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HDTVs as Art

If HDTVs can be mounted on a wall or over a fireplace like art, why not use them as art? Samsung and Thomas Kinkade Co. have teamed up to produce a prototype that's just that.

If HDTVs can be mounted on a wall or over a fireplace like art, why not use them as art? Samsung and Thomas Kinkade Co. have teamed up to produce a prototype that's just that. By surrounding an LCD display with an art frame and uploading the LCD with digitally mastered paintings by Thomas Kinkade, the companies created the Digital Masterworks ART-TV, which shows artwork in high definition yet shifts to TV programming by touching one button.

The Digital Masterworks ART-TV prototype, described by Samsung as a hybrid LCD TV and mini-exhibit, was built to test the market viability of the concept. When mass produced, it will integrate artwork with HDTV, showing such minute details as brush strokes and canvas texture. Featuring a customizable touch screen that allows users to modify the overall image light or enhance specific colors within the Thomas Kinkade Co.'s guidelines, Sam-sung believes it is likely to change the future of room decor.

“Imagine having a piece of museum-quality fine art right above your mantle and then as you sink into the couch instantly switch to ‘American Idol,' the latest sports playoffs, or a Blu-ray action movie at the touch a button,” says Scott Birnbaum, vice president of Samsung LCD Business.

The system consists of a 1080p-resolution, 500-nit, 46-inch display with a 3,000:1 contrast ratio and a 40GB hard drive. Hidden touch controls allow viewers to electronically flip through and choose their favorite paintings, zoom in and out of specific areas, and play audio describing the artist's thoughts.

Paintings will be either remastered pieces or original 16x9 art created by Kinkade specifically for the new medium. The companies also plan to permit additional paintings to be uploaded to the system from the Kinkade electronic art network via a wired or wireless (802.11g) connection.

According to Todd Steward-son, vice president of sales for the Thomas Kinkade Co. “Ultimately, the delivery of that art in the truest form to the original and the introduction of new and exciting work by the artist will be the primary differentiating factors in this solution versus a screen saver you would plug into your existing flat panel.”

The Digital Masterworks ART-TV should be available in late 2008 through any Thomas Kinkade Signature Gallery. While pricing hasn't been finalized, the Kinkade Co. predicts it will retail between $3,500 and $5,000. www.thomaskinkade. com; www.samsung.com.



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