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RCA offering widescreen television

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Thomson Consumer Electronics said Wednesday it will sell the first color TV receivers shaped like movie screens and designed for the American market.

Described as 'the television made for movies,' 'CinemaScreen,' as the new RCA sets are called, is the answer to a challenge that has existed since widescreen films were first shown on television, and the sets are forerunners to similarly-shaped HDTV sets, Thomson said.

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The RCA brand color TVs feature a rectangular 16-by-9 dimensioned picture tube, shaped like a movie screen, departing from the conventional 4-by-3 television screen that has been used by the industry since the introduction of television in 1946.

A special feature of the new CinemaScreen models is a 'split screen' mode that allows two programs in conventional format to be shown simultaneously on the screen.

'We expect CinemaScreen to give the consumer a new world of viewing options,' said Joseph P. Clayton, executive vice president for marketing and sales. 'Movies can be seen in the same wide panorama in which they are filmed, and today's broadcast programs can be expanded to fit the wider screen.'

Clayton said the first CinemaScreen models will be previewed on the West Coast in major retail outlets in Los Angeles beginning in April. As production increases, the RCA CinemaScreen will begin national distribution in the third quarter.

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The optional retail price planned for 16x9 models under Thomson's RCA and ProScan brands is $4,999, which includes a $200 offer involving laserdisc albums. A matching base is part of the ProScan price.

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