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Planar Returns To CE Display Biz

Beaverton, Ore. — Commercial video display supplier Planar Systems today revealed a comprehensive corporate strategy to focus on best-in-class display solutions for vertical markets, including a re-entry into the specialty home theater market.

The company is withholding information on the types of video display products it will carry until closer to launch, but Scott Hix, Planar home theater initiative general manager and VP, told TWICE that the company intends to begin offering later this year comprehensive lines of a variety of high-end display devices targeting the custom installation and A/V specialty retail markets.

In addition, Brad Gleeson, former president of large-format display systems distributor Activelight, was hired as Planar’s business development VP. Gleeson will be initially focused on finding new opportunities and partners to help accelerate the growth of the company’s current segments, as well as seeking out new specialty display market opportunities.

Hix, who comes to Planar from home theater projector supplier InFocus, has hired a team of executives to help execute the new home theater strategy. Some of those new executives, such as Jim Davis, Planar worldwide sales senior VP, are also former InFocus executives.

Planar returns to the CE market after an abortive attempt in the early years of the flat-panel TV market. The company sold several plasma and LCD TV SKUs before rapid price compression forced it to exit the business to focus on its core video-display products tailored to the commercial signage, medical and industrial video-display applications.

Unlike InFocus, which delivers video projectors and rear-projection TV systems through a mix of high-end and mainstream retail accounts, Planar does not intend to play in the commodity home entertainment market with other large consumer electronic retailers and brands, Hix said.

The company “will be focusing on the needs of home theater buyers, who are typically served by specialty resellers and audio/visual installers,” according to a company mission statement.

Planar Systems reported sales of $49.4 million in the third fiscal quarter, ended June 30.

The company also announced that it has acquired Clarity Visual Systems, a provider of command and control room display systems and digital signage hardware and software, and will be adapting its technologies for applications related to its visual display businesses.

Clarity’s CEO, Paul Gulick, joins Planar as VP and chief technology officer, and Kris Gorriaran, Clarity’s sales and marketing senior VP, becomes general manager and VP of command and control and digital signage.

The company also announced that its new high-end home theater specialty display initiative will include the new Planar Xscreen line, which includes specially developed high-performance video projector screens.

The screens, which began selling in the third quarter, are said to generate brighter images from front projectors even in high ambient-light environments.

“The Planar Xscreen is just our first product in this market space and we expect to broaden our product portfolio in the coming months,” stated Gerry Perkel, Planar CEO.

“At the center of the company’s new strategic direction is the belief that the company can build upon its display technology innovation capabilities and, in particular, focus its energies on creating solutions that address applications requiring display system performance beyond what is available from general purpose, commodity display suppliers,” Perkel said. “The company believes it can extend its history of innovation to create solutions for multiple specialty display markets leveraging a common core support structure.”

Planar said it is expanding its research and development engineering to address its new home theater strategic initiative.