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CEDIA Expo Turns Spotlight On Video, DTV

High-definition upgradable television displays in various configurations highlighted the video portion of the 10th annual CEDIA Expo, where manufacturers tipped their hands to first- and second-generation products for ultimate home theater enthusiasts.

The show also marked the launch of various DVD players with progressive-scan output capability.

As previously reported, progressive-scan DVD players were presented by a number of manufacturers, which claim to have plans to begin late-1999 deliveries.

These players offer HDTV-display owners the opportunity to present DVD videos in the 480p DTV format. Although below true HDTV resolution, the format eliminates many of the picture artifacts found in conventional interlaced material, making DVD movie images appear truer to the quality of the 35mm film on which they were originally shot.

In addition to Toshiba and Panasonic, Mitsubishi, Onkyo, Pioneer and Princeton presented progressive-scan DVD players. Expect to see others follow their lead in the months ahead.

Ironically, manufacturers announcing deliveries on these players still do not offer the Macrovision copy-protection system for broadband outputs. This omission forced Toshiba to withdraw its originally announced progressive-scan player over a year ago. Executives said Macrovision still has not released specifications for the system, because not all CE manufacturers have signed on with the system.

Those companies prepared to move forward without the new Macrovision system in place said their players will incorporate the Copy Guard Management System for analog (CGMS-A) to safeguard against illicit copying via the broadband outputs. This, they said, is sufficient to protect Hollywood’s copyrights. Several added that they intend to include the Macrovision system once the specifications are released.

A glance at many of the video highlights from CEDIA Expo follows:

Denon proved to be a DVD contender by introducing a five-disc changer (DVD-3700) that is shipping now at a $999 suggested retail price.

Madrigal unveiled an upgradable DVD player under its Proceed line. The PMDT ($5,995 suggested retail price) is designed more like a computer than a DVD component. It can be upgraded with “a card-cage” modular design and software-based operating system. A key feature in the player is its Electronically Saved Preferences (ESP) system that can automatically recall the settings of a DVD from the last time it was played. This is useful to home theater “tweaks” who like to adjust their systems around the characteristics of individual discs.

The company also jumped into the high-performance video projector market with two CRT-based models, the MP8 ($45,000 suggested), with 8″ CRTs, and the MP-9 ($65,000), with 9″ CRTs.

Marantz introduced the PV-5561 ($2,699) and the PV6071 ($2,999) as its latest analog 4:3 rear-projection sets, and also revealed a new VGA-level plasma display and its first DLP projector. The VP-8000 is listed at 800 x 600 resolution and will be available this fall at a $9,000 suggested retail price.

Meridian also showed its 800 Reference high-performance DVD-ROM-based DVD/CD player. The player uses a modular design, allowing the addition of new drives or even a second drive.

Mitsubishi showed its DD6000 progressive-scan player, which is due in December-January at a $699 minimum advertised price.

Mitsubishi also used the event to celebrate the recent delivery of its Platinum and Diamond series HDTV-upgradable projection TVs. The models include the WS55905, a 16:9 55W” HDTV-ready set carrying a $4,495 suggested retail price, and the WS65905, a 65W” unit that carries a $5,499 tag. New models with 9″ CRTs include the WS73905 ($8,999 suggested retail) and the 4:3 VS-80905 ($8,885).

NAD unveiled its first DVD player, T550, a single-well model with Dolby Digital, DTS and Video CD compatibility.

Philips unveiled significant extensions to its HDTV line, including an upgrade of its current integrated 64W” rear-projection set. (64PP9901). The new model, 64PH9905, ships this month at the same $9,990 suggested retail price and will add HD component video inputs and RGB via VGA inputs.

Philips said it will offer four 16:9 HD-ready TVs in coming months. Two offer direct-view flat-screens, and two are rear-projection sets. The latter two models incorporate 7″ CRTs and will display 1080i scan rates at 1,500 x 1,080 resolution levels. Model 55PP9701 is a 55″ unit, and 60PP9701 is 60″; both are due around the second half of 2000 at prices to be announced.

Philips also displayed new DTV-capable direct-view sets. The company plans several such models in the 30W” and 34W” screen sizes. Model 34PH9915 was the only model to integrate an ATSC decoder. It is expected to sell for around $5,000. Other models were billed as ATSC ready, meaning a set-top decoder is required to view digital and HD broadcasts. They include the 34PW9815 ($4,000) and 30PW9815 ($3,000).

