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Thomson Voluntarily Recalls 38″ HDTVs

INDIANAPOLIS -Thomson Consumer Electronics has recalled retail inventory of its recently launched RCA and ProScan 38W-inch direct-view HDTV sets, due to a potential “color purity” defect, a company spokesman said.

The affected sets, which started shipping in late September and early October, are RCA model F38310 ($3,799.99 suggested retail) and ProScan PS38000 ($3,999.99). The are among a small number of new HDTVs on the market that include integrated tuners to receive over-the-air digital broadcasts. The Thomson tuners also receive DirecTVs standard and HDTV services.

Retailers will not be able to sell the models, both of which were expected to be popular HDTV sets, until new inventory arrives in a few weeks. The Thomson spokesman did not know exactly when that would be, but the company hopes to have inventory in stores in time for the holidays.

Thomson is currently notifying dealers and a small number of customers who have purchased the sets that it made a decision to retrieve “all retail inventory” of the products and replace them with new properly functioning units “as quickly as possible.” The small number of consumers who have been inconvenienced by the problem will receive a $200 credit good for the purchase of any RCA product.

Thomson has notified consumers to hold on to their current sets until replacement models are available. Many units may not be affected, while others will have patches of distortion so small that most people won’t notice it, the spokesman said.

Thomson is calling the problem “a potential color purity issue” because it is not certain that all sets are affected to the same degree, or at all, but executives want to ensure that the condition doesn’t intensify with time. The defect appears as a “little distortion” in color in the corner of the screen after the set has been used for a number of hours.

The spokesman said that typically only videophiles even notice the problem.

Thomson said its engineers only recently discovered the defect and the company acted quickly in executing the “replacement program.” Thomson did not receive a single complaint from a consumer, the spokesman said.

This is the second problem to affect the 38W-inch widescreen sets, since early samples were shipped to several consumer magazines for product evaluations. Those models had a software glitch that caused pictures to periodically blink on and off when tuned to specific channels, the company said.

That problem was remedied with a relatively simple software change out, according to the spokesman. The current problem will require the replacement of component parts within the set.