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Thomson Rolls Out Expanded DTV Lines

New York – Thomson formally unveiled its 2003-04 A/V home and portable entertainment product lines, including expanded models of flat-panel TVs, and seven fully integrated HDTV sets highlighted by a pair based on Texas Instruments’ Digital Light Processing (DLP) microsdisplay engines.

Other key product announcements included a hard-drive-based digital video recorder that will store and playback both standard and high-definition digital video images, a pair of ATSC over-the-air digital TV tuner boxes and a DVD recorder based on the DVD+RW/+R disc formats.

A total of 14 HDTV displays will be offered under either the RCA or premium RCA Scenium flags, and are evenly split between fully integrated sets and DTV tunerless monitors.

New advanced features include QAM digital cable tuning and built-in Web browsers on the integrated HDTV sets.

RCA Scenium models include several step-up features including Thomson’s HiPix video processing technology.

In DLP, Thomson said it would offer two RCA Scenium models based on TI’s HD-2 ‘Mustang’ high-definition DLP chips with 1280 by 720p resolution. Both include integrated ATSC tuners with QAM cable demodulation capability, built-in Web browsers, advanced picture and sound performance, DVI-HDCP digital input for uncompressed signals and a pair of two-way IEEE-1394 digital interfaces for compressed signals.

The DLP models include the 50W-inch 16:9 HDLP50W151 ($3,999 suggested retail, shipping in August), which was previously unveiled at January’s CES, and the new 61W-inch 16:9 HDLP61W151 ($4,499, shipping in October), which Thomson bills as the industry’s largest DLP rear projection set.

Both models employ microdisplay light engine produced by InFocus and Thomson’s proprietary HiPix picture system.

The company also announced expanded flat panel display offerings based on either LCD or plasma technologies. All incorporate contemporary styling designs and improved picture performance for digital TV signals. DVI-HDCP interfaces are added on select models for connection with an external set-top ATSC decoder.

RCA LCD TVs are offered in three product families and include the 30W-inch, 27W-inch, 20-inch and 15-inch screen sizes, plus two models with integrated DVD players in the 15-inch and 12-inch screen sizes.

In plasma, the company unveiled two RCA Scenium HDTV monitor panels in the 42W-inch and 50W-inch screen sizes.

The premium LCD family encompasses two widescreen models and a 20-inch 4:3 model. The 30W-inch LCDX3022W (1280 by 768 resolution) offers DVI-HDCP input and will ship in the late fall at a $3,200 suggested retail price. The 27W-inch LCDX2722W (1280 by 720 resolution) adds DVI-HDCP input and will ship this fall at $2,799. The 20-inch LCDS2022B (600 line, SVGA resolution) includes broadband component video inputs and ships this summer at $1,499.

The step-down ‘monitor series’ includes two 4:3 LCD models in the 15- and 20-inch screen sizes. The 20-inch LCDS2021S (shipping this summer at $1,399) and the 15-inch LCDX1512S (shipping this summer at $799) offer graphite silver finishes, an integrated audio system with under-screen speaker placement, and integrated NTSC tuners. The LCDS2021S lists 600-line SVGA EDTV resolution, while the LCDX1521S offers XGA resolution at (1024 by 768 pixels).

The remaining two LCD models feature an integrated DVD/CD player and 4:3 screen aspect ratios. The 12L500TD ($799, summer) and 15L500TD ($899, summer) will playback DVDs and music CDs, including songs recorded in mp3 format. The 12L500TD features 800 by 600 pixel resolution, while resolution for the 15L500TD is listed at 1024 by 768.

The two plasma display models offer full HDTV resolution, 3D Y/C Digital Comb Filters, an Advanced On-Screen Menu System, and front-panel buttons. The 50W-inch RCA Scenium PHD50500 lists 1,280 by 768 pixel resolution and ships this spring at a $9,999 suggested retail price.

The 42W-inch RCA Scenium PHD42600 features 1024 by 1024-pixel resolution with an interlaced display said to be ‘optimized for the 1080i broadcast HDTV format.’ It ships in the fall at $6,499.

