THE MAGAZINE OF THE ELECTRICAL INDUSTRY
TOWN & APARTMENT LIVING With the UK having some of the smallest new homes in Europe, GC looks at solutions for kitting out compact and open-plan kitchen areas
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HOME ENTERTAINMENT & AV ACCESSORIES George Cole reports on what consumers are looking for these days in home entertainment systems, components and AV accessories
EMBRACING MOBILE E-TAILING A case study outlining how mobile e-tailing increased electrical online wholesaler Sparks Direct’s online sales and revenue by over 60%
BACKCHAT A 2-minute interview with Hama UK’s Simon Buckingham
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Contents 04 06 13 14 16 22 Panasonic DMC-FZ72 camera (p14) www.panasonic.co.uk
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Editorial Comment The Word
In and around the industry
The Smart APP-artment
21st Century experiential retailing
The Product Gallery Town & Apartment Living
Appliances suitable for compact kitchens and open-plan living
Home Entertainment & AV Accessories
Improving the home cinema experience
Growth from Knowledge
GfK provides an update on the Home Entertainment market
George Cole Gets Connected
Where does 3DTV go from here?
From the Bench
Alan Bennett looks at current predictions and news of Freeview TV reception from next-generation mobile communications
Electrical wholesaler Sparks Direct embraces mobile e-tailing
A 2-minute interview with Simon Buckingham, UK Marketing Manager for distributor Hama
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AUGUST 2013 GET CONNECTED
Comment A bit of a mixed reaction to last month’s editorial comment. While most of our readers absolutely agree about the necessity to think, plan and trade differently in a radically different retail world, some did question the relevance of Victorian poetry and the destruction of an ancient order of chivalry in making the point.
ut there were also those who did feel we captured that apocalyptic sense of “everything is changed… what shall we do now?” anxiety felt by many who have spent their working lives in this industry. Different people respond to different ways of presenting ideas, just as your customers respond to different ways of presenting and selling products to them. So, amid the chaos, there are still some principles that remain constant: identify the customers you want to serve; make it your business to understand those customers thoroughly; use that understanding to offer them the right products, information and services in ways that they are most
revealed that its top ten selling products are all digital-based. With that 22% uplift in overall sales, however, Amazon still reported a net loss. What does it all mean? Confirmation, of course, that digital products have become an online staple, and consumers are thoroughly used to buying in this way. But also, given that Amazon is still making losses, that this extremely canny, extremely well organised online retailer is prepared to keep ploughing investment into the development of products, understanding, recording and exploiting its customers’ buying habits and preferences, and longterm creation of the background systems
Unless you’re Dr Who, the past is gone and the future is happening whether you’re prepared for it or not – and even Dr Who has a periodic need to transfigure himself into a new form to keep up with the “modern” world.” likely to respond to. Nothing apocalyptic or revolutionary in those basic principles, but it’s worth making sure they’re the focus of every working day. Unless you’re Dr Who, the past is gone and the future is happening whether you’re prepared for it or not – and even Dr Who has a periodic need to transfigure himself into a new form to keep up with the “modern” world. The shorter-term future is, on some measures, looking a little brighter. The UK economy managed growth of 0.6% in the second quarter; some traditional Japanese consumer electronics giants have reported Q2 profits (albeit helped by the weakening Yen); consumer confidence is reported to be at a 3-year high; and retail employment is creeping up. All encouraging signs, perhaps. At the same time, online retailer Amazon has reported sales up 22%, and 4
GET CONNECTED AUGUST 2013
that will make the online operation more remorselessly efficient into the future. It’s competition for “traditional” electrical retail. But there is still enough room for the niche markets, the special services, the personalised face-to-face advice and the after sales service that will provide the profitable future for adaptable retailers of all sizes. There is also some current discussion of alternative plans for the UK’s high streets, and this, too, is to be welcomed, because it acknowledges that they’re all different and all in need of different approaches to being “saved.” We’d all agree that business rates, rents and parking facilities are issues that need addressing. But we must also concede that the best future for some high street properties may be to change their use to residential units. Decisions, decisions…
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Marlinda Conway Editor in Chief
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James McIntosh Consumer Consultant
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The Word : Industry News
Industry News Shop price inflation falls at fastest rate in six and a half years O
verall shop prices recorded annual deflation for the third consecutive month in July after falling 0.5%, the biggest drop for 6.5 years. The BRC said that food inflation fell to 2.2% from 2.7% in June and is now at its lowest rate since the summer of 2010, while non-food recorded deflation of 2.1%, compared with 1.9% in June. Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium Director General, said it shows just how hard retailers are working to serve their customers and underlines how deep the retail promotions and discounts are at present.
Euronics confirms 2014 Show Euronics has announced that its annual Showcase will take place in Hall 12 at Birmingham’s NEC on 13-14 April 2014. The event will be bigger than last year’s show and will feature new marketing opportunities for members.
Positive news from retail jobs market
Consumer confidence reaches highest level in three years
Retail employment rose by 3.7% in the second quarter of 2013 compared with a year earlier, the strongest growth since December 2009. And, according to the BRC, there was also a marginal improvement in employment intentions compared with the previous year. The number of retail outlets also rose in the quarter, up 1.5%, although the increase was driven entirely by food retailers. Helen Dickinson, British Retail Consortium Director General, said: “This is the best result we’ve seen for retail jobs since
UK consumer confidence rose to its highest in more than three years as optimism about the economic outlook improved. The GfK NOP consumer sentiment index rose 5 points to -16 in July, the highest since April 2010. Consumers’ assessment of the general economic situation in the next 12 months rose 7 points to -9. But while optimism about their own finances in the same period rose 7 points to 0, the climate for making major purchases fell 1 point to -21, suggesting that people remain cautious in their spending habits. Nick Moon, Managing Director of Social Research at GfK, said: “There is now no doubt that consumer confidence has recovered strongly from the unparalleled trough of the last five years. It is the longer-term changes that mean far more than one single month’s figures and the current trend is definitely upwards.”
2009 and it adds to the recent positive news on the labour market from the ONS. While we know that there is considerable regional variation in retail performance and footfall, these new jobs provide further evidence that a consumer recovery is starting to take shape.” Christina TolvasVincent, Head of Retail Employment at business law firm Bond Dickinson said it was a welcome moment for optimism that retail employment figures are looking up. But she commented that while
the grocery sector had added 263 new stores, the number of non-food stores continues to decline. “The contraction of nonfood stores highlights the structural change in retail with e-retailing growing fast and consumers choosing to shop increasingly online,” she said. “It would be interesting to know whether the new jobs fuelling the strongest growth in UK retail employment since 2009 are in e-retailing or more traditional storebased retail positions. Where are retailers investing for the future?”
CI(H) celebrates 50 years Buying group CI(H) celebrated its 50th anniversary in July with an event in London and a gala dinner attended by more than 700 invited guests. The celebration was sponsored by AGA Rangemaster, Dimplex, Domestic & General, Dyson, Fisher & Paykel, Haier, Hoover Candy Group, Liebherr, Miele, Mostly Media, Sharp Electronics, Smeg and UK Warranty and commenced with a buffet lunch at Old Billingsgate, followed by presentations from Beko, BSH Home Appliances, Electrolux, GDHA, Indesit Company and Samsung and a conference chaired by “The Retail Champion” Clare Rayner, who closed the business session
GET CONNECTED AUGUST 2013
with a keynote speech carrying the theme ‘The Consumer Revolution; The Retail Evolution’. The evening’s entertainment included performances from magician James More and the Urban Soul Orchestra, which entertained guests late into the night. Suppliers donated 18 prizes for a charity raffle that raised £6,170 to be split equally between The British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research. CI(H) chief executive Stuart Cook said: “I’d like to thank all those involved in organising the event: the suppliers who provided sponsorship and the members for joining in the celebrations.
