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AUGUST 2014

gcmagazine.co.uk

T H E M AG A ZI N E O F T H E E L E C T R I C A L G O O D S I N D U S T RY

TOWN & APARTMENT LIVING Kitting out the ‘perfect pad’: small is by no means insignificant…

PORTABLE CE DEVICES The industry has plenty to offer consumers that live life on the move

GUEST COLUMN Lancashire retailer Jonathan Dugdale says Google knows who lives in your house!

SPOTLIGHT ON... Armour Home: a new chapter

GEORGE COLE GETS CONNECTED Setting standards for Ultra High Definition TV


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Photographer: Andrew Rowat. Images not to scale.


Contents

04 06 12 14

Editorial Comment The Word

In and around the industry

The Product Gallery Spotlight on... Armour Home

15

Guest Column

16

Town & Apartment Living

21

Portable CE Devices

Creative Director: Will Dobson will@gcmagazine.co.uk

25

George Cole Gets Connected

Sharon Maslen Telephone: 01892 677 742 sharon@gcmagazine.co.uk

Advertisement Production Administration: Will Dobson Telephone: 01342 850 456 artwork@gcmagazine.co.uk

26

From the Bench

Editorial & Publishing Director: Terry Heath Telephone: 01420 886 33 terry@gcmagazine.co.uk

Production and Print: Blackmore Press, Shaftesbury, Dorset www.blackmore.co.uk

13

MARTINLOGAN CRESCENDO WIRELESS SPEAKER SYSTEM www.absolutesounds.com

Editor in Chief: Marlinda Conway Telephone: 01420 886 33 marlinda@gcmagazine.co.uk Magazine Advertising Sales: Brian Shilling Telephone: 01892 677 741 brian@gcmagazine.co.uk

Subscriptions & Circulation: (GCCD) Telephone: 01420 886 33 circulation@gcmagazine.co.uk

Jonathan Dugdale looks at major developments in the connected home

Appliances for compact kitchens and open-plan living George Cole reports on what’s driving the market

UHDTV – the first steps towards a European standard Alan Bennett on indoor TV aerials

Updated daily with all the latest industry and product news.

Annual subscription rate (inc. postage): UK £88; Overseas £108.

© Copyright 2014 Mud Hut Publishing Ltd. All rights reserved. Mud Hut Publishing Ltd. Greyfriar Cottage, Winchester Road, Chawton, Alton, Hampshire. GU34 1SB www.gcmagazine.co.uk No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior permission of the publisher. Get Connected is published by Mud Hut Publishing Ltd., Greyfriar Cottage, Winchester Road, Chawton, Alton, Hampshire GU34 1SB.

AUGUST 2014 GET CONNECTED

3


Editorial Comment

Comment Some of us can still remember the buzz and anticipation of the ‘60s, when the world was young and the fledgeling electrical industry was just venturing out on the most exciting and significant period of its growth.

It

was the time when the TV began to move from dim & flickering front-room wonder to being the most universally-owned and influential instrument of mass communication that the world had ever seen. It was also the time when major appliances such as washing machines and refrigerators began their journey from “luxury” items to household essentials. Looking back, the technology was, by today’s standards, laughably crude and often unreliable, and the individual items relatively very expensive. But the taste for change, and the drive to acquire life-enhancing and imageenhancing new goods, was strong among consumers emerging from a grey world of austerity and rigid class-dominated moral constraints. The market, probably unlike today’s, was driven by consumer demand for specific electrical goods and appliances. With a few quid, an entrepreneurial flair and an audacious sense of the possible, someone prepared to work hard could open an electrical shop, build a clientele and establish a very good living for the present and for future generations. Happy days. Many took the entrepreneurial plunge. Some still survive, in name if not in person, still delivering a living in very altered times. The 1960s was also the era of portentous “new thinking” and new philosophies. Most of it frothy, harmless, inconsequential stuff. But containing some hidden wisdom that time has vindicated. Remember Andy Warhol in 1968 predicting that “in the future, everyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes”? It seemed like just another bit of meaningless sixties off-the-cuff pretension at the time. There was a lot of it about. But whether it was a deeply intelligent understanding of future technology, mass communication and the rapid consumption and discarding of endlessly available “content”, or just a lucky shot in the dark, Andy Warhol was pretty much spot-on with that. Even earlier, in 1964, Marshall McLuhan came up with his “the medium is the message” pronouncement. Another whose meaning 4

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www.gcmagazine.co.uk escaped me at the time, but has since come home to haunt us all as a piece of wise predictive social commentary. The “medium” – the technological device, the software, the means, time and place of delivery - is of the utmost importance. It’s on the move, it’s on demand, it’s instant streaming.... it’s the when, where, how and on what that each individual consumer thinks he wants for ultimate “convenience.” Whether the “message” – the content – is worthwhile or not ceases to matter. There just has to be enough of it to demonstrate how brilliant the “medium” is. Making quality content is expensive. Who makes good drama series for TV, or films that aren’t essentially children’s fantasy with a massive dose of “special effects”, any more? Reality is cheaper than well written, skilfully produced drama. The TV no longer serves a function as the nurturer of quality and talent in drama series. (OK, throw together the occasional big house, big frocks, broad comedy “upper” and “lower” class cardboard cutout character series and you have a “Downton Abbey” to sell to the world. But quality costume drama it ain’t.) Ironically, I can also remember Maggie Smith in the 60s when she was one of the most scintillating Shakespearian actors of her generation. And anyway, what’s the point of making content that requires – and rewards – attention and concentration when the average punter will be checking the football scores, tweaking the Facebook profile, texting, tweeting, watching YouTube clips and listening to streamed music all at the same time? (We have the technology!) I guess I’m saying that the “medium” is absolutely brilliant, but will never achieve its potential to deliver something consumers really want and value for more than ten seconds, unless it’s given some worthwhile “messages” to work with. I wonder what my Dad, who was appalled at the thought of a fourth TV channel (“Blimey, there’s nothing to watch now. We don’t want another channel of it”), would make of it all?

Marlinda Conway Editor in Chief

Terry Heath Editorial & Publishing Director

Will Dobson Creative Director

James McIntosh Consumer Consultant

George Cole Consumer Electronics Consultant

Database independently audited by Firgrove Consultancy. Average net 10 issues: 5,927 Mar 2012 – Feb 2013


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The Word : Industry News

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Industry News Shop prices fall for 15th consecutive month

S

hop prices recorded deflation for the fifteenth consecutive month in July, accelerating to 1.9% – the deepest level of deflation since December 2006. Food inflation fell to 0.3%, the lowest ever recorded, while Non-food deflation slowed from 3.4% in June to 3.3% in July. Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium Director General, said that, while this is great news for consumers, trading conditions across the retail industry remain challenging. “Structural changes in retail are challenging existing business models, which in many cases are squeezing margins while other costs such as business rates continue to rise,” she said.

Consumer confidence weakens for first time in 6 months UK consumer confidence fell in July for the first time in six months as the public’s outlook for the economy and personal finances faltered. GfK’s UK Consumer Confidence Index decreased three points in July to -2, after rising into positive territory in June for the first time since March 2005. All five measures used to calculate the Index score weakened in July, with views on the general economic situation showing the greatest decline, down four points on the previous month. The IMF recently upgraded the UK’s growth forecast

for this year by 3.2%, more than any other member of the G7 group of leading nations, but Britain remains in the grip of a cost of living crisis: employment may be rising but wage growth is weak, leaving households struggling to meet financial commitments. Fear of a rise in interest rates also looms. Commenting on July’s fall in consumer confidence, Nick Moon, Managing Director of Social Research at GfK, said: “The government will be hoping this is just a temporary setback rather than the forerunner of a wider decline in confidence.”

LINSAR RECOGNISED BY LOCAL VIPS AND MEDIA Poole-based TV and MDA company Linsar made local headlines, both on radio and in the press, after receiving a visit from Robert Syms, MP for Poole, and Cllr Elaine Atkinson, Leader of Poole Council. Following the visit, Linsar appeared in the

Dorset Echo and Director Barry Kick was later featured in an interview with Steve Harris from BBC Radio Solent, in which he spoke about the company’s growth. “We are now definitely on the map locally,” said Kick. “We are absolutely delighted to have

received such fantastic recognition in Poole, not least because we have always followed a policy of hiring local people.” Pictured left to right: Barry Kick, Robert Syms MP, Cllr Elaine Atkinson, Lucy Cooper of the Dorset Growth Hub and Adrian Trevett of Poole Borough.

Dixons Carphone commences trading as listed company Dixons ixons Carphone opened seven combined store-in-stores and announced plans for a further 23 by Christmas as it officially commenced trading on the London Stock Exchange early August. The £3.6 billion merger between Dixons Retail plc and Carphone Warehouse Group was confirmed in May this year – the intent to create “a new retailer for the digital age.” The new group employs more than 40,000 people in 14 countries and has c.3000 stores.

