Sony says its new Bravia ZX1 is the world's thinnest LCD TV at 9.9mm. Certainly Samsung and JVC, each with 7mm-deep offerings, take issue with that. Yet the ZX1, after all, sounds like a technological masterpiece.
Inside its skinny 9mm body, which is about the same depth as a CD case, there's 100Hz refresh tech for less juddery images, and a 1080p LCD screen that comes in 42, 46, and 52-inch sizes. The super-skinniness is achieved by side-lighting the LCD with rows of LEDs, instead of the more usual back-lit design.
And since the TV is wireless, there are no clunky connectors cluttering up its rear-end. Instead its "Bravia 1080 Wireless" tech joins it to a base station that can take up to three HDMI video sources. Plus it's got a USB port for displaying photos in picture-frame mode, and it also runs Sony's sleek XMB user interface—also found on the PS3—for user control of its functions.
Sound great. But why is there a mad rush for manufacturing super-skinny TVs right now? It's not like consumers peer behind an HDTV very often when it's sitting on a stand...if they did, the difference between a 5cm-deep set and a 9mm-deep one would be of no interest to them. And if it were mounted on the wall, all this slim body would provide is a screen that's closer to the wall. Of course there would be fewer visible cables, but that's not really a huge selling point.
And that's where this television set's price of around $3,000 comes in. Sony's R&D has bent over backward to optimize a parameter of this TV that few people care about—its depth—and created an expensive oddity. Wouldn't that time and effort have been better spent dreaming up an LCD TV that had an even better picture, or was cheaper than the competition's sets?