It's getting harder to make an HDTV that really stands out, but Philips has gone to great lengths (well, widths) with a new set it's recently unveiled. Forgoing the 16:9 wide-screen aspect ratio most new sets have, the Cinema 21:9, a 56-inch LCD, extends to nearly the same ratio as movies shot in the 2.39:1 format.
For cinema buffs, that's the good news. The bad news is that a Philips spokesperson has confirmed to me today that the set will not be made available in the U.S. According to Engadget, it will be available in select European countries this spring, at a price of £3,000 (or about 3,400 euros).
But the Cinema 21:9 could pave the way for other sets with this aspect ratio to be produced. While that format is perfect for many Hollywood films, there are plenty of video sources that aren't shot in it. Philips says it's using "highly advanced formatting technology" to convert 16:9 sources to fill the 21:9 screen, though how successful that adaptation is will probably determine whether the format will receive mainstream attention or be relegated to curiosity status.
The company promises more details about the set by the end of next month. In the meantime, you can get a brief glimpse of the Cinema 21:9 in this video clip Megawhat.tv made at the set's London launch event.