The 50th anniversary celebrations were a perfect way to mark this important milestone.” Cook also commented on the electricals market, stating that it is “tough.” But he added that “the positive messages heard from suppliers, as well as comments I received from members, demonstrates that CI(H) is the buying group to be in and we will continue to invest and develop the business for the future.”
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The Word : Industry News
Toshiba announces operational restructure Toshiba Corporation has announced that it will implement further structural reform of its LCD TV and PC businesses to accelerate a reduction in fixed costs and improve profitability. The company said it will execute measures immediately and follow up with moves including a review of production and sales operations in Japan and overseas this fiscal year.
Toshiba plans to reduce fixed costs in its LCD TV and PC businesses by approximately ¥10 billion in FY 2013 and ¥20 billion in FY 2014. It will also work to promote sales in emerging markets, focusing on B2B business and developing high-value-added products. Operations will be reorganised into three divisions: the Visual Solutions Division, LCD TVs and
LG introduces new brand identity for global audience LG Electronics has unveiled a new brand identity strategy centred on the theme “It’s All Possible”, which the company says acknowledges the many changes in technology and consumer behaviour that have taken place in recent years and will convey LG’s consumerfocused goals to inspire, empower and make consumers smile. The new theme made its debut via a video displayed on LG’s electronic billboard in New York’s Times Square and at www.LG.com on 1 August. It will feature in future marketing communications including online and print
advertising, in-store marketing and at new product events. Ki-wan Kim, executive vice president and global marketing officer of LG Electronics, said: “Our new brand identity and communications campaign will encourage audiences to see LG as a force for positive change, not only a manufacturer. In order to create value-added solutions which bring greater convenience and enjoyment to everyday life, LG draws its inspiration from real consumers around the world. ‘It’s All Possible’ will serve to reinforce our strong reputation as a peoplecentric company that can make customers smile.”
Blu-ray disc players and recorders; the Personal Solutions Division, PCs and tablets; and the Business Solutions Division, B2B businesses. Around 400 employees, 20% of the total staff working in the LCD TV and PC businesses in Japan, will transfer from the design, sales and administrative departments to social infrastructure businesses within this fiscal year.
Toshiba has recorded losses in its LCD TV business for two consecutive years, partly due to yen depreciation and price reductions in the global market, lower demand in Europe and the completion of digital switchover in Japan. The company said the PC market is also expected to see lower demand due to the growing popularity of smartphones and tablets.
Panasonic buys stake in Gorenje Panasonic Corporation is to buy a stake of up to 13% in Gorenje as it looks to shift the emphasis of its business from the troubled CE sector to the more profitable area of white goods. Panasonic will invest €10 million in the Slovenian firm as part of a longterm strategic alliance between the two companies. The companies said they will implement the alliance jointly in the areas of R&D, manufacturing and sales, with an initial emphasis on the joint development of new-generation washing machines for the EU market; the production of Panasonic brand refrigerators by Gorenje for the EU, Russian and other CIS markets; the joint distribution potential of selected Panasonic brand built-in kitchen appliances in Europe, and the production of built-in ovens by Gorenje.
Belling reveals new look for its second century Following a year of 100th anniversary commemorations, Belling has unveiled refreshed branding with the strapline ‘Behind Every Great Meal’ and launched a new website incorporating a Kitchen Table Conversation section, with recipes and videos from top chefs. Jane Rylands, Marketing Communications Manager for Belling, said: “After last year’s celebrations of Belling’s centenary we felt the time was right to open a new chapter in Belling’s history with a fresh look.”
The Word : Industry News
Electrolux enters UK air con market A new air conditioner collection, the first of its kind from Electrolux, has been launched into the UK market.
F&P rolls out biggest range of products in eight decades A successful growth plan and investment into Fisher & Paykel’s R&D centres in New Zealand over the past four years has led to the global release of the largest number of new products at any one time in the company’s history. Of the 70 products being introduced, around 50% are completely new to F&P’s product lines, with the balance featuring high-quality upgrades to existing models. All are expected to be available to consumers in key markets later this year and early next year. Daniel Witten-Hannah, Executive Vice President of Product Development and
Marketing, said that each range has a design or technology platform capable of leading cooking and refrigeration globally. A new 60cm, 77-litre built-in oven with active venting technology and a gason-glass hob have already received the international Red Dot design award. F&P Chief Executive Stuart Broadhurst said: “Our focus is now on establishing Fisher & Paykel’s centre of excellence for R&D for the Group worldwide. The teams we’re assembling now will be critical to achieving our goal for Fisher & Paykel to become the world’s leading premium appliance company.”
The AirComfort range comprises wall-mounted split and portable models and incorporates advanced heat pump systems similar to those found in topof-the-range Electrolux tumble dryers. Andrew Trainer, Product Manager for Home Comfort at Electrolux, said: “The collection has been thoughtfully designed to perform throughout all seasons. Not only will our air conditioning units keep a room cool in the summer, but they also provide heat in winter and will dehumidify the home in spring and autumn to give your customers ultimate value for money.”
CAI introduces new Custom Install training course The CAI has announced the launch of a new training course which is open to members and non-members of the organisation. ‘Systems Integration – An Introduction to Custom Install’ is designed for installers new to Control within the Custom Install industry and will be held at various UK locations throughout September. For further information contact Amanda Ward on 01923 803030 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Word : Industry News
COMPANY FINANCIALS Sony posted a rise in proﬁts for the ﬁrst quarter
ended 30 June, boosted by a weak yen, increases in ﬁnancial services and a 36.2% increase in smartphone sales. Net proﬁt grew to ¥3.5 billion, compared to a loss of ¥24.6 billion in the same period last year. Operating income improved by 479% to ¥36.4 billion during the quarter. Sales rose 13% to ¥1,712.7 billion.
posted a net proﬁt of ¥107.8 billion for its ﬁrst ﬁscal quarter ended 30 June, up from ¥12.8 billion in the same period last year, after a one-off gain of ¥79.8 billion from a pension scheme change incurred as other income. Operating proﬁt increased to ¥64.2 billion from ¥38.6 billion. Consolidated group sales for the quarter rose 1% to ¥1,824.5 billion.
Sharp reported a net loss of ¥17.9 billion in the
quarter ended 30 June, down from a loss of ¥138.4 billion in the same quarter 2012. Sales rose 32.6% to ¥607.9 billion. Operating income rose to ¥3 billion, compared to a loss of ¥94.1 billion in last year’s quarter.
Samsung recorded a rise in net proﬁt for its
second quarter ended June 2013, up from KRW5.19 trillion in the prior year to KRW7.77 trillion. Operating proﬁt increased from KRW6.46 trillion to KRW9.53 trillion. Sales grew from KRW47.60 trillion to KRW57.46 trillion, with the Galaxy S4 helping to boost revenues during the quarter. The TV market grew slightly quarter on quarter, but demand in Europe remained low.
