Believe It Or Not: TV Manufacturing Returning To The US

from the never-saw-that-coming dept

If you remember the history of the TV manufacturing industry, you’ll recall what a big scare it was when TV manufacturing completely abandoned the US for Japan (and, later, other parts of Asia). It generated a lot of fear in the US over the Japanese economy. Of course, later, plenty of people realized the nature of comparative advantage and why it actually made sense for TV manufacturing jobs to move overseas, especially as the US focused on other areas, such as the high tech industry. These things tend to have a way of working themselves out, as industries and markets evolve and change — and, in the end, people often realize what seemed so reasonable in moving things overseas didn’t really make sense. That’s exactly what’s happened in many cases of “offshoring” service jobs — but it can be true in manufacturing as well. Take, for example, the news that Syntax-Billian, makers of the low-cost Olevia brand of HDTVs is now opening a new manufacturing plant in the US. Prior to this, the sets were all made in Taiwan, but the company has realized that shipping and inventory costs were quite high, and the overall impact would be much better moving to North America. Of course, they first looked at Mexico, but eventually realized that it was actually a better deal to manufacture in the US, saying it’s still cheaper on shipping both parts and final products and would allow the company to react faster to market changes. The company also believes they’ll save money in training and retaining workers in the US. Who knows if there’s more going on behind the scenes here, but considering how big a story it was when all TV manufacturing left the US, it’s certainly noteworthy that (at least at one plant) it’s come back from Asia.

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Comments on “Believe It Or Not: TV Manufacturing Returning To The US”

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Chris Maresca (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: More Human Rights

You mean like Nissan being owned by Renault? Or Mazda by Ford? Or even Walmart owning Seiyu.

I don’t know where you get this info, but it’s completely wrong. Foreigners can and do own Japanese businesses.

In fact, the JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization) has a whole page about how to start a business in Japan:

It’s not very easy to do, but that has nothing to do with the government, and everything to do with cultural differences.


Jeff says:

Re: Re: More Human Rights

He/she got it from the movies, more than likely from Rising Sun where Sean Connery at the offices of a Japanese corporation here in the USA made a comment similar to this. What you are missing is the point an American cannot start up a COMPANY in Japan, working for Sony is completely different than owning a Business in Japan as a foreigner.

claire rand says:


i guess it may also be easier to mandate the inclusion of various nasty bits of technology into the set if its built within the states.

a way of preventing channel surfing during ads?

but given if the manufacturer has got any sense it will but marketed with a ‘buy american’ campaign it could take off.

i know its probably cheaper to build in china, but when the shipping costs exceed the build cost you have got to wonder about that.

Hunka Hunka says:

The first step

It is much cheaper to build a LCD/Plama TV than the old tube type. Everyone in America is replacing the old tube type with the newer flat screen models. I think when Olevia is pushed by Sony and Phillips that they will not be able to compete. Very soon you will be able to buy a 50″ flat panel LCD TV with more features than the high end models now for 500.00 and less. I know that after this Christmas season the large screens will be cut by half price, so wait until after Christmas to buy.

Hunka Hunka says:

The first step

It is much cheaper to build a LCD/Plasma TV than the old tube type. Everyone in America is replacing the old tube type with the newer flat screen models. I think when Olevia is pushed by Sony and Phillips that they will not be able to compete. Very soon you will be able to buy a 50″ flat panel LCD TV with more features than the high end models now for 500.00 and less. I know that after this Christmas season the large screens will be cut by half price, so wait until after Christmas to buy.

matthew says:

Re: Re: widescreen... bleh...

Personally I would prefer a 4:3 with enough resolution to display 16:9 content in a letterbox without going to less resolution than the native signal. Then the 99.999% of existing content (and super nes games) that are 4:3 will be maximized on my display.

Of course since there is apparently no way to specify the desired aspect ratio in an hd broadcast, this old 4:3 content will be broadcast with sidebars encoded along with the video so that you will have tv letterbox bars and blue sidebars also for a net effect of the video floating in the center 1/3 of your screen.

Actually I refuse ever to buy an hdtv. I am rebelling against the dumbass television engineers that brought us this madness and resurrected interlaced display modes for the 21st century. I will never forgive you guys. You have made the market too retarded for me to participate in.

