Epson Livingstation 57-inch Rear-Projection LCD HDTV

The HDTV market is heating up, especially for microdisplays - rear-projection TVs (RPTVs) that use LCD, DLP, or LCoS chips to produce their high-resolution images. These sets are essentially video front projectors stashed in a box, so it's no surprise that a projector and printer maker like Epson would want to get in the game with something that sets them apart from the competition. Their solution - the first RPTV to incorporate a digital photo printer - is nothing if not novel.

Fast Facts

DIMENSIONS (WxHxD) 54 3/8 x 39 1/2 x 16 3/8 inches WEIGHT 124 pounds PRICE $3,399 MANUFACTURER Epson, www.epson.com, 800-922-8911

Key Features

• 57-inch (diagonal) 16:9 screen • Built-in photo printer • Includes external HDTV tuner and CD burner • front inputs composite/S-video with stereo audio; VGA with stereo minijack; Compact Flash, Smart Media, Memory Stick, SD/MMC card slots • rear inputs DVI, 2 wideband component-, and 3 composite/S-video, all with stereo audio; 2 RF antenna/cable • rear outputs composite-video with stereo audio; variable-level stereo audio; RF • external-tuner outputs RGB, component, composite, and S-video; optical and coaxial digital and analog stereo audio

The LS57P2, dubbed the Livingstation, is a 57-inch LCD-based set with a striking purplish-gray border around the screen. The TV is a sort of do-it-all digital photo workhorse, starting with a printer recessed into the front panel that uses 4 x 6-inch photo paper. The TV features four memory card slots for widely used digital camera media and can display revolving slideshows of your images. There's even an external CD-RW drive that allows you to burn photos from memory card to disc (it's the small black box under the TV in photo above). Buttons on the remote also let you freeze and print whatever is on screen - a phone number or maybe Jane Fonda in that skimpy costume from Barbarella.

The mere creation of such a device begs the question of whether anyone actually needs a TV with a printer in it. Most people with a digital camera are used to downloading images to a computer, where they can be enhanced, e-mailed, or printed, and the TV has limited ability to manipulate pictures compared with the software that comes with a digital camera. But some people hoping to get into digital photography may be uncomfortable with a PC - or just relish the idea of running a slideshow on a big screen.

Except for the CD-RW drive, the photo features are nicely integrated with the TV. The card slots on the front panel are protected by funky rubber mini-doors, while pressing a large door inward reveals the printer.

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