Electronics Online News (c): Jan. 20, 2001
By Marjorie Costello, Editor & Publisher
WEEK IN CEON:
(For CEON's CES coverage, we will be transmitting a series of
editions, starting with the January 20, 2001 CEON below.)
2001 Report Begins:
Technology & Attendees Flock To Show's Big
* Connecting Components & Concepts
* Gates Unveils Microsoft Xbox Game Console Design
* Industry Statistics: DVD Soars, DTV Steady
* Post CES: VSB Affirmed, FCC Considers Tuner Mandate
DTV/HDTV/TV Hardware Highlights:
* RCA Unleashes LCOS HDTV
* Sony Bows 40" Wega CRT, Shows Grand Wega LCD RPTV
* DTV Pricing News From Panasonic & Zenith
* Toshiba, Hitachi Herald HD-Level Plasmas
* DLP Update From Hitachi, Sharp, Yamaha
* HD Displays & Boxes: Philips, Samsung, Konka, Sampo
* DVI Making AV Links, JVC Shows HD D-VHS VCR
* Net Inside TV Makes Comeback: TeleCruz, Ch.1, EspriTV
& ATTENDEES FLOCK TO CES 2001's BIG TENT
122,000 attended the 2001 International CES in Las Vegas, billed
as "The world's largest annual technology trade show,"
which featured 1.2 million net square feet of exhibit space. The
recent show's 122,422 attendance slightly surpassed 2000's record
of 122,244, and the final numbers are subject to an independent
audit that will be released this spring. According to the show's
sponsor, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), 2001's attendance
exceeded initial projections of 110,000, which factored in relinquishing
the adult video exhibits and their attendees to the Video Software
Dealers Association Convention. VSDA ran simultaneously -- but
unaffiliated -- with CES at the Sands/Venetian, and CEON (like
most CE press we spoke with) never made it over there.
CES not using the Sands Expo Center this year, the show supplemented
convention center space with pavilions -- resembling a "tent
city" -- in the parking lots surrounding the LVCC. Though
CEA made the claim that the onsolidated venue transformed CES
into a "connected community," the show still proved
to be a challenge to navigate and see: some major exhibits were
surrounded by unconnected or unrelated product categories.
to the many press events scheduled while the show was running
-- in addition to the press conferences taking up most of the
day before CES opened -- many media members were unable to get
on show floor until late on opening day, January 6. Both the sheer
size of CES 2001 and its many exhibits drawn from the IT and wireless
world contributed to the commonly expressed opinion that CES had
surpassed Comdex proportions -- and had become simply too big.
showgoers may have noticed, the LVCC is also growing, and the
new expansion -- which will eliminate the need for pavilion structures
-- will be ready in time for CES 2002. Next year, home theater/home
systems, and home information and wireless will be located in
this giant new hall, which may require some Disney-like "people
mover" wizardry. Marking a days-of-the-week move, CES 2002
will be held from Tuesday, January 8 through Friday, January 11,
in the LVCC, Las Vegas Hilton, and Alexis Park Hotel.
CONNECTING COMPONENTS & CONCEPTS
major theme of CES 2001 was the growing influence of all things
digital, ranging from HDTVs and DVD recorders -- in three competing
formats -- and DVD players, to wireless Web access devices and
MP3-enabled products. CEON also detected some other trends related
to the growing influence of digital. Though branded individual
products will continue to drive sales, it seemed that CES 2001
reflected the importance of linking together or networking individual
products (HD displays, DVD players) or product "concepts"
(multimedia jukeboxes and hard-drive based devices).
makers are still grappling with copy protection, now even more
complicated because of the content community's concern about digital
content streaming onto the Internet. At the same time, CE firms
are still trying to come up with ways to integrate products with
services and revenue-producing models.
January 11, just two days after CES closed -- and a year and day
after their mega-merger was first announced -- America Online
and Time Warner officially closed their merger, following FCC
approval. It remains to be seen how the combination of these two
giants will influence the CE world, and/or lead to mergers or
joint ventures involving other media, online, or PC powers that
also affect CE. It is interesting to note that during the CES
panel comprised of CE company technology officials, moderated
by CEON's editor, executives from Panasonic, Philips, Samsung,
Sony and Thomson said the key technology influences at their companies
were the Internet, broadband and wireless.
UNVEILS MICROSOFT XBOX GAME CONSOLE DESIGN
show's most heavily publicized product introduction occurred during
Microsoft chairman Bill Gates' opening keynote, when he officially
unveiled the design of Xbox, his company's first game console:
the black console is emblazoned with a large "X" and
a signature green Xbox "jewel" positioned in its center.
