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Humax Markets DirecTV LCDs

3/13/2006 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Looking to offer a plug-and-play solution for DirecTV adoption, Humax is rolling out a pair of its first LCD TVs with built-in DirecTV tuning.

The models, which will be available in the 20-inch 4:3 and 32W-inch 16:9 screen sizes, will be co-branded with DirecTV and Humax logos.

The 20-inch model (LD2060) will ship to dealers in April and will feature a 20-inch EDTV screen, a modem and USB port, component video input, two composite inputs and an audio/video output. The TV, which will carry a $749 suggested retail, will include a built-in basic D11 MPEG-2 DirecTV tuner/decoder.

The 32W-inch model will ship late in the fourth quarter at a price to be announced later. It will feature high-definition resolution and a built-in DirecTV MPEG-4 HD tuner/decoder.

Tony Goncalves, Humax business development and strategic marketing VP, said the company will initially distribute the integrated DirecTV LCD TVs to Humax dealers that are authorized to sell DirecTV service, as if it were any other SKU in its line.

Since News Corp. gained control of the satellite service, it has taken over all branding and distribution of DirecTV equipment, and as of March has started leasing set-top equipment rather than selling it.

“This will be like going back to the old days of DirecTV,” Goncalves said. “We will be branding the product, selling it to the distribution channel on our own, and then the economics involved in selling the service is between the retailer and DirecTV. As far was we're concerned, we sell it for MSRP minus margin.”

Eventually, Humax may elect to sell the products to dealers that aren't part of the authorized DirecTV dealer base, Goncalves said, adding that “only a handful” of Humax's dealers are not selling DirecTV service.

“However, we feel that DirecTV dealers will have greater incentive to sell the product,” Goncalves said.

Currently, Humax is working with dealers on the optimal method of merchandising the products, Goncalves said, noting that the product could fit in either the flat-panel TV or the DirecTV departments of the store.

“Economics-wise, the DirecTV merchant has an incentive to merchandise the product as a DirecTV item,” Goncalves said. “But people shopping for a flat-panel TV will be looking for it in the TV section. Those are some of the things we're still working on.”

Goncalves said the target customer for the 20-inch set is an existing DirecTV customer looking to put a TV in a secondary room, such as a bedroom. With the tuner/decoder built into the set, the user will have less equipment to clutter up desktops and other furniture.

He pointed out that an all-in-one TV should be a “stickier” item with the consumer, giving them more incentive to stay with DirecTV long into the future.

“We realize that reducing churn is as important to the dealer as it is to DirecTV,” Goncalves said. “It's a fact that the more advanced a product is in the home, the less churn that results.”

Meanwhile, the company is also working with DirecTV and potentially other service providers on a hard drive-enabled, handheld portable media player.

The first PMP under development will work with the satellite provider's forthcoming DirecTV 2Go service.

It is designed for a direct connection to a DirecTV DVR, which will allow the consumer to transfer content recorded at home to the portable device. In addition to DirecTV content the device will support music (MP3 and WMA) as well as photos and other videos.

The device, which is scheduled for release “later this year at a price to be announced,” will carry the Humax and DirecTV brands and will be distributed by Humax to its DirecTV dealers. The DirecTV brand will be featured throughout the user interface, including a DirecTV approved playlist interface similar to DirecTV receivers.

The Humax PMP will include a 4-inch widescreen LCD display screen with navigation controlled via a five-button design.

Hard drive capacities on the devices will be announced by partner services, Humax said, but players will feature long-lasting user-replaceable batteries providing up to four hours of video and 10 hours of music playback.

The players will be based on an AMD Alchemy Au1200 processor, and will support a variety of video formats including MPEG-1/-2/-4, DiVX, WMV9 with WMDRM10 support — all at full D1 resolution (720 by 480).

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