Pop-up retailers contribute £2.1bn to UK economy each year Pop-up retailing, which found its feet in the UK during the recession, has been shown to contribute £2.1 billion to the UK economy each year, and the industry is projected to grow nearly

2.5 times faster than the traditional retail market in the next year. Although the sector is still a small part of the market, currently representing 0.6% of total turnover, it

is expected to grow by 8.4% over the next 12 months, according to a study from economists CEBR and digital communications company EE. The study shows that an estimated

23,400 people work in nearly 10,000 pop-up shops across Britain, ranging from temporary stores and restaurants to product trials from recognised brands.

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The Word : Industry News

Cable to launch probe into Comet liquidators B

usiness Secretary Vince Cable has officially announced that the Insolvency Service has referred the administrators of failed high street retailer Comet to their regulatory body for consideration of whether disciplinary action is appropriate on two grounds following an 18 monthinvestigation. Christopher Farrington, Nicholas Edwards and Neville Kahn, insolvency practitioners (IPs) at Deloitte, were referred to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). The referral relates to a potential conflict of interest when the three IPs, who had previously advised the company and connected parties, accepted their appointment as administrators of Comet following its collapse in 2012. An Employment Tribunal later found that employees had not

been consulted on the potential for redundancies as legally required, leading to a potential compensation package of up to £26 million which will be borne by the taxpayer. “The taxpayer now faces a multimillion pound compensation bill as a result of the failure to consult employees,” said Cable. “There can be no excuse for failing to comply with the law, which is very clear in this area. It is vital that the regulator establishes why this happened and whether disciplinary action against the administrators is appropriate. “There are also important issues of possible conflicts of interest which need to be fully considered. “Cases such as these reinforce the need for a stronger insolvency regulation regime which will give us new powers to ensure regulators take firm action where abuse is found. The Bill I am currently taking

in 2012 with approximately through parliament will 6,000 staff in 236 ensure these changes stores. There to current law are were insufficient made.” funds for the The ICAEW “The investigation is a administrators to has a number of fact finding examination make redundancy sanctions at its into the company and payments, which disposal where the circumstances have been met by it finds sufficient surrounding its the government. misconduct, insolvency.” The Insolvency ranging from a Service’s Redundancy warning, reprimand or Payment Scheme has paid fine to licence withdrawal. £18.4 million in redundancy fees The Insolvency Service to 4,838 ex-employees of Comet. announced the start of a Section In June the Employment Tribunal 447 investigation into the made a Protective Award of circumstances surrounding the between 70 and 90 days because insolvency of Comet in 2012. This of inadequate consultation with investigation is still continuing. employees prior to them being The investigation is a fact finding made redundant as required by examination into the company and law. This has a potential cost of £26 the circumstances surrounding its million to be paid from the National insolvency. Insurance Fund. Comet went into administration

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The Word : Industry News

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De Dietrich UK in liquidation De

Dietrich Kitchen Appliances Limited, the Basingstoke based UK distributor of De Dietrich and Fagor kitchen appliances, is to be placed into creditors’ voluntary liquidation. The company has been facing an uncertain future since late 2013 when its immediate parent company FagorBrandt France and the French company’s parent Fagor Electrodomésticos in Spain both entered administration.

The French business was sold to the Algerian conglomerate Cevital Group in spring this year. The administrator of FagorBrandt made the decision to close the UK subsidiary after Cevital elected not to acquire the business, preferring the promotion and distribution of the De Dietrich brand and products via commercial partnerships. Joint liquidator James Cowper LLP has been instructed to assist with placing the company into

creditors’ voluntary liquidation. “Although the announcement about a commercial partner is awaited, we expect that warranties given to customers with De Dietrich appliances will continue. Unfortunately, the warranties on Fagor appliances cannot be honoured in full and those affected by this will need to make claims in the liquidation in due course,” Peter Whalley of James Cowper said in a statement.

Court approves Clarity partners Whirlpool’s Indesit with National share purchase Audio Show 2014 Whirlpool Corporation has announced the approval of its Indesit share purchase by an Italian court. Whirlpool, Fineldo S.p.A. – the Merloni family’s investment holding company – and members of the Merloni family entered into binding agreements for Whirlpool’s acquisition of Indesit shares, subject to approvals, on 10th July. The acquisition, together with the purchase of Claudia Merloni’s shares on 17th July, will provide Whirlpool with a 66.8% voting stake in Indesit. The Court of Ancona issued the authorisation on 1st August. Closing on the agreements remains subject to antitrust approvals and is expected to take place by the end of 2014.

Clarity Alliance, the trade alliance for the UK’s hi-fi industry, and the National Audio Show have announced a new partnership that will bring Clarity and its members to the Chester Group’s flagship UK show at Whittlebury Hall on 20–21 September. Clarity Alliance will take over the Luffield Suite, one of the largest suites at the National Audio Show, in which many of its manufacturer members will present their products, bringing some bigname brands to the show for the first time. Brands signed up to date include PMC, AudioQuest, Heed Audio, KEF, Ortofon, Project, Teac, Audio Technica and B&W. Others are yet to be announced. Clarity will also be holding a series of seminars in the Luffield Suite, with distinguished guest speakers presenting on subjects of interest to today’s hi-fi consumer, such as ‘Demystifying Computer Audio’. Steve Hogarth, lead singer of Marillion, will be presenting an exclusive concert for show-goers.

Goodmans moves into new technology markets Goodmans is to launch a new range of products in the audio, connected home and wellbeing sectors throughout 2014 and 2015 in a move that is part of a wider company rebrand, which incorporates a new website and a squirrel mascot that is said to represent the business’s “British heritage and agile, resourceful approach.” The company said it had identified a gap in the market 8

GET CONNECTED AUGUST 2014

for a brand that can deliver stylish products that include the latest technology, without an expensive price tag, and it will offer well-designed products that are not overloaded with unnecessary features. The new product range will be rolled out throughout 2014 and will include digital radios, speakers and soundbars, before extending into the connected home and wellbeing sectors

D&M UK managing director Jason Dear presents John MacDonald, managing director of Richer Sounds Northern Ireland, with the keys to a Citroën DS4 car. The retailer won the vehicle in Denon’s pan-European sales competition.

Bella small appliances to launch in the UK USA small appliance brand Bella is launching in the UK market, with marketing and distribution via MPL Home. The brand, which is characterised as ‘genuine, playful, social and bold’, will initially introduce a collection of Kettles, Toasters, an Espresso Maker and High Power Whole Fruit Juicer and will be exclusively available in Argos stores for Autumn/Winter 2014, with new product launches set to follow in early 2015.

READ THE STORIES BEHIND THE NEWS AT GCMAGAZINE.CO.UK  Analogue listening falls to lowest ever level

 £190 million backing for Arqiva

investment in infrastructure schemes

 Commission approves Apple’s acquisition of Beats

 LG says ‘rollable’ TV could be here by 2017

 Hard selling, unreliable quoting later in the year with smart cameras for the home, fitness monitors and wireless Hi-Fi. Eight products will launch in 2014 and a further twelve are in the pipeline for 2015.

practises and overfriendly reps a turnoff for retailers

 OTONE / Paramount partnership transforms UK sales

 UK customer satisfaction falls for a second year


The Word : Industry News

COMPAN¥ £INAN€IAL$ Samsung

Indesit Company

Microsoft’s Q4 profits

quarter of 2014 as sales of smartphones

second quarter of 2014 against a loss of

continuing losses at its Nokia arm masked

and tablets fell. The strength of the Korean

€21.2 million in Q2 2013. Group revenues

some of the positives: revenues from

Won was also a contributing factor. Net

totalled €624.2 million, down from €648.5

commercial cloud services more than

profit declined from KRW7.77 trillion to

million in the same quarter last year.

doubled to an annualised $4.4 billion.

KRW6.25 trillion (£3.6 billion). Quarter-

Adjusted operating profit rose to €21 million

Microsoft announced it was to cut 18,000

on-quarter earnings fell 17%. Sales in the

from €13 million in the prior year’s quarter.

jobs, the bulk of them related to the Nokia

posted a near 20% drop

in year-on-year earnings for the second

posted a net profit of €5.3 million in the

fell 7% to $4.61 billion (£2.7 billion) as

quarter dropped 9% to KRW52.35 trillion. Operating profit fell from KRW23.12 trillion to KRW7.19 trillion.

