INDIANAPOLIS -- Thomson Multimedia will begin U.S. production of a new line of flat-faced color TV tubes based on a new tension mask technology that is said to reduce distortion at all corners of the screen.
Ironically, it was Thomson rival Zenith that first claimed to have developed "Flat Tension Mask" picture-tube technology. But that approach never yielded screen sizes large enough for consumer TV viewing. Zenith parent LG Electronics now makes FTM computer monitors.
The tubes, which Thomson has named its "Manta Series," will be produced in Thomson's high-volume displays and components facility in Marion, Ind., beginning later this year. The company intends to roll out Manta-based sets in its 2001 product line, starting with the RCA MM36TF10, a 36-inch digital "high-resolution" (4:3) television.
The new MM36TF10 digital high-resolution Manta monitor will include a built-in interactive TV guide and a three-line digital comb filter. The company said it will also manufacture its previously announced widescreen Performax tubes, which are not flat-faced, at its Marion facility.
For this year, Thomson said it would have the broadest assortment of HDTV sets and monitors on the market.
"We are confident that the broad choice of screen sizes and designs, plus price points 50 percent lower than last year's models, will spur a growing number of consumers to acquire the lifelike home entertainment capability of digital HDTV," said Mike O'Hara, Thomson's senior VP, Americas. "This model lineup officially moves HDTV into the mainstream consumer market."
To help support that effort, Thomson announced it has agreed to underwrite the HDTV coverage of Super Bowl XXXV and the four AFC playoff games that are to be broadcast by CBS this season. The games will appear on Dec. 31, 2000 and in 2001 on Jan. 6, 7, 14 and 28, when the Super Bowl will appear in the 1080i format. RCA will receive periodic credit tag lines for the HDTV coverage over analog broadcasts of the games.
As for current direct-view DTV, Thomson showed its 38- and 34-inch (16:9) fully integrated HDTV sets. The RCA F38310 carries a $3,799 suggested retail price, while its sibling ProScan model, the PS38000, carries a $3,999 suggested retail. A 34-inch widescreen (16:9) version -- ProScan PS34000 -- will carry a $3,499 suggested retail. Each features 20 watts of audio power and "Synchroscan" HD component video inputs.
Rear-projection fully integrated HDTV sets include 61W- and 65W-inch widescreen sizes, offered in the 61-inch RCA P61310 ($4,999) and ProScan PS65000 ($5,299), respectively. Also announced was a lineup of "high-resolution" 4:3 HD-compatible monitors ranging from 27-61 inches.
Connections include USB Synchroscan HD component video and S-VGA video. High-resolution models also offer interactive onscreen TV Guide menus.
Four RCA digital high-resolution models include: the 61-inch MM61110 ($3,299); the 52-inch MM52110 ($2,799) rear-projection models and the direct-view 36-inch MM36110 ($2,199) and 32-inch MM32110 ($1,749).
Five ProScan digital high-resolution models include: 61-inch PS61810 ($3,799) and 52-inch PS52810 ($2,999) rear-projection sets, and three direct-view models -- the 36-inch PS36810 ($2,699), 32-inch PS32810 ($2,199) and 27-inch PS27810 ($1,299).
Thomson also unveiled its plasma-panel PSP42300 CinemaScreen monitor. Scheduled to carry a $11,999 suggested retail price, the panel has a widescreen aspect ratio and measures 41.3 inches wide x 25.5 inches high x 3.5 inches deep. Resolution is listed at 853 x 480 with a 500:1 contrast ratio. The unit will accept HDTV scan rates and supports computer images in VGA, SVGA, XGA and SXGA modes.
In home audio components, Thomson said it will ship this fall the first RCA-branded dual-tray audio-CD recorder/rewriter. Model RCA CDRW121 ($499) can dub at up to 2x speed internally or record at normal speed from external analog or digital devices. It is compatible with Audio CD-R or CD-RW media and will copy HDCD-encoded music CDs.
In other news, Thomson announced the creation of a new business segment called Digital Media Solutions, which is to provide key infrastructure products and services to the entertainment and media industries.
Thomson also announced it has signed a letter of intent to acquire privately held Singingfish.com, a company that has developed Internet search tools to find streaming media and downloadable MP3 music files on the Web.