More interesting TVs announced at CEDIA

TV makers introduced several new televisions at the CEDIA trade show in Denver; these were the ones I found interesting or innovative.

Samsung is one of the first with a Slim DLP television, though Texas Instruments, which makes the DLP components, says others will soon have them too, if they don't already. The set I saw was a 46-inch, 46-pound, 720p Slim DLP, with a list price of US$1799. (I could have walked out with it under one arm like it was nuthin'--if I had arms as long as Shaquille O'Neil's.) The HL-54676 is 10.6 inches deep, and Samsung had it mounted on a nifty wall-mounted stand that, even if it didn't make the set look like it was a flat panel, still kept the TV out of the way of the teeming CEDIA hords. Samsung's Steve Panosian, director of marketing, says a pound per diagonal inch is the norm with these sets.

Samsung was also showing a LED DLP set, the HLS-5679W, a 56-inch 1080p model. We've seen it before, but it hasn't yet hit stores; it'll ship in October for and sell for $4000. I predict that you'll start seeing lots of them, because they're cheaper than regular DLPs. They're not as bright as regular DLPs, but one nice thing is that they start up quickly--five seconds, says Steve from Samsung--and once the five ticks are up, the set is at full brightness; that's nice when you're rushing in to see the first pitch of the ballgame. A DLP set will take 15 seconds to show a picture, and up to 45 seconds to reach full brightness.

And with an LED DLP set, you don't have to worry about replacing the lamp (which can cost US$300 or more on a regular DLP), 'cause it doesn't have one. However, at some point you will have to replace the LED array, and it'll cost a bit more (around US$350). But the array should last 20,000 to 30,000 hours, says the same Samsung rep, which equates to seven to ten years (his math, not mine; I didn't have enough fingers free).

NEC had new "multifunction LCD monitors," which apparently just means they have lots of connections, including VGA for connecting a PC (they are TVs, though--they have tuners). The NEC rep said that the two new sets, a 40-incher and a 46-incher, use different kinds of panels than most TV manufacturers--higher quality, he asserts, and more durable. They did have metal instead of plastic for the rear of their cabinets. These sets will also be the first NEC models to have HDMI ports--actually, just one HDMI port per set. That's a little light when Sony and Hitachi are coming out with sets that have three HDMI ports. And, they do not have CableCard slots (see my earlier post about CableCards for NEC's take). But they do have Faroudja video processing, and they will work with an optional calibration module, so your reds aren't flaming and your blues aren't...green.

The prices on the NEC sets don't seem to bad, especially for NEC, which usually charges a pretty penny for its sets: US$3000 for the M40 (the 40-incher, as you can probably figure out) and US$4000 for the M46. The final names for these sets have yet to be determined, but it'll be (something) followed by the "M40" or "M46." Both will ship in November.

Hitachi showed what it called the first 42-inch 1080p plasma television (I believe other makers have achieved it in other sizes, so it's probably not as big a deal as it sounds). It doesn't have a name yet, and there's no rush, because it won't ship until at least 2007. It doesn't have a price tag yet, either. It looked lovely, though.

Hitachi's only LCD set, a 37-inch model (that's it there on the left) is one of the first I've seen with a 120-Hz refresh rate. Hitachi's Michael Nadasi, who's the company's national training manager, says the set doesn't simply frame-double; it inserts a black frame in between the live images, thereby giving the set better contrast and better blacks. The set, the 37HLX99, has a minimum advertised price (MAP) of US$2499.

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Alan Stafford

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