Epson merges TV, printer

Epson merges TV, printer

In one of the most unusual product combinations, Epson America has rolled out a big-screen LCD projection TV with a built-in colour photo printer.

Epson's Livingstation HDTV LCD projection televisions are the company's first forays into the world of big-screen TVs. Both are scheduled to ship in the US in March. The 47-inch Epson Livingstation LS47P1 will carry an estimated retail price of $US3499 and the 57-inch Livingstation LS57P1, $US3999.

Epson, best known for its printers, apparently couldn't resist including built-in dye-sublimation photo printers in the two TVs, which can produce 4in x 6in borderless prints. Both TVs also include a CD-R/RW drive and slots for popular memory cards, including SD, MMC, Memory Stick, CompactFlash, and SmartMedia.

The TVs have another intriguing feature: a "Freeze Image" capability that lets users freeze video, live TV, or other digital images and then print them from the built-in printer.

Both televisions offer 1280x720 native resolution, a 16:9 native aspect ratio, and 800:1 contrast ratios. They come equipped with two tuners for side-by-side split screens, and claim a 130-degree horizontal viewing angle and 49-degree vertical viewing angle. Both screens have built-in stereo speakers.

Like most modern projection TVs, the Livingstations have relatively thin profiles. The 47-inch model is 14.9 inches deep, while the 57-incher is 16.3 inches thick. Weight, which is often a factor for consumers venturing into this area, is about average for TVs of this class. The 47-incher weighs about 48kg and the 57-inch model, 56.35kg.

Epson clearly believes potential buyers will be attracted by the ability to view, print, and archive their digital photos in their living room. The TV-printer combo devices support Epson's proprietary Photo On Demand capability, so users can do all of these activities with a remote control.

The company claims its Photo On Demand technology is a first, because it enables people to view, print, and store their digital photos directly from the TV without the need for a PC.

They can use the program to manage digital photos from the living room, "making digital photography a social experience", according to a company spokesperson.

Epson said the Livingstation products would support numerous additional devices, including DVI-based set-top boxes, progressive-scan DVD players, HDTV tuners, camcorders, video games, and even PCs.

Its picture-on-picture feature gives viewers options for viewing their favourite programs, while the channel-zapping feature enables them to see seven smaller windows simultaneously to explore many programs as still pictures.

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