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Mitsubishi Adds LCD RPTV To ’05 Line

Calling itself “display technology agnostic” and vowing to follow the demands of the market, Mitsubishi Digital Electric America unveiled for dealers and press its first line of LCD-based rear-projection HDTV displays, which will be sandwiched between CRT- and DLP-based rear-projection models in the company’s 2005 assortment.

Mitsubishi also elected to drop its lone 82W-inch LCoS-based model this year, while cutting last year’s 12-model CRT rear-projection line to just three SKUs.

In flat panel, the company introduced three digital-cable-ready, direct-view HD LCD TVs with a two-piece panel and tuner box, and four “HD-upgradable” plasma monitors. The company’s optional outboard tuner box will match up with the plasma models.

In explaining the decision to introduce LCD rear projection in 2005, Marty Zanfino, Mitsubishi’s product development director, said “it allowed us to show true differentiation between a 500 Series and 600 Series of product with LCD at 720p and DLP at 1,080p. Second, there is a significant price difference between our LCD and DLP models, which matches up well with performance differences between the two.”

Max Wasinger, sales and marketing senior VP, said that while Mitsubishi has elected to drop LCoS this year, the company will monitor the technology for a possible reintroduction in future models.

As for CRT, he said the company is cutting its assortment as a reflection of the changing market, but added that the category will continue to offer significant opportunities for companies that remain with it in 2005.

The three new CRT-based models will offer “evolutionary changes,” including minor feature differences and cosmetic changes over last year’s line, Zanfino said. But the main processing system will be the same. Core features include HDMI/HDCP, IEEE-1394/DTCP, NetCommand icon-based home networking system, integrated ATSC tuning and a digital CableCARD slot. A 73W-inch model will add 9-inch CRT optics.

Meanwhile all micro-display models (both LCD and DLP) will offer such core features as dual HDMI/HDCP inputs, front and rear IEEE-1394 inputs with DV format decoding, MediaCommand networking capability and TV Guide On Screen electronic program guides.

Mitsubishi will offer four LCD-based rear-projection models in the 52W-inch and 62W-inch screen sizes in two series (527 and 528). All will feature 720p native resolution.

Both series employ Mitsubishi’s proprietary SmartShutter system which produces a four-times improvement in contrast performance, yielding deeper blacks in dark scenes by blocking light leakage.

The 527 series models — the WD-52527 (which will ship in June at a $3,199 suggested retail) and the WD-52528 ($3,799, July) will feature NetCommand 5.0 networking with learning capability.

This is said to be the latest generation of the company’s home theater operation system, which allows users to set up and control components using on-screen icons.

The 528 models — the WD-52529 ($3,399, July) and the WD-62529 ($3,999) — will add to that Mitsubishi’s DeepField Imager technology.

This is explained to be a proprietary technology that allows the television to display enhanced contrast and sharpness, by constantly monitoring and adjusting the picture for brightness, contrast and gamma, producing a greater depth-of-field.

In DLP, the company is offering nine models in five series. Screen sizes include 52W inches, 62W inches and 73W inches. All will produce 1,920 by 1,080 (1,080p) native resolution, and will include nine-format memory card readers for direct playback of digital photos.

The 627 Series models include the 52W-inch WD-52627 ($3,799, July) and the 62W-inch WD-62627 ($4,499, August). Both include NetCommand 5.0 with learning capability, and MediaCommand.

The 628 Series models include the 52W-inch WD52628 ($3,999, August) and the 62W-inch WD-62628 ($4,699, August), which add DeepField Imager technology.

The 73W-inch WD-73727 ($5,799, September) is the lone 727 Series model, which features the DeepField Imager, 150-watt lamp and MediaCommand.

The four Diamond Series models will add built-in HD digital video recorders with either a 160 GB or 250 GB hard disc drive — for 16 or 25 hours of high-definition recording, respectively — a 150-watt lamp and dual ATSC tuners, which will allow users to view one high-definition program while recording another.

The 827 Series models include the WD-62827 ($5,799, September) and the WD-73827 ($7,499, September).

The two 927 Diamond Series models in the WD-62927 ($6,299, September) and the WD-73927 ($7,999 suggested, September) will also include 1,080p at 60Hz VGA inputs.

All Mitsubishi 1,080p models will also receive an MPEG 1,080p 24 fps signal via broadcast or IEEE-1394 input, Zanfino said.

LCD flat-panel HDTVs, meanwhile, will include the 32W-inch LT-3280 ($4,299, September), the 37W-inch LT3780 ($5,299, September) and the 42W-inch LT-4260 ($8,499, May). All feature a two-piece design including a Media Center box with ATSC tuning, digital CableCARD slots, IEEE-1394 inputs, NetCommand 4.0 with learning capability, MediaCommand, AMVP2 processing and TV Guide On Screen.

The new models include SuperBright continuous backlight using closely spaced horizontally mounted florescent lamps, super high-speed drive, two HDMI/HDCP inputs and nine-format memory card readers.

The 32W-inch model offers 1,366 by 768 picture resolution, while the 37W-inch model offers 1,920 by 1,080p resolution and a black bezel design.

The 42W-inch model includes a built-in 120GB HD digital video recorder. It will produce 1,365 by 768 resolution, and is lit by 20 florescent lamps.

Mitsubishi’s plasma monitors are offered in the 42W-inch, 50W-inch and 61W-inch screen sizes.

All feature 12-bit color processing along with the company’s BrightCell plasma technology that offers smoother brightness performance and higher contrast. Zanfino explained the technology involves making the cells physically larger and placing black stripes between them to produce more phosphor per pixel.

The PD-5050 and PD-6150 will continue from last year’s line. The 42W-inch PD-4265 (which is a new screen size for the company) and PD-5065 both feature detachable bottom-mounted speakers. The 42W-inch model offers 1,024 by 768 resolution while the 50W-inch offers 1,365 by 768 resolution.