By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Planar, which recently relaunched lines of video displays for the custom installation channel, this month is taking its line of DLP projectors and flat-panel LCD TV monitors on a 16-stop road show.
The show, which is targeting key retailers and installers in the company's distribution plan, provides product training and installation tips, while showcasing some forthcoming new models and some recently redesigned models. Among the latter, is the company's 1,080p LCD TV monitor assortment, which was recently overhauled to conform with the suggestions of several retail partners.
Among the enhancements since the line was shown at CEDIA last fall are new Gen 7 1,080p LCD panels and a revised industrial design.
Meanwhile, the new LCD line has been fine-tuned for performance and styling to play well in the custom-installation channel.
"Our new LCD line is designed as monitor solutions for the custom installation space," Jim Davis, Planar's global sales head, said.
Cosmetics for the LCD TV line include aluminum bezels with high gloss black finishes, giving it "a high-class look to go with the high-class performance" of the products, Davis said.
Models include a 5,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio and 1,920 by 1,080p full HD resolution, Davis said. Screen sizes include 37W inches, 42W inches, 47W inches and 52W inches.
"Because Planar is a specialty display manufacturer, we really are taking to heart the whole concept of only selling products that are intended for our custom installation specialty space," Davis said. "These products are intended for the integrator."
Video processing includes 10-bit Faroudja DCDi de-interlacing enabling dual-HD PIP functions, Faroudja TrueLife technology to depict images with true-to-life tones and Advanced Color Management II circuitry. The response time is listed at 6.5 ms. Inputs include dual HDMI v1.2 and HD component video.
"Going forward in our strategy, these LCD TVs will be as mainstream as we probably will ever be," said Davis, adding that the company plans to offer a range of innovative higher-end products for the custom-installation channel.
Qualifying as a new product announcement from the company is a 100W-inch Video Wall rear-projection TV system that builds a rear-projector based on a single-chip DarkChip3 1,080p engine and an in-wall screen.
The screen measures 100W inches diagonally, and delivers a 10,000:1 high-contrast image using Planar's BlackScreen, anti-reflective technology. Lighting is produced by a 180-watt UHP lamp, and color calibration is handled by an unusual automated"set it and forget it" (SiFi) technology that Planar has patented.
Total system depth is said to be 43W-inches.The system is slated to ship in May at a $30,000 suggested retail price.
Davis said that because the Video Wall is a two-piece solution, installation has been significantly simplified from competitive in-wall products that are comprised of as many as six pieces in some cases.
"With our product you put the projector in the hole in the wall, install the screen and use the remote control to do all the rest," Davis said. "After the wall is prepared the whole installation can be done in less than 30 minutes."
Also added to the system is Planar's dual-lamp technology that provides a backup lamp in case the first lamp dims or fails.
The SiFi feature, Davis said, uses a computer to monitor the picture settings at an optimal level and then continually readjusts the picture automatically to maintain the settings without any additional input from the user or installer.
In the rest of the projector assortment, Davis said Planar elected not to introduce previously announced 480p models, opting for four 720p products based on two platforms. Those models are all shipping now at suggested retails of $1,999, $2,999, $3,999 and $5,999, for graduated levels of quality.
The company will also add this summer its first three-chip 1,080p DLP using DarkChip 3 technology.
The projector will feature a 6,000:1 optical contrast ratio, 2,000 lumens of brightness at D65 color temperature settings, six Minolta lens options and Silicon Optix HQV Teranix video processing.
Davis said he expects that to start, Planar's DLP projector business will represent about 60 percent of sales this year, growing closer to 50/50 projectors to flat-panel LCD TVs in the next year.
The company's Xscreen projection screen business, meanwhile, will continue as a niche product area targeting video projector users who have ambient light issues, Davis said.
Xscreens are available in four different diagonal sizes (60 inches, 70 inches, 80 inches and 100 inches), and feature Daytime Screen Technology, which enables clear and colorful front-projected images in large formats, even in rooms with ambient light.
Planar is distributing products using two key distributors including New York-based ADI for installers and A/V specialty accounts, and the EDGE Group for custom installers.
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