According to Sony, strong picture performance, a popular screen size and a reasonable price point contributed to making the KP51WS500 the top-selling rear-projection television in the 2002-03 model year, according to NPD market research.
The strong popularity of the model pushed Sony back out on top of the rear-projection television market during the year, replacing Hitachi with the industry's most popular rear-projection SKU.
"The feature set in that model was strong, and it went straight to No. 1 and stayed there," recalled Tim Alessi, Sony Televison/Digital Media Marketing Division Visual Network Product Company director. "Retailers that didn't have it broadly distributed at the start, soon saw the demand for the product and moved to have it prominently positioned on all of their display floors."
Sony's product development last year was so strong that it helped the company take the win, place and show positions with the top-three-selling rear-projection models. The second-top-selling model was the KP51WS500's 57W-inch sister model (also with a widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio) — the KP57WS500 — followed by the KP53HS30 with a 4:3 aspect ratio.
In developing the WS500 series of products, Sony stressed improvements in cosmetic design, picture performance and value, Alessi said.
"This particular model had no extras — such as MemoryStick playback capability or things like that. It just seemed to strike a chord with consumers for its overall value," Alessi said.
Elevating the appeal of the model was "an affordable" $2,000 suggested retail price, combined with the mystique added to any Sony-branded TV set.
On the availability side, the model benefited from a very wide distribution status. It was openly displayed in national accounts ranging from Best Buy and Circuit City to regional A/V specialists and custom installers.
Key features in the product including HDTV (1080i) compatibility, a widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio, Digital Reality Creation II Multifunctional video processing, DVI-HDCP secure digital interface and dual-tuner NTSC picture-in-picture with Sony's Multi Image Driver (MID) circuitry enabling the display of two image formats on the screen at the same time.
It also offered two broadband component video inputs for connection to most outboard digital tuners.
As for the new WS510 model line that recently started shipping to dealers, Alessi said, "We're hoping to continue the momentum for the mass market. The step-up will be to integrated HDTV tuning, and the step-up from there will be to our Grand Wega series [LCD-based rear projection]. Based on pricing and the popularity of the WS500, I anticipate that the WS510 will be able to pick up where this model left off."