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Industry News

LG Electronics Introduces Two Big LCoS RPTVs For 2006

LG Electronics' 2006 lineup of RPTVs will feature two large screen microdisplays powered by LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon) imaging panels from SpatiaLight that feature full 1920x1080 resolution. Counting pixel for pixel, a 1920x1080 display contains over two million pixels- twice as many pixels as the 900,000 and change a 720p display puts up on screen.

The two models are 62" and 71" (diag.), respectively, boasting slightly larger screen sizes than Sony's previously introduced 60" and 70" SXRD-based 1080p displays.

In addition to 1080p resolution, LG's new LCoS sets will be loaded with features such as integrated CableCARD and ATSC (Over-the-Air) HD tuners, HDMI inputs, TV Guide On Screen electronic programming guide, and, in the case of the 71" model, a FireWire interface. LG's latest generation XD Engine provides the scaling and video processing. MSRP on the two sets is $4999 for the 62" model and $8499 for the 72" RPTV.

Unlike typical DLP-based RPTVs, which use a single imaging chip and a color-wheel to simulate continuous color, LCoS sets use three chips, one for each of the primary colors. Although recent generation DLP designs have gone far in eliminating the color separation artifacts (i.e., "rainbows") associated with single-chip designs, three-chip designs are clearly the more seamless solution.

XM Unveils Full-Time 5.1-Channel Satellite Radio

XM satellite radio announced that select stations will be broadcast 24-hours a day in 5.1-channel surround sound, a first for radio broadcast (terrestrial or satellite) according to XM. The new surround radio format is being branded as XM HD Surround, and claims to offer six discrete channels of "digital full fidelity audio" utilizing technology from a partnering company called Neural Audio.

XM's Hugh Panero boasted that while "terrestrial radio stations are just starting to convert from analog to digital," XM is now "taking another leap forward with the introduction of 5.1 surround in partnership with Neural Audio."

XM HD Surround will launch in March of 2006, with its "free-form" music channel Fine Tuning, and the classical-based XM Pops station broadcast full-time in surround sound. Additionally, a number of special events and live music performances broadcast from the XM studios throughout the year will also be broadcast in XM HD Surround.

XM HD Surround is backward compatible with existing stereo systems, but the release stated that CES 2006 will see Denon, Onkyo, Pioneer, Yamaha, and perhaps other manufacturers introducing XM HD Surround capable equipment.

While surround sound for movie playback has driven the home theater market for years, surround playback for music has yet to prove itself as a market force. Surround sound was touted as a benefit for both DVD-Audio and SACD, and neither format has become a blip on the mainstream radar. As of right now, the masses seem to prefer iPods and MP3 downloads and don't seem to care that the music is stereo playback only.

From the audiophile's perspective, nothing sounds more suspicious than "digital full fidelity audio." For years it's been assumed by the marketing hypesters that anything digital is tantamount to "CD quality" sound, which is a baseless claim. We've heard the same said about abysmal, hideously compressed MP3, so until we can give this a listen the jury's way out.

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