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Westinghouse Digital Brand To Emerge On LCD TVs

Key executives of start-up Westinghouse Digital Electronics formally unveiled their first LCD-TV line at press briefings, here, and vowed to build the reputation of the Westinghouse trademark they are licensing into “a mainstream consumer electronics brand.”

Westinghouse Digital president Douglas Woo said the company has just begun to distribute products using both direct and two-set distribution vehicles, and is making product available to a broad range of distribution channels.

In New York, brick-and-mortar and online retailer J&R began selling select Westinghouse LCD-TV models, and Knoxville, Tenn.-based distributor Metron North America was enlisted to get the line to other accounts. New accounts will be added shortly, Woo said.

Westinghouse has developed a strong support infrastructure through its City of Industry, Calif.-headquarters, he added, saying the company has a solid supply source for LCD panels, and will be able to meet dealer demand prior to the holiday crunch period.

Although Westinghouse plans to eventually offer full lines of TV peripherals and portable entertainment devices, Westinghouse launched with five LCD TV models — most of which offer HDTV resolution — because “we believe that LCD technology is the platform for the future of digital television,” Woo said.

In going after a “mainstream” audience, Westinghouse looks to have LCD TV replace direct-view CRT models as the top-selling display category over time, he said.

“That is part of the paradigm shift we see going on,” Woo said.

Richard Houng, Westinghouse Digital CEO, has secured a strategic relationship with the Nexgen Mediatech factory, a division of Taiwan’s Chi Mei Optoelectronics — the third-largest LCD panel maker in the world. Huong had previously served as European sales director for Chi Mei Corp.’s ABS plastics operations, and before that was general manager for the China subsidiary of Chi Mei Optoelectronics.

Woo will develop and expand strategic business relationships, marketing and operations. He was formerly executive VP of computer and television monitor supplier Princeton Graphic Systems.

The ownership status of Westinghouse Digital was said to be confidential, although the brand name, which in the past has been used on lines of major appliances and light bulbs among other things, was licensed from Viacom.

The LCD line will initially include a total of five models in the 15-inch, 20-inch, and 27W-inch screen sizes, plus two SKUs in the 30W-inch screen size. All will offer picture-in-picture, and audio-swap, and all but the 20-inch model will have PC connectivity. All models are said to be based on “display-grade” TV panels.

The two 30W-inch units will include the flagship 33001 ($2,999 suggested retail), which features a dual-tuner Picture-In-Picture (PIP) function with 13-frame simultaneous display capability and DVI-HDCP connectivity for connection to HDTV tuners. The step-down 30W-inch 33000 ($2,799 street retail) omits DVI-HDCP input and includes a single-tuner with PIP. Both models have 16:9 widescreen aspect ratios and offer 1,280 by 768 pixel resolution.

A 27W-inch 16:9 model — 32701 ($2,499 suggested) — has 1,280 by 768 resolution, and the same features as the entry 30W-inch piece.

Two other models have 4:3 aspect ratio screens — the 15-inch 31501 ($699 suggested) with 1,024 by 768 resolution, and 20-inch 32001 ($1,199 suggested) with 640 by 480 standard definition resolution.