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Daewoo Turns To Digital Focus In Hopes Of Boosting Image

Armed with a line of value-priced digital television sets and monitors, Daewoo Electronics hopes to rebuild its brand image into a supplier of high-value cutting-edge products.

Having fought through management changes and flirtations with bankruptcy, the company — known to many on these shores as an OEM resource to other brands and as a supplier of cut-rate high-volume commodity products — has set its sights on building its own brand as a digital pioneer.

The company’s portfolio of digital television products, including both DTV sets and monitors, is being handled by the newly established digital television division of Daewoo’s Multimedia Group.

The group is separately funded from the corporate parent in Seoul, Korea. The sibling Daewoo Electronics Corp. of America (DECA) division, which is led by national sales VP Fred Aclander (formerly of Sharp), continues to handle sales of analog A/V products as well as digital products to its established retail accounts.

The Multimedia Group’s digital television division, meanwhile, is focused on building commercial distribution, as well as distribution to CEDIA installers and CE specialists, said Frank Giannuzzi, Daewoo high-definition television marketing director.

“Our goal this year is to get a dozen or so systems integrators, and a dozen or so CEDIA members and support the heck out of them. We are planning programs in dealer education, marketing, advertising and good old fashioned sales work,” Giannuzzi said. “Our future is Daewoo Digital.”

Daewoo digital products are designed around “the corporate moniker called Tankism — easy to use durable products” at affordable prices.

The company’s greatest asset is its manufacturing capability, he noted.

Daewoo is “only one of five plasma display panel manufacturers that build their own panels,” Giannuzzi said. The company was among the first to develop a PDP without a cooling fan, which gives its products a longer life span than many competitors’ models.

Daewoo recently announced its third-generation plasma panel — model PDP-4280 ($4,995 suggested retail), which offers 480p display capability, a 3,000:1 contrast ratio and 600 candelas brightness level. It will replace the DSP-4210 (a CEA Innovations winner) in the third quarter.Additionally, Daewoo is offering an HDTV-ready 60W-inch widescreen rear-projection monitor, powered by a three-chip LCD light engine. Model DSJ-6000LN ($6,995) produces a 720p native display format and features a two-piece design. The projector ships assembled in one carton, but can be disassembled for easier delivery into tight locations. The unit is due to ship this month.

Already on the market is the DSC-30W60N ($1,795), 30W-inch direct-view widescreen integrated 1080i HDTV set, and the DSC-34W70N ($1,995) 34W-inch 16:9 HDTV monitor with native 1080i/480p scan rate.

All of Daewoo’s DTV products are said to be software upgradable. As an example, Giannuzzi said Daewoo’s initial integrated HDTV set displayed a 1080i native scan rate only.

“When progressive scan DVD players came out, it presented a problem,” he said. “We were able to get a software fix on an eprom within two weeks.”

To handle warranties, repairs and upgrades, Daewoo has assembled over 1,100 national authorized service centers.

As for Daewoo’s core analog A/V products, DECA is now supplying what it calls “a very aggressive flat-screen direct-view analog TV lineup, including NTSC models in the following screen sizes: 14-inch, 20-inch, 25-inch and 27-inch.

In DVD, the company carries three single-disc DVD models: the entry DVG3000; the step-up DVG5000 with component video output; and the top-end DVG9000 single-disc progressive scan model.