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Lafayette Brand Returns As Digital Step-Up A/V Line

Lafayette Electronics (Silver Exhibits area booth 71045) will officially resurrect the Lafayette brand here with lines of mid-to-high-end LCD TVs, a plasma panel, DVD players and recorders and digital home theater component products, all targeting specialty retail distribution.

The company, which is based in Boca Raton, Fla., will launch with “a complete line of audio and video products” including DVD players, DVD recorders, LCD TVs, plasma TVs, and DVD home theater in box systems, said Steve Cavayero, Lafayette Electronics president. Products are scheduled to go to market during the first quarter.

Distribution will be handled on a direct-to-specialty dealer basis and through buying groups initially, “but we may use in certain parts of the country, selected distributors,” Cavayero said. The company plans to pursue a step-up product line and will skirt the major discount chains and e-commerce-centric dealers, he added.

“We’ve been reviewing the opportunities in this market position for the past two years, while we were attempting to trademark and register a brand,” Cavayero said. “We felt for some time that the middle to higher-tier segment could use an additional brand that could offer more innovation.”

For the past five years, the company has operated through a joint venture in Mexico where it has taken “a leading market-share position in the mass market under the Philco brand,” Cavayero said.

The firm uses its own product design teams in Boca Raton and Singapore, which work closely with the factory engineers to develop the product lines.

Lafayette will acquire products “from the leading factories in China,” working very closely with five key facilities, he said. The company’s strength through its established high-volume business in Mexico, has garnered support from the Chinese factories in developing and delivering a higher-end Lafayette line for the United States, Cavayero said.

In plasma TV, the company will offer HDTV-level monitors in the 42W-inch, 50W-inch and 60W-inch screen sizes. Initially, Lafayette is working with a “well-known” factory in Korea to acquire the panels, but is in the process of changing over to a “Hall of Fame” Chinese producer, Cavayero said.

LCD TVs will be offered in the 15W-, 17W-, 20W- and 30W-inch screen sizes. All will offer HDTV resolution levels and 16:9 widescreen aspect ratios, and integrated high-definition tuners, Cavayero said. As this went to press, product pricing was still being established but should be available during the show.

In DVD, he said, “we don’t want to compete with the $39 DVD players in the mass market. We want the dealers in the shopping center strips to have a chance to sell up with our feature-rich product and not compete with the newspaper specials.”

Lafayette’s first DVD player will be the LFDV969. It plays back DVD videos, DVD-Audio, Video CD, SVCD, audio CD, HDCD, CD-R/RW, MP3, JPEG and Kodak Picture CDs. Features include parental controls, a super-slim loader mechanism, progressive scan output, 192 kHz/24-bit audio, and DTS and Dolby Digital compatibility.

The DR9907 is a combination DVD player and hard disk drive video recorder. In incorporates a 40GB HDD, good for 12 hours of high quality video recordings at a time or 38 hours of extended play recordings.

Lafayette will carry three DVD-recorders, opening with the DR9915, which records video on DVD+R/RW discs, and will playback DVD+R/RW discs, DVD videos, CDs, SVCDs, VCDs, JPEG files, MP3s files and CD-R/RW discs. It includes an IEEE-1394 input for DV camcorder connections, an NTSC tuner, and will output video in progressive scan format.

The DW9917 is a combination DVD recorder and hard disc drive video recorder, which will record videos either to DVD+R/RW media or to a built-in 40GB HDD.

Model DW9919 is a dual-drive DVD recorder featuring a DVD+R/RW DVD recording drive on one side and a DVD playback drive on the other. It includes a built-in NTSC tuner, an IEEE-1394 DV input, and progressive scan output.

In the home-theater-in-a-box category, the company will stress quality speaker systems in the PHENIX 230, which incorporates a built-in five channel power amplifier, which is adaptable to Dolby Digital AC-3 surround sound, DTS and stereo music replay.

Lafayette will also offer a combination DVD player/AM/FM home theater tuner in the DT930. The unit plays DVD-videos, DVD-Audio discs, music CDs including HDCP versions, and MP3, JPEG and Kodak Picture CD files. It will output progressive scan video signals, 5.1 channel audio and a slim loader DVD mechanism.