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Vendors Shave DTV Set-Top Box Prices

In another trend that should contribute to the popularity of digital television (DTV) products this year, several manufacturers and vendors of digital set-top boxes have announced recent deliveries of long-awaited products at prices that are lower than first announced.

Most of the product availability and price moves were related to DTV decoders that incorporate receiving circuitry for DirecTV standard and high-definition broadcasts. DirecTV’s sister division Hughes Electronics originally manufactured several of those products.

For its part, Hughes Network Systems (HNS) announced that its first high-definition-capable DirecTV integrated receiver descrambler (IRD) with tuning for off-air ATSC DTV broadcasts is now available in two packages. The HYS-E8674, which includes the DirecTV-Plus multi-satellite dish, recently started shipping at a $799.95 suggested retail price. The HYS-E86, which includes only the set-top IRD, is available at $649.95.

The HNS box outputs digital signals in either the 480i standard definition or 1080i high-definition formats, depending on which setting is selected. It can be used with standard television to view digital broadcasts on interlaced NTSC screens, or it can be used to convert all signals to a scan rate viewable on high-definition television monitors.

Panasonic, meanwhile, dropped suggested retail pricing on the currently shipping TU-HDS20 set-top box by $200 to $899.95, not including a multi-satellite dish. The set-top-which includes both DirecTV standard and high-definition decoding, as well as off-air ATSC DTV tuning-is one of the only DTV decoders currently available that will output any signals in any of the common formats, including 480i, 480p, 720p and 1080i.

Toshiba trimmed $100 off the suggested retail price of its currently shipping DST-3000 to $899.95, not including a multi-satellite dish. The decoder receives off-air ATSC DTV signals, as well as DirecTV standard and high-definition channels. Signals are output in either 480i or 1080i formats, whichever is selected by the user.

Mitsubishi shaved $25 off the suggested retail pricing of its SR-HD500 DTVIRD and multi-satellite dish package to $999.95. The stand-alone IRD package (SR-HD400) was similarly reduced to $799.95. Both output user-selectable 480i and 1080i formats and receive ATSC off-air DTV broadcasts, and both standard and high-definition DirecTV channels.

Zenith said its DirecTV-enabled ATSC DTV decoder box, which includes a third-generation decoder chip, will ship to retail in June at a $699.95 suggested price, not including multi-satellite dish. The decoder will receive all ATSC broadcast formats and will output images in 480i, 480p, 720p and 1080i formats. It will also tune and display both DirecTV standard and high-definition channels.

Philips said it too will sell a DirecTV-enabled DTV decoder box this summer. Model DSHD800R will tune all ATSC broadcast formats and will output user-selectable 480i or 1080i formats. The suggested retail price is $999.95.

Sony also recently started shipping its SAT-HD100 DirecTV/ATSC off-air set-top decoder at a $799.95 suggested retail, not including multi-satellite dish.

Similarly, Samsung is selling its SIR-T150 decoder at a $799.95 suggested retail price, not including dish. The set-top will tune all ATSC formats and output signals in user-selectable 480i, 480p, 720p and 1080i formats.