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As tipped by SmartHouse, Hitachi has introduced an ultra-thin line of high-definition LCD in an effort to capture share in the LCD TV market as opposed to the plasma market where the company has reported record losses.

Hitachi expects to reach its unit-sales targets for plasma and liquid crystal display televisions in the year ending in March, according to Makoto Ebata, president of Hitachi’s consumer business group.

The Japanese electronics conglomerate has targeted plasma TV sales of 1.2 million units and 800,000 LCD TVs in the current fiscal year. During the last 12 months the company has reported losses of over $800 million.

Ebata spoke after a briefing at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where Hitachi unveiled plans to sell ultra-thin 1.5-inch plasma and LCD TVs in the United States.

In their LCD TV pitch Hitachi branded their new line “1.5,” which reflects the new products’ one-and-a-half-inch thick display, making it suited for hanging on a wall. The new liquid crystal displays (LCD) will be available in retailers starting in the first quarter of this year.

 

Hitachi plans to offer monitors of 32, 37, and 42 inches, which are the most popular sizes in the mainstream consumer market. The company, however, has given the new products a sleek design meant to appeal to people who can afford to pay more for a stylish product. “Consumers who seek luxury are our target,” Daniel Lee, VP of marketing for Hitachi America, told a news conference at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nev.

Hitachi is not the only vendor at CES this year introducing ultra-thin HDTV monitors. Samsung debuted a 52-inch ultra-slim LCD TV at the show, but has yet to begin production.

Panasonic showcased a 50-inch plasma TV monitor that’s an inch thick, which is about 75% thinner than current models. In addition, the display consumes half as much power and weighs half as much as current models. Panasonic did not say when it would start selling the new product.

 

Plasma TVs are not nearly as popular with consumers as LCD sets. Manufacturers are expected to ship 165.3 million units of the latter globally by 2011, compared to 19.3 million units of plasma TVs, according to iSuppli. In 2006, manufacturers shipped 41.4 million LCD TVs, and 9.3 million plasmas,

Ultra-slim HDTVs offer well-off consumers convenience and a hip design, while giving manufacturers a product that can command a higher price, which translates into a higher profit margin than run-of-the-mill digital TVs. The latter is a commodity in which manufacturers often compete on price.

The 1.5, which Hitachi launched in Japan in December, is the company’s first ultra-thin HDTV monitor in the U.S. market. “We look at this product as a launch pad for Hitachi,” Kevin Sullivan, senior VP and chief strategy officer for Hitachi, said at CES.

The new displays have full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080p, and use Hitachi’s proprietary “Reel120” technology that smooth out the jerky effect sometimes seen on LCD screens when a picture makes sweeping, side-to-side movements.

Hitachi plans to release the 32-inch 1.5 this quarter, with the 37- and 42-inch models following in the second quarter. Pricing will be announced at the time of release.

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