Beyond marking the return of major game announcements to CES,
Xbox -- which will take on Sony's PlayStation 2 while it also
takes Microsoft into the livingroom and entertainment space --
has the makings of an impressive AV machine.
CEON's private Xbox demonstration (and the public showing Gates
provided during his keynote) Microsoft ran an Xbox emulator on
a PC at one-fifth of Xbox's final power. As explained by Xbox
team members, Xbox outputs in HDTV and supports 5.1 digital audio.
Xbox will play DVD movies on its front-loading DVD tray if the
consumer decides to buy an accessory Xbox remote control -- a
decision Microsoft made to keep down the console's price.
currently unpriced accessory will include DVD movie playback royalties
and licensing fees (reportedly about $15 per machine) plus the
remote's manufacturing costs. The Xbox console -- with pricing
and U.S. launch data specifics not yet announced -- features four
game controller inputs, an Ethernet port (for online gaming via
broadband), a 8GB hard-drive, 733 MHz Intel processor and Nvidia
INDUSTRY STATISTICS: DVD SOARS, DTV SALES STEADY
fears of an economic slowdown, most manufacturers seemed happy
with holiday sales, particularly when it came to digital products,
backed up by the 2000 year-end estimates released at the show.
CEA revised its year-end 2000 estimate of total sales up to $90.1
billion, a 10% increase over 1999's $81.9 billion. The association
also predicted that in 2001 sales to dealers would surpass $95.6
billion, up 6%.
the show, CEA reported that during 2000, more than 8.2 million
DVD players were sold -- but since CES, CEA said that shipments
had reached just under 8.5 million. The association projects unit
sales of 12.5 million DVD players in 2001. The DVD Entertainment
Group (DEG) issued even rosier DVD sales numbers for 2000 during
CES, estimating that consumers bought more than 9.8 million DVD-Video
players during 2000.
are two reasons for the disparity with CEA's numbers: DEG takes
into account the approximately 700,000 players sold by Chinese
brands (such as Apex, Oritron, Konka) that do not report their
numbers to CEA. Additionally, DEG estimated that over 600,000
DVD players were incorporated in home theater systems and TV/DVD
combinations -- units not factored into CEA's DVD total.
of DTVs and displays surpassed earlier projections,
reaching an estimated 625,000 and $1.4 billion in revenue. CEA
projects that number will increase to 1.13 million units in 2001,
representing an 80% increase and accounting for more than $2 billion.
CES: VSB AFFIRMED, FCC CONSIDERS TUNER MANDATE
makers were no doubt encouraged by January 15's announcement by
two major broadcast trade groups -- the National Association of
Broadcasters (NAB) and the Association for Maximum Service TV
(MSTV) -- regarding the DTV standard. Based on a series of tests
and studies, the broadcast groups reaffirmed their endorsement
of the 8VSB modulation standard and rejected the need to add COFDM.
As Bill Kennard's FCC chairmanship came to an end on January 19,
the FCC offered mainly good news for TV makers. The commission
affirmed 8VSB, denied requests to set performance standards for
DTV sets, and set deadlines to encourage broadcasters to provide
digital service to their full service area.
the FCC is considering a DTV tuner requirement, and is asking
for comments on how best to implement it (i.e. starting with larger
screen sizes, what percentage over how long, etc.). CEA's president
Gary Shapiro issued a statement applauding most of the FCC's actions
but expressed "concern about the proposal mandating the inclusion
of digital receivers in a specific category of analog television
sets," calling it "anti-consumer" and predicting
it "would slow the transition to DTV."
FCC CHIEF WANTS TO AVOID DTV DISPUTES
likely (but not yet named) new FCC chairman, Michael Powell, provided
several signals about future DTV-related issues during his CES
2001 SuperSession interview with Gary Shapiro. Powell said he
would prefer that the FCC not intervene in industry disputes over
the future of DTV, and that the marketplace should determine the
success of DTV. However, he acknowledged that the FCC will "eventually
do something" about cable must-carry of broadcasters' DTV
signals, but believes the FCC's role with regard to copy protection
and home recording rights is "extremely limited, if existent
at all." We will have to see what the new Bush Administration
has to say about DTV.
CRIME IN HDTV
and TV makers believe that more HDTV content will be decisive
in driving DTV sales, and a little more HDTV programming was recently
announced for national channels. While the SuperBowl is set for
broadcast in HDTV by CBS on January 28 (following several AFC
playoffs in HDTV, also underwritten by Thomson), HDTV is now taking
a higher profile in primetime "crime."
