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Epson and Atlantic Technology Team Up for "CEDIA Scale" Home Theater System

Jul 16, 2007 12:00 PM

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Epson America and Atlantic Technology are teaming up on a complete home theater system designed to fill what the companies call an unserved segment of the market. Called Ensemble, the system is designed to be sold by specialty AV retailers and custom installers as a value-oriented package for consumers who don’t have a firm grasp of the home theater concept.

Built around Epson 720p and 1080p 3-chip LCD projectors, Ensemble includes Atlantic Technology left, center, and right speakers built into a horizontal housing that also includes a motorized 100in. screen. In addition, the system comprises two surround speakers built into a cradle that holds the projector; a 10in. subwoofer with built-in amplification for all channels; an AV controller with DVD player; a universal remote with LCD display; and a cable management system. The systems—$4,999 for the 720p system and $6,999 for the step-up 1080p version—are due to ship in November. The high-end projector upscales all video content to 1080p resolution.

Despite the value-oriented appeal, the companies say the system will offer attractive margins on a "CEDIA scale" to all retailers under a unilateral pricing structure. At the unveiling of the product in New York this week, Epson director of new ventures Rajeev Mishra told reporters that Ensemble would sell through Epson’s current distribution but is discussing distribution opportunities through Atlantic’s dealer base as well.

The front speakers are angled at a 16-degree incline, which reduces problematic sound reflections from the ceiling, according to Peter Tribeman, president and CEO of Atlantic Technology. The company adopted horn-loaded tweeters and 4.5in. long-throw woofers for the front with an additional woofer for the center channel. Rear speakers can be separated, although they were designed for placement on either side of the projector.

The controller has five EQ settings so that installers can match sound levels to placement of the screen/speaker housing. System power can handle rooms measuring up to 3,000 cubic feet, Tribeman says. The pre-programmed remote control activates the system with a single button press, which includes lowering of the motorized screen.

The companies claim the system can be installed in four hours, which would offer installers a predictable, repeatable model for an entry-level installation. “Installers can go in and hang two in one day because they’ll know how it works. They’ll be able to turn new revenue that’s predictable versus the long, complicated jobs they’re accustomed to,” Tribeman says.

Ensemble will not be sold as a do-it-yourself system at big box retailers including Best Buy or Circuit City. Tribeman sees the product as a margin-saver in a profit-strapped retail market strangled by flatpanel TV prices. “Tweeter was selling TVs during the holiday last year at cost to keep up with Best Buy,” he said. “What specialty dealers are getting with this bundle is the software, the thinking behind it, and the integration of audio and video—and dealers will be making a very good margin for demonstrating it properly.”

Tribeman said he believes there will be a big demand for this type of system both from dealers and consumers. “There are people who aren’t ready to spend $15,000 to $20,000 for a home theater but who will spend $7,000,” he says. “Dealers can still make a profit on the sale, the system installs quickly, and the product will expand their market. When the homeowner moves or wants another system, they’ll go back to this dealer because they trust him.”

Epson and Atlantic are positioning Ensemble as the “first high-performance, affordable, integrated audio and video projection system.”

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