Pioneer introduced two widescreen HD-ready Elite rear-projection sets: the 53″ PRO-510HD ($6,300) and the 58″ PRO-610HD ($7,300). Both models are due to ship this month and are designed to connect to the company’s optional slotted set-back DTV tuner pack (SH-D07, $2,500) or with any other set-top decoder equipped with HD component video (Y-Pb-Pr) outputs.

Pioneer has included two sets of HD components for connection to multiple digital devices. Also included are 15-pin D-sub (VGA) connections.

Pioneer also revealed a second-generation 50″ plasma display panel, (PDP-505HD), which will display HDTV scan rates at a native resolution of 1,280 x 768 (720p). The new panel boasts improved contrast ratios and brightness at a $19,999 suggested retail price.

Princeton showed another progressive-scan player — model DVD5000 ($5,000 suggested retail price) — which will output images in native 480p and upconvert to 720p and 960p (or double 480p). In HD-ready TV monitors, the company showed two new direct-view sets, a 36″ 4:3 model and the 36″ 16:9 AF3.4HDF ($6,000 suggested retail price).

Rotel showed its first DVD player, model RVD-985 ($699, November), which was billed as a complement in performance and cosmetics to other Rotel home theater components.

Runco introduced the DTV-991RP ($29,995 suggested retail) which was billed as a rear-projection set that uses the DTV-991 front projector. The Lumiere is the company’s latest DLP projector, featuring an 800 x 600 one-chip engine at a $7,495 suggested retail price point. Another new one-chip DLP model was the Reflection VX-108 ($9,995 suggested). The projector has a 700 Ansi lumen brightness level and permits multiple aspect ratios.

Runco also unveiled the DTV-820, an HDTV-capable CRT front projector that carries a $12,000 suggested retail price, and the DTV-943, with 7″ CRTs, 1080i and 720p display capability, built-in scaling and Runco’s EYE-Q intelligent convergence system.

Samsung used CEDIA to launch its HCJ655W ($9,999 suggested retail), a 65W” fully integrated rear-projection HDTV with 9″ CRTs. The large-diameter optics enable the projector to display the full 1,920 x 1,080-pixel resolution. The company also showed its first five-disc DVD changer, which is planned for the fourth quarter.

Sharp again showed an HDTV-capable rear-projection set based on its proprietary Continuous Grain Silicon (CGS) technology. Model LC-R60HD was shown in a new cabinet color and style, which will be used in finished projects, Sharp executives said. Pricing was not determined, but the company is trying to deliver the product in limited quantities by year’s end.

Sharp also introduced two LCD projectors: the DW100 1,024 x 768 piece that will scale DTV signals to 540p and will street for around $10,000; and the XV-Z1U, an SDTV-ready model that will output 480p and display multiple aspect ratios.

Toshiba was busy unveiling its pair of progressive-scan DVD players but also discussed plans to offer 16:9 direct-view products next year and unveiled an LCD-based front projector for the U.S. home theater market. The Cinestar TLP-MT1 is designed as an ultra-compact projector with up to 550 Ansi lumens of picture brightness and high-blackness level.

Thomson used CEDIA to highlight some of the upscale televisions and set-tops in the ProScan line. The company unveiled two HD-ready 16:9 direct-view sets: the 32″ PS32800HR ($2,299 suggested retail) and the 36″ PS36800HR ($2,799). Both have resolution levels of 800 x 600.

Also displayed was the ProScan PS61000 ($7,999), a fully integrated 61W” rear-projection HDTV set with ATSC/NTSC/DirecTv satellite decoding, and the company’s first plasma display panel (PDP), a 42W” unit with VGA resolution. The ProScan PDP (PSP4200) is scheduled to ship early next year.

Also displayed under the ProScan label was one of the few HDTV set-top boxes at the show. The ProScan PSH105, carries a $649 suggested retail price and is slated to ship in December. Like the RCA DTC-100, the set-top box integrates a DirecTv receiver and HDTV decoder and outputs via a standard RGB-via-VGA (15-pin) jack.

Zenith introduced its newest multi-scan CRT-based front projector, model PRO1200X. It includes 8″ CRTs capable of displaying resolution levels up to 1,080p It also produces SVGA graphics resolution at a peak brightness level of 1,250 lumens. The projector will sell at an estimated $23,995, and an optional line-quadrupling plug-in card is available.