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Thomson Highlights '03 Digital A/V Lineup

1/10/2003 10:48:00 AM Eastern

Las Vegas - Thomson used a pre-CES press conference to announce its first rear-projection HDTV set based on Digital Light Processing (DLP) micro display technology, its first DVD recorder and a new line of televisions to incorporate the Alert Guard warning system.

Mike O'Hara, Thomson worldwide marketing executive VP, said the new flagship in the RCA Scenium HDTV line will be a fully integrated 50W-inch 16:9 rear-projection HDTV set based on Texas Instruments' Mustang HD-2 (1280x720) DLP technology. The set, which follows an earlier trial with an LCoS-based rear-projection HDTV monitor, will feature internal ATSC terrestrial DTV tuning, Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM) digital cable TV tuning, IEEE-1394 with DTCP (DTVLink) and DVI with HDCP digital interfaces. The set weighs under 100 pounds and is less than 16-inches deep. It will carry a $4,499 suggested retail.

Thomson also formally announced its long-awaited DVD+RW/+R recorder. The RCA DRC8000N will carry a $599 suggested retail when it ships in June, the company said.

Thomson said it went with Philips' +RW/+R format due to its broad compatibility with existing DVD video players. The recorder will use Gemstar's GuidePlus+ interactive TV guide.

Also for this year, Thomson said it will introduce its second combination DVD player and personal video recorder. The unit will offer progressive scan DVD video output and has a 40GB hard drive to store up to 40 hours of video programming. The RCA DRC7005N Digital Media Recorder will incorporate the GuidePlus+ interactive TV guide to help record TV programs and will also offer audio, video and photo album playback from the hard drive.

In announcing the new Alert Guard TV line, Thomson said it would carry six direct-view television sets in the 20-, 27- and 32-inch screen sizes, all of which will be equipped with special tuners and antennas to receive the service. Viewers will be able to monitor localized and national emergencies even when watching other video sources. The service, which receives text and audio information through NOAA's All-Hazards Warning System radio network, will deliver breaking news on threatening natural disasters, nuclear power plant alerts, chemical spills and terrorist attacks. Four different colored LED indicator lights on the front of the set track four levels of danger alerts being transmitted. The alerts can be presented by the TV in text, voice and warning alarms.

The Alert Guard system can be set to sound a warning chime when danger is imminent, even when the user is sleeping.

In audio, the company reviewed plans for expanded audio products, including more hard-drive-equipped portable music players, and what could be the industry's first home-theater-in-a-box system equipped with hard-drive music jukebox.

One of a trio of new hard-drive portables is Thomson's first to store and display video recorded from a TV or video camera.

The hard-drive HTiB is the RTD750 RCA Home Theater Music Jukebox, due in the spring at a suggested $699. It features DVD-receiver, 20GB hard drive, Internet radio reception, and Dolby Digital and Dolby Pro Logic II decoding.

For Internet radio and CDDB connectivity, the system can be connected to broadband or dial-up modems. The system's Internet radio services are Radio Free Virgin and, through broadband connection only, Sirius Satellite Radio's commercial-free Internet-streamed music channels. An on-screen display shows FM station call letters and CD cover art, artist name, album title and track titles.

In replacing the current RD2820 hard-drive music portable, Thomson announced the new RD2821 20GB RCA Lyra personal jukebox at a suggested $249, down from the current 20GB model's $299. The new model is smaller, adds USB 2.0 connection, and adds mp3PRO playback to the predecessor's MP3 and Windows Media Audio playback. It ships in June.

A second new hard-drive portable is the 1.5GB RCA Lyra Micro, which ships in the summer at a suggested $199. It uses a 1-inch hard drive and plays MP3, mp3PRO, and WMA files.

The hard-drive A/V portable, targeted to youth and frequent travelers, is the $399-suggested 20GB RD2780 with 3.5-inch TFT LCD screen. It's due in the summer. Also called the Lyra Audio/Video Jukebox, the 5.2-by-3.14-by-0.98-inch RD2780 plays mp3, mp3PRO and WMA files. It stores up to 80 hours of TV shows or home videos or up to 100,000 JPEGs. It also accepts Compact Flash memory cards. It connects to a PC via USB 2.0.

In solid-state music portables, the company plans June shipments of two new models: the 128MB RD1071 at a suggested $99 and the 64MB RD1021 at $79.

In another Lyra-series launch, Thomson unveiled a device that wirelessly connects a PC to a home stereo system to play back music stored on the PC's hard drive or streamed through the PC's modem. The $99-suggested Lyra Wireless, already shipping, comes with RF remote to adjust volume, skip songs, and choose among sources (hard drive, CD, and Internet radio).

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