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Samsung Unveils 1,080p DLP Models

New York — Samsung said at the recent HE Expo, here, that it will ship in June its long-awaited 1,080p DLP rear-projection HDTV sets to complement a full line of 720p offerings.

The 1080p DLP sets, which were slated to ship back in November, will expand a growing line of DLP rear-projection HDTV offerings for 2005. All models this year will integrate ATSC tuning and most models will also add digital CableCARD slots. The overall line will feature two basic classes of product for mainstream and A/V specialty accounts.

The 720p models in Samsung’s 67 series will include the 42W-inch ($2,499 suggested retail price), 46W-inch ($2,699), 50W-inch ($2,999), 56W-inch (3,299) and 61W-inch ($3,699) screen sizes. The 68 series, for specialty distribution, will include 1,080p models in the 50W-inch ($4,000), 56W-inch ($4,499), 61W-inch (4,799), 67W-inch ($6,199) and 71W-inch (due in late summer at a $6,799 suggested retail) screen sizes. The 1,080p models will carry roughly a $1,000 suggested retail price step over the 720p versions, said Steve Panosian, Samsung’s DLP marketing director.

Most step-up models will also include TV Guide On Screen interactive program guides and IEEE-1394 with DTCP inputs. Additionally, many step-up models will feature improved light engines with better contrast performance and will add a second HDMI/HDCP input.

Samsung expects about 70 percent of its DLP business to come from the 720p models, according to Panosian.

A key screen size for Samsung this year will be its entry 720p 42W-inch model, which features a slim-design cabinet that will fit many existing armoires. Panosian said many new DTV customers are looking for products that will fit the existing décor of their homes.

Additionally, the set will be priced to keep a step ahead of plasma panels.

“We expect the street price for the 42W-inch model to hit around $2,300, and, with various promotions by the end of the year, we think the street price will be well below $1,999. That’s key for getting the next tier of consumers who are looking and $1,500 and just need one more reason to jump up to $2,000.”

Meanwhile, Samsung will distribute its DLP design lines by class of trade. For example, models with a pedestal base design and all 67 series DLP models will be open to national distribution this year, including national and regional A/V retail chains, TV appliance chains and distributors.

Models in the 68 design series will be directed at Best Buy, select TV appliance chains and AVID distributing.

Models in the 78 design series will be offered to AVB and Pro Group dealers and select A/V specialty dealers.

In addition, derivative DLP models featuring 2004 styling cosmetics will be offered in a 56 series for mass merchants and warehouse clubs. This series will include 50W-inch and 56W-inch models, and possibly a 61W-inch model later in the year. All 56 series models will add integrated ATSC tuning but will omit digital cable card slots and TV Guide On Screen, Panosian said.

Given the climate of rapidly dropping price points in flat-panel TVs, Panosian said Samsung’s DLP trainers are pushing the longevity advantage of its microdisplay rear-projection sets, pointing out that plasma and other display technologies can be vulnerable to image burn-in, while DLP sets can require only a bulb change to get picture performance equivalent “to a brand new set.”

Meanwhile, Jim Sanduski, Samsung’s visual media products marketing VP, said that because other manufacturers have recently dropped out of the HDTV CRT rear-projection television business, Samsung has decided again to add CRT-based rear-projection models to its national distribution program.

Last year, Samsung opted to scale back CRT-based HD rear-projection sets to select accounts. Sanduski said Samsung will offer for national distribution two models in the 43W-inch ($1,200 suggested retail) and 47W-inch ($1,300) screen sizes, while reserving a 52W-inch model for “sheltered distribution.” The sets are slated to ship in May.

All three models will incorporate ATSC tuning but will not add digital CableCARD slots.

“We expect our business in CRT rear-projection to be about 20 to 25 percent of our DLP lineup this year,” Sanduski said. “Our focus continues to be DLP in the projection category, but we will offer some CRT this year to take advantage of the brands who have left the category.”

In digital direct view, Samsung will continue to carry only fully integrated ATSC models (without CableCARD capability), and will introduce in May its first SlimFit direct-view model featuring a 30W-inch screen size ($999 suggested retail). The unit features a slimmed down cabinet and with a reduced foot print.

In the third quarter, Samsung will ship a 26W-inch SlimFit unit, followed by a 27-inch 4:3 version in the fourth quarter.

In flat-panel TV, Samsung is launching new plasma and LCD TVs. In plasma, the company is offering fourth-generation panels. Models will feature improved brightness, while the contrast ratio was boosted to 10,000:1, the company said. Panel life is now rated as 60,000 hours.

All plasma models this year feature built-in ATSC tuners and CableCARD slots.

Screen sizes include a 42W-inch EDTV model, a 42W-inch HD model and a 50W-inch HD model. Later in the year, the company will add a 63W-inch and an 80W-inch 1080p set, the later at a $90,000 suggested retail. The current 37W-inch monitor will be discontinued after June, Sanduski said.

In LCD, Samsung is carrying models in 15-inch, 17-inch and 20-inch 4:3 screen sizes with EDTV resolution and in HDTV resolution 23W inches, 26W inches, 32W inches, 40W inches 46W inches and 57W inches.

The first models from the new “Gen 7” LCD plant will include the 32W-inch and above screen sizes. Later in the year, the 23W-inch and 26W-inch models will also come from the new plant.