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Haier Expands LCD TV Offering

Haier unveiled its 2008 digital television line, which is being significantly expanded in the direction of LCD display technology, particularly models with 1080p resolution.

The company’s LCD TV lineup which was featured at a line preview for retailers and media, here, has a three model series highlighted at the top end by models with 1080p resolution. This year, all Haier models 42 inches and larger will feature full HD (1,920 by 1,080 pixels), the company said.

Haier is currently developing a pricing strategy for the new lineup, but executives said they expect to have at least some details set at International CES. Shipping on most models is expected in the first quarter of 2008.

Ravi Peddi, Haier electronics product manager, said the company’s objective is to have prices that are competitive with those of brands including Vizio and Olevia.

The new LCD TV line will be comprised of R, K and T model series. The high-end large-screen T series models will include the 52-, 47- and 42-inch screen sizes.

All of those will include a 120Hz frame rate and a new Motion Estimated Motion Compensation (MEMC) chip to reduce image blurring in fast-moving picture sequences. Other features include three HDMI v1.3 inputs, USB input and a multicard flash-memory slot for digital image viewing directly from a camera.

Cosmetics for the large-screen T series feature gloss-black bezels with rounded corners and matching swivel base.

The step-down K and R series models will share the same basic feature set, including dual HDMI v1.3 inputs, but differ from each other slightly in cosmetic appearance.

Peddi said the company is studying the possibility of using the two series for specialized distribution by channel or account.

The company’s TV lines continue to be carried predominantly by regional chains, although Wal-Mart has stocked some Haier models in the past, the company said.

Larger-screen sizes in both series will include the 26, 32, 40 and 42 inches. The 42-inch model offers 1080p resolution while the other three feature 1,366 by 768 resolution.

Smaller screen sizes will be placed in the T and R series and include the 15-, 19- and 22-inch screen sizes. Haier is offering an option of all black or all white cosmetics in some SKUs.

Haier will also carry a pair of TV/DVD combo units in the 15-inch and 19-inch screen sizes.

Haier continues to carry 42- and 50-inch plasma models from the previous line, and may decide to carry those SKUs over for another year if dealers request them, Peddi said.

The company also showed a prototype 32-inch enhanced definition plasma model, which it is gauging for a possible introduction next year. The panel, which is supplied by LG, gives the company the ability to hit lower prices than comparably sized LCD TVs, according to Peddi.

The screen size has been popular in some European and Asian markets, but the level of U.S. demand for smaller plasma sets, particularly models with ED resolution, is unknown, executives said.