By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Samsung formally announced at Home Electronics Expo here that it will ship this fall the industry's first 1,080 DLP rear-projection HDTV set based on Texas Instruments' new xHD3 Digital Micromirror Device (DMD) and Samsung's specially developed fifth-generation light engine design.
The 61W-inch set — HL-P6197W ($6,499 suggested retail, November) — will use a combination of TI's xHD3 chip technology and Samsung's light engine design to produce full 1,080p native resolution with a dramatic reduction in the viewable micromirrors in the projected image. Contrast will be 3,000:1, aided by a seven-segment color wheel.
Steve Panosian, Samsung Visual Display Group's senior marketing manager, said the new flagship DLP set would be part of the brand's new "97 Series," which will launch with select distribution through select A/V specialty chains.
The set will also feature fully integrated ATSC tuning and a unidirectional CableCARD slot for digital cable-ready capability, as part of Samsung's plan for bringing its big-screen television line into compliance with the FCC's digital tuner mandate.
That requirement calls for 50 percent of all digital television displays measuring 36-inches and larger to have integrated ATSC terrestrial broadcast tuners starting July 1. Samsung will focus its transition on rear-projection and direct-view CRT products (which must conform to the mandate next year), forgoing for now tuner integration in big-screen flat-panel products. It continues to evaluate its plan for rear-projection CRT integration.
"All of our DLP models, by the end of the year — if they are not launched with ATSC tuners and CableCARD — will transition to fully integrated CableCARD status," Panosian said. "We are doing our due diligence by putting ATSC tuners in all of these models, plus we are adding CableCARDs and we are going to run some promotions this fall promoting the world of HD off air, off satellite and through cable."
By the end of the year, Samsung expects to have nine models of fully integrated/CableCARD-ready rear-projection HDTV sets. Six of the pieces will transition over from HDTV monitors, and three models, which are slated to ship September through November, will launch as integrated/CableCARD sets.
As for other DLP models, Panosian said Samsung is sticking with its transition plan for the year, which calls for adding ATSC tuners and digital CableCARD capability to all of its current DLP monitors as "a running change." As fully integrated models are added, the company will stop building HDTV DLP monitors altogether, in favor of the more fully featured products.
In the transition, model numbers will change — typically converting the numeral three as the last digit to a seven — to reflect the integrated tuning and CableCARD capability, Panosian said. So, for example, the new HL-P5663W 56W-inch HDTV DLP rear-projection monitor, which ships in July, will transition over the next 12 months to the HL-P5667W.
Samsung positions its 63/67 Series DLP models with national accounts. The 70/77 Series will be distributed to the PRO Group and select A/V specialty retailers across the country.
National accounts getting the 63 Series DLP monitors starting in July will have access to the 46W-inch ($3,399), 50W-inch ($3,699), and 61W-inch ($4,699) screen sizes, while regional accounts will add the 56W-inch screen size, which will carry a $4,199 suggested retail when it ships in July. National accounts can also get the 56W-inch screen size "by special order," Panosian said.
The 70 Series models include the 46W-inch and 56W-inch screen sizes and will be priced at $3,999 and $4,499, respectively.
Models will use a variety of DLP chip types and light-engine designs. Samsung will focus its promotions and advertising for the new models around its proprietary light-engine designs to distinguish its products from competitors, Panosian said.
Texas Instruments' 0.55-inch HD3 chip will be positioned with Samsung's third-generation light engine in the 63/67 Series, while the larger 0.85-inch HD2+ chip will be positioned with the fourth-generation light engine in the 70/77 Series products for A/V specialty dealers. The HD2+ chip is physically larger than the HD3 chip, and it offers increased switching speed and a reduced pivot point for a higher reflective surface area. The result is improved contrast and brightness.
Due primarily to changes in the fourth-generation light-engine design, the 70/77 Series DLP displays will have a 2,500:1 contrast ratio, Panosian said. Models will also include improved optics and screen designs.
Panosian said the HD3 products will offer a 1,500:1 contrast ratio and improved brightness over last year's HD2 products, using Samsung's new light engine design.
Samsung will also offer in July the 50W-inch HL-P5085W ($4,299) and 56W-inch HL-P5685W ($4,999) "pedestal DLP" monitors, which feature a pedestal-style floor-standing base, an HD2+ DMD, Samsung's fourth-generation light engine and integrated ATSC tuning. Panosian said the 50W-inch model will go to the national accounts, and the 56W-inch will go to the regional accounts.
In CRT rear-projection, Samsung will launch tabletop 42W-inch and 47W-inch monitor models and a floor-standing 52W-inch monitor.
Panosian said Samsung "will continue to look at transitioning those models to fully integrated sets between the fall and spring of next year. That's going to be tough because the price compression on CRT rear-projection makes it very difficult to load the cost of integration of CableCARD into prices between $1,500 and $1,200."
In CRT direct-view products, Samsung will carry eight models with built-in ATSC tuners in four screen sizes. All but one model has a suggested retail price starting at under $1,000.
All models have built in clear-QAM digital cable and over-the-air ATSC tuners, but omit CableCARD compatibility. By screen size the company will offer three models in 30W-inches 16:9 ($999, $999 and $1,199.99), two models in 26W-inches 16:9 ($699 each), two models in 32-inches 4:3 ($999 each) and a 27-inch 4:3 ($699).
All feature DynaFlat picture tubes, DVI/HDCP inputs and will accept both 1,080i and 720p signal sources for display on the native 1,080i display.
In flat panel, Samsung showed a 46W-inch LCD monitor with native 1,080p (1,920-pixel by 1,080-pixel) resolution. The LT-P468W offers a 12-millisecond response time, 800:1 contrast ratio and 500 candelas per meter squared brightness level. It is slated to ship in July at a $9,999 suggested retail.
Jonas Tanenbaum, Samsung's flat-panel TV senior marketing manager, said the LCD monitor is arriving ahead of schedule and at a lower price than originally announced.
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