BOSTON — Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates plans to have a flat-panel monitor hanging on the wall in every room of his new lakeside Seattle home.
Now they're available to anyone - anyone who can afford them, that is. Hammacher Schlemmer, the Chicago-based catalog retailer of space-age home goods - and the first to sell such revolutionary products as the cordless telephone and the microwave oven - is offering the first flat-panel TV that can hang on a wall, just like a painting.
The cost? A mere $25,000 for a 42-inch wide-screen model. At that price, Hammacher Schlemmer expects to sell 40 units. A 21-inch model costs $15,000. Each is only 4 inches deep. The TV's use liquid-crystal display technology developed by Fujitsu, which builds the screens. Final assembly is done by QFTV of New York.
They can receive signals from videocassette recorders and computers - "just about any video device made," says Hammacher Schlemmer spokesman Ralph Roberts. The wide-screen model is proportioned to handle video in movie-screen format. At 65 lbs. for the big screen, however, it will still need pretty hefty anchor bolts to stay up on the wall.
Other large flat-panel monitors, meant for computers, are scheduled to go on sale this spring, but for the next six months Hammacher Schlemmer's will be the only one that can receive TV signals, Mr. Roberts says.
Direct-injection gasoline engine
Can you get 40 miles to the gallon of gas from a mid-size sedan? Mitsubishi Motors thinks so.
The company has just introduced a gasoline engine in Japan that promises a 40 percent increase in efficiency at idle, and at least 25 percent overall. Also, the engine produces 90 percent less NOx, a component of smog.
Drawing on recent diesel-engine technology, the 1.8 liter, four-cylinder gasoline engine injects fuel directly into the engine's cylinders, rather than into to "ports" above the cylinder as conventional gasoline engines do. This allows designers to more-precisely control the burning process and thus use less fuel. The new engine uses only 1 ounce of gasoline for every 40 ounces of air, as opposed to a 1-to-14 ratio in other gasoline engines. Direct injection has recently brought similar improvements to automotive diesel engines.
Mitsubishi's new engine also produces more power than the company's otherwise-similar 2-liter unit. Mitsubishi plans to introduce the engine in Europe next year and is scheduled to produce a direct injection V-6 that could find its way into US-bound Galant models as early as next year.