BEIJING Spurred by China's hopes for accession to the World Trade Organization, the country's top consumer electronics producers will march into this week's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas armed with the latest digital consumer technology and low-cost mass-production prowess.
Amoisonic Electronic Co. Ltd. (Xiamen, Fujian Province), one of the largest consumer electronics producers in China, will announce at CES it is setting up a joint lab with chip maker Zoran Corp. that will focus on high-end optical disk players and audio products. Zoran and Amoisonic have cooperated for more than two years on VCD and DVD players and in Digital Theater Systems (DTS) audio.
Amoisonic will also show a low-cost videodisk recorder codeveloped with Stream Machine Technology Inc. The recorder is a low-cost recordable Super VCD player based on MPEG-2 encoding and decoding technology implemented in an SMTI 0.18-micron chip. It stores MPEG-2 compressed video and audio information on a CD-R or CD-RW disk.
Amoisonic plans to ship the product to the American market in February. The company already derives about a quarter of its revenue from overseas sales of videodisk players.
|Amoisonic is readying a joint lab, with Zoran, to produce high-end optical disk players and audio products. Amoisonic also will roll a video disk recorder. |
Once China's largest producer of VCRs, Amoisonic has been rapidly expanding its portfolio to include video CD and DVD players and cordless phones, partly as a result of cooperation with Western high-tech companies. The Chinese company teamed with C-Cube in August 1998 to establish a joint digital video technology lab in the San Jose area, and that partnership released a Dolby-certified Pro Logic amplifier last January. In September, Amoisonic and Siemens rolled out a jointly developed digital cordless phone.
Shinco Electronic Co. Ltd. (Changzhou, Jiangsu Province), meanwhile, has its eye on the U.S. and domestic markets for DVD players and has bolstered its bid with technology from Sony.
"We'll export 20,000 [DVD players] in February and 40,000 in April to the American market," said Shinco president Qing Shangzhi.
"Shinco's DVD player adopts the latest Sony Lumiere technology, and we have gotten certificates for 5.1-channel audio systems from Dolby Labs and DTS," Shanzhi said.
Shinco, one of the largest producers of optical disk players in China, signed a long-term strategic DVD agreement with Sony in the second half of 1998. The agreement covers technology transfers as well as chip and component supplies. Shinco ramped its manufacturing lines for large-scale production of DVD players in March and said late last year that it hoped to be producing as many as 150,000 units starting this month.
Although industry watchers here say China's DVD market is just now heating up, Qing expects demand to surge in the second half. Estimates peg domestic demand this year at 3 million to 4 million sets. Shinco hopes to appeal to domestic consumers by cutting the price of its DVD player to about $200.
A trio of Chinese consumer companies is aiming at the nascent digital TV market in the United States. Konka Group (Shenzhen), TCL Group (Huizhou) and Skyworth Group (Hong Kong) have become members of the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) and have set up U.S. offices aimed at driving sales of low-cost DTV sets.
Konka, which rolled out DTV products last year, said it has finished construction of a new HDTV production line to serve an expected increase in demand starting this summer, when lower-cost sets become available.
Valence Technology Co. Ltd. (Hong Kong) will show its CS5.1 multichannel surround audio system. CS5.1 is a tough competitor for Dolby's AC-3 system. Several Chinese and overseas producers will show DVD players and amplifiers based on CS5.1 at Valence's booth.
"Our company believes CS5.1 can be widely and effectively [employed] in car audio systems, FM radios, VCRs, VCDs and DVD players for global customers," said Zhou Wenchuan, vice general manager of D-Poher Digital Electron Co. Ltd., a consumer audio company.