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Planar Adds SKUs; Slates Runco, Vidikron Move

1/28/2007 02:00:00 AM Eastern

The trilogy of high-end video projector brands Planar/Runco/Vidikron that are now under the direction of Planar used the recent International CES to unveil several new projector systems for their respective A/V specialty and custom installation accounts.

Then, upon its return from the show, Planar disclosed plans to move portions of the Runco and Vidikron operations from California to Planar's existing global facilities.

Under the Planar brand, the company showed its new flagship single-chip 1080p DLP projector, model 8150 (shipping in early March at a $7,999 suggested retail).

The projector includes a Texas Instruments' 0.95-inch 1080p chipset with Dynamic Black technology, for higher black levels. The unit produces 1,000 ANSI lumens of brightness and a 1,500:1 contrast ratio.

The new step-down model 8130 ($5,999 suggested) will carry many of the same features and attributes but will produce a slightly lower (10,000:1) contrast level.

Planar worked with Osram on the lamp system and developed a new color wheel to deliver strong performanc0e levels at the D65 color temperature.

Among the features is a rear-mounted cable cover that fits the contours of the cabinet design, and a white LED light mounted over the inputs to provide illumination for hookups inside dark enclosures.

Planar opted to design the projector a little larger than it could have in order to assure the center-mounted lens would simplify installations with proper alignments. The bigger cabinet also supports light and sound baffles.

"We're trying to get really good feature sets — the latest and greatest that we had at our disposal — and hit a really good price point, but not so low that we don't make any money on it," said Brian Craskadon, Planar/Runco/Vidikron home theater business unit product management director.

For Runco, the company showed its 100-inch in-wall rear-projection DLP displays, called "Big Easy." The system is based on a 1080p single-chip DMD with a new color-wheel technology.

Runco also presented its Video Xtreme VX-22i, three-chip 1080p DLP projector that uses O-Path technology, CinOptx premium grade lenses and the company's proprietary Vivix II video processing. The projector is said to produce a 4,000:1 contrast ratio and 2,850 ANSI lumens of brightness. It is calibrated to Imaging Sciences Foundation (ISF) standards.

The projector is shipping now with CineWide with Autoscope lenses for a $54,995 suggested retail, or $39,995 with a standard lens.

Scott Hix, Planar's home theater business unit general manager and VP, said Runco continues to focus on its 650 North American dealers "as it goes deeper with what we've got."

Internationally, the Runco brand is expanding its investments more aggressively, particularly in Europe and Asia, Hix said.

"For Vidikron we have 350 to 400 very strong dealers across North America, and we will try to grow that a little bit by focusing on certain cities where the brand is under represented," he added.

The Planar brand continues to be focused on the $2,000 to $10,000 video-display range targeting custom installers with about five jobs a month that are smaller in scale.

In other news, Planar announced after CES that it was moving portions of the Runco and Vidikron operations now based in Union City, Calif., to existing global facilities, including its Beaverton, Ore., headquarters.

Planar, which purchased control of Runco International last May, said the decision was made after careful assessment and evaluation. The integration of resources is expected to bring increased efficiencies in operations and logistics to more rapidly deliver to all three brands in Planar's Home Theater Business unit the benefits discussed at the time of the acquisition.

Hix said this should include significant improvements in the companies' time to market execution, product development, service and support.

It should also help with the expansion of Runco's international business.

A number of Runco's support personnel will continue with the company, including founder Sam Runco, who remains as a key advisor; Bob Hana, worldwide sales VP for all three brands; Rick Bergamaschi and Greg Caves.

Others have been offered an opportunity to relocate to other Planar facilities. As this went to press, it was not known how many employees would not be staying.

In addition, Planar said it plans to open a new research and development center in Union City, and will not be leaving the San Francisco Bay area completely.