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Toshiba Unveils Full Television Lineup

Toshiba gave dealers here a glimpse of its 2002 television and video lines which will maintain full SKU offerings of both analog and digital TV models.

Unlike several other manufacturers that had announced plans to cut back or eliminate some analog NTSC-only TV lines, Toshiba marketing VP Scott Ramirez said his company will be looking to pick up the analog business that others are leaving on the table, while it expands its own digital monitor assortment.

At the same time, the company unveiled new DVD video players, including next generation DVD-Audio models, the company’s first DVD recordable deck (based on the DVD-RAM/-R format) with an integrated personal video recorder, and new TV/VCR and TV/DVD combo products. (See story on p. 4.)

Not addressed in the new line, however, were new fully integrated HDTV sets, which Ramirez said still represent a small percentage of overall DTV business. Ramirez blamed this in part on hiccups in the digital transition that have kept demand low, including missed digital broadcast deadlines by most of the country’s commercial TV stations, and a general stubbornness on the part of cable system operators to ramp up HDTV and other digital TV offerings.

However, the company is preparing to deliver in the fourth quarter a second-generation set-top ATSC/NTSC/DirecTV digital tuner/decoder to bring digital reception to its HDTV monitor line. The $799.99 suggested retail box (DST-3100) was designed entirely by Toshiba — unlike the earlier model that had been acquired from another manufacturer — and includes a Digital Visual Interface (DVI) connector with HDCP content protection.

In addition to receiving over-the-air DTV and NTSC broadcasts, the set-top box will receive DirecTV standard and HDTV services. It will output formats in 480i, 480p, 720p and 1080i, and offers aspect ratio control over output signals regardless of format type, and an enhanced onscreen graphical user interface.

In the meantime, the company has expanded digital monitors in both its direct-view and rear-projections lines.

In direct view, Toshiba will continue to offer both curved and flat tube products, although Toshiba offered market share numbers that ranked it No. 2 in most flat-glass direct view screen sizes last year. The overall direct view assortment includes 17 models, including six HDTV monitors, two of which are new 34W-inch 16:9 models that incorporate DVI connections with HDCP content protection.

The 34W-inch HD monitors, and many step-up rear projection HD monitors also include a new feature called CableClear digital noise reduction, which is optimized to reduce the snow and signal noise produced in analog signals received from antennas and cable services.

The overall projection TV assortment includes 16 models, in screen sizes ranging from 42-inches to 65-inches. Twelve of those models are HDTV monitors and nine have 16:9 widescreen aspect ratios. Most models continue the enhanced silver cabinet styling introduced a year ago. Additionally, Toshiba this year is completely differentiating models in the high-end Cinema Series line, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary.

The Cinema Series includes 15 direct-view and rear projection models this year, including nine digital monitors, six of which are widescreen.

The highlight of the Cinema Series CRT rear projection line is the 65W-inch 65HDX82 ($3,799.99). For the first time, Toshiba is shipping the large display in two pieces, to make it easier for consumers and dealers to carry it through conventional door frames and staircases.

The new Cinema Series flagship is a 57W-inch rear projection monitor based on a three-chip liquid-crystal-on-silicon (LCoS) engine. Ramirez said this model — the 57HLX82 ($8,999.99 suggested retail) — has the highest resolution in the industry.

Toshiba also showed an LCD TV (model 15DL72) with a 15-inch screen size that it plans to ship in July at a $1,499.99 suggested retail price.

In plasma display panels, Toshiba said it would offer the 42W-inch ($8,499.99) and 50W-inch ($13,999.99) screen sizes starting in the third quarter.