ViewSonic Sharpens Vertical Focus With Big Product Launch

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ViewSonic is gearing up to release more than two dozen display products in the next three months to better penetrate the digital home and signage markets and other verticals.

The products will include wide-screen, large-panel LCD TVs; wide-screen monitors optimized for gaming, digital entertainment, dual document editing and simultaneous instant messaging and Web surfing; projectors for the home, classroom and lecture hall; digital signage solutions; and a customizable handheld device for inventory management and other applications.

Most of those products are scheduled to ship by the end of the year. Many of them, particularly the consumer-oriented flat-panel displays, will be sold through retail and distribution but will include MAP pricing to protect channel margins, said Matt Milne, president of ViewSonic Americas. ViewSonic's Access partner program also offers VARs 60-day financing on select products, rebates of up to 4 percent, lead generation, demo products, and free service on four- and five-year warranties.

"ViewSonic understands and respects the channel and offers partners value-added features to protect their interests," Milne said. "We want to make sure they get rewarded for their efforts."

ViewSonic recently launched a 20-inch wide-screen LCD TV ($499) designed for PC and entertainment applications in dorm rooms, recreational vehicles and other areas where space is limited. The Walnut, Calif.-based vendor also introduced the ViewDock, a display that comes in 19- and 22-inch models with a docking station optimized for the playback of a video iPod. The display includes several USB ports, an 8-in-1 card reader, a microphone and stereo speakers. Pricing is slated to be set next month.

For digital integrators and custom installers working in the home market, ViewSonic next month plans to ship its new Cine5000 DLP projector. Features include a 255-inch, wide-format picture, Texas Instruments DarkChip2 technology, 1,000 lumens of brightness and a 2,000:1 contrast ratio for higher contrasts and sharper images. With a street price of $1,999, the Cine5000 includes a 90-day limited lamp warranty, a three-year limited parts and labor warranty, and 24x7 technical support.

As technology segments mature, it often becomes more difficult to differentiate product sets. ViewSonic's answer to that is to continue adding new features to its display products, no matter how subtle they may be, Milne said.

"Take the Cine5000. Look at the design, how customizable the product is, how we use the latest resolution technologies," he said. "We're the fastest-growing brand on the market because we're able to leverage our channel, distribution, feature sets and price/performance. We're driving innovation day in and day out to reach new frontiers."

Those technology advancements aren't lost on Jordan Malkin, operations manager at MicroStandard, a Redmond, Wash.-based distributor that also has affiliated reseller partners. ViewSonic often takes the lead on adding new features, which sets it apart from other manufacturers, he said.

For example, Malkin said, ViewSonic was the first to market 2-millisecond response times on its LCD displays, which made the products popular among gamers and soon because an industry standard.

"Gamers stuck to CRT displays because the response time wasn't fast enough with LCDs," he said. "ViewSonic drove home the point that LCDs had arrived in that space, and now you see the transition is complete industrywide. We don't sell any CRTs any more."

Though ViewSonic LCD TVs are cheaper than those produced by traditionally consumer-electronics manufacturers, Malkin said the company has to do more to market the brand to end users. "Their name doesn't mean anything there," he said. "But if the PC-related companies start making inroads into that space, you'll start to see a lot of ViewSonic products."

ViewSonic's strong legacy in the IT commercial channel could prove beneficial as the company seeks to partner with digital integrators, niche solution providers and dealers working in new and emerging markets, Malkin said.

"If you compare ViewSonic with others in those categories, they're definitely at the top of the list," he said. "The programs, products, technology and support I get from internal reps up to the executive level are very strong. In terms of how they support the channel and the quality of the people I deal with, they are clearly very committed to the channel."

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