Posted by: Cliff Edwards on September 28, 2010
The cutthroat U.S. flat-panel television business has humbled many well-known brands. Pioneer exited the plasma television business last year after finding few takers for its high-end sets. In 2008, Philips exited too, licensing its brand to Funai—best known for supplying Wal-Mart’s Black Friday TVs and DVD players.
That’s not stopping Framingham, Mass.-based Bose from giving the TV business a go. For the first time, it’s introducing its own set, a 46-inch LCD model that will retail for a whopping $5,350. The company, known for its high-end home and car sound systems, hopes consumers frustrated with poor built-in sound on televisions will be attracted to the Bose VideoWave entertainment system, which has simulated surround sound built in a hefty package onto the back of the unit.
This Christmas, the steep sticker price may be a hard sell. In the last three months of the year, research firm DisplaySearch forecasts that LCD TV prices will tumble to 12% below 2009 levels because of a supply glut. Sales in the U.S. have been sluggish this year, particularly for LCD technology as consumers opt for cheaper plasma models or energy-sipping LED, or light-emitting diode, sets.
Samsung recently stunned competitors Panasonic and Sony by slashing the price of a 50-inch 3D plasma set to less than $1,000, in what’s expected to be an escalating price war through Christmas.
Bose engineers decided not to add 3D technology to its set, nor does it include LED technology. The company will sell the set in its stores, pitching it to people looking for dead-simple setup without running a load of wires to a separate stereo or a/v receiver. The surround sound is calibrated automatically via Bose’s own Adaptiq technology, and its PhaseGuide sound radiator technology shoots high frequency audio waves to bounce off adjacent walls to recreate the effect of surround sound.
A single wire connects to a separate console set-top box, capable of handling five high-definition inputs. The company throws in an Apple-like remote, called the ClickPad, that has few buttons but a touch interface that pulls up an on-screen menu for particular devices, such as a TiVo or cable set-top box.
The company says the VideoWave system was a 10-year project that went into overdrive a couple of years back. Though the company appears to be trying to compete more directly with high-end sets from the likes of Bang & Olufsen, one wonders with the state of the TV market these days if the timing is right to release it now.