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Philips Gains Support For DVD+RW System

Philips’ DVD+RW digital video recording system got a major supporter at CES, when executives with Thomson MultiMedia said they have selected the recording format over the competing DVD-RAM and DVD-RW systems.

Both Philips and Thomson plan to offer DVD+RW recorders by the end of the year. The decks will produce discs that can be played on a majority of the DVD players already on the market. This is a major advantage over the competing formats, but rivals had disputed the claim.

Mike O’Hara, Thomson Americas senior VP, said his company selected the format in part for its backward compatibility with current DVD video players, meaning discs recorded in the deck would play in most DVD players now in the market.

Matsushita executives criticized Philips this fall for allegedly making false assertions that 4.7GB DVD+RW discs would play in all DVD players.

Philips proved its critics wrong at its CES press event by demonstrating a DVD+RW recording in a Pioneer-brand DVD video player. However, Philips slightly qualified this capability by saying that DVD+RW discs would play in 70% to 80% of today’s DVD players.

Philips plans to market a DVD+RW later this year at prices to be announced. Similarly, Thomson did not disclose pricing for its recorder.

Meanwhile, Philips said it plans to expand its assortment of personal video recording formats. Adri Baan, Philips Consumer Electronics chairman, announced the company will offer WebTV terminals with hard drive video recording capability.

Microsoft’s WebTV Network uses a hard drive recording system in the DishPlayer terminals currently sold by EchoStar. However, few details on that device or the previously announced integrated DirecTv IRD and TiVo PVR were discussed at the press conference.

Baan said his company’s rollout of a TiVo PVR last year has been successful. The company announced at CES two models: HDR112 (14 hours of recording time at $499) and HDR312 (30 hours of recording time at $999).

In digital television, Philips showed two HD-capable widescreen direct-view monitors and a fully integrated HDTV receiver with the flat-tube design.

The integrated set (model 34PH9915) uses a 34W” 16:9 picture tube. It will scale all formats to a 1080i scan rate, except NTSC analog sources, which it scales to a 540p format. Scheduled to ship in the second quarter, the set will carry a $5,000 suggested retail price.

New flat-tube monitors include the 30PW9815 and the 34PW9815, which feature 16:9 screen sizes of 30W” and 34W”, respectively. Both scan images at a 1080i rate, include dual NTSC tuners, and connect to a digital decoder box via HD component video inputs. They are to ship in the second quarter at suggested retails of $3,000 and $4,000, respectively.

Three HD-capable rear-projection monitors and one fully integrated HDTV rear-projection model are also in the plans for this year. The company is currently selling the 64PH9905 HDTV for a $9,990 suggested retail. It includes 9″ CRTs and broadband inputs.

High-scan projection monitors include two 60″ models in each of the 16:9 and 4:3 aspect ratios and a 55W” widescreen model.

All are shipping this summer and natively scan the 1080i and 480p formats. All include dual NTSC tuners and connect to an outboard ATSC decoder box via HD component video inputs.

The 60″ 4:3 display (60PP9601) will carry a $4,200 suggested retail price, the 60W” display (60PP9701) carries a $5,500 suggested retail, and the 55W” 16:9 display (55PP9701) carries a $5,000 suggested retail.

In the 480p segment, Philips will offer starting later this quarter a new plasma display panel (42FD9932), which includes a 42W” 16:9 display and 852 x 480-pixel resolution, for a $10,000 suggested retail price.

A version bundled with an e-box companion NTSC tuner/chassis also will be available.

Also announced were three new DVD players, all of which include dual-laser pickups for compatibility with CD-R and CD-RW audio discs, as well as standard CD, DVD and Video CD formats.