Hitachi flags new digital toys for retail, AV channels

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Hitachi added LCD TVs and DVD recorders to its latest swag of digital home and entertainment hardware, but the IT channel won’t yet get a look-in.

Hitachi added LCD TVs and DVD recorders to its latest swag of digital home and entertainment hardware, but the IT channel won't yet get a look-in.

Michael Mannasz, product manager for digital media at Hitachi Australia, said that Hitachi's digital media channel would comprise AV specialists and retailers for now.  However, the vendor may consider bringing the IT channel on board at some stage, he said.

"Our focus right now is on our current channel, rather than bringing in hundreds of extra retailers," Mannasz said. "[But] it's becoming a very grey area now, because you've got that horrible C-word convergence happening."

If Hitachi brought in the IT channel, it would likely sign a "serious" distributor, rather than take on the management of hundreds of resellers itself, he said.

"We're starting to see networking companies coming out with audio-visual products for home entertainment systems so it's coming from all different directions now. You've got some of the home entertainment companies coming out with networking products," Mannasz said.

The next couple of years should prove a great opportunity for resellers and AV specialists alike to learn about each others' products and how to sell into new spaces, he said.

Meanwhile, Hitachi had released a grab-bag of new hardware, including its first LCD TV and had been showcasing its first DVD recorder. The latter wasn't expected on shelves until about October, Mannasz said.

LCD TVs was an area Hitachi had previously ignored. However, the vendor believed there were good sales opportunities both in small and large screen sizes, he said.

"We have got [screens] from 32-inch upwards. We're bringing it down to a smaller market -- we're hoping to have 15-inch and 20-inch TVs. Some manufacturers are tending to go to one end or the other, but we're covering the whole gamut," he said.

Hitachi had made some technical changes to its LCD TVs, he said. Proprietary Hitachi technology would make the colour visible from any point within 170 degrees of the screen and had increased response speed.

"Traditionally, [LCD TVs] have been a bit slow as far as response went. If you were watching fast-moving items such as movies or sport, it could be blurry. We've used a proprietary technology to do away with that," Mannasz said. "The other thing was, if you stepped off to one side, the colour washed out completely."

Hitachi's LCD TVs and DVD recorders had both previously been unavailable in Australia. "So we are coming out with a new mouse-trap," he said. "DVD recorders are a rapidly-growing market. We ceased making tape cameras back in 2000, so we're moving aggressively through these products and we haven't sold VCRs for a few years."

Mannasz said Hitachi had also released a new low-resolution plasma screen. Many users preferred low-resolution plasmas because they were significantly cheaper, enabling them to have a trendy flat screen TV for around $5000, Mannasz said.

"Resellers have told me ... that they get little old ladies buying nice 50-inch screens so they can sit closer and watch them without their glasses," he said.

Hitachi had also released a new multimedia projector aimed squarely at the home theatre market and a High Definition (HD) TV-ready rear-projection TV in the same launch, Mannasz said.

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