LG posted a net proﬁt of KRW156 billion for the
second quarter ended 30 June, down from KRW169 billion in Q2 2012. Operating proﬁt fell by KRW48 billion to KRW479 billion. Sales rose 10.1% year on year to KRW15.23 trillion. Mobile Communications helped to lift sales, rising 34.5% to KRW3.1 trillion with operating proﬁt improving from a negative KRW28 billion to a positive KRW61 billion.
posted quarterly revenue of $35.3 billion and net proﬁt of $6.9 billion for its ﬁscal 2013 third quarter ended 29 June, against revenue of $35 billion and net proﬁt of $8.8 billion in the same quarter of 2012. Gross margin was 36.9% compared to 42.8%. The Company sold 31.2 million iPhones (a record for the June quarter) compared to 26 million in Q3 2012. iPad sales dropped from 17 million to 14.6 million and Mac sales fell to 3.8 million from 4 million. Apple provided the following guidance for its ﬁscal 2013 fourth quarter: revenue $34bn$37bn; gross margin 36%-37%. 10
GET CONNECTED AUGUST 2013
reported another good year of growth to 30 June 2013, with revenues up 7% to £7,235 million, operating proﬁt up 9% to £1,330 million and EBITDA up 8% to £1,692 million. ARPU rose £29 year-on-year to £577. Earnings per share increased 18%.
Freesat announced its 21st quarter of consecutive
growth after adding 145,000 homes to the service in the last twelve months. The continued growth of the service is expected to outpace Pay-TV rivals Sky and Virgin Media in the same period. Freesat now provides free entertainment to 4 million viewers a week across 1.8 million homes in the UK. It has sold 3.3 million set-top boxes and TVs, far exceeding original sales projections and taking gross retail sales value to over £1.2 billion since launch in May 2008.
reported its results for the second quarter ended 30 June 2013, stating that the ﬁgures reﬂect the measures taken to defend the Group’s proﬁtability. Group revenues amounted to €646.5 million, down 5.6% on the same period in 2012. Operating margin rose from €11 million to €13 million. In its full-year 2013 outlook Indesit said it expects sales to fall 3%-4% on last year and operating margin to be around 3%-3.3% of sales.
announced Q2 net earnings of $198 million, compared to $113 million during the same period last year. Sales rose $0.2 billion to $4.7 billion. Operating proﬁt totalled $328 million, up from $194 million in the prior year. The company increased its full-year diluted earnings per share guidance to $10.05 – $10.55 and its full-year adjusted earnings per share guidance to $9.50 – $10.00.
Electrolux reported net sales of SEK 27,674m
for the second quarter of 2013, against SEK 27,763m last year. The company said that a strong performance in North America compensated weak development in Europe. Income for the period declined from SEK 701m to SEK 642m. In Europe, lower volumes and prices as well as negative currency movements impacted results. Operations in North America reported another quarter of strong earnings. In the ﬁrst half of 2013 EBIT margin was close to 7%, a record for the ﬁrst six-month period in the region.
Net sales at increased 22% to $15.70 billion in the second quarter ended 30 June 2013, compared with $12.83 billion in same period last year. Operating income fell 26% to $79 million, against $107 million in the prior year. A net loss of $7 million was recorded.
The Word : Industry News
Ofcom announces plans for new HD channels on Freeview O
fcom is creating the opportunity for TV viewers to receive up to ten additional HD channels through their rooftop aerial. The new capacity will be made available on digital terrestrial TV by using airwaves freed up by the digital switchover, located
at 600 MHz, and could triple the number of HD channels currently available on the platform. Ofcom will award the licence to run the new multiplexes to the sole applicant, transmission company Arqiva, which has indicated that the channels will
HR Wade & Sons in Ramsey, Cambridgeshire has presented its local White Tiger Health & Fitness Club with a TV package including a new Highlight TV stand donated by Off The Wall for an Open Day and Raffle. The package will be presented as the main prize. All monies raised will go to the East Anglian Children’s Hospice Charity.
Pictured (left to right): Luke, Annette and Alan Gammon of HR Wade & Sons with Tristen Hobbs, owner of the White Tiger Health & Fitness Club.
be broadcast to up to 70% of the UK population – above the minimum requirement of 50%. The BBC has already expressed interest in launching new HD services. These and other channels could go live in some parts of the country by early 2014.
Cost of compliance continues to rise for small firms Despite Government promises to reduce the amount of time and money businesses spent on compliance, the average SME in 2013 pays substantially more than two years ago, according to new research by the Forum of Private Business. The Forum’s study puts the total cost of compliance at more than £18.2 billion – an 8.5% increase compared to 2011. The research also showed that firms are paying 11% more to external providers of payroll and tax support, which the FPB said was most likely down to the introduction of Real Time Information – the new HMRC payroll process introduced in April. Prior to RTI being launched in April, HMRC anticipated the cost to small business at £120 million. The FPB’s research puts the figure at more than double that, at £311 million. As in 2011 when the Forum carried out its last cost of compliance study, taxation compliance remained the single biggest outlay for small firms, followed by employment law in second place and health and safety in third.
Football League and Sky Sports agree new broadcasting partnership The Football League and Sky Sports have agreed a new 5-year partnership that includes extending their existing broadcasting agreement for a further three years until 2018. The partnership will also see Sky Bet become title sponsor of The Football League and Sky Sports offer more exclusive live matches, increasing the number of live games per season to 37.
The Word : Industry News
XBOX and Sony PlayStation compete for bestselling Christmas gift Currys & PC World have published their predicted Top 10 bestselling Christmas tech gifts for 2013, with gaming console greats Microsoft XBOX and Sony PlayStation competing for the number one spot.
1. XBOX ONE
It is the first time in over six years that two of the biggest names in gaming will release a new console to market. The XBOX ONE and PS4 take poll positions in this year’s Top 10 list.
6. Monster DNA On-Ear White Tuxedo Headphones
Currys & PC World’s Christmas 2013 Top Ten Tech Gifts are:
PJH Group has appointed John Fitzpatrick as Online Trading Manager for its new e-commerce website for business-to-business customers. J Fitzpactrick
Caple has appointed Hayley Atkins to the role of Business Development Manager, concentrating on areas in the South East, which include Suffolk, Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent, Surrey, Sussex and South and East London.
2. PS4 3. Apple iPad 4. Nexus 7 5. Samsung Galaxy Tab 3
7. KitchenAid Kitchen Machine (red) 8. De’Longhi EC310B Coffee Machine 9. Nikon D3200 Twin Kit with 18-55mm lens 10. Bose Soundlink Mini
LG’s curved OLED TV has been certified as energy efficient and designed with the environment in mind by three separate certification bodies. The product received the Green Leaf Mark from Intertek; the European Commission’s EU Ecolabel; and has been placed on the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT) registry for responsibly designed and built electronic devices. Beko is furthering its charity partnerships in an alliance with Barnardo’s, which will involve the white goods company focusing on consumer campaigns to help raise awareness and funds for the charity. Roberts Radio is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Beatles with a promotion to help retailers boost sales. Until the end of September 2013, retailers can offer customers who buy a Roberts radio the opportunity to win a pair of tickets for the theatrical concert ‘Let it be’, accompanied by an overnight stay in the Savoy Hotel.
CDA has appointed Nigel Clark to the newly created role of Head of Aftercare. Liebherr has received the Plus X Award for the ‘Most Innovative Brand 2013’ in the Built-in Nigel Clark Appliances category, receiving an impressive five awards – High Quality, Design, Ease of Use, Functionality and Ecology – out of seven categories. The brand’s integrated BioFresh refrigerator IKBP 3554 received the Plus X Award seal of approval for ‘Best Built-in Refrigerator 2013’. 12
GET CONNECTED AUGUST 2013
Derek Hollingdale with Mary Nightingale
New TRIC president ITV newsreader and television presenter Mary Nightingale has become the new President of the Television and Radio Industries Club. She received her badge of office from outgoing President, impressionist Jon Culshaw, at a luncheon at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London. Derek Hollingdale, Sales Director of Domestic & General Insurance, has taken over the role of TRIC Chairman from Nick Gregory, Business Development Director, British Sky Broadcasting. Money raised at TRIC events in the past year has been donated to four charities – Marie Curie Cancer Care, Trekstock, SOS Children UK and the Salvation Army. The annual TRIC Christmas Charity lunch will be held on Tuesday 10 December at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London. Bookings can be made via George Stone on 01277 624448 (email@example.com).
