By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Optical disc drive manufacturer Lite-On continues to expand distribution into many of the nation's leading CE and IT retail accounts with its recently expanded lines of DVD recorders, DVD recorder combos and PC disc drives.
Most recently, the company has signed on as an official distributor of HP-branded PC drives featuring HP's LightScribe technology, and will also soon produce and market Lite-On branded drives using the LightScribe in-drive disk labeling system.
At the same time, Lite-On is building market share for home theater DVD recording products, including a combination DVR/DVD recorder and a VHS/DVD recorder combo.
The company now lists among its retail customers: Circuit City, CompUSA, Costco, Kmart, Sam's Club and Sears in brick-and-mortar stores, and such online dealers as New Egg, Amazon, ShopAtHome.com and QVC.com, according to Christine Hsing, LiteOn's marketing manager.
“Our goal now is to cover most of the retail stores in the U.S.,” said Hsing.
She attributed the company's rapid success to a combination of offering very aggressive retail pricing and easy-to-use products compatible with most recordable disc formats. The company's AllWrite technology is compatible with most recordable DVD and CD formats.
“In DVD recorders, we are not the lowest price out there, but we do deliver the latest technology and quality,” said Hsing. “We offer one of the only recorders in the market that will write on most optical disc media.”
Among its top-selling products in the CE space is the LVW-5045 ($449 suggested retail) DVD recorder/digital video recorder combo, featuring a 160GB hard disc drive and AllWrite recordable disc compatibility. An EasyGuider menu system included in LiteOn's DVD recording decks steps users through unit operation with on-screen graphics.
Another top-selling model is the company's combination VCR/DVD recorder — model LVC-9006 ($299).
Lite-On's deal to become an exclusive distributor of HP-branded LightScribe drives is expected to help both companies build market share in the category, according to spokesmen for both companies.
“Lite-On manufactures, markets, supports and distributes HP branded optical disc drives for HP, under HP's strict standards policy and branding requirements,” an HP spokesman confirmed. “This ensures that the core performance remains consistent and the consumer experience is at the highest level of quality and reliability.”
The LightScribe technology uses the optical drive's laser to drive a circular writing system. Where the refocused laser hits the surface of specially treated LightScribe discs, a visible chemical change occurs in the dye coating. This can be used to create high-resolution, monochromatic reproductions of images, artwork and text on the top of a recorded disc.
To print a label on a special LightScribe disc, a user burns data to the recordable side in traditional fashion and then flips the disc over and reinserts it into the drive to burn the label information. Special software is supplied with the drive to create discs and LightScribe labels.
HP-branded LightScribe drives distributed by Lite-On include the DVD640ri (internal) $169.99 and DVD640re (external) $119.99 models, Hsing said.
The LightScribe DVD640ri is will burn discs at up 16x using compatible DVD+R media and up to 40x using compatible CD-R media. It will also record on most CD and DVD formats. In addition, the burner is compatible with new double-layer recording media.
Lite-On was one of a number of drive manufacturers announced as licensees of LightScribe technology. The company intends to market its own branded DVD recordable drives with LightScribe in July, Hsing said. At the same time, Lite-On expects to present a $10 price drop on some of its existing drives.
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