LG Unveils Streaming Blu-ray Player
LG Electronics Thursday unveiled the BD300 Network Blu-ray Disc player, billed as the world’s first with the ability to stream movies directly to a TV.
The player is slated to ship in the fall at what LG vice president of sales and marketing for Digital Media and New Products Allan Jason says will be “somewhere under $500.” It is Netflix Instant Streaming-ready, meaning it can access and play 12,000 near-DVD-quality movie titles by virtue of a partnership between Netflix and LG. The player will come with a free two-week trial subscription to Netflix, and buyers can continue the subscription by choosing from eight pricing plans that begin at $8.99 monthly for the base plan. The Netflix system also permits the storage of up to 500 streamable titles in a “personal queue” to be accessed at will by the movie viewer.
Jason described the Full 1080p BD300 as a “premium deck” that can upscale standard DVDs and also carries the BD-Live and Bonus View features of the latest Blu-ray technology incarnation.
He quoted research showing that three million Blu-ray players would be sold this year, and that number, he added, is expected to triple over the next three years, with almost half of all U.S. households able to play a Blu-ray disc within five years.
“What’s driving this Blu-ray growth is 1080p,” he said. “Sixty-eight percent of all 40-inch-and-over flat-panel HDTVs sold in 2008 will be 1080p.” He also cited statistics that show 27 million households with DVR devices and 80 million with access to some level of pay-per-view.
At the same time the BD300 bowed, LG took the wraps off two new 1080p 120Hz LCD HDTV models in the LGX series. Tim Alessi, director of product development for Digital Displays, said the 42- and 47-inch sets (at $2,699 and $2,999, respectively) are the thinnest integrated LCDs on the market today, at just 1.8 inches deep. They also carry LG’s Invisible Speaker technology and are ISFcc-certified.
The company also showed the 1808p LG90 (47 inches; $3,599), its first LCD LED backlighting model with local dimming. Specs include a million-to-one contrast ratio, ISFcc certification, and a simplified user interface.
He said that all LG 1080p sets carry Intelligent Sensor technology, which automatically optimizes image quality, brightness and color, enabling a 56 percent power savings.
Another bit of “green”-related news was the announcement by LG Electronics USA president Teddy Hwang of a partnership between LG and Waste Management. The LG Electronics Recycling program, launching this month, will permit consumers to drop off any LG, Zenith or Goldstar products for recycling free of charge at 160 centers around the country that cover most of the 50 states and will cover all of them by September.
At the product show, LG Electronics North America CEO and president Michael Ahn provided an overview of LG’s U.S. sales and market share performance for this year. He said that despite the economic slowdown, LG’s overall sales grew 18 percent to enable the company to achieve $5.6 billion in revenues. “Eighty to 90 percent of consumers recognize the LG brand,” he said.
In mobile phones, the company achieved a 22 percent market share. In flat-panel TVs, since the changeover from the Zenith brand in October 2004, LG has gained two to three percent market share each year and it realized a nine percent market share in the U.S. for the first quarter of 2008. “In the second half, we expect to achieve double-digit market share,” he added. While the appliances market has been struggling industrywide, Ahn said, with sales down nine percent versus 2007, “we grew just one percent, but did better than our competitors.”
In logistics, he said, the company saved 15 percent in its U.S.-side costs, despite gas price spikes. It has also invested in bolstering its number of technicians, and is on target to employ over 100 in-house by year’s end versus just 20 last year. “The most important resource is people for success,” he stated, “and we are recruiting top-notch talent.”