LG Electronics announced

a 165% increase in second-quarter net profit compared with the same period

last year, reflecting strong earnings from its TV and mobile operations. Income rose to KRW 412 billion and operating profit, at KRW 606 billion, was up 26.5% year-on-year. Unaudited second-quarter consolidated revenues increased 7.7% to KRW 15.37 trillion from the previous quarter and 0.9% year on year.

acquisition.

Amica posted a 6% rise in sales

revenue for its financial year, to PLN 1.656

up 7% to £7.6 billion for the full year

breaking operating profit of PLN 96.27

ended 30 June 2014 and adjusted operating

million, up 30% on the prior year. Gross

profit down 5.3% to £1.66 billion. Profit

profit on sales rose to PLN 515 million, PLN

after tax for the year was £937 million

79 million higher than the previous year,

(2013: £969 million).

while gross sales margin increased by 30%. Operating profit grew 30% to PLN 96.3 million. UK sales growth exceeded 40%.

earnings down from $198 million in Q2 2013 to $179 million in Q2 2014. Net sales were flat, at $4.7 billion. Operating

AO World announced like-for-

like growth of 30% for the 3-month period to 30th June 2014. The company said

Apple’s net profits rose 12% to

the results were in line with the Board’s expectations.

$7.7 billion (£4.6 billion) on revenue of

$37.4 billion for the three months ended

Amazon posted a net loss of $126

June 28th 2014. Guidance for Q4 is that

Whirlpool reported net

BSkyB reported adjusted revenue

billion (€399.8 million), and a record-

revenue will be between $37 billion and

million in the second quarter ended 30

$40 billion.

June, compared with a loss of $7 million in

Huawei reported sales up by 19% to

Q2 2013. The retailer recorded an operating loss of $15 million compared with an

profit totalled $291 million, against $328

135.8 billion Yuan (£12.8 billion) in the first

operating income of $79 million. Net sales

million in the same prior-year period. The

six months of 2014 and forecasts an 18.3%

increased 23% to $19.34 billion.

company expects full-year net earnings

operating profit margin for the period.

per diluted share of $10.30 to $10.80 and

The company achieved 3rd position on the

ongoing business earnings per diluted

global smartphone vendors’ table, having

share of $11.50 to $12.00.

shipped 13.7 million units in Q1 2014.

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The Word : Industry News

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Witt UK & Ireland in retailer recruitment drive D

anish brand Witt has launched a drive to sign up independent electrical retailers and kitchen specialists as part of its business growth strategy in the UK & Ireland. Witt manufactures premium MDA appliances and also distributes a number of brands throughout Europe. In the UK, it distributes the iRobot range of floorcare products. Bo Simonsen, Witt UK & Ireland’s market manager, said: “I’ve always been a great believer in the independent retail sector and I want to work with independents that are interested in selling and demonstrating products that are truly innovative.”

Audio T partners with T21UK in retail sales training pilot

H

i-Fi Retailer Audio T has engaged training company T21UK to pilot a sales training programme for sales staff. T21 will design, construct and deliver the sales training to a cross-section of staff from eight of Audio T’s fourteen UK stores. Tony Revelle, Operations Director and Joint Owner of Audio T, said: “We’ve always prided ourselves on offering customers the very best advice and service and while we recognise our guys have excellent product knowledge, their professional sales skills are often inconsistent. We have a mix of new starters and staff who’ve been with us for many years, and to remain competitive as a business we need all of them to be at the same high standard.” Paul Laville, Training Director and Owner of T21UK, said: “When times are tough and budgets are cut back, one of the areas that suffers most is staff training. However, it’s precisely when trading times are tough that training needs to be prioritised, because that is when the business needs every advantage it can get.” “We want our guys in stores to be the best in this business,” added Audio T’s Revelle. The plan is to rollout a full sales skills development programme across all Audio T branches after the findings of the pilot have been reviewed by Audio T and T21.

 SHORTCUTS Edifier® International, designer

Midlands floorcare manufacturer

and manufacturer of high-end

Vax is investing £1 million in the

consumer audio electronics, has

building of new state-of-the-art R&D

appointed trade-only distributor

laboratories and product development

Midwich to consolidate and increase

workshops at its central Birmingham

sales of its key product lines.

City centre headquarters.

Freesat has reported “solid” first

Haier has received the VDE Seal of Quality for its A2FE-735 series of

half results, stating that it is now in 1.85 million households and is

three-door (3D) combi fridge freezers.

watched by more than 3.85 million

Electrical Safety First’s

viewers every week. The service added 24,000 households to its figures in the six-month period, although growth slowed to 6,000 new homes in the

Product Safety Conference will be held on Wednesday 12th November at Church House, Westminster. The event, entitled Product Safety First –

three months to the 30th June.

Time for Change, will be chaired by former Working Lunch presenter and

Smeg UK has invested in a

business journalist Declan Curry.

new fleet of delivery lorries with environment-friendly credentials to accommodate growing demand for its appliances.

Loewe UK has appointed AWE Europe, its distribution partner for the UK custom install channel since

The new Mercedes and DAF trucks,

2012, as its main channel distributor

many of which are Euro 6 rated for

for the supply of products to the

emissions, have been rolled out

majority of dealers and retailers in

during the past month.

the UK.

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The Word : Industry News

Argos launches augmented reality in customer app

Sandi Toksvig appointed new TRIC president

rgos is incorporating augmented reality technology into its publications and customer apps on what it claims is the largest scale ever by a UK retailer. More than 300 pieces of augmented reality scannable 3D content have been built into the new Argos catalogue launched 26th July, which will allow millions of smartphone and tablet users to access extended ranges, product videos, special offers and quizzes online. The technology will be accessible to more than eight million customers who have downloaded the Argos smartphone and tablet apps. The scannable features include placing different sized TVs in rooms in the home to check the fit and look before buying.

Sandi Toksvig OBE, author, comedian and radio/TV presenter (pictured right), has taken on the role of President of the Television and Radio Industries Club (TRIC). She received her badge of office from outgoing president, TV newsreader and presenter Mary Nightingale (left) at a luncheon held in the Grosvenor House Hotel in London.

A

Moves Whirlpool has promoted Trade Marketing Manager Juan Pillay to the role of Head of Marketing UK & Ireland, reporting directly to Managing Director Darren Harrison.

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Smeg has announced the appointment of three senior figures to its Board of Directors. Rob Ponting (pictured) joins the company in the role of Commercial Director; former IT Manager Simon Jarvis has been promoted to Operations & IT Director; former Financial Controller Shelley Haines has been promoted to Financial Director.

Michael Steinle, CEO of BSH Home Appliances UK, has been selected as the new President and CEO of BSH Home Appliances North America. He takes on the role from current President and CEO Michael Traub on 1st September 2014. Steinle will be replaced by Andreas Meier, senior vice-president of marketing (Global), Product Division Laundry Care, who has worked with BSH since 1998 in a number of roles. Glen Dimplex Home Appliances has appointed Tristan Edwards

EXCLUSIVE EXCLUSIVE available RangeRange now now available

John Lewis has announced that Lisa Williams will become head of branch at its regional flagship department store in Birmingham when it opens in the Grand Central development in September 2015.

montpellier

Retro Chic YEAR YEAR

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From To

as its new Business Development and OEM Sales Manager, reporting to Sales and Marketing Director David Garden.

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The Product Gallery

The

Gallery

Humax HDR-1800T Freeview+ HD box This compact digital TV recorder offers HD and recording at an attractive price point and provides access to all Freeview channels and high definition channels from the BBC, ITV and Channel 4. It has a 320GB hard drive that stores up to 200 hours of SD programming and 80 hours in HD. RRP £149.99.

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www.humaxdigital.com/uk

Twin tuners Instant pause and rewind Advanced recording includes series linking and trailer booking Seamless connection to any home network Access to BBC iPlayer and YouTube through Humax TV Portal when connected to broadband network

Goodmans introduces ‘Canvas’ DAB/FM radio One of the first products launched by Goodmans under the company’s new branding is the Canvas digital radio, which is said to focus on “great style and function” with on-trend colours including Copper and Green. RRP £24.99.

