By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
LAWNDALE, CALIF. — LG Electronics USA marked the formal retail debut of Ultra HD flat-pan- el TV on Oct. 25 with a launch-party gala at a Video & Audio Center (VAC) showroom here.
The event drew industry executives, local digni- taries, broadcast media and upward of 1,000 cus- tomers who lined up outside the Los Angeles-area store for giveaways, special promotions and a peak at LG’s 84-inch LM9600 4K LED display.
Jay Vandenbree, LG’s U.S. home entertainment senior VP, said A/V specialist VAC was selected for the debut for its assisted sales floor, installation services and proximity to Hollywood.
“My title says home entertainment, not home electronics, and this is the entertainment capital of the world,” he told TWICE. “It was a very easy, very logical choice.”
VAC principals Joseph and Mayer Akhtarzad not- ed that their three-store chain has long served as the launching pad for new CE technologies, dating back to DAT and the CD recorder.
“We’ve been bringing out new technology from day one, 31 years ago,” Joseph told TWICE. “We have the right mix of customers and can get the kind of publicity that manufacturers can’t get on their own.”
Tom Campbell, corporate director of VAC, said the event was for the industry as much as for the chain. “We need to invest in the whole industry, and pull together as a channel,” he noted. “The consumer is looking for meaningful new technol- ogy, and the excitement that Ultra HD is generating will be a boon for the retailer, the economy and the country.”
Vandenbree said the new display will initially roll out to select, full-service retailers this month and will not be available online, but he declined to detail future distribution plans. He said the TV will ap- peal to high-end users, those “who want to be the first on their block,” and consumers who want a big screen but have limited space, as the higher resolu- tion allows for shorter viewing distances.
More than a few of the target users attended the launch party, purchasing 11 of the $16,999 sets.
Also on hand for the event was Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) senior VP Jeff Jo- seph, the Los Angeles city attorney, the mayor of Lawndale, the former two-term mayor of Bev- erly Hills, award-winning director and 4K con- tent pioneer Randall Dark, and TWICE senior editor Alan Wolf, who presented the Akhtarzads with an Excellence in Retailing Award for introducing new technologies within a compelling, consumer-friendly setting.
In addition, Campbell read a per- sonal letter to him from former Presi- dent Bill Clinton congratulating VAC and LG on the launch, and a procla- mation from Lawndale’s city council making it “Video & Audio Center Day” in town.
In a statement, the CEA’s Joseph said: “Innovation drives our industry, and Ultra High Definition is the latest innovation that will transform home entertainment. This milestone is a piv- otal moment in TV history because Ul- tra HD 4K technology will make it pos- sible for consumers to purchase huge TVs with crystal-clear picture quality.”
The TV itself features a native Ul- tra HD screen resolution of 3,840 by 2,160 lines, quadrupling the level of detail from full 1080p HD resolu- tion to 8 million pixels. The 84-inch set, which has a suggested retail of $19,999, is the size of four 42-inch panels, Vandenbree said, and can up- convert currently available content to 4K resolution.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.