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  • Sony Launches HDTV Set to Jump Into Digital Future
  • September 18, 1998 (BOSTON) -- With the United States ready to launch limited digital television broadcasts this fall, Sony Corp. introduced what it pegs as the industry's first direct-view high-definition television set as a portal to the digital future.
    To coincide with what company officials are calling two of the biggest changes in the television industry in 50 years -- the dawn of digital television and the creation of the flat screen picture tube -- Sony Electronics Inc. of Park Ridge, N.J. introduced the industry's first direct-view, totally flat screen HDTV set.

    The 34-in., 16-by-9 widescreen television, featuring Sony's proprietary FD Trinitron flat screen picture tube, was demonstrated for the first time in New York on Sept. 17.

    "This is just the beginning. Digital television is an evolution, not a revolution," said Fujio Nishida, president of the Consumer Products Marketing Group at Sony Electronics. "Today, we are introducing a feature-rich, high-definition television that maximizes the incredible HDTV signal."

    The FD Trinitron Wega HDTV set (KW-HD1) is scheduled to go on sale in late November at a suggested retail price of US$8,999.

    The direct-view technology Sony is using with its HDTV set incorporates the industry's first visually flat screen picture tube. The picture tube in Sony's high-definition set is based on the same flat technology used in the company's recently introduced FD Trinitron Wega NTSC televisions.

    Sony's new HDTV set will have the ability to decode all of the immediately available DTV formats approved by the Advanced Television Standard Committee (ATSC). It will also display HDTV signals at 1080I resolution.

    Additionally, Sony's HDTV set receives and provides Dolby Digital sound when coupled with Dolby Digital receivers. Consumers will be able to enjoy 5.1 channels of surround sound to maximize the home entertainment experience.

    According to Jim Palumbo, vice president of Sony's Display Marketing Division, precise corner-to-corner focusing and depth of field are achieved with the new high focus electron gun. The fine pitch aperture grille provides enhanced clarity and detail. Sony also matched the new electron gun with a high precision deflection yoke to assure consistent beam spot and shape, resulting in accurate image reproduction, by assimilating computer display technology.

    The Sony HDTV set is designed to display free over-the-air digital broadcasts when connected to an optional, external antenna. An additional high-performance feature is an HD component input designed to be "future-ready" to accept a variety of other digital sources, including digital cable set-top boxes with HD component out.

    "With more than 65 percent of U.S. households receiving programming via cable, Sony's HD component input may serve the cable industry and consumers by allowing cable subscribers access to broadcast HD programming if local cable operators elect to provide set-top boxes with HD component outputs," Palumbo said.

    Sony has developed two proprietary technologies for the sets: Digital Reality Creation (DRC) and Multi Image Driver (MID) circuitry.

    Palumbo said that DRC upconverts standard definition video signals from sources including broadcast television, cable, videotape, digital satellite systems, DVD and WebTV Internet terminals to four times their original image resolution, delivering a picture approaching high-definition quality.

    According to Palumbo, the Multi Image Driver (MID) circuitry can simultaneously view images from digital and analog sources, regardless of the digital sources' format. MID circuitry has a Twin-View function that can display two signal sources (WebTV and NTSC or HD and NTSC, for example) on the same screen by converting both signals to 480P quality.

    (Lori Valigra, Asia BizTech Correspondent)

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    Updated: Thu Sep 17 18:46:24 1998 PDT