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DAB Digital and FM radio offering clear, crisp sound Metal front panel on Copper, Silver and Slate models / Plastic panel on Apple Green model Backlit display 9-hour battery life

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www.goodmans.co.uk

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Candy unveils stylish gas on glass hobs The new gas on glass hobs from Candy are designed to integrate neatly into work surfaces for an easy-clean contemporary finish. They are available in 60cm or 75cm widths with four or five burners. j j j j j

Toughened glass finish Front controls Enamel pan supports Stainless steel, black and white finishes

08706 069876 www.candy-domestic.co.uk

Kenwood unveils blender with MultiZone™ Blade Technology Kenwood has expanded its portfolio of blenders with the addition of the BLM800 Blend X-Pro. The machine benefits from a powerful 1400W motor and patented MultiZone™ Blade Technology, which will perform the majority of food preparation tasks such as blending, chopping, grinding and crushing

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1.6L Thermoresist TM glass goblet, suitable for blending boiling-hot or frozen food 6 preset programmes plus variable speed and pulse Auto Rinse Includes stir stick Finish: White with brushed metal / RRP £199.99

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www.kenwoodworld.com/uk

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GET CONNECTED AUGUST 2014


The Product Gallery

Monster’s Superstar: small speaker, BIG SOUND Monster’s latest Bluetooth-enabled mobile speaker, the Monster Superstar, is a compact device comparable in size to a large-format smartphone: small enough to slip into a pocket or handbag yet capable of a powerful, engaging sonic performance. The unit is available in a choice of Neon Blue, Neon Green/Black and Neon Grey/Black. RRP £99.95. j j j

2 x full-range drivers and 2 x bass radiators (front and back) Bluetooth specification includes AAC and aptX support / Range: 30 feet Splash-resistant (certified to IPX-4)

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USB and 3.5mm jack inputs / USB charging with international adapters included USB audio playback – control Superstar from a PC, laptop or tablet 5 to 10 hours’ listening on a single charge

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Built-in microphone with advanced noise cancellation

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www.monsterproducts.com

Lec launches new 55cm cooling appliances Lec’s new range of new 55cm products includes a 1.7m tall fridge freezer, the TS55174WTD, available in white, black and silver with a water-through-door dispenser that does not require plumbing. A water reservoir is fitted inside the door to save shelf space. The appliance features recessed handles and has reversible doors. j j j

177-litre fridge 3 x safety-glass shelves, 4 x doorstorage compartments A+ energy rating

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4* freezer 3 x spacious drawers and shelf

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www.lec.co.uk

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MartinLogan Crescendo wireless speaker system Absolute Sounds has announced the arrival of the MartinLogan Crescendo, a tabletop speaker system incorporating AirPlay/Bluetooth wireless connectivity. The unit is priced at £849 and comes in two finishes: high-gloss piano black and real wood walnut veneer. j j j

2 x proprietary Folded Motion™ tweeters Custom designed front-firing mid/ bass driver Advanced digital signal processing coupled with 100W amplification

j j j

Premium-quality MDF enclosure Subwoofer output Ethernet, USB (for charging/ playing Apple devices), optical digital and 3.5mm analogue

Tefal Safe to Touch™ kettle Tefal’s new Safe to Touch™ kettle is a double walled stainless steel model with plastic covering. The outer body, handle and lid are safe to touch, with metal sections such as the spout the only parts that become hot. The appliance is also eco-friendly as water stays hot for 30 minutes after boiling. j j

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020 8971 3909 www.absolutesounds.com j j j

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Power 3000W / Capacity 1.4 L 360° connection / Concealed element Removable anti-scale filter On/Off LED switch RRP £39.99

01753 834900 www.tefal.co.uk AUGUST 2014 GET CONNECTED

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Spotlight on Armour Home

The advantages of going private In July this year (see report at gcmagazine.co.uk July 18th), Armour Group’s chief executive George Dexter announced that he had entered into an agreement with Armour Group plc to acquire the trading businesses of Armour Home and Armour Asia. Mr Dexter’s fellow Directors Nicky Spence and Chris Emerson were also part of the management buyout.

A

rmour Home has developed a range of market leading brands such as QED, Q Acoustics, Systemline and Alphason, and its UK customers include John Lewis, Selfridges and Harrods, independent specialist retailers such as Sevenoaks Sound and Vision, Audio T and Richer Sounds and many leading housebuilders. Mr Dexter, as CEO at Armour Group since 1998, was instrumental in directing and leading a major strategic re-structuring of the Group following the onset of the economic crisis in 2010. He took over the day to day management of Armour Home division, merged its two operating businesses and reduced operating costs by £4 million and working capital by £2 million. In 2014 he sold Armour’s automotive division for £11million on an exit multiple of over 7 times EBIT. George Dexter spoke to Get Connected shortly after the MBO announcement, explaining the business rationale behind his vision to take Armour Home private and use its superior speed and agility to create a successful future in a rapidly changing CE environment: “My thinking about a Management Buyout of Armour Home was really prompted by the sale of the Group’s automotive business for £11 million in March [2014.] That had been in the pipeline since October/November 2013, and after the sale the question was what we should do with the cash. Our Chairman said we should be considering whether the Group wanted to be in a consumerfacing business at all, or whether we should sell Armour Home and put our resources to use in a higher growth area than Consumer Electronics. I think there was some recognition that Armour Home 14

GET CONNECTED AUGUST 2014

might be better as a private business. “I’d been running Armour Home since May 2011, the business was back in profit and growing, so I believed in it and I made it known that, if it became available, I wanted it. Things have worked out, and I believe that for Armour Home and Armour Asia the fundamentals are there: the brands are there, and the customers, although the market is smaller, are there. With the recovery coming, I don’t see why we can’t be successful. The metrics are all improving: sales; return on sales; International business; lighting. The retail business has, of course, lost strength, but it is growing. And there are big opportunities in install. “The last two years has been all about focus on the portfolio – on the core brands and core channels to market. Don’t write off Consumer Electronics. It’s continually changing and re-inventing itself. The speed of change is frightening, but there is money to be made in CE if you choose your products, and choose your battles. For us, it’s about working out the niches, and not trying to be all things to all men. “Install – domestic and commercial looks like a great opportunity as one of those niches, but it is very difficult for retail to establish a strong foothold. It needs a big investment in training. Some will make that investment. While others won’t or can’t.

CHALLENGE

“Whatever the opportunities, nobody can deny that the last seven years have profoundly changed our business, and a successful business has to challenge itself constantly about how it operates, how it takes its products to market, and how it addresses the shifts in consumer buying habits. “That’s not easy to do when the times themselves are challenging enough. But ‘change or die’ is still the warning and the spur to heed. Keep challenging yourself, and especially challenge yourself when you’re comfortable. That’s when you are most likely to be able to implement any changes that those challenges show are necessary. “The scars of the last three or four years are still deep and still sore. I have the habit of writing everything down – such as notes of meetings – and that’s always there to remind me, personally, of the decisions I made, the lessons I’ve learned. “I think, most importantly for the future of Armour Home and Armour Asia, there are things it’s easier to do as a private company. We can be nimbler, more fastmoving to respond to challenges, take advantage of opportunities and create our own operating practices. I can sit down with my two colleagues, make decisions and put them into operation. In Consumer Electronics, that’s a real benefit.”

The speed of change is frightening, but there is money to be made in CE if you choose your products, and choose your battles.”


Guest Column: Jonathan Dugdale

Who’s in charge in your home? Jonathan Dugdale, who has a retail and installation business in Clitheroe, Lancashire (The Connected SMART Home), continues his series for GC Magazine on the challenges and opportunities of the “Internet of Things” (IoT)

F

ollowing last month’s article on Apple and its ‘Homekit’ communication standard, there have been some major developments in relation to the connected home and the Internet of Things.

GOOGLE

‘Works with Nest’, which was bought by Google for $3.2 billion earlier this year, is similar to Homekit in that it is an initiative to bring connected devices together by creating a framework in which devices can talk to each other. But Google is one, or maybe two steps ahead of Apple in that it already has its own products available: the Nest Learning thermostat and Nest Protect fire alarm, as well as a number of key partners: Jawbone (wearable tech), Mercedes, Lifx (smart light bulbs) and Logitech, to name the most well known. Apple listing its Homekit partners was a very tentative step towards the smart home, as it gave no real explanation or demonstration of what it was all going to do; whereas ‘Works with Nest’ can provide a more tangible explanation of what it envisages for the consumer, which will help to drive sales in the short term. How well this will work out in the long term, I don’t know, but Google stealing a lead on Apple and opening up its platform to developers will definitely stand it in good stead. With all these connected devices entering our homes there are two issues that have to be raised: security and control.

GOOGLE KNOWS WHO LIVES IN YOUR HOUSE!

Nest Protect, the smart fire alarm which reportedly sold 500,000 units in the first three months from launch, had to recall 440,000 of the devices after a serious problem was highlighted in the product. Luckily for Nest, it didn’t have to recall all the products, because each being a connected device meant it was able to remotely update the software to rectify the problem. Many people will say that’s smart (pardon the pun), but when these devices are connected together in our homes and we start relying on them to improve and organise our lives, I think it’s a little scary how easy it can be for a company like Google to access and ultimately control our homes with the touch of a button from somewhere thousands of miles away. Security & data is a massive issue; one that I am not well versed in but am keen to find out more about.

“I think it’s a little scary how easy it can be for a company like Google to access and ultimately control our homes with the touch of a button from somewhere thousands of miles away.”

