By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Mitsubishi is focusing its 2006 television line around 1,080p resolution, offering nine new DLP rear-projection sets and four flat-panel LCD TVs with native 1,920 by 1,080-pixel high-definition display capability.
Responding to Sony's strong success with SXRD rear-projection technology last year, Mitsubishi showed a prototype of a 1,080p DLP rear-projection set using red, green and blue lasers instead of the lamp and color wheel found in most DLP systems. The technology was said to deliver a rear-projection set with a thinner cabinet, smaller footprint and enhanced image quality over current DLP sets. Additionally, the lamp life was said to be virtually unlimited.
The first of such laser sets, however, are not expected to reach market until the holiday season of 2007, and the price premium and screen sizes have not been determined.
In rear projection this year, Mitsubishi is offering two models with 720p 3LCD light engines, and nine 1080p DLP models. Gone from the line this year are CRT- and LCoS-based rear-projection models.
The LCD-based models will ship in August in the 52W-inch ($2,399 suggested retail) and 62W-inch ($3,099) screen sizes. Both offer dual HDMI and component video inputs, and Mitsubishi's ClearThought Easy Connect technology, which recognizes components as they are plugged in and displays only active inputs.
All rear-projection models feature restyled cabinet designs this year, highlighted by slim-screen bezels that measure less than an inch thick.
Mitsubishi introduced seven 1,080p high-definition rear-projection televisions featuring the company's proprietary “6-Primary Color System” light engine design. The technology offers an expanded color gamut and brighter images, through the use of a six-segment color wheel with direct yellow, cyan and magenta colors joining the traditional red, green and blue.
Two 73W-inch models use the company's high output light engine.
Also, 1,080p rear-projection models include Mitsubishi's patented TurboLight lamp system that focuses light more efficiently onto the DLP chip to improve image brightness 10 percent over conventional lamp systems, the company said.
All 73W-inch and Diamond Series models offer a 180-watt TurboLight system, while other 1,080p DLPs include a 150-watt version.
In 1,080p, Mitsubishi will offer four series of models, and four screen sizes including new 57W-inch and 65W-inch models — joining the 52W-inch and 73W-inch models.
The entry 52W-inch WD-52631 ($2,799, August), features integrated ATSC and QAM tuning, 4D video noise reduction, 12-bit signal processing, PerfectColor, ClearThought Easy Connect networking, dual HDMI, DVI-I PC input, two component video inputs and an IEEE-1394 interface.
Two models in the 57W-inch ($3,099) and 65W-inch ($3,799) screen sizes will ship in the 731 series in June and July, respectively. Both add digital CableCARD slots.
The 732 series will include the 57W-inch ($3,299, August), 65W-inch ($3,999, August) and 73W-inch ($5,999, August) screen sizes. All three models add to the 731 package Mitsubishi's NetCommand with learning IR networking system, which is said to enable easy operation of an entire home theater system with a single remote. Also included are three sets of component video inputs, multi-format memory card readers and TV Guide On Screen programming guides.
The 831 Diamond Series 1,080p DLP TVs will be offered in the 57W-inch ($3,799, August), 65W-inch ($4,599, August) and 73W-inch ($6,499, September) screen sizes. All add to the 732 Series package, a fully illuminated remote, additional simple remote and front IEEE-1394 input with DV decoding.
In flat-panel TV, Mitsubishi, which was the first consumer electronics manufacturer to show a plasma TV, has opted to drop the category in favor of LCD TV models with 1,080p resolution.
The company is offering models in three feature packages, with two screen sizes — 37W inches and 46W inches. All feature an integrated one-piece design this year.
The 37W-inch LT-37131 ($3,299, August) and 46W-inch LT-46131 ($4,899, October) feature integrated ATSC and QAM tuning, dual HDMI and component video inputs, an IEEE-1394 interface, ClearThought Easy Connect system, DVI-I PC input and 4D video noise reduction. The 37W-inch model includes a remote operated power swivel base.
The 37W-inch LT-37132 ($3,499, September) adds Mitsubishi's PerfectTint system, three sets of component video inputs, TV Guide On Screen programming guide, NetCommand with learning IR and power swivel base.
The Diamond Series 46W-inch LT-46231 ($5,199, October) adds to that full spectrum color system.
Explaining the decision to go with 1,080p in a screen size as small as 37W inches, Marty Zanfino, Mitsubishi product development director, said the added resolution of a 1,920 by 1,080 display will enable viewers to sit closer to a screen before detecting image limitations. This is especially good, then, for mid- to large-screen LCD TVs, such as 37W-inch models, since viewers will need to sit closer to the screen to get a better visual impact.
In other announcements, Max Wasinger, Mitsubishi sales and marketing senior VP, said the company will likely offer a Blu-ray Disc product next year, but could not say whether that would be a player or recorder.
The company continues to market its carry over D-VHS high-definition VCR, which will be available until supplies are gone.
The line show was emceed by MTV and MHD VJ Mayleen Ramey. Her presence, and a series of tongue-in-cheek Mitsubishi videos spoofing popular MTV shows, played up the company's recent sponsorship of the launch of the high-definition MHD music channel.
Wasinger said his company's advertising on the MHD channel is helping to promote the launch of the service as it rolls out into cities across the country.
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