By Matthew Henry

SYDNEY: Hitachi kicked off its national roadshow last night with an event at the Acer Arena in Sydney where the company displayed its latest product releases including the world’s first terabyte DVD recorder and the company’s first handheld GPS navigation device.

Hitachi general manager – sales, Geoff Hannaford, used the opportunity to draw attention to Hitachi’s 50th Anniversary and present the company’s ambitions for growth across a number of categories in 2006.

“The last few years have been spent building the foundation, this year we will be positioning more strongly and pushing ahead to intensify our position,” said Hannaford.

The trade-facing roadshow hosted around 200 retailers from the Sydney area, and will visit capital cities over the next two months to train sales staff and reinforce Hitachi’s message for 2006 that it is more than a flat panel TV supplier.

“Hitachi is well known for flat panel, but we have more depth in our product portfolio globally, and where there is a growing market this year we will be positioning ourselves at the forefront,” Hannaford told journalists in a briefing prior to the event.

On display at the roadshow were Hitachi’s sixth generation DVD camcorders and the brand’s entire flat panel TV range, from the upcoming 26-inch LCD TV to the brand’s flagship 55-inch plasma.

The brand revealed its plans to enter the GPS navigation category this September with up to three models for in-car and portable use. Hitachi camcorder specialist, Evan Manolis, said the models will feature mp3 playback, an SD card slot and Sensis map data, and are expected to start at RRP $299.

Hitachi also displayed the world’s first DVD recorder with a terabyte hard disk storage for up to 400 hours of high definition video. The product is currently available in Japan and is scheduled for release in Australia some time in early 2007. Other features include six built-in HD digital tuners, HDMI connection, USB and LAN connections for home networking and a super-multi DVD recorder drive.

Hitachi also revealed its intentions to conduct a ‘merchandising blitz’ across 500 retail shop fronts over the coming months and step up promotion of its DVD camcorder range to capitalise on the rapidly growing segment, which is expected to reach 40 per cent market share in the overall camcorder market this year.

The marketing campaign will promote the range’s Quick to Shoot one second start-up time and other points of difference including true 16:9 recording across the range, Macintosh compatibility, five free DVD discs on purchase and free in-home software installation and training.

Hitachi marketing manager, Michael Mannasz, presented the company’s latest flat panel TV products including the brand’s first 42-inch plasma with a built-in HD digital tuner, scheduled for release in June at an expected RRP of $4,399, and the first plasma with 1080 line resolution.