WHEN CONNECTED BECOMES DISCONNECTED: CONTROL

Samsung is rumoured to be buying ‘Smart Things’, another Internet of Things platform similar to Google’s Nest, due to the fact that it has multiple products communicating using a single language. But it is much more established, with an existing product range of connected devices which includes locks, lights and

sensors, and can even connect with a number of well established third party brands such as Sonos. I’ll probably talk about Samsung’s lack of openness (do you think they will want their products to talk to Sonos?!) at a later date, but one thing ‘Smart Things’ does do is actively promote openness and collaboration, so it will be interesting to see what, if anything, happens if Samsung starts to change things. Anyway, the point here is that ‘Smart Things’ uses a hub (a physical device situated locally in the home) as well as cloud support to control devices, which to me makes sense, because any house fully controlled via the cloud is dependent on the internet, so what happens when my broadband goes down? I can’t open my smart front door, my connected toilet roll won’t dispense, the lights won’t work and I’ll be stuck at home all day with the wife! Apple talked about Apple TV being its hub, though I have heard nothing more on how Homekit will work. But, at the moment, Google sees a fully cloud-based system as its vision, which I’m not entirely comfortable with and I’d guess a lot of consumers wouldn’t be either (if told). I want control: if someone is trying to hack my home or access my data I want to be able to pull a plug, disconnect and use my home as normal. The connected smart home will bring huge opportunities, help to improve our lives by saving us time and money as well making life easier and more enjoyable, but I want to control my own home. I do not want my home controlled by manufacturers! Or maybe I’m being paranoid? AUGUST 2014 GET CONNECTED

15


Town & Apartment Living

THE

PAD Electrolux’s Lampshade cooker hood is a striking design feature in this small kitchen

MELITTA: COFFEE WITH “PASSION” The Melitta name is synonymous with innovation. We offer a range of Fully Automatic Bean to Cup Machines, Kettles, Milk Frothers and Coffee Filter Papers. In 1908 we brought the first Coffee Filter Paper to market, and in 1965 we introduced one of the first Electric Filter Coffee Makers and were the first to market vacuum-packed Coffee. Our heritage is legendary worldwide, as is our passion and service. Melitta is 4th generation family owned, with a continuing passion, dedication and drive to make sure consumers enjoy their perfect cup of coffee time after time. Please visit our website or contact the UK office:

 01733 260905  www.international.melitta.de

Add a dash of creativity to a soupçon of design mastery... et voilà! The bijoux home can be made every bit as functional and appealing as its more generously proportioned counterparts. Small is by no means insignificant when it comes to town and apartment living.

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he media remains obsessed with Britain’s so-called “property bubble”, despite some better-equipped commentators maintaining that, in most areas, London aside, the phenomenon is nothing more than hot air. But that obsession has helped restore consumer confidence, which, according to recent figures, has been a plus-factor in assisting the UK’s overall economic recovery. There is certainly more stock and greater movement in the housing market than in the recessionary years and, according to a survey by financial 16

GET CONNECTED AUGUST 2014

information services firm Markit, residential house building in January 2014 expanded at its fastest rate since November 2003. The pickup has been boosted by falling unemployment and low interest rates as well as Government initiatives, such as Help to Buy, aimed at increasing home ownership. Yet the dynamics of the UK housing market remain as rickety as a shack settlement – Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has warned that the housing market is now the biggest threat to the economic recovery – and

Britain not only needs more homes, it needs bigger homes. According to research by the Royal Institute of British Architects, the average 3-bedroom home is 88 square metres – 8 square metres short of the recommended minimum for a 2-storey, 3-bedroom home for five residents. In lifestyle terms, 8 square metres is the equivalent of a single bedroom and the furniture you’d expect to fit comfortably into it and 6 square metres is the equivalent of a galley kitchen, according to RIBA.

DON THE THINKING CAP

Furnishing the kitchen of a small house or apartment requires creative thinking and an open mind; the willingness to set preformed mainstream ideas aside. Thinking outside of the box can pay dividends and allow this important personal space in the home to be both striking and highly functional. “Space has to be maximised at every opportunity by clever thinking, neat installation and intelligent, multi-tasking appliances that are not always necessarily compact, though this can be an advantage, but cleverly designed and flexible. It is true to say that a lack of space does not mean a compromise on functionality either,” says Juan Pillay, Head of Marketing at Whirlpool. Opting for pint-sized appliances is not by any means a necessity for small kitchen areas, but thoughtful investigation of the consumer’s lifestyle could result in clever gains in storage space if products with a smaller footprint are installed.


S T OV E S P R O F E S S I O N A L A stylish gas oven with multifunction cooking options, rear soft start lighting and telescopic sliders.

SGB600MFSe

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Also available in electric

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Town & Apartment Living

SEVERIN SMOOTHIE MIX & GO Mix it, take it with you and enjoy it anywhere

SEVERIN has developed the Smoothie Mix & Go SM3735, a clever mixer that allows consumers to enjoy their daily vitamin supply on the go. It’s easy, tasty and saves time. The highlight of this smoothie maker by SEVERIN is its beverage container, in which users make the drink and then take it with them. After the mixing process, simply remove the mixing container from the base, take out the insert with the stainless steel blade and replace it with the beverage lid‌. and the “smoothie to goâ€? is ready. For further information contact HSCL on:

 01204 558181 or  sales@hscl.info  www.hscl.info

A distinctive cooking zone featuring Smeg appliances

clearance space and make the kitchen If lifestyle permits, consider fitting a appear bigger and airier. And the understandard 60cm kitchen space with an counter area can be put to good use: integrated 45cm dishwasher and 15cm smaller depth washing machines, such wine cooler such as the Candy CCVB 25T as the 40cm 7kg Hoover VTS712D21, will with 7-bottle capacity. This will have the fit neatly under these surfaces, without roll-on effect of freeing up litres of space compromising on wash capacity. in the refrigerator, which can then be used for the storage of sauce bottles, pickle jars and suchlike, which in turn will free up IN THE BANK cupboard space. Custom built-in kitchens are the smallSlim-line dishwashers such as Beko’s home dweller’s best option, allowing 45cm DW451 integrated model will hold maximum use of floor to ceiling storage. 10 place settings – just 2 place settings 60cm-wide tower units containing neatly fewer than many standard stacked multiple appliances, such as a multifunction oven, a sized models on the warming drawer and market. This appliance microwave, steam has the flexibility of oven or coffee a height adjustable It is still possible with upper basket, machine, will also clever design and careful removable cutlery accommodate basket and the storage of appliance selection to achieve folding tines in pots and pans style and functionality on a the lower basket. in a cupboard or smaller scale� Baumatic’s drawer beneath 45cm BDW1460, the appliances, and Adrian Davidson, Director – rarely used items another integrated Coolectric/Liebherr model with 10 (such as the iron!) in the cupboard above. place settings, has a Baumatic’s Harrison separate 3D cutlery drawer says appliance manufacturers and offers a half load setting and 6 programmes that include a rapid have made “incredible� advances in 45-minute wash. the compact sector, both in style and “A 45cm fully integrated dishwasher technology. He highlights the brand’s takes up the space of a slim-line A-rated 34-litre BCS455TS combi oven, cupboard, yet is often the hidden gem in a “a fantastic all-rounder for those with small kitchen,� says Baumatic Marketing limited space,� he suggests. This particular Director Owain Harrison. “Dishes and pans model is part of Baumatic’s Premium Line can be stacked in the appliance as soon as and is one of a number of fully touchthey are finished with, thereby leaving the control 46cm compact combi options. kitchen clear and uncluttered.� It has 10 oven functions offering the While worktop room is precious in the versatility of fan cooking, grilling and 100% small kitchen, reducing the depth of units steam, together with a range of cooking and surfaces in certain areas will provide combinations. It also features 60 preset 18

GET CONNECTED AUGUST 2014

Exclusively distributed by HSCL recipes which automatically set the time, temperature and best cooking function. Joan Fraser, Product Development Manager at Smeg UK, points out that compact appliances often offer the same benefits as bigger versions but in a smaller form, allowing the consumer more flexibility when designing their kitchen. “Installing a bank of compact appliances in the kitchen cabinets will group everything together in one place to create a distinctive cooking zone. This is a popular trend, as not only does it create a sleek look, but it also enhances the functionality of the kitchen and clearly separates the cooking area from the rest of the living space. For a fluid look and a particularly neat finish, make sure the appliances chosen have matching fascia and are similar sizes.�

CROSSING BOUNDARIES

Whirlpool’s Pillay believes built-in appliances should be considered a feature in themselves and are ideal for smaller kitchens, with integrated microwaves and coffee machines freeing up, often limited, worktop space. “A vertical or horizontal arrangement of compact built-