The Candy Group has inaugurated a new production line dedicated to refrigerators destined for the market in Kirov, Russia. The appliances will be produced in a nearby plant belonging to Vesta, one of Candy’s subsidiary companies. The decision to produce and market the products locally is part of the Group’s expansion policy. Haier has launched an art competition encouraging UK children to conceive futuristic inventions and draw or paint them for inclusion on the company’s online gallery. It is based on the Haier-sponsored ‘Create It’ wall in the London Science Museum. TV supplier Linsar has been included for the first time in the latest industry tracking statistics for the flat screen market. The company, which is currently launching a new range of Smart TVs boasting a high level of features, is positioned after Philips.
UNICEF UK has appointed Freeview Managing Director Ilse Howling as the first female Chairman of its Board of Trustees. Howling has served on UNICEF UK’s Board of Trustees since July 2009. Slovenian brand Gorenje has appointed Sprint Deliveries GB Ltd. as its new distribution partner.
Credit: Mark Lewis – De Dietrich DTiM1000C Piano zoneless induction hob and DHD1103X remote controlled downdraft extractor sited in the Smart APP-artment
Living the dream...
label of choice, said the Smart APPartment is an “amazing” place to visit “because it truly represents the future of home technology in the 21st Century.” In the kitchen, the essence of smart control and sustainability is brought to life with the incorporation of Intelligent Control System Ovens (ICS) in Grey Pearl from the De Dietrich Premium Collection, a matching ICS Dishwasher and the multi award-winning Piano hob, which is claimed to be the world’s most advanced zoneless induction hob. The Kitchen itself is designed by Ecoism Manufacturing Ltd. and is made entirely from sustainable eco materials to demonstrate that hi-tech living and green living are compatible.
De Dietrich chosen as exclusive kitchen appliances partner for London ‘Smart APP-artment’ cornflake.co.uk
Credit: Mark Lewis – the home cinema room
two-storey apartment just off Tottenham Court Road in London provides a splendid example of 21st Century experiential retailing – a format of retail tipped to trend in the UK electrical sector as online trade encroaches on general high street retailing and discerning consumers embrace the sophistication of connectivity and automation in the home. The Smart APP-artment is the creation of Robin Shephard, CEO of Cornflake, a leading supplier of premium home automation systems, and showcases some of the most desirable home automation technology on the market in a house designed to work for the individual. It is aimed at top-end architects, interior designers and consumers, and available to view by appointment only. Visitors are invited to ‘live’ the experience of the exclusive setting created by awardwinning interior designer April Russell. The showroom has a number of demarcated areas dedicated to the most advanced audio and visual solutions, with entire room sets including a separate bar and games room that converts into a party room, complete with revolving floor,
Credit: Mark Lewis – the games room
and an in-house cinema room where the latest movies can be streamed. The openplan living area incorporates a striking kitchen with intelligent and intuitive appliances exclusively from De Dietrich. Robin Shephard says the experience is about “technology in empathy with design.” It’s not about the products, it’s about the experience and what it can do for the individual. Amongst the characteristics common to all technology installed in the Smart APPartment are ease of use and touch-sensor control. Whether using an iPad or Android system to control home automation for heating, lighting, security, window blinds, music, TV... or using TFT touch-screens to control the sophisticated cooking appliances, every piece of technology in the Smart APP-artment is operated via intelligent touch-control systems. So, if you can open your garage door by remote control (although some of us are yet to get there!), it’s time to move up and on.... Richard Walker, sales and marketing director for De Dietrich Kitchen Appliances, delighted that the brand was Cornflake’s
The Smart APP-artment was unveiled in July at a VIP event, where Cornflake’s Shephard spoke about his choice of appliances for the technologically advanced sustainable kitchen: “We want to present the best of all available advanced home technology under one roof, and spent months researching which manufacturers were at the top of their game. De Dietrich appliances were head and shoulders above the rest of the field. The brand features the most advanced technologies with its incredibly intelligent and intuitive appliances and we are delighted to recommend De Dietrich to clients as our preferred partner.” Cornflake’s inspired, hands-on showroom reflects the trend for experiential retailing in the US. It comes at a time when home automation is becoming more affordable, and though far from mainstream, the associated custom install market is expanding and architects are adopting the concept more widely in the UK due to its resource-saving and convenience benefits and, of course, its consumer desirability. AUGUST 2013 GET CONNECTED
The Product Gallery
Gallery Tefal Smart Technology steam generators A new range of steam generators from Tefal offers simplified, one-touch setting controls while still catering for all ironing styles, from simplicity seekers to ironing experts. There are three products in the range: ExpressEasy Control (GV7550); Pro Express TotalAuto Control (GV8930 & GV8960); Pro Express TotalX-Pert Control (GV8975). Amongst the many features available on the GV8975 are:
New Smart Technology X-Pert Control with
fabric settings for synthetics, silk, wool, cotton and linen Market-leading 6.5-bar pressure for steam power of up to 360g/min Newly upgraded Anti-Calc Collector providing up to twice as much scale removal
Autoclean Soleplate with new precision-
“Revolutionary” Aquaboost Vaporizer
(3-bar pressure mist spray)
0845 602 1454 www.tefal.co.uk
Tefal OptiGrill The new OptiGrill, a second major launch for Tefal in July, sears at high temperatures, locking in flavour and juices, and leaves meat with appetising grill pan markings. The appliance cooks without oil and has six automatic programmes with dedicated cycles for burgers, chicken, bacon, sausage, meat and fish and a manual option also exists. The appliance automatically measures the thickness of meat and adjusts the cooking time to suit. Its patentpending technology detects how many items are on the grill and adapts the temperature and grilling cycle accordingly. RRP: £129.99. Large 600cm2 cooking surface with non-stick
Power 2000W 7° plate inclination for release of fat
and one 2” woofer
Rechargeable lithium battery with more
than 5 hours’ playtime
LED display for volume, mode, frequency /
Backlit TouchLight controls
Stereo mini line-in jack
0843 289 7195 www.genevalab.com
Dishwasher-safe plates & juice tray LED screen on handle indicates
Panasonic DMC-FZ72 camera Panasonic has added the DMC-FZ72 to its award-winning FZ series of cameras, offering a 20mm ultra wide-angle lens and 60x optical zoom. The zoom ratio can be further extended up to 120x equivalent while maintaining the picture quality, due to Intelligent Zoom and Intelligent Resolution technology. The optical zoom ratio can be extended further with a 1.7x Tele Conversion Lens (DMW-LT55 sold separately). LUMIX DC VARIO 20mm ultra-wide angle lens POWER O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer) with Active Mode Full HD Video with Dolby® Digital Stereo Creator for superior sound High sensitivity MOS Sensor and Venus Engine for high speed response and
0913 128 5343 www.panasonic.co.uk 14
