MTBS is excited to be joined by David Naranjo, Director of Product Development for Mitsubishi Electric. He heads up their efforts in 3D HDTV, and talks about 3D DLP, laserTV, and consumer cinema and gaming.
Mitsubishi History & S-3D Interest
1. When I think of Mitsubishi, I think of cars. After researching it, I found that your company or brand structure is somewhat different from other corporate entities. Can you elaborate more on how the Mitsubishi name is used and divided?
Mitsubishi represents more than 40 independent companies that carry the name. Mitsubishi Electric was founded in 1921 with operations in over 30 countries. Industries we serve include consumer electronics, energy, heavy equipment, and countless more.
Mitsubishi Electric NA began operations in 1973. We have facilities in thirty states, Canada and Mexico, and roughly 4,000 employees.
2. How long has Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America been in the HDTV manufacturing business?
Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America shipped the first HDTV models in 1998.
3. Why did Mitsubishi take a sudden interest in offering stereoscopic 3D (S-3D) solutions to the consumer market?
Mitsubishi started offering 3D-Ready DLPs in 2007 and we expect to expand these models in 2008. After some due diligence with various technology partners, we realized that 3D Cinema was making significant strides in content and technology. It seems natural that we should focus on efforts to bring 3D to the home.
4. You are heading up this Mitsubishi S-3D initiative. How did you become personally interested and involved? Are you passionate about this technology? Why?
I became personally involved when I saw some of the most compelling and immersive 3D content that has been produced. This includes movies, live events (NBA All Star game, NFL games, XGames, etc), and PC games. The focus of Mitsubishi has always been to enhance the BIG screen immersive experience for consumers. 3D to the home is a natural strategic fit for Mitsubishi. The 3D experience is best viewed on a BIG screen TV. This is what we do best.
5. For Mitsubishi to go in the S-3D direction was a big decision to make. What was your biggest motivator?
The DLPTV technology has the core technology to provide the best 3D experience to the home. The biggest motivator was to leverage this advantage for DLPTV in order to provide the best 3D to the home experience.
TI Technology & Market Trends
6. Tell me about Texas Instruments (TI), and what is their “DLP 3D HDTV” technology all about?
The Digital Micromirror Device (DMD) and our 2007 Diamond DLPs and all of our 2008 DLP models are able to provide a 120Hz frequency through a separate IR emitter or through the screen. This facilitates the capability to send 60Hz to each eye on the eyewear which provides the highest contrast and best experience for consumers.
7. The technology is based on LCD shutter glasses where the lenses flicker between black and transparent very rapidly so each eye gets an independent image. Up until now, “pageflipping” was the solution of choice because you got a complete image in front of each eye at a time. The TI solution seems to be using a checkerboard pattern of some kind. Can you elaborate on what this is and how it works?
DLP with 120hz technology accepts two frames; left frame and right frame at 960 x 1080 resolution; and then recombines into a checkerboard pattern for display on a 1080p DLP.
The DLPTV merges side by side formats to create the maximum resolution without sacrificing image quality or the 3D effect.
8. Tell me about the LCD shutter glasses themselves. Why is a high flicker rate important? Is there any risk of headaches and sickness with 3D HDTV? Why or why not?
Most TV’s display content at a 60 frame per second rate. The active eyewear shutters each left and right side at 60 frames per second to provide the consumers with a frequency that they are already accustomed to viewing. As such, the technology minimizes the risk of eye strain or headaches.
9. With earlier CRT technologies, they usually required lower resolutions to get higher refresh or flicker rates. Does 3D HDTV face that challenge?
DLPTV does not have any challenges in this regard. LCDs which Mitsubishi also develops and manufactures will also not have the same challenge.
10. One of your competitors has released a 3D HDTV Plasma. Do you see Mitsubishi following this direction too?
Our competitors also see the value of having 3D in the home as a large screen experience. The Plasma shown at CES was a 50″ Plasma. Mitsubishi is also focused on expanding 3D in the home with key technologies such as DLP TV, and LCD TVs.
