Toshiba America Consumer Products announced that it had added home theater front projectors to its product portfolio, taking over the CEDIA distribution for the category from its sister business projectors division.
Scott Ramirez, Toshiba marketing VP, said the consumer group will initially offer three front-projector models (two of which were introduced at CEDIA).
One model, the new TDPMT8U, will be open to Cinema Series dealers who agree "to a fairly extensive display commitment." Also offered through the Cinema Series is the company's first LCoS rear-projection monitor with 1,080p capability.
Smaller retailers will have access to the current TDPMT5U and the new TDPMT7U pieces, among other TV display models, such as plasma displays, CRT TV rear projectors, and direct-view CRT and LCD displays.
The HD-grade TDPMT8U is based on Texas Instruments' new HD-2 chipset and includes a DVI input. It is slated to ship in October at a $9,999.95 suggested retail price.
The EDTV-grade TDPMT5U DLP front projector carries a $5,799.99 suggested retail price.
"We will continue to build that [front-projector] line, probably in both directions," he said. "The next will probably be a lower-priced model that will hit a little more mainstream distribution."
Ramirez said his company has a two-fold strategy for its front-projector business, encompassing established dealers and new custom installer accounts.
"We want to leverage our existing partnerships at retail with those who are in the front projector business or those we feel can be in the front projector business," Ramirez said.
He added that Toshiba is only interested in dealers who can sell front projectors "like a front projector should be sold — people who have some sort of a demo room. At this point, we don't feel that putting a home theater projector in the middle of an open, lit floor — even if it's a specialist play — is the right way to go with the category."
To help merchandise the new line, Toshiba has included the projectors in its zero-percent financing program, "and we are looking into incentive programs and display programs for the retailer to make it a more palatable business," Ramirez said.
Meanwhile, Ramirez said the LCoS rear projector announced at the summer dealer meeting will ship in November with a 25 percent improvement in contrast from the original specifications.