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This Bluetooth-enabled Hi-Fi sound system with distinctive clamshell case is an entire system of speakers, amplifiers, FM/DAB/ DAB+ radio and alarm clock, all in a single rechargeable unit. Model XS DAB+ transforms the sound from smartphones, tablets and laptops. Its sturdy, waterproof case in red, white or black faux leather flips open to reveal a slender piano lacquered cabinet featuring Geneva’s distinctive domed grille. 2.1 speaker system with two 1” tweeters
0845 602 1454 www.tefaloptigrill.co.uk
Full manual control available for advanced users
Geneva Sound System Model XS DAB+
The Product Gallery
Amica Platinum chimney hood
Dyson DC49 vacuum cleaner Dyson has introduced its first mains powered vacuum cleaner incorporating the Dyson V4 digital motor, the same motor that powers the company’s Airblade hand dryers. The DC49 is the company’s smallest, quietest Ball™ vacuum cleaner to date. It has a footprint little bigger than an A4 piece of paper and delivers the performance of a full-size machine. 2.7kg in weight
Amica’s OKC953C cooker hood, part of the brand’s Platinum range, offers a distinctive look in stainless steel and smoked glass and the latest in extraction technology. The 90cm unit has an installed depth of 45cm and is height adjustable between 108cm and 137cm. As with all Amica appliances, it is covered by a comprehensive 2-year guarantee on parts and labour. 900m3/h extraction capacity / Remote
Automatic opening glass shield with
coating to ensure a smear-free appearance
1050W of power
Operates at 54 dB(A)
Pivots on the spot Supplied with turbine head and motor head floor tools RRP: 349.99
Electronic display with timer and 4 speed
settings / 2 x integrated 5W LED lights
01666 827200 www.dyson.co.uk
LG Hom-Bot Square robotic vacuum cleaner LG’s Hom-Bot Square robotic vacuum cleaner incorporates Dual Eye 2.0™ cameras that accurately scan and map rooms for the fastest, most efficient cleaning route, and ultrasonic and infrared sensors that detect obstacles to avoid. A Smart Turbo Mode automatically detects the type of flooring and changes the settings for best performance. There are three models in the range: VR6260LV / VR6270LVB / VR6270LVMB. Prices start from £449.95. Corner Master: two long brushes and corner-detecting sensors Noise level 60dBA Easy-out dustbin / HEPA 11 Filter Learning function / Voice guidance Long-lasting battery (100 minutes) Slide-in mop (model VR6270LVMB only)
01753 491500 www.lg.com/uk
Whirlpool A++ rated WBA 33872 NFC IX fridge freezer Whirlpool has launched a new 60cm, A++ fridge freezer as part of its Green Generation range. The WBA 33872 NFC IX, styled in a high quality stainless steel finish with flush handles, incorporates the brand’s 6th Sense® technology which restores temperature to the correct level up to five times faster than a standard fridge, and 6th Sense® Fresh Control, which ensures ideal humidity levels so foodstuffs such as fruit and vegetables remain fresh up to four times longer. Electronic controls with LED display Antibacterial filter Noise level 42 dB(A) Total net capacity: 320 litres Fridge: 4 x glass shelves (3 adjustable) / Bottle rack / Deep door balconies Freezer: Frost-free / 3 x freezer drawers / Net capacity 97 litres
0208 649 5000 www.whirlpool.co.uk AUGUST 2013 GET CONNECTED
Town & Apartment Living
is notoriously difficult to get onto the housing ladder in the UK, but of those that do accomplish the feat, many are bound by cramped living spaces, cooped up in boxrooms with kitchen areas not big enough to swing the proverbial cat. Not a desirable representation of one of the world’s most important economies and financial centres, but one which has been brought about by property developers’ awareness that a significant proportion of the population has, for many years now, been priced out of the property market, and land, particularly in major cities, being at a premium, resulting in the construction of homes representative of rabbit hutches (metaphorically speaking) and building skywards as opposed to horizontal. Both scenarios have supplied slightly more affordable homes, while providing lucrative pickings for developers as a greater number of dwellings are crammed onto smaller pieces of land. A study by RIBA (the Royal Institute of British Architects) found that new homes in the UK “not only appeared to be shrinking”, but were also the smallest in Western Europe. Consumers in Ireland could expect new homes to be 15% bigger, in the Netherlands they were 53% bigger, and in Denmark the average newly built home was 80% bigger than in the UK.
...43% of respondents in fully occupied homes said they didn’t have enough space for convenient food preparation.“
35cm Tower cooker hood from Baumatic
Shoebox Britain? The UK has some of the smallest new homes in Europe, so how can consumers take advantage of the time- and resource-saving benefits offered by the full complement of essential domestic appliances, in homes that are up to 80% smaller than those built in other parts of Western Europe? GC reports 16
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Apart from the general wellbeing concerns associated with living in cramped conditions, the Riba study noted that 47% of respondents (58% of fully occupied homes) said there was not enough space for furniture they owned or would like to own, 57% (69% of fully occupied homes) said there was not enough storage for their possessions, 35% said that they didn’t have enough kitchen space for appliances such as toasters or microwaves, and 43% of respondents in fully occupied homes said they didn’t have enough space for convenient food preparation. A challenge indeed for electrical retailers and kitchen designers whose job it is to recommend appliances that will fulfil the needs, and ideals, of those living in compact environments.
De Dietrich sales & marketing director Richard Walker points out that around 11.5 million people in the UK (20.5% of the population) live in a flat or apartment, with the highest proportion (over 50%) being in London, where, in terms of private ownership, such dwellings tend to cost more than the average house in other areas of the UK. But he adds that, “whether their kitchens are large or small, today’s sophisticated consumers are choosing to cook and entertain at home more often, and even with very limited space, often in an open-plan layout, they are seeking appliances that will deliver advanced cooking options, have low noise levels and will be as space-efficient as possible.” The aforementioned open-plan layout is, of course, a feature of the wider housing market in the UK nowadays, as householders have adopted the concept of modern, airy spaces that create what is perceived to be a more social environment. This, along with the development of high-rise apartments, has had an unmistakable impact on the kitchen appliances market, according to Baumatic Marketing Manager Rita Balestrazzi, as new demand has been created for white goods that can more easily integrate into multipurpose kitchen/dining areas and tighter spaces.
Town & Apartment Living
“This new demand is stimulating sales at both ends of the market, driving growth for premium as well as budget appliances,” she comments. Balestrazzi says that the cooking market has undergone considerable growth in the past 12 months, increasing by 5% in value sales, which, in part, can be attributed to the introduction of more compact appliances at the mid and premium points of the sector. “A much more affordable cooking solution for young professionals living in high-rise accommodation, the new series of 46cm compact appliances are offering multipurpose, space-saving cooking solutions, providing conventional, fan and grill functionality as well as microwave or steam power. With generous gross capacities of up to 44 litres, such appliances are now suitable for use as the main household oven, coming equipped with a range of intelligent features for the time-poor professional.”
COVERING ALL THE BASES
De Dietrich’s Walker says his brand’s 45cm DOS1180X multifunction Pyroclean oven with steam functions, touch-control and animated display is “ideal” for smaller kitchens.