"NYPD Blue" is now being broadcast each week in HDTV
(720p), marking the network's first regularly scheduled series
in HDTV. And, HBO is now presenting the encore of the second "The
Sopranos" season in HDTV and will also offer the third season
-- which begins on March 4 -- in HDTV. This is the first time
an HBO original series has been available in HDTV.
HDTV HARDWARE HIGHLIGHTS
HDTV was not the "star" of CES 2001, companies were
out in force showing their wares. The show did not bring a deluge
of new models, with many companies either showcasing models introduced
at CEDIA or waiting for upcoming line shows that start next month
and run until the summer. Companies seemed pleased with retail
sales of HDTV models, and looked toward 2001 when it is widely
believed that HD-level rear PTVs will overtake sales of analog
RPTVs -- particularly as HDTV prices continue to fall.
important development was the arrival, finally, at retail of a
number of long overdue DirecTV HD/ATSC set-tops (Panasonic, Mitsubishi,
Toshiba and soon Sony) and more support plans from other brands,
noted shortly. A major trend was the proliferation of display
technologies companies were showing, with some major brands entering
new display categories with new products.
UNLEASHES LCOS HDTV
the most significant announcement was made by Thomson -- though
not officially exhibiting at CES -- when it announced and showed
its official entry into the LCOS (Liquid Crystal On Silicon) display
field at the Mandalay Bay. The company's first LCOS model will
be the RCA L50000, a 50"W, 720 progressive scan rear projection
unit incorporating a DirecTV HD/ATSC tuner, making it a full HDTV.
this summer, priced in the $6,000 to $8,000 range, the L50000
will display up to 2.76 million actively lit pixels,
weighs about 100 pounds, with a cabinet depth of only 18"
-- the same as a typical 19" TV. The model functions either
as a sleek tabletop unit or as an entertainment center with its
TECHNOLOGY AND PARTNERS
model is based on reflective LCD technology, also used by JVC
in its D-ILA (direct-drive image light amplification) models,
including JVC's upcoming D'Ahlia HD-level rear PTV for the consumer
market. The RCA model relies on new microdisplay imaging technology
that utilizes three reflective light valves called imagers, assembled
with other new components to form the HDTV display's light engine.
(JVC uses a single imager and a holographic filter in order to
separate the three colors.)
is working with three key partners to bring its new LCOS product
line to market: ColorLink (optical prism), Three-Five Systems
(silicon imagers), and Corning Precision Lens (illumination and
projection optics). Speaking at Thomson's pre-show press conference,
senior VP Mike O'Hara said the company had made a significant
investment in LCOS, which included a 30-person engineering team.
According to O'Hara, "Our line of LCOS receivers will be
lighter and less expensive than other advanced reflected light
displays." Thomson is looking at other screen sizes and resolution
levels, including a 1080p model.
UPS D'AHLIA PRICE
said that it will finally ship its D'Ahlia model in April of
this year, and the set will add a Digital Visual Interface (DVI)
to its two sets of component video inputs. And pricing for the
61"W the model has been increased to $10,000, up from $8,000
(or the $7,000 that has also been quoted), but the specific reasons
were not provided. The addition of a DVI connection is apparently
related to two other pieces of news, covered later in this edition.
SHOWS GRAND WEGA LCD-BASED RPTV,
PLUS 40" CRT WEGA
showed its first 16:9 rear LCD PTV for the consumer market in
its Grand Wega -- as a "demonstration model" at CES.
Using three wide-XGA LCD panel (and transmissive LCD technology)
Sony showed a 50"W model. Pricing and introduction plans
for this relatively slim and lightweight rear PTV are still being
consumers who do not care about weight, Sony also introduced its
largest Wega direct-view flat-tube TV: a 40", 4:3 XBR model
that weighs close to 300 pounds. Claiming the mantle as the "industry's
largest CRT television," the KV-40XBR700 Wega direct view
features a Hi-Scan chassis for displaying an HD signal as 1080i,
and will be available in October for about $4,000.
PRICING NEWS FROM PANASONIC & ZENITH
DTV pricing news was made by Panasonic and Zenith, though most
of Zenith's DTV and HDTV introductions were covered in our report
from its CES preview (CEON, 12/16/00).
introduced a rear PTV 47"W HDTV monitor with a suggested
retail price of $2,000 that is slated for May.
