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Mitsubishi Drops DLP Displays: Goodbye RPTVs Forever

A pioneer of big-screen rear projection TVs, Mitsubishi (MEVSA) was the last hold-out in DLP displays, and finally is discontinuing the line as part of a corporate restructuring.


So long, RPTV—the only big screen I’ve ever known. Meet my family and our 15 years of Mitsubishi in the slideshow below.

Mitsubishi Electric was the last hold-out in the rear projection TV (RPTV) business, and now the company is dropping the line, CE Pro has learned.

Mitsubishi Electrical Visual Solutions America, Inc. (MEVSA), the group in charge of the RPTV and other video product lines for both residential and commercial markets, has sent a letter to authorized service centers (reprinted below) indicating they are “discontinuing the manufacture of 73”, 82” and 92” DLP projection televisions.”

The memo, issued by MEVSA president and CEO Junichi Nose, indicates that the move is part of an “important change in business direction, which will necessitate a corresponding restructuring of the MEVSA organization.”

Nose says MEVSA will continue to be headquartered at its current Irvine, Calif., location and adds, “We expect that these changes will have a minimal effect on you and your business.”

Reached early this morning, Max Wasinger, long-time exec with Mitsubishi’s video products and currently executive vice president of sales and marketing for MEVSA, tells CE Pro, “We are in the midst of an orderly exit from the DLP TV business. MEVSA will now focus on B-to-B (projectors, display wall, printers, digital signage, monitors, etc.) and the home theater projector business.”

The microdisplay category had a great run and was really the first “thin” big-screen TV. Unit sales for the microdisplay RPTV category hit point of 2.2M units in 2006. The category remained significant thought 2007, and in 2008 shipments fell dramatically to a little over 500,000 from 1.3M in 2007.  It was in 2008 that we really saw big-screen LCD TV take off, with sales of 52” models over 1.5M.

Recently, the category has remained relevant only in the size 70” and above, with 70” struggling as well this year. Volume for 2011 fell to 210,446 units and this year we are projecting sales flat or below. The rental channel was the category’s main supporter in recent years, but as large flat-screen manufacturing prices declined, the rental channel quickly moved to LCD TVs.—Tamaryn Pratt, principal, Quixel Research.

Wasinger will take on the position of executive vice president of sales for all Mitsubishi Professional Products and solutions. Frank De Martin, vice president of sales for MEVSA, is staying with the organization, Wasinger says.

A Brief History of Mitsubishi and RPTV

Mitsubishi has a storied history in the big-screen RPTV market, launching a 50-inch HD-ready CRT for the home market in the mid-1990s (I had one of the first – see image gallery). CRTs gave way to DLP and other “thinner profile” RPTVs in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and Mitsubishi continued to lead the way.

As with the other key TV manufacturers, Mitsubishi made the shift to flat-panel displays in the early 2000’s, shipping a wide range of LCDs like the other guys. But while other TV makers were phasing out their microdisplays (DLP and LCOS), Mitsubishi continued to innovate in the category.

For example, in 2007, the company unveiled eight LCD flat panels and nine DLP RPTVs.

By 2009, the only other serious RPTV maker, Samsung, exited the category, giving Mitsubishi a virtual monopoly.

The manufacturer took advantage of that position and decided to focus on RPTVs. In early 2011, Mitsubishi exited the overcrowded LCD market and shortly thereafter announced it would cease production of all TVs smaller than 65 inches.

Frank De Martin (left) and Max Wasinger flank their biggest fan, CE Pro editor Julie Jacobson, 2011

And just after that announcement, the company unveiled a new line of really-big-screen DLPs that were substantially less expensive than any flat panels on the market. For example, the 92-inch WD-92840 retailed for $5,999 when it was introduced. Today, you can pick one up for less than $2,500.

In late 2011, at an expo presented by the buying group Nationwide/Specialty Electronics Nationwide (SEN), Mitsubishi explained its decision to move forward with RPTVs, noting that it is simply the best bang for the buck, and one of the few TV categories that could be profitable for dealers.

Back then, DeMartin discussed a competitor whose 70-inch flat screen – without 3D capabilities – retailed for $3,000

“You can get a 73-inch DLP for $1,599. And by the way, we [the dealer] can give you furniture, 3D glasses, a Blu-ray player and home theater in the box, and you’ll still pay less than $3,000.”

Mitsubishi continued to improve on its televisions with laser technology, which it was the first to introduce in 2008. The top-of-the-line “LaserVue” TVs feature much brighter pictures than traditional DLPs.

The latest model in what is largely regarded as a stunning TV line, is the L75-A96 75-inch LaserVue. It has an MSRP of $6,000 and a street price of about $4,000.

NEXT: My Life with Mitsubishi RPTVs, Memo from MEVSA president

View the 17 photos attached to this entry
Mitsubishi Drops DLP Displays: Goodbye RPTVs Forever

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Article Topics

News · Product News · Slideshow · Displays · TVs · Mitsubishi · Dlp · Rptv · All topics

About the Author

Julie Jacobson, Co-Founder, EH Publishing / Editor-at-large, CE Pro
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson. [More by Julie Jacobson]

23 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by Denny Crane  on  12/01  at  10:30 PM

Can’t say that I was a fan. The images on a DLP projector TV simply lacked the crispness of an LCD or a plasma. And, they washed out in a daylit room.

