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Premium Distribution To Expand Flat-Panel Line Under H&B Brand

Premium Distribution will expand its U.S. flat-panel TV line under the H&B brand over the next two months, adding high-definition 37W-inch and 40W-inch LCD TVs and a 55W-inch plasma display, all with built-in ATSC tuning.

Jeanne Pierre Boccara, owner of France-based JPF which owns the H&B brand distributed here by Premium Distribution, said many of the new sets will include such features as HDMI with HDCP and IEEE-1394 with DTCP inputs.

To keep pricing competitive, the displays will not add CableCARD capability, Boccara said.

The 37W-inch LCD TV model (HL-3700B-N) will ship in June at a $2,999 suggested retail. The product will be distributed to high-end A/V specialty retailers and custom installers. As this went to press, pricing was still to be determined on the 40W-inch LCD TV and 55W-inch plasma models.

The company currently carries LCD-TV monitors in the 20-inch 4:3 LCD-20-LB3 EDTV ($549), 26W-inch high-definition LCD-26-WS3 ($899), and the 32W-inch high-definition HL-3200B-N ($2,499). Also carried are high-definition plasma monitors in the 42W-inch ($3,499), 50W-inch ($4,999) and 63W-inch ($10,899) 16:9 screen sizes.

Boccara said other new models coming to the line include DVD/LCD TV combos in the 20-inch 4:3 (LCD 20 LBX, $599) and 26W-inch 16:9 (LCD 26WSX, $999) screen sizes.

Slated for distribution later in the year are 20-inch 4:3 and 26W-inch 16:9 HD LCD TVs with built-in digital video recorders. Details and pricing will be announced later.

Beyond flat-panel products, H&B plans to roll out new DVD players.

The company recently introduced its first portable DVD player. Model DX-102 ($349 suggested retail) features a 10.2-inch LCD screen, ultra-thin lap-top design, and compatibility with DivX and MPEG-1, -2 and -4 video formats, JPEG and PhotoCD still image formats and MP3 music files. It will also play most recordable DVD and CD disc formats.

Boccara said H&B is also working on several digital video recorders, including a DVD player/hard-drive-based digital video recorder (DVR) combo unit that will support WMP9 and MPEG-4 high-definition playback. The unit would feature a 160GB hard drive.

The company is also adding its first U.S. accessories line under the H&B brand. Initial offerings will include HDMI and DVI cables and converters to help support flat-panel products.

“We see a big need for high-quality accessory products,” Boccara said. “These will be high-margined items, which will help dealers make money as prices on flat-panel televisions continue to decline.”

Meanwhile, Bocarra said the company continues to expand distribution in the United States. Premium Distribution recently added CE and IT products distributor WYNIT, with warehouses in Albany, N.Y., and Fresno, Calif., to help take the line to retailers across the nation.

Also added was SED International, an Atlanta based distributor, serving both the United States and Latin America. SED will distribute H&B plasma and LCD televisions to regional and specialty CE accounts.