One of the reasons that people prefer LCD and plasma flat panels over rear projection models is that you can “hang them on the wall“. Never mind that fewer than 25% of buyers ever do that. For a 42” or larger screen, you could be dealing with hanging 100 pounds or more: not your typical family photo. And then there’s the question of what to do with the wires. When you put a large plasma or LCD panel on a tabletop stand, the overall depth is about the same as many rear projection models of a similar screen size.
All the same, a number of manufacturers are addressing the problem of how to make a thinner rear projection HDTV. JVC has just released two slim models. The 58″ HD-58S998 is only 10.7 inches deep, and will ship in January. The 63″ HD-65S998 is 11.6 inches deep, and will ship in March. Now, these models carry a premium price, even for 1080p resolution, but that’s the cost of creating more complex projection systems that result in the smaller case. But mount one of these on a “floating” shelf on your wall, and it should give you a viewing experience that will be at least as good as a flat panel on the wall. (You still have to figure out where the wires go, however.)