Progressive-Scan DVD Players Debut at CEDIA

As most home-theater fans know, DVD, the format, arrived ahead of digital television. Despite the fact that video is encoded on a DVD as 480 lines of progressive-scan MPEG-2, the first generations of DVD players put out signals in 525 interlaced lines, otherwise known as NTSC "legacy video." Converter circuitry inside the players makes MPEG-2 video back-compatible with existing TVs. Until recently, it was primarily consumers with DVD-ROM drives in their computers who could enjoy the full benefits of progressive-scan video.

Major electronics manufacturers now feel that DTV has sufficiently penetrated the market that the time is ripe to introduce progressive-scan players. Toshiba and Onkyo introduced DVD players with progressive-scan output at the Custom Electronics Design and Installation Association (CEDIA) convention in Indianapolis, Indiana over the September 23-26 weekend. The machines will arrive at dealers later this fall, bearing price tags in the $1000-$2000 range, and come in the wake of a similar player from Panasonic announced earlier this year. Princeton Graphics, known primarily as a maker of monitors, plans to ship a $5500 progressive-scan DVD player by the end of the year.

Most of the majors showed DTV sets at CEDIA, among them Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Sharp, Thomson, and Toshiba. Panasonic will reportedly ship the industry's first 56"-diagonal, 720p, HD-ready set this fall. The company's HD-ready, 34"-wide, flat-screen direct-view Tau monitor boasts a progressive-scan converter to improve NTSC images. Other manufacturers are jumping into the prog-scan flat-screen race, including Philips, Thomson, and Toshiba, all of whom plan to have such sets on the US market next year. Many prototypes will be on display at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, in January 2000.