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Samsung Stresses Strong Features In HDTV Line

Samsung will use International CES to showcase its revised step-up television direction for 2006, which will continue to stress picture quality, design and 1,080p capability in select models.

Jim Sanduski, senior VP of Samsung’s digital video and audio products group, said the company will continue to “play strongly” in the plasma, LCD, DLP and direct-view CRT categories, where it is a core technology supplier.

“We are closely following the consumer trends that seem to be favoring thin-panel products, and we are focusing on the value-added segments of all four display categories,” he said.

Samsung continues to implement ATSC tuning in accordance with the Federal Communications Commission’s ATSC tuner schedule, but it has stepped back somewhat from last year’s more expansive Digital Cable Ready (DCR) product offerings, by reserving the capability for premium series products.

All sets 25-inches and larger in 2006 will incorporate ATSC/NTSC tuning.

Samsung will counter the invasion of low-cost flat-panel products flooding the market with product lines stressing high quality performance and carefully selected feature packages, Sanduski said.

In LCD TV, Samsung will emphasize models with 26W-inch and above screen sizes. Screen sizes will include one 15-inch model, one 20-inch model, two 23W-inch models, three 26W-inch models, five 32W-inch models, five 40W-inch models, one 46W-inch model and one 82W-inch factory statement piece.

The company will offer 1,920 by 1,080p resolution in 40W-inch, 46W-inch and 82W-inch LCD models in 2006, said Sanduski.

New for 2006 is a design line in the 23W-inch, 26W-inch and 32W-inch screen sizes. Models feature a V-shaped design and high-gloss white or black cabinet colors.

Sanduski said the new look is expected to have special “appeal to women because it goes beyond the typical black” bezel style. The series — code named Bordeaux — will add a fourth line, positioned between the core and premium lines, to Samsung’s LCD TV assortment in 2006.

In many LCD models this year, Samsung will move from one HDMI input in 2005 to two HDMI inputs, and will add to all 23W-inch and larger models a new Game Mode feature, which eliminates image delay by bypassing video processing circuitry for “near instantaneous response” from video game controller to screen. In addition, the mode enhances sound and boosts detail in dark areas.

Samsung will also add a musical interface in select 26W-inch and 32W-inch models to allow connection via optional cables to either an Apple iPod or a Samsung MP3 player to listen to music through the TV set or connected home theater system. The connection allows operation of the music player via the television’s remote control.

Samsung’s premium series LCD models in the 32W-inch, 40W-inch and 46W-inch screen sizes will use a new Super-Patterned Vertical Alignment (S-PVA) panel, which increases the horizontal viewing angle to 178 degrees while improving color gamut reproduction from 72 percent to 92 percent. The technology will add about a $200 price premium to unit cost, Sanduski said.

In plasma television, recent price declines have made it possible for the company to shift emphasis from lower-priced EDTV models to HDTV-grade models in 2006.

The new line will include seven HDTV models and only two EDTV 42W-inch pieces. The HD line breaks down to three 42W-inch HDTVs, three 50W-inch HDTVs and a 63W-inch HDTV — the latter will sell for around $10,000 when it ships in February, down from about $15,000 in 2005. The company will continue to offer its 80W-inch model as a very limited distribution product, Sanduski said.

Samsung will introduce throughout its step-up plasma TV lines an industry-first feature called FilterBright, which applies a special film inside the screen to enable the contrast to “hold up well” (triple conventional contrast ratios) in well-lit environments, Sanduski said.

Plasma models are positioned in premiere, core and premium classifications, with premiere (entry) level product featuring one HDMI input, while core line models add a second HDMI input and FilterBright technology. Premium models add to that digital CableCARD slots.

In DLP microdisplay rear-projection televisions, emphasis will be on the 50W-inch and larger screen sizes, while making models with full 1080p resolution “more mainstream than they were in 2005,” Sanduski said.

DLP screen sizes again in 2006 will range for 42W inches to 71W inches.

In total, Samsung will offer seven models with 1,080p resolution in the 50W-inch, 56W-inch, 61W-inch, 67W-inch and 71W-inch screen sizes in 2006. The price premium for 1,080p will drop from $1,000 in 2005 to $500 in the DLP line, Sanduski said. On average, pricing will be about $750 lower than 2005 MAP levels on 1,080p models.

Starting with shipments in mid-second quarter, Samsung will refresh 1,080p models with HDMI inputs capable of accepting native 1,080p signals, Sanduski said.

The highlight of the 1,080p DLP offerings will be one of the industry’s first to employ an LED light engine, Sanduski said, which will replace the conventional Ultra High Pressure (UHP) lamp. The technology will extend bulb life from about 6,000 hours to around 20,000 hours while maintaining consistent brightness levels throughout the life of the bulb.

In addition, LED will increase color gamut reproduction by greater than 100 percent of NTSC, Sanduski said. Turn-on time will also be shortened from 30 seconds for UHP to seven for LED.

The 56W-inch 1,080p LED set will carry a $1,000 price premium over similarly featured UHP models.

In 720p DLP, screen sizes will include 42W inches, 50W inches, 56W inches and 61W inches. Pricing on 720p models will average $200 to $300 lower than 2005 MAP levels, Sanduski said. The company will continue to offer derivative models in the 56W-inch and 61W-inch screen sizes for different distribution channels.

Other features include the aforementioned Game Mode and a USB input coupled with embedded media manager software to play JPEG pictures and digital music files through the TV or home theater system.

In direct-view CRT TV products, the company is expanding its SlimFit line of thin-cabinet CRT products with a just-launched 27-inch model joining 24- and 30W-inch models.

The 27-inch and 30W-inch models feature integrated ATSC tuning and HDMI inputs, while the 480i 24-inch model offers only an NTSC tuner and component video inputs.

Sanduski said Samsung will exit the 32-inch flat screen CRT business in 2006 as it shifts its emphasis in the category to SlimFit products.