Town & Apartment Living

JURA INTRODUCES THE IMPRESSA A9 Swiss bean-to-cup coffee expert Jura, is setting new standards in the coffee world with the introduction of its IMPRESSA A9, which features an in-built extra shot option for those who love their coffee strong. This feature allows coffee lovers to add an extra shot of coffee to their favourite latte macchiato or cappuccino drink and is a first in the coffee machine industry. The brand new IMPRESSA A9 also features the latest slide and touch technology, along with a high-resolution TFT colour display screen, enabling users to select their ‘preferred perk’ from an à la carte menu of 12 speciality coffees.

 uk.jura.com

in appliances will create a focus in its own right and make a significant statement for those that use the kitchen/dining/living area as a social space for entertaining. “Customers want their kitchens to portray the rest of the home, which is why the style and design of products have assumed greater importance in the purchasing decision. The old barriers of the home have come down and as a natural consequence of this development appliances must be sleek and chic, unobtrusive and, of course, very quiet in operation. A wine cellar no longer looks out of place in the living area, and a coffee

machine can find a perfect home in the dining area.” With one in three UK homes now featuring continental-style kitchen diners, appliances need to operate discreetly and quietly. Servis’s Rita Balestrazzi notes that manufacturers have come up with innovative ways in which to satisfy this new requirement, “with some developing, for example, dishwashers that can work at a barely audible sound level of 39dB or below. Washing machines, too, are coming equipped with better noise reduction technology, some offer Silent Night functions that delay the noisier spin part of the cycle by up to 10 hours.”

HUSH!

Demand for appliances that operate at low sound levels is growing, particularly for small and open-plan environments where the noise and vibration of products can easily drown out conversation. Today’s premium cooker hoods do not disrupt conversation and are an essential for modern-day living. The air quality of the entire cooking and living environment will be both unwelcoming and uncomfortable if consideration is not given to a suitable extraction system. Caple Sales Director Danny Lay recommends perimetrical extraction technology, which provides reduced noise

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AUGUST 2014 GET CONNECTED

19


Town & Apartment Living

levels and increased pressure, resulting in improved motor performance. “Look for a motor choice which has been engineered to achieve extremely high extraction rates of at least 1000m³ per hour,” he advises, adding that ceiling cooker hoods make a “fantastic” option when space is at a premium. Lay notes that normal conversation takes place at 59dB so appliances that operate from around 40dB to 55dB will be a requirement and that noise levels will generally be affected by the positioning of the electric motor. “Therefore, the further away it is from the appliance the less noisy it will be.” He recommends installation under the floor, on an external wall or in a cupboard. “This way you will find that noise will be virtually eliminated.” Jacqui Hoctor, New Product Development manager at BEST, states that design-led hoods are among the most popular on the market. “Indeed, many models look more like a work of art than an extractor,” she offers. “I expect there will be a growing demand for ever more

Baumatic’s 45cm dishwasher offers 10 place settings

stylish designer hoods throughout 2014, in particular in the compact market where appliances often serve a dual purpose: extraction of cooking fumes and an eyecatching room feature.” Hoctor also expects Advanced Sensor Control (ASC) to be a popular choice in the future: “This patented sensor-activated hood technology switches the appliance on as soon as steam, smoke and cooking odours are detected within the kitchen environment, enabling the hood to evacuate odours and keep the room fresh. This really complements a smaller kitchen space and in particular open-plan living.” Stuart Benson, National Sales Manager of Gorenje UK, notes the importance of matching the extraction capacity of a hood to the size of the room: “Contemporary trends in home design, whereby the kitchen has become a place for eating and entertaining, as well as cooking, tend to call for higher capacity hoods. To ensure effective ventilation of a 30m² room, a hood with an extraction capacity of 700m³/h is required. It is important for retailers to bear this in mind when demonstrating the benefits and different functions of extractors to customers.”

as the Kenwood Chef Titanium (KMC015) which, with its multiple attachments, can act as a hub in the kitchen to perform a majority of food preparation tasks, whether that be blending, slicing/grating, chopping/grinding, juicing, mincing and so much more, avoiding the need to have lots of dedicated appliances/gadgets taking up space on the worktop.” Magimix’s Cuisine Système 5200XL Premium is another example of the multifunctional kitchen machine. This appliance includes a BlenderMix attachment, a SmoothieMix Kit, a Dough Bowl and a Mash & Purée Kit which, as the name suggests, is suitable for making mashed potatoes and creamy purées. The upside of having a range of small kitchen appliances on the worktop is that they can create a focal point for the room. Smeg’s Joan Fraser speaks of the benefits of adding bold colours for instant impact and suggests adding distinctive, retrostyle appliances such as a kettle or toaster to draw the eye. Smeg recently unveiled its first SDA range, which comprises kettles, toasters, a stand mixer and a blender in retro finishes ranging from red and black to pastels and stainless steel.

MULTITASKING

AROUND THE SINK

Worktop clutter is the greatest enemy of the small kitchen and the open-plan environment. Every appliance and gadget left on the countertop will add to the impression of chaos, so for consumers considering the purchase of food prep appliances it makes sense to recommend a kitchen machine that will do the job of several products. Multitasking kitchen machines save cupboard space, too. Kenwood Trade Marketing Manager Seb Goff notes an increased demand for appliances that can perform a wide variety of functions: “For example, consumers are increasingly turning to products such

MONTPELLIER RETRO COLLECTION The latest addition to Montpellier’s hugely popular Retro range is the new MAB2030 in gloss black and red. Released in July 2014, the sibling of the MAB345 may be smaller than its big brother, but it certainly packs as big a punch. This little dynamo boasts classic Montpellier Retro features such as vibrant gloss colours and chrome trim. With a total capacity of 20Ltrs, there’s room for all of your essentials and with its quirky new feature of an in-door can dispenser, it makes the most of a compact space. Dimensions: H83.5 x W48.6 x D53.6cm

 0844 854 6715  www.dad-online.co.uk 20

GET CONNECTED AUGUST 2014

Another consideration is to banish the kettle from the worktop in favour of the convenient and practical steaming hot water tap, which InSinkErator’s® Linda Phoutthasak, Marketing Manager for Europe, describes as “a sleek and seamless addition to kitchen design.” As for the kettle, she says: “It is just another item taking up space.” The InSinkErator® range of steaming hot water taps are “safe, silent and superefficient”, delivering instant filtered water up to 98°C to make a variety of hot drinks and help in the preparation of foodstuffs such as pasta, vegetables and sauces. “By replacing clunky and noisy electric kettles and power cords, they save precious worktop space for preparing food,” remarks Phoutthasak. Also from the InSinkErator® stable is a practical solution for eliminating unwelcome and intrusive odours emitting from stale and decaying foodstuffs, which, as Phoutthasak points out, can seem more exaggerated in smaller homes. That solution is the food waste disposer, a unit that sits unobtrusively in the cupboard under the sink and grinds food waste into fine particles that are flushed away in seconds. The additional benefits of installing a food waste disposal unit include: The amount of food waste that goes to landfill is reduced; trips to the outside dustbin are minimised; units are clean, hygienic, convenient and simple to use; installation is easy and a unit will fit under most sinks... …and, asserts Phoutthasak: “No more smelly bins in the kitchen!”


Portable CE Devices & Power

People like doing lots of things while they’re on the move – take pictures, listen to music, shoot videos – and the consumer electronics sector has plenty of portable products on offer. George Cole reports on what’s driving the market

T

he portable CE market continues to evolve and innovate as new trends and technologies emerge, such as the increasing use of wireless technologies like Bluetooth and NFC (Near Field Communication). So what products should retailers be stocking these days? The picture has been confused by the rise of the smartphone and its use as a portable camera and portable music player.

DIGITAL IMAGING

Vic Solomon, Panasonic product manager for digital still camera, says that although there has been year-onyear fall in overall market size, there have been strong sales in all imaging product categories – compact cameras, compact system cameras and camcorders. “Areas that are showing good growth within the market include the superzoom category and large sensor products. Panasonic’s DMC-TZ60 has dominated sales for superzoom, and there is a huge interest in having a larger sensor in premium compact cameras.” Panasonic recently announced the new DMC-FZ1000, a premium bridge camera with a one-inch 20.1 megapixel sensor. But the digital camera market has been hit by the popularity of the smartphone. If you see someone taking a photo in public these days, it’s highly likely they’ll be doing it with a smartphone. But manufacturers are confident that the dedicated digital camera can hold its own against the smartphone. Claire Beard, Sony product manager, digital cameras, says: “Smartphones have had an undeniable effect on the camera business, contributing to the overall decline of fixed lens cameras of about 25% year-on-year. The largest effect is in the entry compact range, particularly on those cameras below £100, which used to be the largest sector of fixed lens.

