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Zenith Expands Digital A/V Line, Marked By DTV Sets, Monitors

Las Vegas – Zenith unveiled an expanded line of digital audio and video products, including one of the industry’s broadest lines of DTV sets and monitors.

At the same time, the company said it has again budgeted a $30 million advertising and marketing campaign for 2002, including sponsorship of HDTV programming, and special events such as the Sundance Film Festiveal.

At the show, the company is highlighting the expansion of its fully integrated HDTV set assortment, which is to include the 64W-inch, 56W-inch and 61W-inch screen sizes in CRT-based rear-projection models and the 34W-inch widescreen and 32- and 36-inch 4:3 screen sizes in flat-screen direct-view CRT models. All include over-the-air ATSC reception and are priced about the same as equivalent monitor-only models from Zenith competitors, said Rich Long, Zenith product management director.

New HDTV sets are slated for a mid-year delivery at prices to be announced. The integrated direct view models are the first for Zenith, and all include flat-faced screens and industrial design cosmetics.

Zenith’s HDTV monitor lineup will add a 43W-inch CRT rear projection set, and the company just announced minimum advertised price cuts on its carryover 25 Series rear projection HDTV monitors.

Expansion is also underway in lines of HD-level LCD and plasma monitors.

The company will showcase an expanded assortment of plasma display panels (PDPs), which goes from two to four models this year with the addition of the 42W-inch and 50W-inch screen sizes, adding to the current 40-inch 4:3 and 60W-inch 16:9 models. Due to copy protection issues, the company has opted to not include digital connectors on the new integrated sets. But Zenith will promote integrated sets as “the best way to buy future proof HDTV sets” since no connection between tuners and monitors is required.

The company is expanding its line of LCD TVs from two models to five SKUs in 2002. In addition to the 15-inch and 20-inch screen sizes, the line will add a 10-inch 4:3 model, and a new flagship 30W-inch 16:9 HDTV LCD monitor. New models feature industrial cosmetic design, and enhanced resolution, brightness and contrast. Most will also include integrated NTSC tuners.

The 30W-inch, which is due in the third quarter at a price to be announced, boasts a pixel count of 1280×768, and will include a DVI digital input, and matching mini-tower speaker options.

Zenith is showcasing a pair of DTV set-top decoders including the just launched DTV1080 $799.95 suggested retail), which receives standard and HDTV signals from both NTSC and ATSC over-the-air transmissions and from DirecTV digital satellites. The next generation model, which is due in the third quarter, and all of the new integrated HDTV sets will include Zenith’s next generation 8-VSB ATSC decoder chip.

New in video for the company will be a twin-deck DVD/VCR, and four DVD players – two single-disc models in standard-only and progressive scan versions, and two five-disc DVD changers in standard and progressive scan. The top-end five-disc changer will be Zenith’s first player to incorporate DVD-Audio compatibility.

For next-generation technology, Zenith is showing an HDTV level optical disc recorder, which is currently slated for a late 2003 introduction at a prices to be announced later.