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Planar To Focus On Runco Brand

Denver — Planar is phasing out its Vidikron line of high-performance video display products and narrowing its Planar-branded assortment to focus on its core Runco International brand.

Planar CEO Gerry Perkel said at his company’s CEDIA Expo press conference, “We’ve decided to realign our business focus so that the center of our business is Runco.” Perkel explained that the combined effects of the struggling economy and the variety of service and support missteps that arose as Planar took control of Runco’s operations and moved them to its Oregon headquarters “created some challenges for our dealers.”

“We weren’t able to ship product on a timely basis. We had some challenges with the reliability of our products. We didn’t have the customer support systems in place to do what we really needed to do,” Perkel said.

To rectify the situation, Runco implemented a number of changes under the slogan: “We’re committed to building the Best Damn Runco Ever.”

“We’re not just trying to get back to the Runco that was, but to extend that even further, to new products and new technologies that we can bring to the market,” Perkel said.

One step, he said, is to phase out Vidikron. The company will continue delivering previously introduced products under the brand to support dealers but will no longer invest in the line. At the same time, the company will allow top-performing Vidikron dealers to join the Runco line, and will weed out less-committed dealers from both the Vidikron and Runco businesses, Perkel said.

The Planar-branded line will be trimmed back to three projectors and will now be carried only through Runco reps and no longer through distribution.

Perkel said Runco has launched a new and improved dealer-support programs and training, improved the operational support of the company, and has stepped up manufacturing and repairs to a much faster pace.

Runco’s standard warranty, which is two years on parts and labor and includes shipping, will be augmented with new three- and four-year extended warranties that dealers can sell, along with a new Runco red carpet premium-service program, called the Advanced Exchange Program, that starts at two years and is extendable to three and four years. Under that service, Runco promises to immediately replace any product that may have a problem.

“Our customer support has improved, and we are starting to hear from our reps and our dealers,” Perkel said. “I think we are really starting to see some improvement and we are not done.”

At the same time, the company introduced a new set of products adding to the Runco portfolio. The new offerings will give installers the opportunity to “create new solutions for their customers,” he said.

Among a host of new offerings were new “high-bright” outdoor flat-panel LCD TVs using the company’s new “Opal” ambient-light filtering technology, which is said to reduce interference from the higher amounts of surrounding light. The Opal technology will be available exclusively on Runco LCD and plasma models, starting with the Climate Portfolio WP-42OPALHD and CX-OPAL47 LCD. The 42-inch WP-OPAL42 is shipping now at an $8,995 suggested retail.

In other flat-panel offerings, Runco introduced seven 1080p LCD and plasma models, including a 70-inch Crystal series CX-70DHD (shipping in October at $34,995) LCD TV, which includes Runco’s external DHD video controller/processor. The CX-70DHD includes the Imaging Science Foundation’s ISFccc calibration suite and Vivix II digital video processing.

Other new Crystal Series LCD models include the 65-inch CX-65HD ($14,995) and 47-inch CX-47HD ($4,495), both of which ship in December and include built-in Vivix II processing with Runco’s RTR (Real-Time Refresh) 120Hz technology, and ISF calibration.

The company also added two CinemaWall plasma models in the 50-inch XP-50 ($6,495) and 65-inch XP-65 ($12,995), which both ship in January. They feature Vivix II processing, ISFccc calibration and Dynamic Pixel Protection to reduce static image retention.

In projectors, Runco announced the VideoXtreme VX-8 (shipping in January at a $19,995 suggested retail) DLP projector, which includes three SuperOnyx DMDs and Runco’s 2.35:1 CineWide technology. Resolution is listed at 1080p/24, and the unit offers ISFccc calibration.

It also offers ConstantContrast technology with frame-by-frame correction, and CorrectColor circuitry to accurately calibrate color.

For in-wall projection, Runco added it VideoWall VW-100HD display (shipping in November at a $39,995 suggested retail), which features full 1080p resolution on a 100-inch screen with a 16:9 aspect ratio. The system uses a SuperOnyx chipset, with 5,000 lumens of brightness, ISFccc calibration and VivixII internal processing. Installs require less than 32 inches of depth behind the screen.