Irvine Calif., - JVC-branded flat-panel LCD TVs are returning to the CE marketplace under a new licensee - Taiwan's Amtran - and with new and improved picture and sound performance, the company said.
Amtran Video Corp. (AVC), which is the U.S. marketing arm of giant Taiwanese TV manufacturer Amtran, is best known as the manufacturer of high-value TV sets for leading marketers in the U.S., including second-ranked LCD TV supplier Vizio.
The company's license for the JVC brand on TVs covers North America, Japan and Asia, and the U.S. sales arm is now dipping its toe in the U.S. waters through mostly regional CE retail partners.
JVC, which has marketed TVs in the U.S. for two decades for Japanese parent Victory Co. of Japan, opted to cease manufacturing and distributing its flat-panel sets last year following its merger with Kenwood and in the face of a continued tough economy in both the U.S. and Japan.
Tom Paterniti, AVC's JVC TV brand sales and marketing VP, said the company expects to make its mark here selling quality-performing lines of step-up TVs at competitive (not bargain basement) prices.
"Our goal is to manufacture, market and sell the new JVC Black series of TVs, starting out with the Black Crystal line and moving to later add a Black Sapphire line, which will bring in connected TV, 3D and other features in addition to larger screen sizes (up to 65 inches)," Paterniti told TWICE. "We've been working closely with the (original JVC) team in New Jersey to get started."
JVC selected Amtran as a licensing partner, he said, due to its prowess in display design and production.
"We've built displays for some of the top names in the industry, and JVC felt comfortable licensing its brand to us to extend and expand the name in TV," Paterniti explained.
Amtran, he added, is a "manufacturer and assembler that can move quickly with the market, so that when pricing changes come or when there are components shortages, we can move to acquire those key components and still bring a wide range of products to market."
AVC is relaunching the JVC brand for TV using eight FullHD 1080p SKUs in the Black Crystal series. These are divided into two classes - the 3000 line of CCFL-based LCD TVs and the 3001 line of LED edge-lit LCD TVs, Paterniti said.
All were developed with particular emphasis on high-quality audio performance as well as clear video performance.
"We wanted to make sure our audio performance was a step above what you are getting out of standard TVs today," Paterniti said.
All models offer direct-firing speakers; a special audio cavity to help sound resonance; and better-quality speakers with built-in tweeters, a wider frequency range (20kHz) and deeper base response.
The company is also using SRS's HD surround package to enhance the spatial field from the two 10-watt speakers.
For cosmetics, Paterniti said the Black Crystal models continue a similar design philosophy used in past JVC sets - they keep the look thin, sleek and clean.
"It's the kind of product you want to put in your living room," he said.
The 3000 series is targeted at consumers primarily interested in purchasing a second or third TV for secondary rooms in the house or for college dorms.
The 3001 models are step-up items that could appeal to first-time home buyers, townhouse or condo dwellers looking for screen sizes ranging from 32 to 47 inches, Paterniti explained.
Models in the 32- and 37-inch screen sizes will all offer 60Hz refresh rates, while models in the 42- and 47-inch screen sizes will offer 120Hz refresh rates.
The 3000 series 32- ($469 suggested retail) and 37-inch ($549) models will feature two HDMI inputs, component, composite and VGA inputs, a music port, USB input, optical digital output and stereo audio output.
The 42-inch 3000-series model carries a $699 suggested retail while the 47-inch is priced at an expected $949.
All models in the 3000 series feature 100,000:1 dynamic contrast ratios.
Pricing on the LED-based 3001-series products are: 32-inch ($599 suggested retail), 37-inch ($699), 42-inch ($879) and 47-inch ($1,199).
All of those models offer 2,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratios and a 1.9-inch panel depth.
All sets comply with the Energy Star 5.3 power-consumption requirements, Paterniti said.
AVC will use a different go-to-market strategy than its JVC predecessors, offering pricing that is slightly below the tier-one brands like Sony, Samsung and LG, without dropping into the mid-tier-two or tier-three price levels, Paterniti said.
The company will be using several online accounts (Amazon, Buy.com, New Egg and others to start) - including the JVC website run by the brand licensor. Paterniti said the e-commerce channel "just continues to grow by leaps and bounds for TV sales."
Products sold through the JVC website will be offered at full suggested retails, he added, and should not conflict with sales of retail distribution partners.
Previews of the products online were set for the July 4 weekend as of this writing.
At the same time, the company will introduce the line to the world on the JVC video screen in New York City's Times Square, where it will also announce a nationwide giveaway sweepstakes for the Black Crystal Series, selecting a winner from people who register online.
In part to help with online sales, all Black Crystal models and next year's Black Sapphire sets will come with 24/7 tech support.
The 42-inch and larger models include in-home service, and the 37-inch and smaller models offer an advanced replacement service, which means a replacement model will be shipped to the home under the warranty period.
For brick-and-mortar distribution, Paterniti said AVC continues to speak with select regional and national CE retail accounts.
"We're still finishing up some contracts, and we don't launch the LED line until August," Paterniti added. "We are giving our dealers a margin-rich product with a brand that they can sell and with advanced features that can make a competitive brand."
AVC will also begin discussions with some key buying groups and has named D&H Distributing its initial two-step distribution partner for the JVC Black Crystal line, Paterniti said.
The company may seek out more high-end regional and A/V specialty dealers for the Black Sapphire line, slated for early 2012, he said.