Sanyo's Video Aspirations

Sanyo isn't a name most Americans associate with home theater gear. That could change this year if the company's expansion plans come to fruition.

Primarily known as a maker of raw semiconductors, disc-drive subassemblies, and digital cameras (most of which are marketed under other names), Sanyo Electric Company plans to enter the US home theater market this year with DVD recorders and rear projection liquid crystal display (LCD) television sets.

Sanyo could have Chinese-made 50" LCD sets on sale in the US as early as this spring, according to reports from Tokyo. The company also plans to market similar products in Europe and China, with product delivery expected later this year.

Sanyo typically sells about 7 million TV sets worldwide per year. Expanding into widescreen LCDs sets could boost sales to 10 million annually. The 50" rear-projection sets may sell for under $1000, if advance press is to be believed.

The company also hopes to make a bold move into the DVD recorder market, with the US to receive the first shipments of products starting in April. Retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has struck a deal to carry Sanyo DVD recorders, according to announcements made back in December, prior to the Consumer Electronics Show.

Wal-Mart carries Sanyo CRT television sets and will presumably also carry the company's LCD sets when they become available. A partnership with a heavyweight like Wal-Mart could help Sanyo quickly establish a serious market presence in both product categories.