AEG PROTEX PLUS HANDLES DELICATE GARMENTS WITH TLC With a ProTex Plus machine consumers can now wash even their most delicate silk and woollen garments with peace of mind. Featuring the only wool programme on the market today that has a ‘cool down’ phase at the end of the wash, this machine protects fabrics from the shock of a cold water rinse at the end of a cycle to prevent shrinking. The ProTex Plus is so gentle that it was recently awarded the highly-coveted Woolmark Gold certificate for its delicate handling. With AEG’s steam function users can refresh a suit and remove creases as an alternative to dry cleaning. The ProTex Plus washing machine generates steam at a lower temperature of 70°C for extra gentleness, making it ideal for dry clean only garments. Trade Sales: 08445 610651 www.aeg.co.uk
De Dietrich compact 45cm combination microwave oven and 45cm Pyroclean oven with steam functions
“Combine this with a 45cm DME1195X touch-control combination microwave with animated display and the consumer has every possible cooking option available today, from two compact ovens.” The popularity of steam cooking is gaining traction in the UK as consumers come to realise that steaming is not just for fish or vegetables and steam technology has advanced and is now available at different levels of the market. The perception that steam is not a suitable method for cooking the Sunday joint is also being dispelled as technology now provides options such as those seen on the Electrolux CombiSteam multifunction oven, which offers all of the functions expected on a top-of-the-range model, with the addition of three programmes that use different combinations of steam and hot air: CrispSteam (25% steam) for roasting poultry or meat; SoftSteam (50% steam) for creating a crisp crust on breads and cakes and for reheating foods without further browning or drying them out; PureSteam (100% steam) for dishes such as rice or vegetables. Combination cooking appliances are the natural choice for small kitchens, according to Smeg’s Joan Fraser, Product Development & Training Manager: “They are so flexible that there may well be no need for a full sized oven.” For those already embracing the growing trend for cooking with steam as a healthy, quick and flexible option, Fraser suggests that the new Smeg SC45VC2 ‘Linea’ compact combination steam
oven with grill is the “perfect all-in-one alternative” to a full-sized oven as it can be used either as a steam oven or traditional oven or both in combination. She adds that the new Smeg FME120, a microwave oven and grill suitable for building into a wall unit, would also fit the bill for small kitchens, as would the larger capacity SC45MCSG2 compact combination microwave oven with grill, which is available in 4 finishes.
NEAT AND NIFTY
“With limited living space being a real problem for a lot of today’s consumers, one advantage of a multifunctional product is that only one appliance is needed, so a lot of kitchen space is freed up,” says Samsung’s Lana Sanleandro, Head of Marketing – Digital Appliances. “The Samsung Smart Oven microwave is the perfect example of this as it not only has all the benefits of a microwave oven, it also features SlimFry™ technology for healthy, crispy chips, a dough proving mode for fresh homemade bread and a yoghurt-making function.” Smeg’s Joan Fraser asserts that the “perfect” small hob-top cooking solution to complement the all-important oven choice is the Domino hob, an appliance which, says Baumatic’s Balestrazzi, is now designed to fit new-build flats as it comes in a compact 30cm size so can be fitted alone or as part of a set to create a dynamic and versatile cooking solution. She adds that compact induction hobs are proving particularly popular for small galley-style kitchens as they help prevent AUGUST 2013 GET CONNECTED
Town & Apartment Living
Zanussi’s Quadro slimline dishwasher
heat from escaping into the surrounding area – an important point, because as this feature is being written, the summer temperatures have reached a stupefying 34°C in parts of the UK, making everyday tasks wearying and uncomfortable. Electrolux’s Sophie Davidson says AEG’s CrystalLine range of modular hobs provides a “spectacular” background for food preparation. “The consumer can combine individual hobs from the collection according to their preferred cooking methods.” The collection offers paired single + triple zone radiant burners, paired maxi induction burners with bridge to create one large cooking area, an induction wok burner, teppan yaki grill, double gas burner and gas wok with wok stand.
De Dietrich’s Walker remarks that the benefits of zoneless cooking are immeasurable, whether using a standard sized 65cm hob that fits into a 60cm cavity, such as De Dietrich’s DTi1053X, or a 38cm modular version. “The DTi1053X 65cm Dual Zoneless induction hob features two adjacent 40cm x 23cm cooking areas. Each can either be used as one large zone, suitable for sizeable casserole dishes or a fish kettle, or as two autonomous smaller zones to suit smaller cookware. A 38cm modular version, DTi1041X, has a single 40cm x 27cm zoneless area, which still allows for truly versatile cooking, even in the most compact kitchens.” Amongst Smeg’s range of hobs are seven 30cm-wide, 2-zone Domino
NEW LOOK FOR BUILT-IN FROM NEW WORLD New World has injected some vibrant colour into city kitchens with the introduction of an eyecatching new Colours collection of built-in ovens. Available across a choice of sizes and fuel types, the Colours collection features a range of
single and double built-in ovens which contrast black glass with a brightly coloured trim available in metallic purple, blue, green, red and, for those looking for something extra special, an ultra-shiny chrome finish. The collection comprises the
NW601F, an A-rated single 60cm electric fanned oven, the fully programmable NW601FP and, for those looking for additional capacity, New World offers the NW701DO, a 70cm electric double oven which can be built-in or under. Alternatively, large families could opt for the 90cm NW901DO double oven. www.newworldappliances.co.uk
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cooking products, including an induction hob, 2-burner gas hob, lava stone grill and deep fat fryer. All are supplied with the brand’s Linea controls and a set of Classic controls, which can be changed to match other appliances in Smeg’s ranges. Smeg also has a 60cm telescopic cooker hood suitable for compact spaces. The KSET610X can be pulled out from a wall unit when required and pushed back tidily out of the way when no longer needed. It is also quiet in operation, at only 27dB(A) on setting 1, presenting efficient and compact extraction which is practical for small combined kitchen/dining areas. According to Baumatic’s Balestrazzi, open-plan living is helping to boost the flagging cooker hood sector, as consumers now require designerstyle appliances that will fit the space available, operate quietly and, most importantly, keep open-plan areas odour and grease free. She adds that island hoods are now designed to fit the average sized open-plan home, coming in more practical sizes but offering the same level of powerful extraction as larger models. “35cm models are being developed to work above a standard 60cm hob, providing extraction rates of up to 1000m3/h. Over the last 12 months, Baumatic’s value sales have increased by 3% thanks to the addition of its latest 35cm stainless steel tower and cylindrical-shaped island hoods.”
Open-plan living has in some instances opened up kitchen areas enough to accommodate statement appliances such as the range cooker. Leisure Brand Manager Amanda Selby remarks that Leisure range cookers offer optimal versatility, combining several different cooking functions while ultimately helping to save space. “Because the Leisure range is available in a variety of sizes, retailers can now capitalise on the increased consumer interest in range cooking, no matter how compact the kitchen is. The Leisure 60cm model means that even those with a compact kitchen can enjoy the benefits of range cooking.” For smaller occupancy households or those struggling with limited living space, Hoover Candy’s Steve Macdonald, Trade Marketing Director, Freestanding Division, says combination/ multifunctional appliances can offer the perfect solution. “It’s with this in mind that Candy developed the Candy Trio, a market-first offering a multifunction electric oven and grill, a ceramic hob cooking surface and six IEC place setting dishwasher – great for dinner parties. It’s the perfect all-round solution for the type of dinky modern kitchen so many of us have today.”