Posted by Erich  on  12/01  at  11:52 PM

Wow this is bad news.  I have a 73” Mitsu that is only a couple years old and has been a great addition to the family.  Maybe I should upgrade to the 92” and put the 73 in the bedroom.  Hmm…

Posted by Rick Johnson  on  12/02  at  10:17 AM

You may want to verify the CRT RPTV timeline. My family had a 40 in model growing up since the mid to late ‘80s, and they weren’t exactly emerging then. I remember watching the pilot of Star Trek: The Next Generation on it. It needed some ICs replaced in it after some time in the early 90s, and the CRTs eventually became mis-aligned after a major earthquake.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  12/02  at  10:28 AM

Absolutely correct, Rick. Sorry, I should’ve said “HD-ready.” I have made the correction. Thanks for pointing it out.

Posted by Jimmie Ray  on  12/02  at  12:51 PM

We sold a couple dozen of the RPTV’s over the last couple years…Everyone has had an issue…bad bulbs overheating, lockups, several were unrepairable problems…Bye Bye Mits..wont miss you too much

Posted by Chris  on  12/02  at  09:40 PM

I have a Samsung LED DLP and after 5 years the only replacement needed was the red led (~ $90) which was easy enough to do myself.

In the bedroom I have a LCD TV that already went out on me after only owning it a year, luckily had the extended warranty for it and had it replaced.

Posted by Keith  on  12/02  at  10:00 PM

Reading this while watching Sunday Night Football on my mitsu 73” 3D dlp. The value and size was well worth it; I paid just a tad over 800. Sad day, but not to shocked. As the industry is getting bigger, thinner, and cheaper LCDs out the door everyday. I have had my 73” calibrated and the image and color is great. I too may look for a deal on a laser vue.

Posted by ted leaf  on  12/03  at  01:09 AM

rptv have always been pricey here in the uk,was lucky to find big 60 inch sony rptv that was built for business and video conferencing so it could take a video feed from just about anything and made a superb gaming screen and a prety good tv.did’nt know about all the “extra” air filters deep in the guts of the sony and the poor old thing fried a smtd on the main board and over here figures quoted for a repair are about the same price as the beast was brand new,about £5000, yes,£5k for cost £4997 with taxes when new.
you do look impressive if you can get your arms under one and lift on your own,60 inch sony only weighs about 130 pounds.easy.

Posted by John  on  12/03  at  02:57 AM

Can these DLP TV play VHS tapes?

LCD/LED play VHS tape very bad and I wonder what about the DLP TV

Posted by Joe Whitaker  on  12/03  at  10:26 AM

I still have one of the 73” Mitsu’s. I have had it for a good while and it has always been a great display. Sad to see an end to this product category as I think there was still room for growth. It is a sad end to a “Best Bang for the Buck” product line. Thanks Mitsu for the years of satisfaction an cost effectiveness.

Posted by Rob Robinson  on  12/03  at  01:18 PM

Not surprised to see it but sad the end of rear-projection production as there were/are some great displays in this category. Had a 55” CRT-based Mitsubishi rear-pro for many years (that is still producing great pictures for the charity that I donated it to) and the display in my NY home theater remains a 60” Sony SXRD unit that I just put a new OEM bulb in and re-calibrated and continue to enjoy enormously.

Posted by Gary  on  12/03  at  02:11 PM

I have a 50 inch Sony, rear projector, no problems to date, still on the original bulb. It isn’t the daily set, used in the den for sports and movies.  Always liked the picture.  But considering he cost of a bulb, when it comes time to replace, I will likely opt for a new flat screen.

Posted by Alan Blake  on  12/03  at  02:21 PM

Sorry to see these go. I used to work in Corporate television, and had one of the 48” CRT-RP sets. It lasted 14 years, and looked as good as my studio monitors. A part of my job was to maintain the Corporation’s projection systems, and we had a mix of everything out there. I never had to do a service call on a Mitsubishi unless it was to set up a new one.
When I bought my present set, I evaluated the DLP against LCD, and the DLP presented a superior picture; I cannot agree with the comment that DLP-RP washes out in a bright room. My set is next to 15’ tall windows and looks great any time of the day. Can’t say that about plasma; which also has a minimum viewing distance and tendency to burn-in. Consider that unless you have a good resolution conversion chipset (90% don’t) in your LCD, that unless your bitstream is at or near its native resolution it will look awful. DLP has no native resolution, so pictures look as good as the incoming bitstream.
Timeline: “Good” CRT-RP sets were available in the early 80’s, at that time the front-projection sets (except for Advent) were all junk from a performance standpoint. Of course most consumers didn’t care about quality as long as the picture was big.

Posted by mlafave  on  12/03  at  03:36 PM

A moment of silence if you please.

Now, here’s your Living Room back!

Posted by Timothy Turner  on  12/03  at  09:15 PM

Isn’t that photo in the slideshow the IR Receiver? An emitter sends out a signal.

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