Mitsubishi used the Consumer Electronics Association's (CEA) Digital Downtown press event last week to announce the addition of Internet media-ready capability and 240Hz frame-rate processing to a pair of LCD TV models in the 249 Diamond-series line.
Frank DeMartin, Mitsubishi marketing VP, said the company would be releasing additional details in the next few weeks on its plans to add Internet media services and functionality to the 46-inch ($2,799 suggested retail) and 52-inch ($3,299) sets, which are shipping later this month.
Both models, which incorporate Mitsubishi's Unisen 16-speaker sound system, will add Ethernet ports to enable a connection to in-home networks and will also incorporate 240Hz frame-rate processing technology, for smooth motion processing of fast-moving scenes on 1080p screens.
All of the company's LCD TVs this year incorporate the Unisen sound system that uses an advanced algorithm to delay sound beams and project them independently from the 16 speakers at varying intervals.
Mitsubishi is using the technology to target consumers who don't have the space for full-blown surround-sound speaker systems.
Mitsubishi said the TVs were designed for easy installation and setup. Users can enter specific room dimensions into an onscreen graphical interface, or simply utilize the calibration microphone to calculate and set the sound beams for optimal sound within the specific room environment.
The user can also adjust the direction, location and sound levels for each of the five surround channels. The output level for the subwoofer is also directly controllable from the remote control.
The sets have frames measuring under an inch thin, 1080p HD resolution, and advanced color.
As for the market potential for IP-enabled TVs, DeMartin said consumer awareness of the technology is still in the early stages and the level of demand for such products “remains to be seen.”
“I think we all feel like this is a good vehicle to deliver content, and consumers are looking to access content like YouTube and Hulu online, I think it's just natural that they would like to see this on television too,” DeMartin said.
As for the company's plans to expand its much-hyped LaserVue laser-lit 1080p DLP rear-projection TV, DeMartin said, “We should be announcing something in the next couple of months.”
The current launch model remains in limited distribution with select launch partners, he added, and “generating a lot of traffic by giving dealers the ability to promote something new from a technological standpoint.”
Sell-through, he said, has not been huge, but in line with expectations.
Conversely, he said, Mitsubishi has been doing well with its Home Theater DLP lineup this year. As the last remaining major-brand player in microdisplay rear-projection TV, Mitsubishi has benefited in the down economy by offering high value for big screen sizes.
Although some lesser established brands have claimed big market share advances this year offering lower-priced flat-panel sets, Mitsubishi has been able to offer very big screen sizes at a bargain, with very strong picture quality and a trusted brand name, DeMartin said.
As for the market conditions, DeMartin said his company sees pockets of opportunity on a regional basis, “and very retailer specific ... we are cautiously optimistic, but we are going to be somewhat conservative in our forecasts for the year.”