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New Television Combos Move Beyond TV/VCRs

A category that has started taking on a new meaning over the past three years is the TV combination system, which previously identified a TV/VCR in one product, but now is expanded to include DVD players.

With consumers rushing to embrace DVD video players for the picture and sound superiority they offer over VCRs, it was just a matter of time before they began to show up built-into TV sets. By combining the two components, the circuitry of the DVD player can be directly wired to the video display to derive the purest possible picture quality.

In some cases, such as Panasonic’s Triplay series, a DVD player is added to a traditional direct-view TV/VCR with a flat screen picture tube.

But as DVD players begin to push out VCR for home player preference, more and more models are showing up as dedicated TV/DVD systems. Actually, the first manifestations of this phenomenon arrived early on in LCD-based laptop DVD players.

Meanwhile, some manufacturers are taking integreation to an even higher level, by including Internet terminals as a third component in an intregrated TV/DVD/iTV system.

The following is a glance at some TV combination units that a few manufacturers hand planned to show at CES:

iCEBOX will launch its own unique take on TV combo units when it shows the iCEBOX CounterTop — a kitchen-centric internet-TV terminal. The CounterTop features a 9-inch direct view CRT display and is the second model from the recently renamed iCEBOX LLC. The first product is an under-cabinet LCD TV system that debuted last year. The CounterTop is said to be positioned for broader consumer appeal, and will be distributed through retailers around the country at an $899 suggested retail price this year.

The iCEBOX CounterTop, which is called “a Web-enabled kitchen entertainment center,” supplies quick access to television, Internet, DVD, audio CD and home video monitoring.

Users can view movies in the kitchen, read their favorite recipes across the room, or browse the Internet for emails or new recipes. A 56k modem, a PCL 3 printer connection, and wireless keyboard are included.

JVC will offer a 20-inch TV/VCR combo system featuring a flat-glass direct-view tube, a 20-inch TV/DVD combo with flat tube and a pair of traditional 13-inch curved glass TV/VCRs. Both 20-inch TV combos will be part of JVC’s new I’ART line, and will include “ultra-modern” silver styling with side-firing speakers. The 20-inch TV/VCR includes a Hi-Fi stereo deck.

Both 13-inch curved glass models include four-head mono VCRs and are available in either black or white cabinet colors. Pricing will be announced later, and models are slated for early summer deliveries.

Panasonic will display a 16:9 LCD TV/DVD combo unit (model TC-11LV1) featuring a fully featured progressive-scan DVD player and 11W-inch screen display rated at 450 cd/m2 brightness with 500:1 contrast ratio. It carries a $1,599.95 suggested retail price, and joins the company’s expanded line of desktop combination LCD TV/DVD players. The TC-11LV1’s sleek profile disguises a built-in, progressive scan DVD player and two built-in speakers and internal Dolby Digital decoding. Also added are 181-channel tuners, Active Light Circuitry that automatically adjusts screen brightness to the source material, and lists a screen resolution of 854 x 480 pixels.

Another DVD portable on display will be the DVD-LA95 which will playback DVD Video, DVD-Audio, DVD-RAM, CDs, MP3, CD-R and CD-RW media. The unit features a 9W-inch LCD screen and built-in rechargeable battery. It carries a $1299.95 suggested retail price. To accommodate new DVD-Audio discs, the player includes 192kHz/24-bit audio DACs.

Thomson was expected to unveil the RCA Scenium D40W135D 40W-inch rear projection HDTV monitor with a built-in DVD player and progressive scan capability. It features advanced signal connections including “Syncroscan” component video inputs and DVI-HDTV video connections for high-definition cable and satellite programming. Also included are built-in 3DYC digital comb filter for smoother, sharper color images, automatic letterbox detection, auto CRT convergence, 10-watt per channel audio power, 5-band graphic equalizer, and front A/V connections.

Another combo product with a lifestyle focus is the RCA under-the-counter LCD TV with DVD, CD and AM-FM radio. The DLD548 features a 5.6-inch fold-down color LCD swivelscreen designed for mounting under kitchen counters or office shelves. Features include built-in clock, and a one-touch button to toggle between the TV and an external video source, or optional security camera. The DVD player plays CDs, and CD-R/MP3 through built in stereo speakers.

Toshiba will show the FDP1510, a portable TV/DVD player, slated for summer deliver. It will add mp3 file playback capability, and features and 8.9W-inch LCD viewscreen with full 480p resolution, component video output, CD-R and CD-RW playback and NTSC TV tuner.

In more traditional TV combos, Toshiba will show an expanded lineup highlighted by two new three-way TV/VCR/DVD units in 20- and 24-inch 4:3 flat-tube screens. Toshiba has decided that any TV combo product with screen sizes larger than 14-inchs should have a flat-faced screen.

The 20-inch MW20FM1 will carry a $599 suggested retail price, while the 24-inch MW24FM1 will be priced at $699. Both are slated to ship in May. Both are targeted at bedroom applications first and include side-fire front speakers, four-head HiFi VCRs and DVD players with mp3 playback capability. They use a new silver cosmetic design.

Commodity models include two 13-inch models in two-head and four-head VCR versions at $209.99 and $229.99, respectively, and two 19-inch models at $249.99 and $279.99, respectively.

In curved-tube TV combos, the company will offer two AC/DC models in the 9-inch (NZ9DM2) and 13-inch (NZ13DM2) screen sizes, priced at $279 and $299, respectively. Both will ship in May.

Toshiba will also offer CRT-based TV/DVD combos including the 9-inch AC/DC MD9DM1 model, which includes a car cord. It ships in May at $449. A 20-inch flat-screen version (MD20FM1) will carry a $500 suggested retail and the 13-inch MD13M1 will ship in May at $299.