Industry Roundup

DTV sales soar: Digital television products are flying off the shelves, according to statistics presented by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) convention held in Las Vegas in mid-April. Shipments of DTV products increased more than 124% in January and February of this year, compared to the same period in 2003, reaching a total of $1.3 billion in revenue. During the two months, 853,443 DTV units went from factories to dealers. More than 9.73 million DTV products—defined as "integrated sets and monitors displaying active vertical scanning lines of at least 480p"—have been sold since 1998, CEA spokesmen stated.

Toshiba and Drexel Heritage: The Japanese electronics giant and the Wayne, NJ–based furniture chain are teaming up to create "one-stop shopping environments" for home theater enthusiasts. Beginning this summer, the partners will create stores-within-stores in the furniture chain's 35 locations. A primary goal is to make the home theater shopping experience a positive one for women, the partners assert. Women participate in 89% of all consumer electronics purchasing decisions, according to CEA statistics. The Toshiba/Drexel Heritage project will allow customers to "experience innovative technology and unsurpassed picture quality in semi-custom home theater environments in the one place women feel at home," said a joint announcement. Toshiba will provide high-tech electronics and Drexel Heritage, the seating and furnishings in a wide range of custom fabrics and finishes.

"Parent-friendly" DVD players: Thomson will soon roll out a line of DVD players designed to protect children from offensive language and images in movies. The players will incorporate software developed by Salt Lake City–based ClearPlay, that filters content by skipping offending portion of a film. The degree of editing is user-scalable in 14 levels according to a ClearPlay rating system. Hollywood directors and producers have targeted ClearPlay for altering the artistic intent of films. The DVD players will be sold in Wal-Mart stores. A separate subscription to the ClearPlay service is required, at $4.95/month.

Comcast expands HD: On April 20, Comcast announced the expansion of its HDTV services in the Dallas metropolitan area. As a result, INHD and INHD2 are now available to more than half a million homes there, on Comcast Cable channels 669 and 670, respectively. "The service is available to customers in the Dallas area who have an HDTV-ready television set that utilizes an HD-enabled digital cable box, provided by Comcast," according to a press release. INHD and INHD2 feature approximately three HD Major League Baseball games each week, as well as other sporting events and specials, such as Super Speedway, an "inside look through the eyes of real-life racing legends Mario and Michael Andretti as they reach speeds in excess of 230 mph." INHD and INHD2 also feature movies from Hollywood's leading studios, the announcement stated. Comcast says it has completed a $70 million upgrade to its cable network in the Dallas area.

LG Electronics sailing: For the first fiscal quarter ended March 31, South Korean electronics giant LG Electronics, Inc. posted profits three times those of last year. The growth was attributed to surging demand for flat-panel displays—plasma and LCD screens used in HD television sets, as well as to a joint venture with Philips electronics to manufacture the displays. LG's profits were $506.2 million for the quarter. LG is also a major supplier of mobile telephones worldwide.