In CRT-based fully integrated HDTV displays, the RCA Scenium line lists three widescreen models in the 52W-inch HD52W151 ($2,799, August), the 56W-inch HD56W151 ($3,099, August) and the 61W-inch HD61W151 ($3,299, August).

All include ATSC tuners with QAM digital cable demodulation capability, the Hi-Pix picture system, and NetConnect Ethernet Web browsing capability. An optional wireless keyboard is available for $49.99. Also added is a DVI-HDCP interface and two IEEE-1394 2-way digital interfaces with DTCP copy protection and DTVLink AVC component interoperability.

RCA integrated models include the 52W-inch HD52W41 ($2,499, July) and 56W-inch HD56W41 ($2,799, July). Both incorporate built-in ATSC tuners with QAM and TruScan Digital Reality signal processing, two-way IEEE-1394 inputs with DTCP and a DVI-HDCP input.

In CRT rear projection HD monitors, RCA Scenium models will include DVI-HDCP digital inputs. Models include the 52W-inch D52W136D, ($2,099, June), the 56W-inch (a new screen size) D56W136D ($2,499, July) and 61W-inch D61W136D ($2,899, June).

In the step-down RCA line, a total of five HDTV monitors will be available. All add secure digital DVI-HDCP inputs and virtual Dolby surround sound. Models include the 61W-inch D61W20 ($2,499, September), the 56W-inch D56W20 ($2,199, June), the 52W-inch D52W20 ($1.799, now), the 40W-inch D40W20 ($1,499, now) and the 34W-inch direct view D34W20 ($1,999 now).

For HDTV/DVD combos, Thomson announced the 34W-inch flat-screen direct view D34W135D, which features the exclusive Clip’On frame system that adds multiple color accent options. It is currently available at a $2,199 suggested retail price.

In set-top DTV decoders, Thomson announced two units designed to receive over-the-air ATSC broadcasts will be available this summer. Model ATSC 21 combines ATSC and NTSC analog tuners at a $499 suggested retail price. Model ATSC 11 includes only the digital ATSC tuner and carries a $449 suggested retail price. Both set-top boxes offer HD component video and DVI-HDCP outputs, but lack IEEE-1394 with DTCP interfaces. An ATSC set-top box with integrated DirecTV HD and SD tuning is still under development and may be available by the end of the year.

Thomson’s first HDTV-capable hard disc digital video recorder — model DVR10 ($449 suggested) — must be connected to a 1394-equipped integrated set or another brand of set-top box with 1394 output to make digital video recordings. The DVR, which ships this summer, incorporates an 80GB hard drive, which is good for 9 hours of HDTV recordings or 40 hours of standard definition digital programming. The box is designed to use a program guide system in the connected tuning device.

Meanwhile, Thomson said it would ship its previously announced DRC8000N DVD+RW/+R DVD recorder in August at a $599 suggested retail price. It will incorporate Gemstar’s free GuidePlus+ electronic program guide, and will record on both DVD+RW rewriteable media or DVD+R write-once media. Both disc formats are designed for maximum compatibility with legacy DVD players.

The unit features six record modes, will accept both video and data sources on the same disc, and includes a USB port for connection to Flash Card drivers to transfer digital photos or music files. The unit will even playback MP3 song files through the USB port without first recording them onto a disc.

On the portable audio front Thomson fine-tuned its 2003 line of portable music players with the announcement of a 40GB hard-disc-drive (HDD) headphone stereo, making it the highest capacity HDD portable announced to date.

The $329-suggested 40GB Lyra will ship in July with playback of MP3, mp3PRO, and Windows Media Audio (WMA) files.

Weeks ago, Apple unveiled three new HDD iPods, including a 30GB model that was the industry’s highest capacity model at the time. It retails for a suggested $499 and plays MP3 and WMA files.

Thomson’s model was originally introduced at January’s CES as a 20GB model at a suggested $249. Another 20GB model will be phased out. Also due: a model with 1.5GB HDD.