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Thomson Readies HD DVD Player

Still seeking a buyer for its accessories and A/V business groups, Thomson staged a press conference here for a series of products coming to market shortly, including an RCA-branded HD DVD player, a video-enabled Lyra portable media player, a lineup of remotes and an external ATSC/NTSC TV tuner for PCs.

The HD DVD player, which was originally announced at International CES, will go on sale at leading retailers in June for a $499 suggested retail price. The HDV5000, which transfers video at resolutions up to 1,080i, will offer full HD output via HDMI and/or analog HD component video connectors.

The unit will also feature optical and coax digital audio outputs, as well as RCA jacks for stereo and multichannel audio output, the latter supporting built in Dolby Digital decoding.

The player will also support advanced audio codecs including: Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TruHD (2 channel), DTS and DTS-HD (5.1 channel). An included Ethernet port enables connection to the Internet to download supplemental content to a disc title using the player’s built-in iHD-based interactive capability.

In addition to HD DVD discs, the unit will be fully compatible with standard DVD videos and music CDs, including MP3 discs. It will play back all recordable DVD formats.

Thomson is distributing the player through Wal-Mart,, Sam’s, “and additional retailers as we move forward,” said Randy Staggs, Thomson business development manager in the A/V product group.

In remote controls, Thomson unveiled the Acoustic Research ARR2470 Wi-Q universal remote, which is designed to connect with a consumer’s in-home Wi-Fi network to control components throughout a home and to download from the Internet program guide listings for an “in-hand” subscription-free program guide. The guide provides program listings and descriptions displayed on a built-in full color LCD panel. It will also display personalized news, weather and sports headlines.

Data for the guide, up to seven days at a time, is supplied by TV Compass, which worked with Thomson on developing the product.

The remote includes both a built-in IR code library to control many of the devices available today, and will learn IR codes from the remotes of products not featured in memory.

The remote will carry a $299 suggested retail price when it goes on sale in late summer. The unit features a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and charging cradle.

Thomson also unveiled a trio of RCA-branded NaviLight backlit remotes, each with a built-in library or IR codes used by most existing CE devices. The models include the entry RCR460, which will control up to four devices, and carries a $14.99 suggested retail; the RCR660, which will control up to six devices and carries a $24.99 suggested retail; and the RCR860, which will control up to eight devices and carries a $29.99 suggested retail.

All models offer a special button illumination system, designed to provide blue-green backlighting for only the buttons used by a selected component, to simplify operation in the dark.

Thomson also showed the Lyra X3030, the successor to its Lyra X3000 portable media player. The unit features a built-in 30GB hard drive and will playback music, audio books, videos and JPEG files on its full-color 3.6-inch LCD screen.

The X3030 plays back video files in the DiVX format, and includes DiVX transcoder software to convert video files for use on the Lyra using a PC.

Also included is a home theater docking base that can be used in conjunction with an included IR blaster to time-shift record television programs to the unit’s hard drive, turning the device into a PVR when connected to a TV.

The unit is also compatible with the new DirecTV2Go feature that enables the Lyra to store DirecTV content transferred at up to 10x speeds from select DirecTV DVRs. Similarly, the device will accept video from the TiVo2Go feature on select TiVo DVRs. Recordings are output at near DVD quality, Thomson said.

The X3030 will replace the 20GB X3000 in late May at the same $399 suggested retail price.