11. What price and solution range are 3D customers looking at to get a 3D HDTV solution in their home?
Consumers that we have surveyed and shown the 3D content on DLPTV are absolutely immersed in the experience. We expect to announce a solution for consumers later this year that will be very competitive and establish the market.
12. DLP solutions have faced declining sales in relation to LCD and plasma HDTV solutions. Why is this technology still attractive to Mitsubishi?
DLP is the only technology that offers the BIG Screen experience for an affordable price. In addition, DLP is the only technology that offers the most compelling and immersive experience for 3D.
13. Tell us about laserTV. What is it and how does it work?
Mitsubishi had the World Premiere of LaserTV at CES 2008. More details will be announced in the coming months.
14. I have read that it uses much less power and promises far superior color accuracy compared to current solutions on the market. Can you give us some numbers to illustrate how much better this technology is?
Most HDTVs are capable of only displaying 40% of the colors that the human eye can see. LaserTV produces twice the color.
15. When I think of DLP, I think of big heavy HDTV solutions. How would you describe a laserTV solution?
The concept of DLP being heavy no longer applies. Our 73″ DLP that we introduced last year only weighed 96Lbs. By comparison, other technologies at this screen size can weigh several hundred pounds and costs three times as much. More details on LaserTV will be announced in the coming months.
The Customer Experience
16. To date, how many S-3D HDTV units have you sold? Any projections for 2008?
The 3D efforts have been primarily focused on the US market by Mitsubishi and a few other manufacturers. For 2007 – 2008, it is expected that over two million consumer display units will be in the marketplace.
17. Of the units that have been sold, what percentage of customers are aware that they own an S-3D solution? Do you think this was an influential component of their buying decision? Why or why not?
We have promoted the 3D-Ready capability of our TVs at retail as well as on our Mobile Showroom that is traveling across the US. All consumers that we have surveyed are anxious to have 3D content for the home.
18. Are you trying to push the benefits of S-3D right now, or are you waiting until you have more S-3D content in the market before going all out on S-3D promotion?
We are pushing the benefits right now. We are working with several key partners on providing content and a consumer solution for 2008. NDA prevents further discussion.
The S-3D Content World
19. What’s out there right now for 3D HDTV? Games, movies?
There are several ways for consumers to get 3D on the 3D-Ready TV today. There are some companies that are providing a PC based solution that enables 2D PC games to be converted to 3D for display on the DLPTVs. In addition to PC games, 3D content has been created for several cinema movies. Amazon.com lists several 3D movies that consumers can purchase. We certainly anticipate more 3D movies to be available as well as broadcast and cable in the coming years.
20. I launched MTBS to grow the awareness, adoption, and proper implementation of S-3D in the consumer space. Tell us about some of the initiatives that Mitsubishi has been taking to achieve similar goals.
In addition to demonstrating 3D content on our DLPTVs at trade shows and events (CEDIA, CES, PGA events), we also have a 53’ Mobile Showroom that is traveling across the country as part of our retail marketing efforts. This trailer has a 3D demo on our 73″ DLP, in addition to more than a dozen 1080p HDTVs, including Mitsubishi’s award-winning SuperSlim LCD flat panel and large screen HDTVs with DLP(r) technology that deliver maximum picture in minimum space.
Incorporating Mitsubishi’s innovative UltraThin Frame(tm) design, the sets’ frame width is less than one inch wide, so a 46-inch LCD flat panel is only 42 inches wide and sleekly fits into a space equal to or smaller than the typical 42-inch plasma set. The TVs are also thinner and lighter: A 73-inch set weighs less than 100 pounds and has a depth of less than 18 inches, taking up less space than a 46-inch plasma TV on a base.
21. What has the response been to your consumer S-3D road show so far?
Consumers are captivated and immersed by the 3D experience. We have had consumers waiting up to 2 hours to see the demo. We are very pleased with the reaction to the 3D demo as well as to our 2007 Award-Winning line of 1080p DLPs and LCDTVs (e.g. CEDIA Excellence Awards and CES Product of the Year).
