Exclusive by Patrick Avenell in Melbourne

MELBOURNE, VIC: Last night at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne’s Docklands district, TCL launched a new generation of LCD panels to its retail partners. TCL has had a chequered history in Australia, but the new range of panels, and the accompanying marketing platform, are both ambitious and diverse.

Guests at the launch function included Consul General Mr Shen Weilian from the PR Chinese consulate in Melbourne, TCL Holdings executives Alick Yang and Yi Hao, and retailers from Retravision Southern and Myer.

The focus of the night was on TCL’s newest range of panels. The two models that most captivated the attention of guests were a large screen LCD and a new edgelit LED model. This latter panel represents the first time TCL has moved into the LED market, which has proved very successful for Samsung thus far.

Set to be available in 40-, 46- and 55-inch models, the LED panel is a Full HD, 100Hz LCD screen with LED lighting. It has USB input for MPEG playback, three HDMI inputs and is only 35 millimetres thick. Paul Widdis, the boss of the local TCL office, was unable to confirm the RRPs on this model, though he did say they would be “competitive”. This model is due to be in stock in the last quarter of 2009.

Due in stores in October this year is TCL’s latest range of Full HD LCD panels. Sizes will range from 32-inch to 55-inch in this range, known as Series P. The top of the line model is 120Hz and is set to retail for RRP $3,499.

In addition to launching these new models, Widdis outlined the marketing that will accompany this release. He said there would be billboards in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth; and sponsorship of Melbourne’s Spring Racing Carnival, including the Melbourne Cup. Although not confirmed at the time of the launch, Widdis said that he was deep into negotiations to sponsor the upcoming Australian cricket season and either an AFL club or venue next year.

Some costs associated with Current.com.au attending this launch were paid for by TCL.