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New Kodak CR maintains capability in value package


Tabletop system targets budget-conscious buyersKodak introduced a new tabletop computed radiography system Aug. 11 at the American Healthcare Radiology Administrators annual meeting in Anaheim, CA. The DirectView CR 500 comes on

Tabletop system targets budget-conscious buyers

Kodak introduced a new tabletop computed radiography system Aug. 11 at the American Healthcare Radiology Administrators annual meeting in Anaheim, CA. The DirectView CR 500 comes on the heels of its bigger cousin, the DirectView CR 850, a compact single-plate reader announced during the 2002 RSNA meeting.

Kodak will begin delivering the CR 500 this fall. Sales efforts now under way compare the new system's image quality to that of the CR 850 and the multicassette CR 950, although the price tag is expected to be lower. A firm price for the new system, which has received FDA clearance, will be decided this month.

The CR 500 will target budget-constrained customers seeking entry into CR, according to Rick Jebo, general manager for CR products and vice president of health imaging for Kodak. Specifically, the CR 500 will be marketed to clinics and small hospitals that are looking to add CR capability and to large hospitals looking to add systems at remote sites, such as ICUs and operating rooms. The system is configured for most applications, including trauma, pediatric, ob/gyn, and general radiology.

"It's really directed more toward the value segment, with a lower price point," Jebo said. "It enables smaller facilities, or larger ones that need systems for remote sites, to obtain a system at an affordable price."

Like all CR systems, the CR 500 captures x-ray images onto phosphor-based storage cassettes. The primary difference among the CR 500, 850, and 900 is processing speed, according to Jebo. While the CR 500 can process some 50 cassettes per hour, the 850 can process more than 90.

"The CR 500 can do everything the 850 and 950 can do, just not as fast," he said. "We understand the requirements that radiologists have for exquisitely high image quality, and we provide that throughout our product line."

The front ends of all three systems are comparable. An operator using a CR 850 or 950 will have virtually no learning curve if a CR 500 is added to a facility's imaging repertoire, he said.

Kodak chose to introduce the CR 500 during the AHRA meeting rather than the higher profile 2003 RSNA meeting to get to market sooner. Based on clinical tests completed at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, NC, and at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, the company expects a lot of interest in the system and didn't want to keep potential customers waiting, Jebo said.

Kodak's direct sales force will spearhead commercialization, although other distribution channels may also be involved, particularly in countries outside the U.S. Regulatory approval is pending in China, Japan, and Korea. Availability is expected there in early 2004.

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