we're entering a time where only one technology stays afloat and others sink away.

Consider this: as plasma TV sales have dropped a whopping 16 percent year over year, LCD sales have grown at a rapid rate. And with the latter's advancing technology, the old belief that LCDs can't compete with plasmas on larger screens is quickly becoming a thing of the past.

And while LCD is performing well today, there's no guarantee it will in the future. With that in mind, there could be many more technologies poised to hit store shelves years from now (can you say SED, FED, and LED?). And when that happens, the same sort of caveats that preclude you from buying one technology instead of another will be present.

Listen, I'm all for advancements in technology and I welcome new displays. But in the end, why can't we find one technology that works well and keep improving upon that? After all, wouldn't it reduce confusion at the store and help everyone make the most informed decision possible?

You better believe it.