CES, Zenith said it will market the first DTV with an
integrated ATSC tuner at under $1,000. The 27" standard
definition (SDTV) model will ship during the second half of this
year, followed by a 32" 4:3 expected to sell for slightly
more than $1,000. This makes Zenith -- which mounted a large and
trendy "Club Z" booth on the floor -- the first brand
to publicly announce plans to offer an SDTV with on-board ATSC
HITACHI HERALD HD-LEVEL PLASMAS
and Hitachi both introduced their first HD-level plasma TVs for
the consumer market. Toshiba's 50"W 720p (1366x768) model,
with glass sourced from NEC, will arrive in May at $19,999. (In
the analog, flat, direct-view TV category, Toshiba's FST Pure
4:3 models -- a 20" ($349) and 24" ($549) -- start arriving
-- part of the PDP joint venture with Fujitsu (FHP Ltd.)
that also includes Sony -- will offer a 42"W 1024x1024 plasma
during the first quarter. Pricing is yet to be determined with
Hitachi officials grappling with Sony's aggressive $7,995 pricing
for its similar PDP. Hitachi is also considering marketing 32"W
and 37"W panels. (Other companies -- such as Pioneer, Zenith,
Samsung, and Panasonic -- also showed plasmas covered in our CEDIA,
Comdex or pre-CES reports.)
REAR AND FRONT, OFF-SITE AND ON
its product line off-site at the new (and too big) Aladdin Hotel,
Hitachi said that its 55"W 720p rear DLP, priced at $12,995,
will finally ship this month -- joining models from Panasonic
(52"W, $12,999, displayed at the LVCC) and Mitsubishi (65"W,
$15,000, exhibiting very privately in Las Vegas).
at the LVCC, Sharp said and showed that it was using the 1280x720
16:9 TI chip -- featured currently in these rear-screen DLPs --
in the first front projector. The unpriced Sharp model is slated
for Q3. As announced at CEDIA, Yamaha will also be marketing a
single-chip DLP front projector, and provided additional information
at CES. Though capable of projecting a widescreen picture, Yamaha's
DPX-1 ($10,000, late Q2) relies on TI's 4:3 (1024x768) chip. However,
Yamaha's front PTV features a tri-color wheel -- claimed as a
first for a home front PTV -- for delivering higher contrast.
SET-TOP INTROs FROM PHILIPS, SAMSUNG
brands were either adding to or tweaking their direct-view HD-level
lines and/or announcing DTV set-tops. Philips finally said it
will offer a DirecTV HD/ATSC box, with the unpriced model DSHD800
(sourced from Hughes) expected by the end of the first quarter.
This fall, Philips will market 4:3 Real Flat HDTV monitors in
32" ($1,799) and 27" ($1,299). They join the three upgraded
(with 3D Y/C digital comb filters) Real Flat widescreen models
that are slated for the second quarter: 30W" ($2,999), 34"
($3,999; $4,999 black high gloss with Pronto remote).
debuted its new short-depth, DynaFlat HD CRT in a 30"W model
that becomes the flagship of the Tantus DynaFlat series. Reducing
the depth of a direct-view set as much as 20% -- to 17.9"
-- the TSL-3099HR, with 1080i native display, will be available
in June for $2,999. The company claims its delayed 720p fLCD rear
PTVs (which also fall in the LCOS category) -- a 43W" ($5,999)
and 50W" ($5,999) -- will now ship in early 2001. Samsung's
DirecTV HD/ATSC set-top is slated for spring, as is Zenith's.
NEWCOMERS KONKA, SAMPO SHOW
order to make room for new models, Konka has reduced prices about
$1,000 on average for its first (and delayed) HDTV displays and
set-top. The models finally received FCC and UL approval -- after
modifications were made -- this past September. For example, Konka's
30"W will now carry a $1,599 price, and $2,499 for the version
with onboard DTV tuning. The Chinese TV brand is planning newer
direct-view HD models and an updated DTV set-top that replace
their predecessors' S-VGA jacks with HD component connections.
Though Konka showed a 50" analog rear PTV as a "statement"
at CES, executive VP Wendy Wu said the model that will be sold
in the U.S. will be DTV-ready.
Sampo -- returning to the U.S. TV market under its name -- was
off-site at the Mirage, meeting with media and dealers, presenting
a line of value-priced digital products, including HDTVs. Sampo
America's energetic president James Chen explained the company
saw the sales opportunities (and margins) made possible with digital
products. Sampo is currently focusing on distribution through
regional chains and retailers represented by buying groups while
also authorizing E-commerce sites.