22. To make S-3D a success in the consumer industry, I’m a big believer in building leverage to create change. For the S-3D industry to be successful in the consumer markets, where do you think this leverage will come from?
Content is King. This has been true of any new display technology or device.
When manufacturers launched HDTV products in the late 1990’s, consumers purchased for the capability to watch wide screen movies from their DVD’s. As more HDTV content became available from movies, broadcast, and cable, consumers gravitated toward the technology.
We are starting to see the same for Blu-Ray players. As more compelling and exciting content becomes available in that format, consumers have an increased awareness and are purchasing products and content. I see the same hockey-stick effect happening for 3D. As we develop a consumer friendly 3D solution in addition to the display, content will follow.
23. Our members love to play games in S-3D. What gaming content is and will be available for 3D HDTV? Who do you see as the core companies making this happen right now?
PCs with the proper graphics card and software can be used to play several popular 2D PC games that are rendered as 3D. I expect to see more game support in the coming months. As this progresses, we clearly see console game hardware manufacturers also developing the capability for console games. Our Diamond 2007 DLPs and 2008 DLPs are able to leverage all of these technologies.
24. A lot of our members connect their 3D HDTVs to their PCs, so I think it is a complete myth that 3D HDTV is only good for consoles. However,console support for S-3D would be a good thing. Any educated guesses or information to share on when we can expect to see gaming console support for 3D HDTV solutions? By whom?
Console manufacturers are very interested in 3D. The graphics engines and CG already embedded in consoles and games can be facilitated to make consoles and games into 3D. It does take effort to make these conversions, and we have already seen efforts by several content gaming companies to make these conversions. At CES, TI demonstrated 3D gaming from an XBOX 360, and at CEATEC in Japan, game publishers were demonstrating 3D console games on other game platforms.
25. We have had the privilege of interviewing the likes of Joshua Greer, President of Real D, and Tim Partridge, EVP for Dolby Laboratories (Dolby 3D). Clearly the S-3D cinema space has taken off with 2:1 and 3:1 revenue compared to traditional 2D cinema. What are the challenges in getting these S-3D successes to the consumer market, and what steps is Mitsubishi taking or will be taking to accomplish this?
The 3D movie content has to be encoded into a Blu-Ray format from the studios for a “3D to the home” solution. In addition, the consumer purchasable solution needs to be simple for consumers to understand and setup. We are very focused on getting this consumer value proposition to the market. We are working with many of the studios and leaders in the 3D Cinema space.
26. While your product is innovative, S-3D has been around for some time, and it has clearly had its pitfalls. What’s different today? In addition to your product, how do you envision the S-3D industry’s future? Is it going to have explosive mass appeal, or a niche market success? Why?
3D has come a long way from an eyewear point of view as well as the actual content. Consumers that have seen 3D from Mitsubishi are stunned by the level of immersive experience. No one evens mentions the days of ole for 3D when anaglyphic glasses were used.
The right consumer value proposition and the strong partnerships from many stakeholders will dictate the success or failure of 3D now and into the future.
27. Aside from selling millions of units, if an industry genie could give you anything you wanted, what three wishes would you ask for?
Content, content, and more content!
28. If readers could walk away with one message from this interview, what would it be?
The 3D Immersive experience is very different today than in the past. The display technology is here with DLPTVs, and we expect to expand to other display technologies. Mitsubishi has also announced the launch of LaserTV later this year. If you have seen 3D on a DLP and think it is incredible, wait until you see it on LaserTV! Not only is 2D a True Dimension Experience with LaserTV, 3D adds the immersive factor with twice the amount of color than any other HDTV display technology. Exciting times are ahead and Mitsubishi is leading the way!
Also, MTBS has shown to be the most passionate and comprehensive website to educate and build awareness for S-3D.
Thanks David! Post your comments and questions HERE as David will be back to make another appearance to answer them.