Consumers find that their smartphones are comparable, in terms of megapixels and zoom range, as basic entry cameras.” However, she also thinks that smartphones simply cannot compete on image quality in more premium sectors of the market. “Segments such as premium cameras (cameras with larger sensors) or travel cameras (above 20x zoom) are becoming more vital to the camera industry, and are gaining in share of the overall market picture.” She adds that this is because consumers are realising that, although a smartphone is great to capture a moment on the go, if they want to optimise image quality or get the perfect image at a high zoom, they need to buy a dedicated imaging device. “The imaging market is actually seeing the average price of a camera increase year-on-year because consumers who are looking for a camera are willing to invest in a higher specification product versus their phone.” Vic Solomon agrees: “Smartphones have their place and they are perfect for capturing those spur-of-the-moment shots, but for long-term memories that consumers want to keep and treasure, “People still want a ‘real’ camera with superior image quality” a camera is the product of choice. One of the reasons is that people know smartphones have limitations in but more the recorder of daily life activities, whether that be the terms of image quality and zoom. hobbyist, family days out or to So yes, smartphones may have an effect on the lower-end make an instructional video Smartphones have products, but people still that shows what you see as their place and they are want a ‘real’ camera with you do it.” superior image quality and Paul Hicks, product perfect for capturing those longer zoom functionality manager at Toshiba, spur-of-the-moment shots, but when they are going on says: “The popularity of for long-term memories that holiday or to a wedding, or smartphones continues consumers want to keep and to capture their important to rise, however there’s treasure, a camera is the family occasions.” His advice a place for specialist for electrical retailers is to camcorders and action product of choice.” look at growing markets like cameras – such as the Camileo superzoom cameras and large X-Sports – which offer advanced sensor compacts. lenses, recording technologies and “Another growing area is POV (Point ergonomics, including robust builds, of View) camcorders,” he adds. “These waterproofing and mounting options, are not aimed at the adrenaline junkie, which smartphones do not offer.” AUGUST 2014 GET CONNECTED

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Portable CE Devices & Power

HEADPHONES

Headphones sales continue to grow and as many of these products are worn as fashion items (think of Apple buying Beats headphones), many sales are for replacement models. B&O has launched limited edition H6 headphones, designed by Brazilian street artist Ricardo Akn. B&O’s 2i headphones feature designs from four top street artists, while the H3 earphones come in a range of colours, including gold.

The headphones market is seeing fresh growth this year...”

A new launch of Bluetooth foldable headsets by the Konig brand allows users to make calls or listen to music up to 30ft away from any paired Bluetooth device. The touch-panel feature ensures it’s easy to skip between tracks and adjust the volume on the move, whilst the light, compact and foldable design offers maximum portability. Otone Audio’s VTXsound headphones, launched in June this year, are the first to include the “legendary” Vortex Drive™ sound technology as well as Active Noise Cancellation. The Active Noise Cancellation feature uses advanced algorithms that listen to the environment around the user and compensate for background noise, so users hear just the music they want.

Charlotte Myson, Sony product marketing manager, home entertainment and sound, says the headphones market is seeing fresh growth this year, driven by premium overheads that are loaded with technology such as smartphone-compatible microphones and remote controls, Bluetooth and Digital Noise Cancelling. Myson thinks that retailers should be focusing on smartphone compatibility in their headphones. “Sony has this year introduced headset functions across every price point, from £15 to £350, so that everyone can make the most of this functionality.” Panasonic’s Solomon says that, as headphone technology advances, he expects to see growth in the market for high resolution playback audio.

URBANEARS ZINKEN Zinken is a full size on–ear DJ Headphone, packed with features. It is designed to isolate outside noise, so you hear deep bass, crisp mids and clear highs. It has a completely detachable ‘Turncable’, which comes with two different sized plugs (one on each end). The headphone has two different sized sockets (one on each ear cup), so the cable can be turned to use with either your portable music devices, or a DJ deck or turntable. The ‘Zoundplug’ on the right ear cup allows you to share music with your friends, and the integrated microphone and remote is compatible with devices possessing an unprotected 3.5 mm plug (eg. iPhone, HTC, Blackberry etc.).

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MARSHALL MONITOR Monitor embodies the power and strength that is Marshall in a headphone with Hi-Fi prowess and epic sound. The first ever model from Marshall Headphones, the Monitor’s slender over-ear construction delivers superior noise isolation without the bulk, staying light on your ears during those late nights working tracks or long days just working. Monitor emits studio-quality sound and allows for sound customisation through the F.T.F. system – all in addition to its classic Marshall good looks.

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GET CONNECTED AUGUST 2014


Portable CE Devices & Power

PORTABLE SPEAKERS & MEDIA PLAYERS

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In the portable speaker market, wireless Bluetooth speakers are where the growth lies, according to Sony. And Panasonic’s Solomon agrees: “We are seeing growth in portable devices and, in particular, portable speakers that are used around the home including the bathroom, kitchen and garden.” Toshiba’s Hicks notes an increase in the popularity of dedicated Bluetooth speakers, which are a complementary device to smartphones, tablets and PCs. “These speakers offer a more impactful and entertaining sound experience over and above what a smartphone can provide, whilst being controlled by a phone, PC or tablet,” he says.

Thanks to their skilfully designed headband with light, soft rubber cushion, maximum comfort and a stable fit are guaranteed, even whilst on the move. There’s a choice of three stunning metallic colours – bright silver, indigo black and bright copper, providing a premium look for a five-star product.

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AUGUST 2014 GET CONNECTED

23


Portable CE Devices & Power

Sony’s Myson adds: “The wireless speakers market more than doubled yearon-year as more and more consumers store or stream music from their phone and discover the ease of use of Bluetooth streaming and NFC one-touch connection.” When it comes to portable media players, the choice used to be between an Apple iPod or an MP3 player, but this is another sector where smartphones have made their presence known, with many handsets having built-in media players and storage for hundreds of music tracks. But Sony’s Myson says that it’s what the smartphone can’t do that is driving the portable media player market. “Sportsdedicated products and those targeted at audiophiles are showing a strong growth,” she comments.

BATTERIES

Battery technology is crucial for the portable CE market and, according to Panasonic’s Solomon, there is a huge demand being placed on batteries, with the addition of functions like Wi-Fi remote control and live feeds from cameras. “When we launch a new camera, we look at the feature set and take this into account when we decide how to power the unit. There are ways of making cameras more power efficient, and we take every step to ensure we can get the most out of our batteries. The current range of cameras actually added more shots per charge over their predecessors.” Toshiba’s Hicks adds that advances in processor technology have also helped to extend battery life.

Battery manufacturers have developed products for high drain portable CE devices like digital cameras and portable media players. Duracell says its Ultra Power battery delivers up to 40% more power in high drain devices than standard alkaline batteries, while Energizer says its Ultimate Lithium battery lasts up to eleven times longer in high-drain devices than standard batteries. CE manufacturers point out that battery life can be a crucial decider when it comes to using a smartphone or dedicated CE device. “Battery life is an ongoing problem for Smartphone users who wish to listen to their music all day long,” notes Sony’s Myson. “Sony’s MP3 players deliver up to 50 hours of battery life, and sports models like the W273 have a quick charge function which gives you an hour’s playback from a 3-minute charge. This makes having a separate MP3 player or dedicated portable media player a very appealing proposition.” Sony’s range of wireless speakers can offer up to 8 hours of battery life without compromising sound quality. “That’s plenty for a day out at the park or a party night in your backyard. Many speakers are also directly rechargeable over USB, so you can top up on the battery anywhere,” Myson adds.

WHAT’S AHEAD?

POWER ON THE MOVE The VARTA Portable Power range offers smart ways to charge mobile devices on the go.

VARTA Mini Phone Power gives Apple-30pin and Micro-USB smartphones up to an hour of extra talk time. It can be used and then recharged hundreds of times and will hold its charge for up to 12 months. VARTA Alkaline Powerpack uses 4xAA batteries to charge any device that uses a USB charging cable. Great for outdoor pursuits and camping trips, each set of batteries will provide up to 7 hours’ extra talk time.

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24

GET CONNECTED AUGUST 2014

With so many developments, it’s worth asking where the portable CE market is heading. “Predicting the future is always a hard task,” says Panasonic’s Solomon. “But in terms of imaging products, we expect to see further advancements in connectivity to a wider range of devices. Image quality and lens quality will continue to improve, as will the zoom range of the lens. The key to success is to add all these improvements without compromising on the physical size of the cameras.” “The portable device market is rapidly changing and gaining more interest from consumers,” comments Toshiba’s Hicks. “Where we traditionally saw a trend for convergence of devices, we’re now also seeing a need for specialist, standalone devices such as action cams, dedicated speakers and wearables.” Sony product manager Charlotte Carnoy believes that, in terms of portable audio devices, the future holds a shift towards better quality sound. “High resolution content will become more affordable and widely available, with streaming services also looking at offering upgraded audio playback. To cater for this, portable media players with high resolution compatibility will become more accessible. We’ll also see headphones and speakers that are compatible with this type of content. Technology previously confined to your home will be available almost anywhere.”