34W" direct view with Toshiba-sourced flat tube offers both
720p and 1080i native display at $3,499. The company also sells
a 32" 4:3 HD-level monitor at $1,299 and a 27" version
at $999. Though Sampo showed a DTV tuner, Chen said the company
"is not promoting it," since he expects ATSC decoding
to go inside Sampo's sets -- both HDTV and SDTV -- in the future.
Sampo is marketing a 42"W VGA-level plasma TV (using Fujitsu
glass) at $8,995 -- one of the first with the Digital Visual Interface
MAKING AV LINKS
though originally developed for connecting PCs to digital displays,
is becoming more important for linking digital AV devices -- and
stealing some of 1394's fire. This development is seen in JVC's
plans -- mentioned earlier in this report -- to add DVI to its
D'Ahlia HD-level RPTV. DVI is currently the only digital interface
with enough bandwidth to accommodate uncompressed HD digital video.
EchoStar -- JVC's home satellite partner -- said at CES that it
will now back DVI, and not IEEE-1394, because "DVI was better
for copy protection than 1394."
EchoStar told CEON that its first HDTV set-top with DVI -- though
demonstrated as a prototype at CES 2001 -- will not be available
until 2002. Toshiba officials also mentioned they were looking
at DVI, particularly now that DVI's second version would also
support digital audio.
HOLDS OFF ON OFFICIAL D-VHS HD VCR BOW
showed -- but apparently decided to delay the official introduction
of -- its consumer D-VHS HDTV VCR at CES. Officials seemed uncomfortable
about discussing the product, which was at JVC's booth. But printed
materials -- which made their way into some early kits in the
press room -- indicated $1,999 pricing for the HM-DH30000. The
model uses the high-speed HS mode for recording 3.5 hours of HDTV
on a D-VHS tape, and features a built-in MPEG-2 decoder, DV input/output
via 1394, a Dolby Digital decoder. But copy protection and connection
specifics were unclear, which seems to have been the reason for
delaying the official introduction. (We also saw a prototype D-VHS
HD VCR in Zenith's booth with a built-in ATSC decoder.)
to the confusion, it seems that a future JVC D-VHS model will
incorporate DVI and High-bandwidth, Digital Content Protection
(HDCP) -- a plan first announced last year (CEON, 4/15/00, part
1). Hollywood studios, which JVC hopes will offer D-VHS HD prerecorded
cassettes, like DVI's uncompressed digital output, since it discourages
home copying and streaming on the Internet. HDCP, which been endorsed
by Fox, Universal, Warner Brothers and Disney, is only available
over the DVI link.
INSIDE TV MAKES COMEBACK
we predicted, Internet support built into TVs is making a comeback
-- shown mainly in three platforms at CES: TeleCruz, Ch.1 and
EspiriTV. As we reported, Zenith will offer a 27" TV this
spring at $599 incorporating TeleCruz's (San Jose, CA) platform.
At CES, Panasonic also announced plans to market TeleCruz TVs
-- a 27" ($549) and 32" ($849) -- slated for summer.
Other TV makers that plan to support TeleCruz include Konka and
(Santa Ana, CA) announced that its high resolution, integrated
Internet architecture will be built into digital TVs. The first
Ch.1-enabled TV will be a 36" 4:3 direct view HD-level display
offered by Princeton Graphic Systems this month at $3,499. Ch.1's
monthly service plans start at $8.95 for a single user or $11.95
for a family plan with an existing ISP, and $10 additional a month
if the customer does not have an ISP. Ch.1 has also formed an
alliance with NadaPC. NadaPC will make a 27" HD-level Ch.1-enabled
TV available to consumers for $199 if they sign up for 36 months
for NadaPC's ISP service at $21.95 a month.
of LA said its Internet TV will be available in stores this summer
at $998 for a 27" flat-screen model and $798 for a 16"
set. EspriTV's partners include Acer, Planetweb and Finland's
Turku TV, and consumers can select an ISP.
CEON editions will cover CES products and news regarding DVD recorders
and DVD players, hard drives in a range of products, audio components,
Internet radio, camcorders and more.
Copyright (c) 2001 Consumer Electronics Online News. All rights
reserved. The material may not be reproduced or distributed
in any form without a subscription/licensing agreement from
Costello Communications, Inc., NY, NY. The content is based
upon information provided to the editor which is believed
to be reliable. Costello Communications is not responsible
for errors or omissions. (phone: 212-735-5771; fax: 212-735-6441.)