Thomson Powers Up Accessories Technology

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Looking to remain a proactive leader in the accessories marketplace by introducing cutting-edge product technology, both for home entertainment and the home office, Thomson is introducing a series of RCA-brand antennas and remote controls, as well as a wireless modem and a portable device that functions as a fax, printer, copier and scanner.

Four indoor television antennas dispense with the rabbit-ear look to feature innovative designs. Two, the ANT1020 and ANT1030, are designed to resemble a snail. Each receives VHF/UHF/FM signals and comes with 39-inch adjustable VHF dipoles.

The antennas include UHF loop, integrated hookup cable, screw-on "F" connectors and a no-scuff pad to protect cabinet finishes. Both can receive digital and HDTV signals.

The step-up ANT1030 has a 12-position switch for fine-tuning VHF and UHF reception and a suggested retail of $19.95. The ANT1020 has a suggested retail of $14.95. Both will be available this summer in see-through packaging.

"Indoor TV antennas have always been a commodity-driven product," said marketing manager Mark Schaffner, "but we have found that consumers want looks that are distinctive, and that they are willing to pay a premium for it. That's why [we're using] the snail design, something new and different that looks good and differentiates us from the competition."

Thomson also is introducing two amplified indoor antennas with a satellite look that amplify the VHF, UHF and FM signals up to 45dB in order to provide a better picture.

Models RCA ANT1200 and ANT1250 feature 39-inch adjustable and retractable dipoles and a UHF loop that tilts and rotates to provide the best possible reception. Then ANT1250 also has dual UHF and VHF gain controls that provide an extra level of tuning.

Both the 1200 and 1250 have an integrated A/B switch and cable input for switching between antenna and cable or satellite, and the ability to bypass the amplifier to avoid signal saturation. Available this summer, ANT1200 has a suggested retail of $49.95 and ANT1250 a suggested retail of $59.95.

The Thomson accessories division, based in Deptford, N.J., is expanding its No. 1 market share in remote controls with three colorful translucent universal models, a "rugged" remote that stands up to hard use and cleaning and an LCD learning remote. "Each category follows a strategy where the fit differentiates in functionality, what it does, as well as how it fits into today's lifestyles," said Schaffner.

Purple, blue and green colors are designed to help make the translucent RCA RCU300 series eye-catching traffic-stoppers. Each of these three-device remotes controls the television, VCR and cable box, and offers onscreen TV menus, code search and code saver, which maintains the codes when the batteries are changed. Suggested retail is $14.95, and the series is currently available.

The crystal-colored rugged remote features a membrane keypad and rubber seals, making it more durable and easier to clean. Called the RCA RCU510, the six-unit remote controls the television, VCR, cable box, satellite, DVD and audio receivers. Ideal for use around the kitchen, garage and basement, the unit has multicolored buttons, a loop for hanging, and is programmed with universal DBS codes and Gemstar Guide plus capability. The suggested retail is $29.95, and the remote is currently available.

Thomson's first learning remote, the RCA RCU810, is designed for the home theater enthusiast. The backlit remote can control up to eight devices, including television, VCR, satellite receiver, cable box, audio receiver, DVD player and CD player. The remote has an LCD screen with a menu that steps the user through setup and operation. By using the macro keys, users can program a series of keystrokes under one button.

The learning remote, scheduled for shipment in early summer, has a suggested retail of $69.95.

All three models in the new remote control series are sold in blister packs, designed for ease of viewing and pegboard hanging. Packaging describes key features and benefits of each remote.

Designed for its expanding home office efforts, Thomson is introducing its first wireless modem that provides access to the phone line from any location in the home.

Called the WMJ900, or the shark because of its shark-fin-like antenna, the modem consists of two receiver units, a base and an extension. The base connects to any phone line in the home, while the extension is connected to a laptop, PC or other Internet product. Data is transmitted via RF from the computer to the base where the modem connection is made.

"There's complete portability, you no longer have to be a slave to the phone jack," said Schaffner. "You can put the computer anywhere -- the garage, deck or pool -- without worrying about tripping on phone wires," said product manager Dave Faulkner.

"There's complete portability, convenience, and you can surf the net with power," added Schaffner.

The 56K duplex modem incorporates 900MHz digital spread-spectrum circuitry and is V.90 compatible. It has a serial port and power cable for easy hookup. The extension unit operates off the power of the laptop or PC but also comes with two DC power adapters for extended operations.

The modem, colored in blue and gray, comes with a 3-foot serial cable, 6-foot phone cord, one mini DIN/DC jack and a 3.5-inch disk with setup drivers. Suggested retail is $249, and availability is set for the fall.

A multifunction device using thermal technology, called the RCA Docuport, is a four-in-one portable unit weighing 2 pounds that can print, fax, copy and scan. Designed for people on the go, the Docuport targets businessmen, and construction and real estate executives.

"The key things about it are functionality, portability and price," said Paul McGrath, Docuport's engineering and production VP. Thomson and Docuport have signed a licensing agreement, whereby Thomson will produce the imaging product and distribute it throughout North America, using both the Docuport name and RCA brand on the product. Docuport is based in Fairfield, N.J.

The Docuport, which will be available in late September for a suggested $299 retail, can send and receive 8.5 x 11-inch documents at a speed of up to 9,600 bps and can make 200 x 400 dpi copies in either letter or legal sizes of up to 2.5 pages per minute.

When operating as a printer it can print 8.5 inches by any length at a rate of two pages per minute. It also scans at two pages per minute and makes monochrome images.

The Docuport measures 12 x 3 x 1.24 inches and uses thermal cut-sheet paper or thermal rolled paper and does not require toner or ink. It operates on standard 120 volts AC or 6-volt rechargeable nickel metal hydride battery pack.


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