Mitsubishi 1st to Ship Complete HDTV Systems

This week, high-definition television officially begins broadcasting. As part of the rollout, Irvine, California-based Mitsubishi Consumer Electronics America Inc. (MCEA) has started its first volume shipments of HDTV systems to dealers. Seven models of HDTVs will be available in all markets.

"As the leader in high-definition television, and the first company to ship complete HDTV systems, Mitsubishi is fully dedicated to its national rollout plan," says Max Wasinger, vice president of sales and marketing for MCEA. "We committed to our dealers that we would drive this business, and we will meet our commitment."

The company has been conducting intensive sales training in preparation for the launch of HDTV. "Our trainers visited dealers in 33 markets, leading detailed training sessions for all sales counselors," explains Robert Perry, director of marketing for MCEA. "Mitsubishi consumers can take comfort knowing that, when they visit one of our retailers, they are going to be helped by a trained sales counselor who will take the time to explain the straight facts about HDTV and Mitsubishi's strategy.

"Mitsubishi's overall strategy with respect to HDTV has been very simple from the beginning: to provide TVs capable of true 1080i HDTV," Perry emphasizes. "We are not playing the game of calling an NTSC-only TV 'future-proof' or any other term designed to confuse consumers into thinking that a non-HD product is almost-HD. Televisions that do not have a high-definition input cannot be HDTVs, period. To suggest otherwise is less than forthright. In a few years, HDTV receiver downconverters should be available, and they will convert an HDTV signal to NTSC using the inputs on existing NTSC analog TVs."

When he made this statement, Perry was apparently unaware of the work being done by companies like Faroudja, Scientific Atlanta, and Oren Semiconductor on "all-format" converters that will accept all varieties of HDTV input and output a DVD-quality NTSC signal. However, he is correct in emphasizing that downconverted HDTV signals are not truly high-definition. "Consumers need to clearly understand that this cannot and will not turn their analog TV into an HDTV," he said. "Such a product will simply allow them to view digital TV broadcasts using NTSC televisions, with NTSC levels of performance."

Mitsubishi's "HDTV-upgradeable" systems consist of separate monitors and receivers and are priced at $3895 and up. The televisions are equipped with high-performance NTSC receivers and proprietary RGB inputs to accept a signal from the HD-1080 HDTV receiver. According to a company press release, the Mitsubishi system converts all HDTV formats to 1080i. In addition, the release states that "Mitsubishi's Diamond Digital Pixel Multiplier, which is part of the HDTV-upgradeable TV receiver, upconverts all NTSC analog signals and standard-definition digital TV signals (from the separate HDTV receiver), producing images with high-definition levels of apparent resolution."