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Zenith Unveils More Than 40 Digital Items At CES

1/27/2003 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Broadened lines of plasma and LCD-TV displays highlighted Zenith Electronics' more than 40 new digital product offerings at CES.

The company also presented its first combination ATSC DTV decoder with built-in HDTV-PVR, which is planned for April, and new fully integrated ATSC HDTV sets, including a 52W-inch DLP rear-projection set.

At a press briefing, product management director Rich Long called the Zenith products unveiled at CES "the industry's widest selection of flat-panel display technologies," ranging from 11 13-inch to 42W-inch LCD direct-view models and seven 40W- to 60W-inch plasma models.

Highlights included the first plasma panels with integrated HDTV tuners (60W- and 50W-inch 16:9 models planned for late 2003); and new 17W-, 23W-, 30W- and 42W-inch LCDs (including a 17W-inch model with a built-in DVD player). The company is also previewing what Zenith calls the "world's largest" 52W-inch direct-view LCD HDTV display, recently announced by the LG.Philips LCD joint venture company in Korea.

Zenith said it is expanding its family of integrated HDTVs to include new 34W- and 30W-inch direct-view HDTV sets and a 52W-inch DLP rear-projection HDTV set with an integrated fifth-generation terrestrial VSB tuner.

Long proclaimed, "2003 will be the year that HDTV explodes, with virtually all TV stations going on the air, more programming available and unprecedented consumer choices in products to receive and display hi-def shows."

Seven HDTV set-top boxes include a $999 terrestrial DTV receiver with a built-in 80GB hard drive for recording and playback of HDTV programs; a $599 combination DVD player and ATSC receiver; and enhanced versions of its DirecTV and ATSC set-tops. These are designed to address the installed base of 5 million HDTV monitors and to "fit perfectly with Zenith's HDTV monitor line," he said.

Long highlighted the HDTV monitors for 2003, including 60W- and 52W-inch LCD rear-projection units, 56W- and 49W-inch CRT rear-projection models, 27- and 32-inch direct-view CRT units, joining with the aforementioned LCD TVs and plasma panels. Zenith, which last year eliminated all analog rear-projection models, has moved to 100 percent 16:9 wide-screen rear-projectors for 2003.

The first PVRs from Zenith include both DVD players and hard-disc recorders planned for second-quarter availability. Models include a $499 40-gigabyte recorder with a built-in DVD player and two DVD-R/RW units expected to sell in the $500-$700 range. These are in addition to the HDTV PVRs announced as part of Zenith's 2003 digital set-top box line.

No fewer than 15 new DVD players — all progressive scan and ranging in price from $100-$400 — are also on tap. They include new low-profile designs, DVD-VCR combinations and a new series of DVD-home theater audio/video systems.

"The new products introduced — 50 in all — make up a product line that is more than 90 percent digital," Long said.

Zenith also showed concepts for future years, including a 52W-inch LCD direct-view HDTV display, a 52W-inch rear-projection LCD HDTV monitor with PVR, as well as prototype set-top boxes based on the ATSC DASE (DTV Application Software Environment) interactive TV standard and on the OpenCable HDTV standards.