Town & Apartment Living
BELLING BRINGS DESIGNER FLAIR TO BUILT-IN Leading British cooking appliance brand Belling has unveiled a striking new collection of built-in ovens, hobs and hoods designed by Sebastian Conran. The collection is made in Britain and celebrates the best of British manufacturing and design. The sophisticated and modern new Belling Design • Sebastian Conran collection includes two oven sizes, a choice of gas or induction hobs and stylish yet functional hoods. The ovens, gas hobs and hoods all come in five colour-ways to create a co-ordinated look in the kitchen: Duck Egg Blue; Pastel Green; Icy Brook White; Anthracite and Aluminum. The collection includes a number of design innovations: the hoods feature a built-in utensil rail and the ovens all feature solid metal knobs, inspired by the switches on 1940s fighter planes. 0844 248 4149 www.belling.co.uk/sebastian-conran
THE NEW ESSENTIAL
Macdonald adds that the dishwasher has been viewed as a luxury purchase by British consumers for a number of years, but recently there has been a positive shift in perception and recognition that using a dishwasher rather than washing by hand can actually save water and energy. “From 2012 to 2013 there has been positive growth in sales, and if we take into account a rise in single person households as well, you could argue it isn’t just those with large family homes that are purchasing a dishwasher.” Sertac Sertler, head of product management at Beko Plc, believes dishwashers are increasingly being seen as essential, but he adds that consumers don’t want to be disturbed by the noise
that often accompanies such appliances. “In 2010, 57% of models on the market had a noise level of 51dB or more but by 2013 this was down to just 36%, which reflects the shift towards open-plan living. Built-in dishwashers have seen their share of the total market value jump from 33% in December 2011 to 43% in 2013 to date. Consumers appreciate the way a built-in model fits so seamlessly into their kitchen design, offering all the time-and energysaving benefits of a freestanding model but without interrupting the visual flow of their kitchen.” Beko recently introduced its lowest water-consumption dishwasher. The new DSFN6839W uses just six litres of water to clean an entire load. It operates at 43dB, which Sertler says is ideal for open-plan living. To put this noise level into context, the average household emits 65-90 decibels of noise and the human ear hears each 10dB increase as a doubling in volume. As a general rule, a whisper is 30dB, normal conversation is 50-65dB, while traffic noise is 80dB. LG’s Dawn Stockell, Marketing Communications Manager, Home Appliances, remarks that LG’s TrueSteam dishwashers are “super quiet”, at
Leisure’s 60cm range cooker
just 38dB, “ensuring the only thing interrupting the conversation is dinner.”
“While all appliance manufacturers continue to promote the message that a dishwasher is a necessity and not a luxury, this is even more important in a smaller kitchen, especially if it is open plan,” comments De Dietrich’s Walker. “No one wants unsightly dishes sitting in the sink, and it should be easy for retailers to convince consumers that a slimline
EFFORTLESS ENTERTAINING BY HOSTESS The Hostess HW07MA wine cabinet is the perfect kitchen space filler. It holds 7 bottles and has adjustable temperature settings from 5ºC to 18ºC so users can choose the desired level to keep wine at the optimum temperature they prefer. Its sleek look comprises a tinted glazed door, which is reversible, and it has 6 wire shelves, an interior light, a digital temperature display, adjustable legs and is frost free. A ‘must have’ for all kitchens! Sales office: 01422 203585 | www.hostess.co.uk
Town & Apartment Living
DE’LONGHI PRIMADONNA XS COFFEE MACHINE At just 19.5cm in width, the De’Longhi PrimaDonna XS is the slimmest Bean to Cup coffee machine on the market. It is the latest addition to the brand’s bestselling PrimaDonna range, combining outstanding style, versatility and performance into one small but perfectly formed package. Discreet and chic in brushed steel, this is the ideal machine
dishwasher is a far better option than an extra 45cm cupboard, as all dirty dishes are hidden away until required, and while they are hidden, they are being washed and dried, quietly – never drowning out the sound of conversation. Combine this with the fact that they are also helping the environment in terms of water consumption and it is a win-win for all parties.” Indesit claims to have the “perfect” dishwashing solution if space is really at a premium. Brand Director Ian Moverley comments that the “small but perfectly formed” AAA-rated 6 place setting tabletop model, ICD661, offers “large capacity dishwashing on a small scale.” With built-in, in-line, slimline and countertop dishwashers on the market, retailers and kitchen designers should have little trouble guiding consumers in finding the best fit for their home and lifestyle.
2-IN-1 LAUNDRY OPTIONS
Laundry appliances, too, are an essential and most apartment dwellers will want to wash less often while having the option to ‘wash and go’ when necessary. Little space means little room for drying apparatus, and the prospect of clothes hanging over radiators is not conducive to uncluttered, compact living.
for smaller kitchens with limited work-surface space. Almost 20% more compact than its smallest predecessor, the PrimaDonna XS not only grinds fresh beans, but froths and heats fresh milk in the unique De’Longhi milk carafe and also comes with a nozzle that allows coffee fans to create artistic lattes. The appliance also sports an autorinse and de-scale feature, with
LG’s newly launched F1695RDH 12/8Kg washer dryer delivers maximum capacity within a regular washing machine footprint, offering the facility to wash and dry 8Kg without the need to change the load or settings. This latest model also incorporates LG’s TrueSteam™ technology, which uses steam jets that drive through fabrics to dislodge stains and allergens. Commenting on the Hotpoint laundry range, Marketing Manager Ian Starkey highlights the brand’s Aqualtis 11/7Kg washer dryer. “This sophisticated machine incorporates energy-saving sensors that monitor moisture and temperature levels inside the drum, sensing when the load is dry. This helps to save energy and money over the life of the machine.” Working down the scale in terms of capacity, Beko has recently launched a 9/6Kg washer dryer, which requires no intervention on a 6/6Kg wash and dry. “This is a real help for householders with limited drying space and no room for a separate washer and dryer,” says Sertac Sertler. The appliance also features a programme that washes and dries up to 5 shirts in under an hour.
Combination cooling appliances generally take up the biggest area in the kitchen,
Tefal’s ActiFry 2 in 1 offers space-saving 2-layer cooking
an auto-clean button to clean the milk carafe, which leaves more time to enjoy café quality coffee at home. www.seriousaboutcoffee.com
DIMPLEX OPTI- V:
NO HEAT, NO FUMES, NO FUSS Dimplex, the brand leader in electric fires, has launched Opti-V, a stunningly realistic flame effect which offers the ambience of a real fire all year round without the need for costly installation or running costs. Opti-V combines real fire footage displayed on a high definition LCD screen with a unique illusory technique to create a truly 3D effect of flickering flames, complete with smoke and burning embers with audio footage of crackling logs, and all at the running cost of a light bulb. For electrical retailers, Opti-V provides a chance to stand out in the lucrative electric fires market, which grew 12% in 2011/12 and is now worth more than £49 million per year. The effect is available in two designs: • Opti-V PGF10: LCD television screen with optional stainless steel effect frame and remote control with sound effect volume control. Named Best Overall Product in the prestigious Hearth & Home 2013 fireplace industry awards • Opti-V PGF20: A double-width LCD television screen offering all the benefits of PGF10 with increased aperture for commercial installations and prestige projects. 0844 879 3587 | www.dimplex.co.uk/opti-v
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Town & Apartment Living
but sufficient and safe food storage is a must. New developments in cooling guarantee the best use of internal space in relation to products’ footprint, and there is a school of thought that maintains cooling appliances need not be restricted to the kitchen at all. As Hotpoint’s Starkey points out: “Stylish appliances with true design-appeal such as the Hotpoint Quadrio look equally at home in an openplan living room.” Smeg’s Joan Fraser says the Smeg 50s style range of retro design refrigeration appliances are a “hugely” popular choice for consumers of all ages and frequently chosen to make a design statement in the home. “Due to their attractive and eye-catching design and colours they are often positioned in full view, rather than hidden in a corner, and sometimes even placed in living areas as a talking point.” American-style fridge freezers continue to be coveted by consumers that want a statement piece in their home, but one of the most alluring features of these dominant appliances – i.e. water/ ice through the door – is now (in part) available in standard width cooling, as can be seen in Indesit’s Total Frost water dispenser fridge freezer, which uses new technology and a thinner back liner to provide 20 litres of extra internal storage space. The through-the-door water dispenser delivers cool, fresh water 24/7 and is specially designed for use with a jug or bottle.
