Thomson Consumer Electronics unveiled somewhat sketchy
plans early this month for its high-definition television launch. The company's first
two HDTV models are expected to reach retail this fall.
Unlike earlier entries from Panasonic Consumer Electronics
and others, the first RCA and ProScan HDTV sets from Thomson are not merely HDTV-capable
monitors -- they have HDTV receivers built in, too.
At 55 inches diagonally, RCA rear-projection model P55000
will retail for $6,999. A ProScan 61-inch model sells for $7,999. Both incorporate
direct-broadcast satellite receivers capable of displaying both standard- and
high-definition signals from DirecTv Inc. and U.S. Satellite Broadcasting.
Thomson has not yet announced how many of its dealers would
receive HDTV models at the product's launch, or whether distribution would be limited
to initial digital-television-broadcast markets.
At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this past
January, Thomson and DirecTv made a big point of promoting the idea that HDTV signals
could be delivered to retailers across the country as early as this fall.
A Thomson spokesman said last week that the first HDTV
products that the manufacturer delivers to retail this fall will be demonstration units
only, and that consumer-availability dates have not yet been set.
Thomson will introduce its RCA DTC100 digital set-top
receiver next year, which will enable existing analog televisions to receive and display
new digital-broadcast signals as improvements over typical analog pictures.
The DTC100 will also integrate a Digital Satellite System
receiver, and it will be sold with a DSS antenna. The company has set a target retail
price of $700 for the box.