As it becomes more and more difficult to sell TVs at premium prices, manufacturers are coming up with new features they hope will entice customers. Sharp Corp. says its new Freestyle Aquos line of liquid crystal display TV sets, unveiled Thursday, are not bound by the location of the aerial plug, thanks to a tuner that can wirelessly send broadcast signals to a TV elsewhere in the house. “For people wanting to move around all the furniture and freely design their homes, the TV has been a bottleneck,” said Keiko Okada, a Sharp executive in charge of design and branding strategy at a press conference.Sharp’s new TVs represent the latest attempt among television makers to differentiate their product lineup, in a search for an alternative to cutthroat price competition that has been crimping TV earnings at most major electronics makers world-wide for the past few years. In 2009, for example, Samsung Electronics mass-produced light emitting diode-backlit TV sets ahead of rivals. When 3-D TVs debuted in early 2010, the industry hoped the new feature would create a more profitable market segment, but 3-D TVs soon became part of the relentless price competition plaguing the industry. In October, Sony Corp. released new Internet-enabled TV sets that run on Google Inc.’s software, and the so-called “smart TVs” with built-in processors and operating software became one of the major themes at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in January.
More consumers with cable, satellite or telco TV services have downgraded their services in the last year -- and more are on the way. Dallas-based researcher Parks Associates says 13% of consumers who have broadband connections have made cutbacks within the last 12 months -- with another 9% to come. The study says this includes some 3.9 million people who regularly watch Internet video. These "downgraders" or "cord shavers," who typically spend $20 or less on monthly video services, are heavy TV users. They watch, on average, 4.2 hours of Internet video on their TV each week. Parks Associates says the growth of downgraders is more closely linked to the growth of broadband adoption than watching more Internet video.
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