Hitachi Goes Into Overdrive on Plasma Output

In an apparent strategic move to capture a near-booming worldwide flat-panel TV market, Hitachi will revise its plans and bolster plasma display production at its Miyazaki Works facilities, according to the company. While HD screens make up only a part of its flat-panel business, the move could help bring down flat-panel price points at a faster rate than they're already falling.

Hitachi said in a statement that it will invest $787 million in a third plant at Miyazaki Works for a new state-of-the-art assembly line to raise its plasma display production efficiencies. The company said its third plant will be able to produce about 100,000 units per month by the second half of fiscal 2006--an estimate that grows to 200,000 units monthly by the end of fiscal 2008 (the end of March 2009).

Initial plans to build the third plant were first announced more than a year ago, when production output was stated at somewhat more modest levels. But Hitachi now says that steady declines in plasma display prices have prompted its production subsidiary to make its new production line more cost-efficient. Adding the output of its second plant, Hitachi's monthly production capacity will grow to about 200,000 units a month by the second half of fiscal 2006.

Demand reportedly became noticeably higher for plasma screens when some units dipped slightly below what is sometimes referred to as the "magic price" of $2,500. Also helping push down prices in some parts of the world is the ongoing battle for flat-panel market share between plasma makers and manufacturers of large-screen liquid crystal flat panels (see related item, this edition).
Hitachi's new line of HD products for 2005 will include the HDX62, HDT52 and Ultra HDS52 series. The Ultra features the VirtualHD 1080p II digital video processor and its Learning AV NET IV interface, which uses on-screen software keys to control up to four external components--such as DVD players--with one interface. The UltraVision CineForm HDT52 Plasma HDTV Series includes the same features as the HDS52 series--with some extras, including an electronic programming guide, DV and IEEE1394 interfaces with full AV control for hard-disc recordings, among other options.
The UltraVision CineForm Director's Series HDX62 Plasma HD is Hitachi's top-of-the-line plasma display and also includes an adjustable color decoder, custom color temperature, and an enhanced digital color management system. The new displays will start rolling out this month, and continue until the fall, according to Hitachi.