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Large Flat Panels, Blu-ray, Mark LG, Zenith ’04 Lines

Zenith will use CES to unveil several breakthrough products including a 76W-inch plasma display, a 55W-inch LCD TV and a pair of Blu-ray Disc recorders capable of recording high-definition programming.

The company will offer seven fully integrated flat-panel HDTVs in both plasma and LCD designs under the LG brand. Highlights will include a pair of high-definition plasma displays in the 71W- and 76W-inch screen sizes with native 1,080p screen resolution, and a 55W-inch high-definition LCD TV. All were early candidates for the largest screen sizes in their respective classes.

The company is expected to be among the first to offer Blu-ray Disc recorders, and has plans to offer two models in 2004. One is a combination Blu-ray recorder and ATSC tuner, while the other integrates a Blu-ray disc recorder and a 120GB hard-disk drive-based DVR.

Richard Long, Zenith product management director, said both Blu-ray devices are expected to ship in September, at prices to be determined.

“As a company we enjoy being the first to market with advanced technologies, and we are trying to do that with Blu-ray and our 71W- and 76W-inch plasma displays,” said Long.

T.J. Lee, LG Electronics U.S.A. president, added that while LG plans to make a mark with Blu-ray, it will also consider products using the rival blue-laser HD-DVD format.

In January, the company will ship two LG-branded high-definition 42W-inch plasma displays, one being a monitor and the other featuring integrated ATSC tuning.

The LG plasma lineup will consist of three model series designated as I, G and Y. Three out of four top-end Y series models will include CableCARD plug-and-play capability, and will be offered in the 60W-, 50W- and 42W-inch screen sizes. The 50W-inch model is expected in August, with the other two planned for October deliveries. All LG plasma models will include DVD-HDCP inputs.

Zenith will carry four plasma models in the 60W-, 50W- and 42W-inch screen sizes. Three of which recently started shipping to dealers. A fourth model (42W-inches) is slated for April delivery.

In LCD TVs, the company will offer 10 SKUs under the LG logo, including four fully integrated widescreen LCD TV sets in the 52W- (October availability), 42W- (June), 37W- (September) and 30W-inch (June) screen sizes.

LG LCD TV monitors will include the 26W-, 23W-, 20-, 17W- and 15-inch screen sizes. And will also include a 17W-inch LCD TV/DVD combination unit.

Zenith LCD TV models will feature 10 SKUs in the 30W-, 26W-, 23W-, 20-, 17W-, 15- and 13-inch screen sizes. Nine are currently shipping, with five slated to ship in the first half of 2004.

In micro-device-based rear-projection television, the company will carry 10 models under the LG label, comprised of four LCD- and six DLP-based products. LG LCD rear projection models will include the 60W-, 52W- and 48W-inch screen sizes. A highlight product is the TU-60SZ30 (slated for June) which will incorporate a HD-capable DVR and 1394 digital interface.

LG DLP models will include the 52W- and 44W-inch screen sizes with two March monitor introductions, a June 52W-inch fully integrated HDTV set with CableCARD, 1394 and DVI-HDCP, and December 48W-, 56W- and 62W-inch fully integrated/CableCARD models. Later arriving products are subject to change.

LG will use Texas Instruments’ Mustang 1,280 by 720 DMD chip for its DLP lineup.

In the Zenith line, the company will carry two LCD-based rear projection monitors for 2004 in the 52W and 44W-inch screen sizes, with plans to discontinue the current 60W-inch screen size by the third quarter.

Zenith will also be used for DLP rear projection displays with five models in 56W-, 48W-, 52W- and 44W-inch screen sizes.

For LCD rear projection, the company will carry four models under LG and two models under Zenith in 2004.

As for CRT-based rear-projection TV, Long said LG/Zenith will begin again to manufacture CRT-based rear-projection TVs in Mexico this year.

The Zenith brand will be used on seven models. Three — 57W-, 50W-, and 45W-inch screen sizes — will feature built-in ATSC tuning and QAM. The four remaining HDTV monitors will include 57W-, 50W-, 45W- and 40W-inch screen sizes.

The Zenith line will carry six digital direct-view CRT models, including fully integrated sets in the 34W-, 32- and 30W-inch screen sizes, and DTV monitors in the 32-, 27- and 30W-inch screen sizes.

Zenith will also carry analog direct-view CRT models in the 32- and 27-inch screen sizes.

In DVD recorders, the company will offer six models, three each under the Zenith and LG lines. Both lines will include a DVD recorder, a DVD recorder/VCR combination and DVD recorder/DVR combination deck.

The LG products will have added features such as 6-in-1 flash memory card slots, and Gemstar EPGs. The DVD recorder/DVR product will feature a 120GB hard drive, while the Zenith version will have an 80GB capacity.

The company is also expanding its home theater-in-a-box segment to nine SKUs under the Zenith brand in 2004. One model, featuring wireless surround speakers, will be offered under LG.

“We feel most of the consumers who buy LG televisions next year, will be those who buy home theater audio systems.”