PhysicsGuy says:

widescreen... bleh...

brad, i’m sorry if you have difficulty looking at things that aren’t in direct correlation to the position of your eyes on your face. hell, why not crop da vinci’s mona lisa because our eyes don’t sit vertically in relation to each other on our face; that sounds like your kind of reasoning to me, as it’s obviously inferior to any picture with a ratio that has a larger width than height.

i still stand by my original post, give me more viewing area for my money.

Anonymous Coward says:

I hope this serves as a sign to all companies, be they foreign-based or outsourcing USA-based. Quality goods can be reasonably produced in the US by US people too. I’ve had a hard time believe that all the shipping and training costs that companies incur overseas can overcome the cost of labor in the US. I think this is a sign that that’s not necessarily true, at least not anymore. All I know is I am sick and tired of seeing just about everything I buy have a “Made in China” or similar label on it, and calling customer service for any given company and being routed to India most of the time. I fail to understand how international phone bills can be cheaper than paying good, hard-working US employees. If we don’t stop this outsourcing madness soon, the US is going to turn into a wasteland of jobless people living on welfare or something. Our economy is crumbling around us, and it needs to be stopped. I say there should be some sort of penalty or restriction for US-based companies outsourcing everything.

Whatever the case, I give high praises for Olevia for waking and up bringing more jobs to the US, where they should have been all along.

chris (profile) says:

Re: simple economics

as the dollar contues to decline in value compared with foreign currencies, soon all companies, both american and foreign, will be sourced in the US becuse it will become a cheap labor market. it used to be that only the US had the manufacturing capabilities to mass produce goods (until the 60’s), then it became cheaper to ship materials overseas to be assembled and shipped back. now that our lousy economy is making the dollar nearly worthless, you can pay americans to do it all!

devualuating the dollar FTW!!

Jon (user link) says:

Say what??

Maybe I’m missing something here, but what does the Mona Lisa have to do with television manufacturing jobs moving back to the US? Who cares if you like 4:3 over 16:9! Who told you there was less viewing area. It’s higher resolution and more viewing area. In other words with HD you see more of the picture with greater clarity. And even if you’re watching SD on an HD television, it’s not that you get less picture than your old 4:3. It’s the same!!!

I’m da waterboy, look at me I gotta wooden spoon!

PhysicsGuy says:

Say what??

i don’t blame you, jon, for lacking in math skills, but 4:3 aspect ratio is 11% bigger than a 16:9. nobody told me, i calculate the area myself. just because they squared the dimensions doesn’t mean they’re the same… you can find out simply with the pythagorean theorem and the equation for area, you DO know these things right? if you’d REALLY like to know i can post the calculations… maybe you should just stick to your waterboy job…

Chris Maresca (user link) says:

Re: Japanese companies

Nope, no foreign company owns more than 35% percent of a Japanese company because there is no point. Under Japanese law, 33% is a controlling stake, it gives you board level veto power. Please do your research before accusing people for no reason.

Oh, and BTW, ALL of those companies I mentioned are publically traded, making their ‘ownership’ largely irrelevant, controlling stakes are what matter.


Jon (user link) says:

Re: Say what??

Sure, I agree with you. Your 50 inch 4:3 TV IS taller than a 50 inch widescreen. My question is, why do you want a taller TV? I go back to HD resolution. If you’re watching anything in a widescreen format you’ve just reduced the viewing area on your 4:3, but not on your 16:9, plus the resolution will be much higher giving you the ability to see the material much more clearly. At the same time, if you’re in to watching movies made pre 1960, or VHS tapes, or your home movies, you’re in luck with your 4:3, but if you’re watching HD content or anamorphic DVD’s then your 4:3 sucks. It doesn’t matter that you have a 50 inch 4:3 screen now because your viewing area will be less than a 50″ 16:9 screen due to letterboxing. The point of a television is to watch uh…TV, not look at it and admire how tall it is. No matter when the FCC finally sticks with a date for all television content being broadcast in HD, it’s currently heading that way and soon enough analong will be no more.

ICanDoMath says:

Re: Say what??

