By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
With its first Ultra HD TV now out of the gate, Hisense USA is looking to take the technology and the brand to the next level in 2014.
The company, which ranks among the top TV manufacturers in its native China and is moving to build a stronger U.S.-brand presence in coming months, recently launched its 55-inch T880 series Ultra HD smart TV at a $1,999 suggested retail.
“We’ve just started to track sales and it’s performing about as expected for this early in the Ultra HD game,” said Jonathan Frank, Hisense marketing VP, adding that it’s probably still a little early to depend on Ultra HD TV sales to be a major contributor to the bottom line among typical holiday gifts.
Frank said it will take a little more time for Ultra HD content to arrive before consumers get a true understanding of the benefit that UHD offers and heavy volumes start to flow.
But Frank wasn’t ready to discount the possibility of early mainstream market acceptance, either.
“It depends on us as an industry, if we all do a good job of really promoting the current benefit of UHD,” Frank said. “We all know there isn’t a huge amount of content out there, and getting the content into the home is still a challenge, but I think it does have a place in the home today. The up-converting of normal signals does make pictures look better. And that will influence how well the consumer perceives the current value.”
Despite the TV’s value price positioning, Frank said Hisense “really stands behind its up-conversion technology, picture quality and sound quality.”
The TV recently launched at Costco warehouse club stores, and Hisense plans to expand the roll out to additional retail partners in 2014, Frank said.
Among Frank’s goals for the company in the U.S. is making Hisense “a household name within the year.”
He added that following the launch of the first Hisense Ultra HD TV, “we are not a one-trick pony and are fully committed to this technology.”
Hisense, he said, will be unveiling a broader assortment of Ultra HD TV models for the 2014 selling year at International CES in January.
The 55-inch T880 set includes a built-in connected TV system with Wi-Fi linking; an Opera web browser, four HDMI/HDCP inputs, one of which is “true UHD,” and a USB digital media player.
The set also offers a narrow frame design, and the smart TV platform comes with pre-installed apps for Netflix, Vudu HD Movies, YouTube, Vimeo, Pandor, Twitter, Facebook, Picasa, AccuWeather and VUDU.
Other features include LED backlighting with “ULED” dimming and a 178-dree viewing angle. It also offers natural motion processing using Hisense’s Ultra SMR 120 Smooth Motion Rate technology and a PureColor Reproduction system for accurate color handling.
Frank said Hisense will build the brand in the U.S. starting in the first quarter of 2014 with an expanded multi-media advertising and promotional campaign using both traditional and non-traditional media vehicles, and running throughout the year.
At the same time that Hisense is building its TV presence here, it is also attempting to launch new businesses in smartphones and tablets.
“Because we are an actual manufacturer, people will and should think of Hisense as a technology that brings the whole ecosystem to them. We want to bring this technology to a marketplace that otherwise wouldn’t be able to entertain it. We want to be known as a fast, leading technology company that anyone can wrap their hands around.”
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