George Cole

GEORGE COLE G E T S

C O N N E C T E D

– THE FIRST STEPS TOWARDS A EUROPEAN STANDARD

If

you read my last column, you’ll recall that I spoke with Joe Kane, chief executive of Joe Kane Productions (JKP), and who works closely with the US film, television and video industries on technical issues. His concern was that there were no standards set for Ultra High Definition TV (UHDTV, or sometimes referred to as 4K). The result was confusion over issues such as resolution, frame rate and the type of connector to use for UHDTV signals. Well, since our chat, the first tentative steps have been taken by the Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) Project – an international body which sets standards for Digital TV – to sort out a UHDTV standard. In what’s being called the first phase of the new standard, DVB has specified that UHDTV will have 3840 x 2160 resolution, with 10 bits per pixel, and a frame rate of 60 frames per second, using HEVC compression. The second phase is likely to include standards for even higher resolution and faster frame rates.

George Cole pinpoints hotspots in the world of consumer electronics

I asked Joe Kane what he thought of the latest developments: “Their 2160p/60 DVB has specified 10-bits is pushing in the right direction,� he said. “I just don’t believe what they that UHDTV will have are doing is being done in the right order. 3840 x 2160 resolution, On the other hand, this could force the with 10 bits per pixel, issues I see as priorities to be resolved and a frame rate of faster. One of the many things I’ve been saying is a specification for the ultimate 60 frames per connectivity system has to come early in the second.� game. Just maybe things like this will push the connectivity issue.� The proposed standard means that the UHDTV sets on the market today will not be compatible with the new standard because they lack HEVC support. It will be interesting to see how TV manufacturers now address this issue.

IPTV REACHES A MILESTONE IPTV services, which deliver television via the internet, have transformed the way millions of us watch television. Think of how much catch-up TV we now watch on a regular basis on a laptop, tablet or Smart TV. IPTV brands like iPlayer and NetFlix are as well known as traditional broadcast names like the BBC and ITV. Point Topic, a research company, says that the number of IPTV subscriptions worldwide has passed the 100 million mark, with China having the greatest number of subscribers

(almost 33 million). In Europe, France leads the way with almost 15 million subscribers, while in the UK it’s fewer than 2 million. The relatively small number of UK subscribers is probably due to a combination of all the terrestrial TV services offering free catch-up services and the lack of fast broadband in many areas. The BBC iPlayer recorded a new high in January 2014, with 315 million TV and radio requests. But the BBC fears it might become a victim of its own

CHANGE THE MUSIC It’s hard to believe that barely ten years ago CDs accounted for 95% of all recorded music sales; today, it’s 35%. That’s according to figures from the RIAA, the US recording industry body. Now, downloads account for 40% of sales and streaming 21%. In other words, non-physical sales now account for more than 60% of music sales.  georgecole@gcmagazine.co.uk

success. It’s estimated that around half a million people now avoid purchasing a licence fee because they watch catchup TV rather than live broadcasts. Some in the BBC think that people who use iPlayer should be charged. A logical move would be to increase the licence fee, but in the current political climate this is unlikely (and even a BBC poll found that 40% of people oppose the licence fee). My betting is that iPayer becomes a subscription service within the next five years.

What’s also staggering is that the global music industry was worth $15bn in 2003; in 2013, the figure was $7bn. It comes as a recent YouGov survey found that almost half (49%) of young children and adults believe that content should be free to download from the internet. How the music industry (and other creative industries, for that matter) deal with the attitude “If it’s online, it’s mine�, is one of the biggest challenges facing all content creators. AUGUST 2014 GET CONNECTED

25


From The Bench

Indoor TV aerials What are the chances of good Freeview TV reception without an outside aerial? Many factors are involved, writes Alan Bennett

T

errestrial TV viewing requires some sort of aerial and they vary tremendously, from massive mastmounted arrays to small ‘set-top’ types. Published transmitter coverage areas (for instance by Ofcom) are based on the use of a standard aerial mounted outdoors 10m above ground level, and this is far the best for good and reliable reception. For various reasons, however, it is not always possible or necessary to have one on the roof: in temporary, holiday or student accommodation; where access is difficult or impossible; in bedrooms and other rooms; where there are preventative covenants in property deeds; very close to the transmitter etc. Then, some kind of indoor aerial may provide a solution.

Well disguised antenna by One For All

LOFT AERIALS

The next best choice is a loft aerial. While a room-type may be used here, there is sufficient space for any type of ‘outside’ aerial, bearing in mind that a typical tile or slate roof cuts down signal strength by 50% or more. On the credit side, loft mounting saves the cost of an outdoor job, is free of wind loading, corrosion, UV attack, water ingress and bird perching, and, it saves on cable. A loft aerial needs to be kept away from water tanks and any other metal, while its signal is seriously reduced by any metal foil or lead layers in front of it. If it has to look through other roofs or houses its chances of success are slim. In the roof space an aerial is more vulnerable to interference 26

GET CONNECTED AUGUST 2014

than an outside one, but much better in this respect than one in the viewing room. It’s also less likely to pick up multipath signals, which used to cause ghosting on analogue viewing and can upset today’s digital reception if severe.

ROOM AERIALS

issue. Room aerials, whose output power is never of the best, are most susceptible to locally-generated interference: i.e. originating within the room or elsewhere in the home. Room aerials with inbuilt amplifiers can boost signal strength, but will amplify electrical noise and some interference too, though the extra gain may help in suppressing out-of-band impulse interference. Bear in mind, in areas subject to 4G mobile interference, that a filter is of little use with an internally amplified aerial. Some new ones have them built in. Check with the manufacturer.

There are many makes and sorts of room aerial, still called set-top types even though there’s no room for them on today’s thinscreen TVs.”

There are many makes and sorts of room aerial, still called set-top types even though there’s no room for them on today’s thinscreen TVs. Performance, quality and appearance varies tremendously between them. The Pound Shop sells one for £1... Generally they are of the log-periodic type, characterised by a broad reception angle and relatively low gain/signal strength, in some models boosted by an internal amplifier. We’ve come a long way from the days when only skeleton types were available in ring, rabbitear and fishbone form – flat, enclosed, printedelement and other types are available, variously shaped, coloured and formed, but none of them are really a welcome addition to the furniture and decor! The adequacy of a room aerial depends on several factors, primarily the power and distance of the nearest transmitter. As with loft aerials, if they have to look through more than a single wall (a window is more transparent to TV signals) to the transmitter they are unlikely to work well. The more metal (bigger/longer?) in a room aerial, the more signal it’s likely to pull in. As a very rough rule of thumb, the distance limit for a decent room aerial with a good view is about 35km from a main transmitter. While DVB-T transmissions, as used for Freeview broadcasts, are quite rugged in the face of multipath (reflected) signals, they can suffer badly from interference which corrupts the data, causing streaking, freezing and dropout of pictures and ‘splattering’ of sound, especially in the presence of weak signals – see my column on page 23 of last May’s

POSITIONING

The siting of a room aerial is a tricky business indeed. It needs to be as far as possible from the TV, a rife source of interference, and as high up in the room as it can be, perhaps on a cupboard, bookcase or wardrobe, which will probably require a well-screened extension lead. Try to position it as far as you can from human traffic – especially in its line of sight – to avoid annoying picture and sound disturbance as people move about. Aim it directly at the transmitter to start with and align it in accordance with the polarisation of the transmitter: vertical, generally local relays, or horizontal, usually main stations. Since digital switchover it’s become more difficult to align room aerials by watching the TV screen because there’s no ghosting or picture grain to guide you. It’s best to go to the signal strength/ quality bar graph in the installation setup menu and manipulate for the highest reading, re-scanning the TV band as necessary during the process. There is an excellent website well worth visiting for prediction of the aerial type needed in specific locations. Given a postcode or grid reference, it suggests the needs, ranging from an indoor type to a chimney-mounted Christmas tree with amplifier, but it obviously cannot take into account very local typography and conditions, and its predictions are certainly not guaranteed. Find this excellent guide at www.wolfbane.com/cgi-bin/tvd.exe?


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25/07/2014 15:19

Get Connected Magazine - August 2014  

Get Connected: The Magazine of the Electrical Goods Industry. The sharpest, freshest, most relevant and commercially aware electrical trade...