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TTE Launches ‘Mass Market’ DTVs

New York — Focusing on mass distribution of digital television this year, TTE (TCL-Thomson Electronics) introduced eight new DLP rear projection HDTV models to the 2005 line, all with 720p resolution.

Although TTE had announced its intention to market 1,080p DLP versions, the company unveiled only 720p models at this time because “we have only scratched the surface with 720p DLP so far,” said Bharath Rajagopalan, TTE’s product marketing general manager. “Our strategy is to take the digital experience and bring it to the average household. The price points [for advanced products like 1,080p] are such that they are still out of reach of most of the population.”

The new DLP models will be offered in the 44W-inch, 50W-inch and 61W-inch screen sizes, and all will include integrated ATSC tuning, digital CableCARD slots, and dual HDMI and inputs.

Remaining as the flagships of the DLP line are a pair of RCA Scenium “Profiles Series” ultra-slim HDTV sets in the 61W-inch ($6,999 suggested retail) and new 50W-inch ($4,999) screen sizes. Still on hold is the previously announced 70W-inch model.

The eight new fourth-generation DLP sets were developed for “style and form factor” and are offered in several configurations, Rajagopalan said.

Models in the RCA Scenium 175 Series include 61W-inch ($2,999) and 50W-inch ($2,499) screen sizes. Both models are due in the fall include black cabinet cosmetics and side-mounted speakers.

The RCA Scenium 167 Series features silver cabinet cosmetics with under-screen mounted speakers for reduced cabinet width to accommodate existing furniture pieces. Models will be available in June in the 44W-inch ($2,299), 50W-inch ($2,499) and 61W-inch ($2,999) screen sizes.

RCA Scenium DLP models will include TV Guide On Screen electronic program guides.

The company will also offer a core RCA DLP lineup in its 62 Series. Screen sizes include 44W inch ($1,999), 50W inches ($2,199) and 61W inches ($2,799). All are scheduled to ship in June with ATSC tuning, digital CableCARD slots, dual HDMI inputs and 20-watt audio systems. TV Guide On Screen is not included in the series.

In flat-panel TV, TTE will offer under the RCA Scenium brand in late summer two flat-panel LCD models in the 26W-inch and 32W-inch widescreen sizes. The 32W-inch L32WD131D ($2,199) and the 26-inch L26WD131D ($1,699) include ATSC tuners, built-in slot-loading DVD players and a memory card reader.

Three RCA LCD displays — in the 32W-inch L32W11 ($1,499), 26W-inch L26W11 ($999) and 23W-inch L23W10 ($799) — are HDTV monitors.

TTE will also offer 4:3 EDTV monitor models in the 15-inch ($399) and 20-inch ($549) screen sizes. Also shipping this year are seven CRT-based rear-projection HDTV sets in the 61W-inch, 56W-inch and 52W-inch screen sizes in each of the 66 (prices range from $1,499 to $1,999) and 68 series ($1,599 to $2,099). A third 59 Series will carry a single 52W-inch model, ($1,099). All include built-in ATSC HDTV tuners.

TTE will also add two new RCA flat-screen direct-view HDTV monitors in the 32-inch 4:3 size ($899) and the 27-inch 4:3 size ($549).

The company will also offer five standard-definition digital television (SDTV) models with integrated ATSC tuners and 480i resolution. The line will include one 32-inch 4:3 model and four 27-inch 4:3 models ranging from $359 for flat-tube models, to $279 for a curved-tube version.

Rajagopalan said TTE will use its expertise in technology and marketing to “start to drive the digital transition.”

TTE is applying its strategy to DLP, LCD and CRT-based products, Rajagopalan said.

In its pursuit of a mass market audience for digital television, TTE is directing promotional dollars at a consumer-education campaign that will involve the publication of a new “HDTV Buying Tips for Dummies” guide. TTE has commissioned the publication and will distribute it for free at select RCA retail storefronts across the country “at different points of the year.”

“Average consumers are still very confused by the digital television transition,” Rajagopalan said. “We are embarking on a campaign over the next 12 to 18 months to educate the public on digital TV.”

Beyond selling more digital televisions, he said, TTE hopes the effort will help to cut down on the level of buyers’ remorse and multiple calls to support lines.