NEC Banking On Plasma Displays For Higher End Sales


The Itsaca, Ill.-based company said Tuesday it would start shipping the new plasma displays - - in its PlasmaSync Professional Series -- in 42-inch, 50-inch and 60-inch configurations. They are priced at $2,499, $2,699 and $5,999 respectively, putting them in a range well beyond more mainstream or lower-end -- not to mention lower-margin -- displays.

"When our resellers are doing a major digital signage rollout, NEC has the total solution we can (provide) them," said Sam Taylor, president of Electrograph, a Hauppauge, N.Y.-based distributor. "If NEC is delivering a quality product, they don't have to worry about being the lowest-cost out there," he says.

NEC executives say some performance breakthroughs could become a difference-maker, including quieter operation. The new systems include specifications showing noise of relatively low 22 decibels during normal operation and video tiling, along with picture-in-picture capability. Taylor praised the systems for their ability to become part of a solution sale, rather than a point-product sale.

"(VARs) will be able to add digital signage software, splitters, mounting solutions, cabling, content and so on," Taylor says. "There's a whole host of solutions that all tie into the overall solution, and that will allow folks to see strong margins. NEC affords the resellers good margins because it's not just selling a box."

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Display vendors have for the past several years talked up the growth potential in the digital signage solution space -- including bundles of hardware, software and services -- but it continues to be a fraction of the overall market for plasma and LCDs. Better performance and pricing, even at the high end where NEC is playing, could change that some channel veterans believe.

Todd Swank, director of marketing for system builder and solution provider Nor-Tech, Burnsville, Minn., says the interest he's seen in digital signage has been "tremendous" and sees huge deployment opportunities. "We're seeing a huge amount of interest from all sorts of sectors," Swank said.. "And we're just at the infancy of it. This is the perfect time for the channel to capitalize."