It’s a fact – a Widescreen vs. a Standard TV with the same diagonal width has 11% less viewing area – but here’s the bottom line: A 4:3 showing a 16:9 image letterboxed uses only 75% of its available screen area. A 16:9 showing a 4:3 image with sidebars uses the same 75% of its available screen area. So, if you want to get 100% of your money’s worth out of either aspect ratio, watch programming made in the same aspect as your TV. Tune up Discovery HD, ladies.

Widescreen?!?! Brilliant!!!

A 62″ Widescreen has approximately the same vertical height as a 50″ Standard TV, but has about 33% more viewing area. Same thing for a 33″ Widescreen vs. 27″ Standard. A 1080p HD monitor has over 2 million pixels. Compare that to standard TV’s 268,800 pixels. There’s no contest! You pay less per pixel for HD, and each pixel is worth every penny you pay for it.

PhysicsGuy says:

Say what??

again, sorry you lack math skills… i’m not talking about the height… i’m talking about the area of a 50 inch 4:3 compared to the area of a 50 inch 16:9 … a 50 inch 16:9 will cost more than a 50 inch 4:3, yet a 50 inch 16:9 has less viewing AREA than a 50 inch 4:3 … the 50 inches denotes the diagonal measure of the screen, then using a^2+b^2=c^2 we can determine the height and width (or horizontal aspect and vertical aspect) of the television, then using A=lw (or A=HV in this case) we can determine the area of the screen. when you compare a 50 inch 16:9 to a 50 inch 4:3 the 4:3 has more viewing AREA. I’m curious to see your math determining how much the letterboxing on a 4:3 shrinks the viewing area of widescreen format and the comparison of that to the total area on a 16:9 … not saying you’re wrong, i just want to see the math…

Jon (user link) says:

Re: Say what??

I don’t lack math skills. I understand the pythagorean theorem. The problem is that you keep missing my point which is that who cares how big your screen is because a widescreen model of the same diagonal measurement WILL be bigger, not based on screen size, but on viewing size.

This demonstrates that when viewing widescreen formatted content, your 50 inch 4:3 TV actually becomes 46 viewing inches. The nice thing about a widescreen TV is that I can stretch 4:3 SD content to fill my 16:9 screen and I get the full effect of what the director was trying to portray in HD shows/movies. I don’t know of a 4:3 TV that stretches a widescreen shot. Hopefully this makes more sense now. I agree with you on screen size, but you’ve mistaken screen area with viewing area. What you call viewing area is only potential viewing area. When you view SD on your 4:3 TV, the potential viewing area is fully realized and when compared to a widescreen TV of the same diagonal size, your 4:3 IS bigger. Nearly all DVD movies and HD shows are filmed in some sort of widescreen format and being that widescreen is here for many shows and is the future for all shows, your 4:3 TV’s potential viewing area is not fully realized, but it is on a 16:9 (I know some DVD’s produce letterboxing even on a widescreen TV because they were filmed with a wider aspect ratio). HD is the future so why make a buying decision that doesn’t optimize that. Who cares anyway, I don’t know why any manufacturer would make a 4:3 TV anymore.

Apparently Brilliant says:

Re: Say what??

You apparently DO NOT UNDERSTAND the how HD movies are filmed your 4:3 aspect ratio is not a standard for any movies made after the 1950’s. 4:3 was used in the 1930’s and 1940’s and for television programs. But there are two standardized ratios that are by far the most common: Academy Flat (1.85:1)(which requires the blue side bars on a true 19:6 screen and Anamorphic Scope (2.35:1). So when a film is hacked up to make it 4:3 (also known as Full screen) you lose as much as 50% of the filmed movie. Ever actually walk into a theater??? Is the screen shaped like your TV??? NO it is not. So your math may seem right but with a 4:3 TV you either get letterbox style or you get Fullscreen with a huge chunk of the directors masterpiece tossed on the cutting room floor. Having a taller screen and feeling like you have a larger viewing area is fine if you will be watching old TV shows recorded on VHS because soon you will need a box for your old TV to even work if you plan on watching any tv.

Netman says:

More Jobs

Sorry is not about HDTV, SDTV, 4:3 or 16:9. It is about the jobs created by manufacturing companies in the U.S. It is not a debate about what is the TV format is better. It is about a better US economy, more jobs for us all.

