By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Mitsubishi is diving into the big-screen 1080p HDTV market in 2007, offering nine DLP rear-projection models and eight big-screen LCD TVs capable of the resolution level.
At a press conference here last week, the company unveiled its 2007 lineup, with models that all include HDMI v1.3a inputs supporting x.v.YCC expanded color gamut technology and Mitsubishi's Deep Color technology.
Mitsubishi calls its x.v.YCC capability x.v.Color, and will be supporting the system with special split-screen demo videos that will enable dealers to show A/B comparisons with non-x.v.YCC images, the company said.
The system will require specially encoded video content to maximize the capability, but David Naranjo, Mitsubishi A/V products division product development director, said plans are in the works for some video games to be produced using the system.
Eventually, movie studios are expected to adopt the system for Blu-ray and HD DVD titles, although no such announcements have been made yet.
In microdisplay rear-projection TV this year, the company dispenses with LCD-based models to focus solely on 1080p DLP.
This year the company is using the catchphrase "73-inch is the new 65-inch" to underscore its position that plenty of opportunity awaits retailers who sell microdisplay sets by pitching the value message over flat panel in very large screen sizes.
That phrase echoes what Mitsusbishi marketing VP Frank DeMartin mentioned when he reviewed the company's plans for this year and beyond during the Home Entertainment Source meeting in Dallas in April (TWICE, April 9, p. 18). "We believe retailers that walk away from [the microdisplay business] are walking away from revenue and profits. I don't know why there are people in this industry that are so quick to abandon a category that has served us so well and for so long."
To underscore the point, DeMartin pointed to Mitsubishi's market sales forecast of 2.2 million microdisplay TV sales in 2007, down slightly from 2.3 million in 2006. In 2008, he said that number will dip to 1.98 million and 1.73 million in 2009.
At the same time, a number of manufacturers are walking away from the category, leaving significant opportunities for the players that remain, he said.
Comparatively, LCD TV sales should reach 4 million units in 2007, up from 1.8 million in 2006. DeMartin forecast LCD TV sales to advance to 7.3 million units in 2008 and 10.7 million in 2009.
Given the high rate of change in the industry between the numerous brands entering the market and the aggressive price promotion in the TV category, DeMartin said "we as a premium brand have to reinvent ourselves, and re-propose to consumers that we have value for them."
In flat-panel LCD, the company introduced eight premium positioned 1080p LCD TVs in four series that will ship in July through September.
The line is highlighted by a new design using a more compact footprint, a very thin bezel and a cabinet that is less than half the width of typical LCD sets. The company is also using a special panel built exclusively for Mitsubishi by its supplier, Naranjo said.
The 133 Mitsubishi series will include the 40- ($2,699 suggested retail), 46- ($3,399) and 52-inch ($4,499) screen sizes. These include the x.v.Color system, PerfectColor, Easy Connect and three rear HDMI 1.3 inputs.
The 134 Medallion series includes the 46-inch ($2,899) screen size. This adds the PerfectColor and PerfecTint systems, NetCommand and a side mounted HDMI 1.3 input.
The 144 series features the 46- ($3,899) and 52-inch ($5,099) screen sizes. These add a Smooth120Hz rate for smooth images in fast motion scenes, PerfectColor, and side component video inputs.
The 244 Diamond series includes the 46- ($4,499) and 52-inch ($5,699) screen sizes and adds the company's Smooth120Hz refresh rate, PerfecTint, a CableCARD slot, TV Guide Daily EPG, NetCommand and a side HDMI input.
In 1080p DLP, Mitsubishi will offer nine models across three series including the 733 Mitsubishi series, the 734 Medallion series and the 833 Diamond series. The microdisplay rear-projection models ship now through August, and all feature TI's 0.85 inch Dark Chip 3 XHD5 DMD and a significantly reduced cabinet size.
The 733 series will include the 57- ($2,499 suggested retail), 65- ($2,999) and 73-inch ($4,699) screen sizes. Each model includes the company's 6-Color light engine first shown last year, three HDMI 1.3 inputs with x.v.Color support and a front HD component input.
The 734 Medallion series includes the 57- ($2,799), the 65- and the 73-inch screen sizes, and adds Dark Detailer circuitry for deeper blacks with more detail, PerfecTint Deep Field Imager for dynamic contrast adjustment within an image, SharpEdge for sharper edges, a front HDMI input and NetCommand onscreen home theater control and setup.
The 833 series will also include the 57- ($3,399), 65- ($3,999) and 73-inch ($5,899) screen sizes. These add "Smooth 120Hz" image processing for smoother fast action pictures, TV Guide On Screen 9.0, Game FX-3D gaming capability, IEEE 1394 and RS232C inputs.
The Game FX-3D system is a new technology Mitsubishi is working on to bring a true 3D effect to games played back on specially enabled consoles. Mitsubishi plans to sell special glasses that connect wirelessly to the console to create a vivid 3D presentation, Naranjo said.
Later in the year, DeMartin said Mitsubishi will have more to say about its promised laser-based DLP rear-projection sets. Thus far, the company is not saying exactly what the products will feature or when they will be ready for market.
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