The new Westinghouse VK-40F580D is a 40″ LCD HDTV that has an interesting feature. The fact that it is 1080p is no big whoop, since that’s pretty much what you need to be in order to play in the 40″ and larger space these days. And the MSRP of just $1,049 isn’t too exciting either, as we’d expect a 40″ 1080p LCD flat panel to be priced somewhere around there. And yes, it has a USB port and a pair of HDMI connectors to make connectivity easier; these certainly are not yawn-inducing, but they’re not enough to give me whiplash from turning my head too fast.
So what’s the interesting feature? It has a built-in DVD player. All you need to run to the set is a power cord and the cable wire. The DVD drive uses a front-loading slot, and if you push in a disc, the TV will turn itself on and switch to DVD playback. Pretty cool, huh? And all for about the price you’d pay for a similar size model from some other brands.
Now, this certainly calls into question the old argument about component versus compact stereo systems. With an all-in-one design like this, when you lose one function, you have to get the whole thing repaired. That’s not as big a problem as it might seem, however; you already have tuner and sound system functions built-in, and the simplified wiring from adding the DVD makes the whole package tidy and convenient.
I also see another interesting aspect to this product. Granted, Westinghouse is not trying to stake a claim as a premium brand, but it is still noteworthy that this is a standard DVD drive, and not a Blu-ray player. Clearly, the company believes that their target customers — good value at a competitive price — are satisfied with standard resolution DVDs. It’s just one more data point signaling the uphill climb for Blu-ray in trying to gain ground with the average consumer.