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DirecTv, 8 New HDTVs Top Mitsubishi’s `99 Line

Mitsubishi, now formally known as Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America, unveiled to dealers this month at its line show in Las Vegas its first two DirecTv satellite system receivers, one of which receives standard service for analog sets, while the other also delivers DirecTv HD channels, off-air DTV channels, and planned local-into-local services.

Also, the company revealed plans to deliver a DVD player with progressive-scan output by year’s end and said it will have an HDTV-capable D-VHS VCR to report this fall.

Meanwhile, Mitsubishi said it has joined forces with DirecTv to sell an HD-capable DBS receiver (model SR-HD500) and a standard DBS receiver (model SR-SD500). Retailers are expected to sell the unit for about $399 when it ships in August. It will include a UHF remote and dual-LNB dish for multi-room use, an enhanced onscreen program guide, and the new service proposed by DirecTv, pending approvals from Congress and the FCC, delivering local-network TV stations into local markets.

The HD-capable receiver (SR-HD500), which dealers are expected to sell for approximately $999, will receive DirecTv’s HDTV satellite broadcasts, over-the-air digital and HDTV broadcasts, DirecTv’s standard programming services, Dolby Digital pass-through and over-the-air NTSC TV stations through DirecTv’s proposed local-TV-to-local-market programming service.

“With local-into-local,” said Mitsubishi marketing VP Bob Perry, “the consumer who installs a satellite dish in their home will be able to receive not only satellite programming, but local broadcasts from the marketplace through the satellite delivery system. Those consumers will no longer need to be tethered to cable.”

The SR-HD500 will include broadband component video outputs for connection to other brands of DTV-upgradable televisions in addition to Mitsubishi models, and it adds a D-VHS (IEEE-1394) input for connection to a planned Mitsubishi D-VHS VCR that will record and play back HDTV signals. Details of the D-VHS unit will be announced this fall, Perry said.

The step-up IRD will also offer all of the features of the SR-SD100.

The company also announced its 1999-2000 lineup of analog and HDTV-capable rear-projection sets, classified by a new model-tier structure of Silver, Gold, Platinum and Diamond. All models offer component video inputs, premium CRTs, and 3D-Y/C digital comb filters.

Analog sets, which now include a proprietary V-chip technology that allows parents to set channel restrictions for user-selected time periods, are grouped under the Silver and Gold lines. The Silver tier offers two models – 45″ (VS-45605, $1,899 suggested retail price) and a 50″ (VS-50605, $2,199) – while the Gold offers four: 50″ VS-50705 ($2,699), 55″ VS-55705 ($2,999), 60″ VS-60705 ($3,499) and 70″ VS-70705 ($4,499).

Silver features include 64-point CRT convergence, level sound adjustment, and Mitsubishi’s Active A/V Network, which lets the TV operate multiple components at one time with the press of one button on the remote.

Gold models add a split-screen feature for PIP, five different sizes of PIP windows, a Diamond Brite screen that offers a 40% improvement in picture brightness, and an illuminated universal remote to operate up to five components, including DBS receivers.

As it did last year, Mitsubishi will offer only HDTV-capable models for its Digital TV units, which are grouped in the Platinum and Diamond series that offers an expanded mix of 16:9 units, and broadband component video (Y-Pb-Pr) inputs for connection to other brands of digital set-top boxes and progressive-scan DVD – including one Mitsubishi plans to offer later this year.

Other improvements to digital sets include enhanced “digital pixel multiplier” circuitry to improve resolution of images coming through standard-definition inputs.

The Platinum Series includes three 4:3 models (50″ VS-50805, $3,999, 60″ VS-60805, $4,499 and 80″ VS-80805, $9,999) and two new widescreen sizes (46W” WT-46805, $3,799 and 55W” WS-55805, $4,499).

The flagship Diamond series offers three models, all of which have 16:9 widescreen aspect ratios, in the 55W” (WS-55905, $5,499 SRP), 65W” (WS-65905, $6,999) and 73W” (WS-73905, $9,999) screen sizes. All include new lenses with enhanced depth-of-field focusing and high-gloss cabinets.

Mitsubishi also announced its first LCD front projector for the home theater market. The unit will offer XGA “near HDTV resolution” (1,024×768) pictures, weighs 22 pounds, and can be mounted for front or rear screens from ceiling or tabletop positions.

In other announcements, Mitsubishi unveiled a six-model VCR line ($199-$699 SRP), all of which are Hi-Fi models and have “the industry’s fastest” 54-second rewind time on a T-120 tape. Two top-end models include S-VHS capability.

The three new DVD models – DD-4000 ($499 SRP), DD-5000 ($699) and DD-6000 ($999) – offer Dolby Digital and DTS surround-sound capability and component video outputs. The top-of-the-line model (DD-6000) will offer broadband Y-Pb-Pr component video output to deliver pictures in progressive-scan SDTV 480p quality to DTV-upgradable sets.

Mitsubishi also announced two Dolby Digital and DTS decoding audio receivers: the 70-watt per channel M-VR700 ($599) and 100-watt per channel M-VR900 ($899), and two surround-sound speaker packages. The M-S100 is a mini-speaker kit ($899), while the M-S200 offers a six-piece set of full-size speakers ($1,199).