By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
A 3-D DLP package, a new immersive-sound LCD TV lineup and the disclosure of screen sizes for forthcoming its LaserVue HD DLP line introduction marked key highlights of Mitsubishi's recent summer press review here.
First the company revealed that it has entered cooperative agreement with NVIDIA and Aspen Media Products to distribute and promote use of PC-based 3-D video games with Mitsubishi DLP rear-projection sets.
Then the company revealed its long-awaited laser-based DLP lineup, called LaserVue, will feature the 65-inch and 73-inch screen sizes.
Last, the company formally revealed its newest LCD TV lineup, featuring a 16-speaker immersive-sound system.
As for 3-D, starting in July, Mitsubishi and its partner companies will demonstrate 3-D gaming entertainment systems, including a Mitsubishi HD DLP TV set, Aspen Media Products Windows Media server and various 3-D video games, in select Fry's Electronics, Ken Cranes and other A/V specialty stores. From there Mitsubishi plans to widen the rollout to about 300 storefronts in varying distribution channels across the country throughout the summer, said David Naranjo, Mitsubishi product development director.
Initially, the various components of the 3-D ensemble will be sold separately, Naranjo said, but the companies are working out a means of selling complete 3-D bundled packages down the road.
"Consumers will also now have a solution to buy," Naranjo said. "These will be purchasable so consumers can take something home and actually experience 3-D."
Aspen Media, which to date has offered Windows Media Center entertainment servers through custom installers, will make its first appearance in the A/V specialty dealers through the arrangement. NVIDIA is working with Mitsubishi "to also offer us a solution that will tie into the overall 3-D experience, combining various important aspects of the solution," Naranjo said. NVIDIA will announce that added solution later.
Meanwhile, John Oliver, Aspen Media Products CEO, said his company will work with NVIDIA to supply a "full-blown Windows Media Center server" for the in-store 3-D gaming demonstrations. The server, model GL3158 ($1,999 suggested retail), runs a 2.4GHz AMD Dual Core processor, and has 1.5TB of hard disk space, 2GB of RAM and a GeForce 8800GTX GPU.
NVIDIA, which developed 3-D-capable GeForce FX Go series graphics processing units for PCs, is using it GeForce 3-D stereoscopic technology as a driver for Windows Vista, which renders two views for stereoscopic display systems to show depth with Microsoft DirectX games. The 3-D stereoscopic driver is compatible with all GeForce 7 series and higher GPUs, which are compatible with Mitsubishi's 3-D-ready, high-def, DLP rear-projection sets, NVIDIA said.
Naranjo said PC gaming represents the largest "platform" of any video game system, and that virtually every new title written going forward will be 3-D capable. He said Mitsubishi is working on developing the 3-D TV market for downloadable games and movies in the future, and is in discussions with content producers, gaming developers and online distribution services to bring a full range of 3-D options to viewers in the near future.
"There are well over 100 million PC gamers out there in the U.S. alone," said David Naranjo, Mitsubishi product planning director. "Right now, about 1 million of those already have 3-D gaming capability through various NVIDIA solutions. We are looking at leveraging that and growing that segment of the market place."
An NVIDIA spokesman said that, to date, 350 3-D PC video games have been certified by NVIDIA.
"As long as the game is written in 3-D, we will be able to take advantage of everything the gaming developers have already put into the game to create 3-D depth," he continued.
NVIDIA 3-D solutions will support all Mitsubishi DLP TVs and GeForce 7 and higher desktop GPUs, the company said.
As for the future viability of DLP rear-projection technology, Mitsubishi is betting that 3-D and its forthcoming LaserVue laser-based DLP TVs will reinvigorate the technology's popularity.
"There is some real demand out there for large screen, whether it is flat-panel or DLP," said Frank DeMartin, Mitsubishi marketing VP. "We see that demand continuing. The great thing about home theater TV is that it is a great value."
Mitsubishi revealed that it will offer LaserVue models in two screen sizes — a 65-inch model is due to ship in the third quarter, and a 73-inch model, which is expected to follow some time late, the company said.
In addition, Mitsubishi said the technology will produce two times the color depth of flat-panel TVs while consuming half the power (operating at approximately 200 watts). Set brightness is listed at 500 nits, and both models will incorporate Smooth 120Hz frame rate technology and x.v.Color compatibility. Cabinet depth will be 10 inches and both models can be table-top or wall mounted, Naranjo said.
As for new LCD TV offerings, Mitsubishi formally unveiled its Ultra Thin Frame premium flat-panel TV line featuring an Integrated Sound Projector (iSP).
The line, which ships this month, includes the 46-inch LT-46149 ($3,299 suggested retail) and 52-inch LT-52149 ($3,699) models.
Both offer full 1080p resolution, Smooth 120Hz Film Motion frame rates, GalleryPlayer software with a collection of still images for display when the set is not being used for video, and uni-directional digital CableCARD slots.
The line's most distinguishing feature is the iSP system, which employs a 16-speaker array to create a 5.1-channel sound field from a single speaker cabinet attached below the TV screen. The system uses advanced algorithms to delay the sound varying intervals to each of the 16 speakers, generating a 5.1-channel effect focused both directly and in-directly at the listener.
The iSP also uses a simple graphical user interface to assist in the proper set-up for the room surroundings. The system calculates the beam angles to provide the best sound for the environment, Mitsubishi said.
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