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HP unveils high-definition TV line

Hewlett-Packard's new offerings include HD microdisplay rear-projection sets. "Wobulation" technology comes to the fore.

Hewlett-Packard on Thursday announced a slew of new television models in its Pavilion line that boost visual fidelity by incorporating the company's "wobulation" technology.

The set of new entertainment products includes high-definition microdisplay rear-projection TVs, HD plasma displays and three HD liquid crystal displays, the company said.

The rear-projection TVs incorporate the wobulation technology, which jitters the projected image in a carefully controlled way that effectively replaces a single pixel with four. The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company is marketing the feature as HP Visual Fidelity.

"This is the first product HP is bringing to market with wobulation," said Matt Schulz, product manager for HP's microdisplay TVs. The products are due to arrive at smaller electronics retailers such as Tweeters and Good Guys in August, he added, but declined to give pricing details beyond saying the products will be competitive.

The new HP televisions also adjust the image to a room's ambient lighting using a "photorealistic sharpness enhancement" and a 3D color enrichment system, HP said.

HP's rear-projection microdisplay TVs use a chip from Texas Instruments with thousands of tiny mirrors that precisely deflect light onto a screen. The current chip supports an HD television's 720p resolution, which has 720 horizontal scan lines. TI announced earlier this month that it's now producing a new chip that permits rear-projection TVs with the higher-resolution 1080p format.

Wobulation permits the 720p chip to display at the 1080p resolution, Schulz said.

The microdisplay TVs feature a front panel for audio and visual cables that slide under the TV in a slot in the panel, after the connections are made. In addition, input sources can also be displayed on the TV screen, the company said.

All new models of plasma and LCD televisions are slated to be available in North America in late summer, while Digital Entertainment Center models are available for purchase now in North America, Sweden and France.

HP also announced new models of HD entertainment centers, devices that allow consumers to record and store as much as 55 hours of HD programming, the device maker said. The systems use Microsoft's Media Center version of Windows.

The HP z555 and z557 series feature tuners with the ability to pause, play and record HD over-the-air programming and for recording two standard definition shows at the same time. z555 comes with a 250GB hard drive, while the other one has two 300GB hard drives. Both units use Nvidia's GeForce 6600 PCI-Express graphics card that lets users surf the Web or send instant messages.

Earlier audio-only Digital Entertainment Center products were based on Linux, but devices incorporating video features use Windows, Schulz said.