Debate about the economy impact and if more companies would return to the U.S. because of shipping cost vs. labor cost.

Netman SHUTUP says:

Re: Subject has changed keep up or shut up

No the discussion has changed. It is a wonderful thing how conversations work. Start out talking about one thing and gradually it ends up being something different. The world would be oh so sickening if we all had to live like you must. Can you imagine still talking about tying your shoes all day because that was the first thing someone told you to do in the morning? Then all day some pain in the butt kept reminding you all day that we were talking about tying your shoes this morning why would you change the subject!!!!
Get a life Nazi boy. NO ONE stated what the conversation had to be about, it is a place to discuss things. You want a strict protocol on what can be written? Start your own website.

PhysicsGuy says:

Say what??

wow, you sound like a poster boy for the television manufacturers. since i’m about to leave for a physics class and i don’t have time to work out the math for figuring a 16:9 format on a 4:3 format, i can only go by cnet’s math and that itself raises questions. mainly, where does the 80% of the original screen size come from before dividing by 16 and then multiplying that result by 9? … after physics class i’ll work out the process, but what they’re showing already seems shady…

since wide screen televisions have come out there has been plenty of “propoganda” as to why widescreens are better… i know the 4:3 has more “potential” viewing area than the 16:9 because i worked it out myself, i cannot however blindly accept cnets values… especially when they’re taking a seemingly random percentage of your initial diagonal value… their st_2 variable is obviously the new diagonal… but their value for one of the triangle’s sides is, as i said before, ((initial diagonal * .8)/16)*9 … and the other is just initial diagonal * .80 …

in fact, right now i can tell you that one side of that triangle HAS to be the same as the Horizontal aspect of the original tv… the original tv’s horizontal aspect is defined by H=sqrt((L^2)*16/25) where L is the diagonal. so cnet is bullshiting you, purposly or by stupidity on their part. knowing the pythagorean theorem is one thing, being able to put it to use (unlike cnet) is another.

again, after physics class i’ll work out the viewing area of widescreen format on a standard 4:3…

PhysicsGuy says:


ok, if you want to talk about pixels, your 1080p monitor has 2,073,600 pixels (1920×1080) but my crt monitor has 3,145,728 pixels (2048×1536) … it’s only a 22 inch monitor, but smaller size + more pixels = less noticable (if at all) pixelization … ;P

i don’t know where you got the info for standard tv resolutions… there are a lot of different ones depending on what the source of the signal is… has a table… i do agree that standard tvs have less pixels… but HD tvs have less pixels than my computer monitor (granted this is really only applicable for games) AND pixels on standard television are not the same as pixels on an hdtv or a computer monitor. so in the end, if i’m paying for pixels, give me my computer monitor ;P

PhysicsGuy says:

Say what??

well, i did it anyways… you have to do something during a boring 5 hour physics class, and in the needlessly complex process i took to do it, the obviousness of what cnet did came to me… if you’re writing code you want to make it as simple as possible… well, it’s pretty simple if for a 4:3 aspect ratio you take 4 x 3 … and you end up with a 3,4,5 triangle… 4 is 80% of 5 so the horizontal aspect is always going to be 80% of the diagonal… so i retract what i said about cnet… but, at least i got some information out of what i did. watching a widescreen movie on an n inch 4:3 screen will be 15% smaller in area than watching the movie on a 16:9 screen with the same diagonal n. I can deal with 15% as i’m a broke college student. The diagonal of the letterboxing ends up being around 92% of the size of the diagonal of the full 4:3 screen, which isn’t bad… of course, i ended up finding the angles on the 16:9 ratio screen and then figuring out the diagonal of the letterbox on the 4:3 screen with one of the angles… cnet’s way is definetly better in terms of a computational algorithm.

Fred G M says:

us investers and manufacturers

I don’t buy all the B S being shoveled out. Be honest, no one wanted to have to buy products from a foreign country instead of the country we fought for and live in. There is no industry loyalty to the USA that gave them all the opportunity they got to gain respect and wealth. And dumping the USA and all the devoted American workers who supported that effort. Results; lost employment, tax revenues, heritage, tourism, loyalty to God and country and more. What about made in the USA and proud to be an American.

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