While most of the recent developments in TVs are focused on new flat-panel or rear-projection technologies such as plasma, LCD, and DLP, the old reliable cathode-ray tube (CRT) has recently gotten a makeover. The Samsung TX-R3079WH is a 30-inch direct-view HDTV with new "thin tube" technology, dubbed SlimFit, that supposedly takes the advantages of a tube TV and squeezes them into a box about 2/3 as deep as traditional sets. The TX-R3079WH is currently available in stores and online at $999.
Upside: While Samsung's "2/3 the size" claim is a little exaggerated--at 16 inches deep, the Samsung isn't quite 2/3 the depth of the 22-inch deep , for example--it's still pretty slim. Sure, similarly sized flat-panel LCD sets measure from 3 to 5 inches deep, but they can cost twice as much. The Samsung TX-R3079WH is equipped with a built-in ATSC tuner but is not Digital Cable Ready. This means you can receive over-the-air HDTV signals with no additional equipment, but you'll need a separate set-top box if you want to use digital cable. Its connectivity is highlighted by an HDMI port and two component-video inputs.
Downside: While direct-view TVs traditionally have delivered excellent picture quality, we won't know how these "thin tube" TVs perform until we review them. It wouldn't be shocking to find that stuffing a tube into a slimmer form factor resulted in decreased picture quality. Also, like all tube TVs, the TX-R3079WH is heavy, weighing in at 132 pounds. Although it's slim, don't expect to be able to hang it on a wall.
Outlook: With its relatively low price and slim profile, the Samsung TX-R3079WH should appeal to those who want to make the jump to HDTV but have to stick to a budget. We'll update this preview when we're able to publish a full review.