By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Joining the cavalcade of new third-tier flat-panel television suppliers, Premium Distribution, which exclusively manages the France-based H&B brand in the United States, has launched a line of value-priced LCD and plasma televisions featuring high-quality styling, materials and performance.
Benjamin Bragard, Premium Distribution's director, said the company is positioning its inaugural flat-panel line as a value-added assortment, carrying price points that are a step removed for opening price point competitors and delivering performance quality that rivals products from first-tier brands.
Initial assortments will feature panels without internal ATSC tuning, Bragard said, but models with screen sizes 37W-inches and larger will transition later in the year to fully integrated, ATSC-enabled versions, in time for the Federal Communications Commission's July 1 tuner mandate.
To ensure quality, the H&B flat-panel models are acquired from Korean manufacturing partners, Bragard said. Panels for plasma models are sourced from Samsung, while LCD glass is acquired from LG.
In addition, select H&B plasma models include PixelWorks video processing and scaling circuitry.
All panels include, among others, dual HD component video and a DVI with HDCP inputs.
In plasma monitors, the company is offering three HDTV-level models in the following screen sizes: 42W-inch ($3,490 suggested retail), 50W-inch ($4,990 suggested retail) and 63W-inch (shipping in March at a $9,990 suggested retail).
The 42W-inch PL-4200B HD plasma monitor is shipping now and features 1,024 by 768 pixel resolution, while the 50W-inch HP-5000B is shipping now and features 1,366 by 768 resolution. A 63W-inch model (HP-6300B) will ship in March and will feature 1,367 by 768 pixel resolution.
H&B will also carry three LCD TV monitors in the following screen sizes: 32W ($1,990 suggested retail), 37W ($2,990 suggested retail) and 40W inches ($3,590 suggested retail).
The 32W-inch HL-3200B features 1,366 by 768 resolution and is shipping now.
The 37W-inch HL-3700B features 1,367 by 768 resolution and is shipping in March.
The 40W-inch HL-4000B features 1,366 by 768 resolution and is shipping.
Early distribution has been directed at various e-commerce sites, in an attempt to generate brand awareness, but Bragard said his company will have only limited exposure in Internet sales and will look to maintain profitable product lines for brick-and-mortar retail accounts, which is the firm's primary target.
In addition, the company has been selling flat-panel shipments to a variety of upscale hotel accounts, and Bragard said he is now looking to expand that momentum by selling to higher-end A/V specialty and custom installation retailers.
Oksana Sabo, Premium Distributing's director, said her company is currently using distributors to serve a number of specialty retail accounts.
“We don't have a well-known brand name in the United States, yet, but we are looking to build a brand known for very high quality products,” Bragard said. “For example, we use aluminum frames, not plastic like a lot of our competitors, because it makes for a better design and look.”
Flat-panel products carry a one-year on-site warranty with a two-year option. H&B has a contract with EAD for after market service and support.
In addition to flat-panel televisions, Premium is also carrying a line of H&B hard-drive personal multimedia players, including versions with and without built-in LCD view screens.
Premium launched H&B, which is a rapidly growing brand in Europe, in the United States with an SD card-based MP3 player called Music Cube and a line of value-priced DVD players.
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