Philips Consumer Electronics is still rolling out high-end, premium products with lofty price-tags, despite the economic downturn that has resulted in reduced consumer spending and a hard-hit retail sector in Hong Kong. The company will this week unveil a super-sleek plasma television priced at HK$45,990. The 81-centimetre TV, in a striking metallic casing, can be wall-mounted or table-top. The model represents the future of digital visual entertainment, as super-slim and crystal clear liquid crystal display (LCD) and plasma TVs will eventually replace cathode ray tube technology. Philips will also introduce today a 38 cm LCD TV that will compete with Sharp's popular series of LCD models. The Philips model, priced about US$5,000, is more expensive than an equivalent system from Sharp. However, it can be used as a computer monitor and has universal serial bus and Ethernet connections. Last month, Philips launched a high-end DVD recorder priced at about HK$15,000. Aaron Boey, Southeast Asia and Pacific vice-president for Philips Consumer Electronics, said the company was going ahead with its product launch despite the tough times because it wanted to build its brand. 'The state of the economy has impacted the return of investment of our business and sales have been lower than anticipated. But we still believe we are on the right track strategically,' Mr Boey said. He said there were still enough high-income earners in Hong Kong who would be attracted to the new Philips products. 'They might not buy it today but they will remember Philips and perhaps buy it a year later. This is all part of brand building, where we leave the image of introducing cutting-edge, innovative products,' he said. According to the company's market research on consumer buying behaviour, consumers are 'polarising into two extreme camps', Mr Boey said. 'One is the value-conscious consumer who shops at the lower-end, where the product meets the minimum quality standard and brands are not as important,' he said. In this sector, many China and Taiwan manufacturers, such as Konka and Kebao, compete. The second kind of consumer is the premium shopper who is drawn to brand names and to attractive, well-designed products. Sony, Bosch and Philips compete in this category. 'It is extremely difficult to compete with the Chinese brands because rapid technology transfer in this world means they can make products that are pretty good,' he said.