Las Vegas — JVC is aggressively expanding its selection of 1,080p HD-ILA and flat-panel LCD TVs in 2006 but declined to commit to a ship date for Blu-ray Disc (BD) players, a key source of future 1,080p content.
Sales and marketing executive VP Craig Geiger said a Blu-ray decision awaits availability of sufficient prerecorded software and the conclusion of content-protection talks between the software and hardware industries. The company demonstrated a prototype BD player and doesn’t plan to offer HD DVD players.
Prerecorded triple-layer hybrid DVD/BD discs demonstrated here by JVC will be available to support the BD launch, or be available soon after, to eliminate retailers’ dual-inventory concerns, added Karl Bearnarth, marketing and corporate strategy senior VP.
HD-ILA rear-projection TVs in 1,080p and 720p variations, plus the company’s first hard-disk-drive (HDD) camcorders, “drove our 2005 success,” Geiger said, and JVC expects the technologies to “be major contributors to our growth in 2006.” HD-ILA, he added, has proven to be “a true contender in the microdisplay category.”
Although HD-ILA and HDD camcorders are keys to the company’s growth this year, JVC is also taking other measures to boost sales, including:
—an expansion of its flat-panel LCD-TV selection, which includes 720p and 1,080p models.
—an entry into the handheld navigation market with an LCD touch-screen model that stores music, video, pictures and maps on its 20GB HDD; the battery-operated, car-mountable device will retail for about $799 when it ships in March.
— the April 1 spin-off of its mobile division into a separate sales and marketing entity to boost penetration in mobile electronics specialty-retail channels (see p. 4).
— a three-SKU selection of high-definition ATSC/Dish set-tops that are the company’s first with MPEG-4 decoding to support Dish’s future MPEG-4 launch. Two of them feature two-tuner, dual-zone capability, up from one model. One of those two, the TU-VIP622RU, is the company’s only one of the three with DVR, whose capacity has been raised from previous models to 320GB.
— enhancements to its Everio HDD camcorders, whose selection remains at four. For video transfer to a PC, all models increase transfer speed to about 5x from 2x, the company said. In addition, the top three models control outboard DVD burners, allowing for direct-to-disc burning without using a PC. For this application, JVC also launched its Share Station DVD burner for an approximately $200 street price.
—forging stronger links with satellite radio in the home. The selection of home A/V receivers that control JVC-brand Sirius plug-and-play tuners goes to five from one. Four of the models on display also sport an XM logo, signifying that they’ll control separately available XM Connect-And-Play antennas with integrated tuner. The company said it hopes to make them XM-connectable when they ship on a staggered basis from March through July.
—possible year-end shipments of a high-speed 120Hz LCD TV that will eliminate the blurring seen in fast-motion scenes on standard 60Hz models, the company said. A model was demonstrated.
Longer term, the company is targeting multiple new growth-sustaining technologies that it demonstrated but doesn’t plan to offer in 2006. They include:
—thin HD-ILA rear-projection sets. The company demonstrated a 56-inch model that’s only about 10 inches deep, compared with existing JVC models’ 17-inch to 18-inch depth, Bearnarth said.
—LED light sources for HD-ILA and LCD TVs to improve color stability and potentially eliminate light-source burnout.
In TVs due this year, the company will offer 1,080p HD-ILA sets in three screen sizes in two series, up from one series in 2005. In one series, the 56-inch, 61-inch and 70-inch models will retail at an expected $3,499, $3,799 and $5,499, respectively. They use three 1,920 by 1,080 chips. The second series with the same screen sizes offers additional inputs for the custom installer market. Its prices were unavailable. Three 720p HD-ILA models in 52-inch, 56-inch and 61-inch screen sizes at $2,799-$3,499 feature three 1,280 by 720 chips.
All of the HD-ILA models use fifth-generation Digital Image Scaling Technology to up-scale any video source to 720p or 1,080p, reduce stair-step effects, eliminate block noise, and eliminate mosquito noise without degrading the image. The models also feature an optical iris instead of an electronic iris to provide deeper blacks when room-light levels are low.
The expanded LCD lineup will have more than five models. Of the five for which information was available, two are 1,080p sets in 40-inch and 46-inch sizes, and three are 768p models available in 26-inch, 32-inch and 37-inch sizes. Expected retails for the 1080p models are $3,799-$4,599 and $1,399-$2,499 for the 768p models.
In other 2006 products, JVC is:
— adding CD-ripping capability to its 512MB and 1GB flash-memory MP3 players.
— adding USB Host capability for the first time to HTiBs and a CD/cassette boombox, enabling them to select and play back MP3 and unprotected-WMA music files stored on connected USB drives and flash-memory MP3 players, including the iPod Shuffle and nano. The HTiBs will also select and play USB-stored video in the MPEG-4 and DiVX formats.
On the HTiBs, audio and video file names can be viewed on screen for selection. On the $99 boombox, users select songs by hitting the up/down seek buttons. None will control an HDD MP3 player because of conflicts with the MP3 players’ built-in host capability.