RCA Scenium Profiles HD61THW263 61-inch DLP HDTV

The flat-panel plasma form factor represents the aesthetic ideal of TV design. That inches-thin, "all picture" look coaxes men and women alike to open their checkbooks and pay significantly more than they would for a bulky rear-projection TV with the same size screen.

FAST FACTS

DIMENSIONS 62 1/4 inches wide, 46 5/8 inches high, 6 7/8 inches deep WEIGHT 135 pounds PRICE $9,999; optional wall bracket, $549; optional floor stand, $259 MANUFACTURER RCA, rca.com, 800-336-1900

RCA Scenium's HD61THW263, a 61-inch rear-projection HDTV that's part of the company's Profiles line, may not use plasma technology, but it looks a lot like a plasma TV. In partnership with projector maker InFocus (which offers a similar set under its own brand), RCA has shoehorned a DLP (Digital Light Processing) rear-projection assembly into a chassis that measures just under 7 inches deep. That's 3 inches deeper than a typical plasma set, but it's also half as deep as a typical DLP rear-projection TV.

RCA and InFocus accomplished this magic by using a super wide-angle projection lens and mounting the light engine off-center, thereby shortening the path between the screen and the lamp. The design also uses a special screen that bends the steeply angled beam from the light engine back to a proper orientation for viewing.

When I saw the $9,999 list price of the HD61THW263, I wondered who it was aimed at. For a few more grand you can buy a 61-inch plasma set that won't have a big chunk of cabinet below the screen. But some buyers are wary of plasma's reliability - unlike DLP, LCD, and LCoS (liquid crytal on silicon) sets, plasmas are susceptible to "burn in" if you leave a bright, stationary image onscreen for a long time. To me, burn-in is an exaggerated problem, and there are many ways to avoid it. Nonetheless, this RCA Scenium set has many perks besides burn-in immunity to justify its price.

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