TALL AND FLEXIBLE
Samsung’s Sanleandro comments that more and more people want a refrigerator that they can use to store a greater quantity of food, without taking up any additional space in the kitchen. “It might be that they would prefer to shop less or they may enjoy entertaining and so need the extra space when they are throwing a party,” she says. “As such, there has been a huge focus from manufacturers over the past couple of years on altering the internal design of cooling appliances to make inside storage compartments larger
FISHER & PAYKEL DISHDRAWER™ The ingenious Fisher & Paykel DishDrawer™ can be placed anywhere within the kitchen, seamlessly fitting into cabinetry. The DishDrawer™ Double dishwasher has comparable
dimensions to those of traditional dishwashers but provides the benefit of two independent drawers for added convenience and ergonomics. Powered by SmartDrive™
intelligent technology with load sensing and 9 wash programmes, the DishDrawer™ dishwasher provides up to 9 place settings with flexible racking system, adjustable cup racks and folding tines that can accommodate long-stemmed wine glasses. The DishDrawer™ also comes with a 5 year parts and labour warranty for total peace of mind.* Model ref. DD60DDFHX7: H820-88-mm x W599mm x D571mm, AAA-rated. www.fisherpaykel.com
and more flexible for different food storage needs, without increasing the external dimension of the refrigerator itself.” The newest ‘flexible’ addition to Beko’s range is a 3-door ‘multizone’ 60cm model, which offers versatile internal space as the middle door compartment switches easily between fridge, freezer, chiller or wine cooler modes. And there are an increasing number of multizone combi products on the market, including glass-fronted models from Chinese brand Haier. Hoover Candy’s Macdonald, referring to the extra-tall 2,000mm Hoover Dynamic, wisely notes that tall fridge freezers work well in compact kitchens as they make good use of vertical space that would otherwise be deemed as ‘dead’ space or used for overhead cupboards. Extra-tall cooling provides a huge amount of storage space in a standard footprint. LG’s new 2m appliance (GBB530NSCFE), for example, is 60cm wide
and offers 320 litres of capacity. The unit also houses LG’s Moist Balance Crisper to keep food fresher for longer and Fresh O Zone, which keeps meat and fish at the optimum temperature.
Guiding consumers towards the appropriate appliances that will fulfil the needs of compact living will always pose a challenge for retailers and kitchen designers. But it is possible to satisfy requirements when multifunctional products are teamed with the aspirational style that most households desire. And while volume builders continue to squeeze as many dwellings as possible onto the urban landscape – the average new-build, one bedroom home in the UK is just 46 square metres, the size of a tube carriage on London’s Jubilee line – there will continue to be a demand for low footprint, high capacity, multipurpose appliances.
Home Entertainment & AV Accessories Linking an NFC-compatible smartphone to a Sony Onetouch remote enables users to show content stored on their phone on a Bravia television
Improving the home cinema experience Home entertainment enthusiasts look for the best sound and picture quality in the living room and will often go to great lengths to achieve the best viewing experience possible. So, what are they looking for these days in terms of home entertainment systems, components and AV accessories? George Cole reports
ccording to Eric Kingdon, senior manager, product development video and sound at Sony, connectivity continues to grow in importance as consumers look for ways to make their devices work together in one eco system. This ultimately makes it easier for users to share content between devices and with their families. Kingdon says that Sony’s app TV SideView is designed for Apple and Android smartphones and makes it easy for users to browse schedules, record
systems, as well as home cinema systems and soundbars to complement its various Viera TVs.
Convenience, portability and sound quality are key to this year’s home entertainment offering, according to Chris Moseley, AV product manager at Samsung UK, who believes that “home entertainment is no longer just about watching TV in the living room.” He explains that Samsung’s new Soundshare technology is built into most of the company’s 2013 soundbars and portable audio products and allows users to upgrade their TV sound without any connecting cables, making installation both easy and tidy. The HWF751 soundbar also features Valve Amp technology, which is designed to achieve the best in sound reproduction.
Kingdon adds that there is an increasing drive for better quality. For example: the leap in picture quality from HD to Ultra High Definition (or 4K) and high resolution audio products. “Headphones are a great example of this, and it’s increasingly common for people to spend more on them in order to get a better listening experience. The growing soundbar market shows the same trend as people look to improve the performance over normal TV sound.”
Home entertainment is no longer just about watching TV in the living room” shows or explore related content. It’s also possible to link an NFC-compatible (NFC stands for Near Field Communication and is a short-range wireless technology) smartphone to a Sony One-touch remote (a TV remote with NFC technology) to establish a wireless connection. This enables users to show content stored on their phone on a Bravia television. “It’s a great way to share photos, videos, games and apps on the big screen,” he remarks. 22
GET CONNECTED AUGUST 2013
Adam Marshall, audio product manager at Panasonic, says superior sound is a must, as is an eye catching design and, more recently, the convenience of wireless music streaming. “These are at the top of everyone’s wish list.” Panasonic’s offerings include a new range of Smart Network, Full HD 3D Blu-ray Disc players such as the DMP-BDT330; wireless speakers for the tablet generation; the designer NE series wireless speaker
Off The Wall’s new Motion stand integrates the TV and Soundbar speaker into one simple solution
Keep streaming With over 10,000 radio stations to choose from and the freedom to listen to your own music.
Product No. 150412 Hama IR200 Wireless LAN Internet Radio SRP 89.99
The Hama IR200 wireless LAN internet radio comes with in-built UPnP technology which enables seamless integration with your other wireless devices, giving you a unique audio experience and solution for when listening to worldwide internet radio or playing your own music. To order, or find out more about this product, please call Hama (UK) Ltd on 0845 2304262
Home Entertainment & AV Accessories
easier content sharing across devices. The range includes the LA8, LA7 and LA6 series of TVs, an 84-inch Ultra HD set and 55-inch OLED TVs. Shakeel Hassanali, Philips marketing leader UK/IRE, states that home entertainment enthusiasts are looking for great sound matched with great design. “We are increasingly seeing the need to connect the products to the user’s world. Internet radio and music streaming services like Spotify are becoming ‘must haves’. Seamless integration with music stored at home is especially important for HE enthusiasts, whether that’s music stored on a PC, network storage device or accessed via a home network or phone.”
IN-STORE ASSISTANCE “The convenience of wireless also extends to mobile products,” adds Moseley. “Simply touch an NFCenabled mobile phone to the side of the new DA-F60 portable wireless speaker and a studio quality, lossless wireless connection is instantly created, allowing you to hear your mobile music in outstanding quality wherever and whenever you want.” The speaker includes a 12-hour rechargeable battery. Samsung’s Smart TV service includes Smart Entertainment, Smart Control and Smart Share. Smart Entertainment is available via premium on-demand movie and TV apps and enables films and shows to be streamed, rented or purchased, as well as music services such as Spotify and Napster. Samsung’s smart Control device - the Magic Motion Remote - uses voice,
gesture, motion or wheel actions for easy web browsing and intuitive navigation. Smart Share allows homemade videos and photographs to be transferred to the big screen. “Our TVs are supported by a range of audio and visual products which work together to create the ultimate viewing experience,” says Moseley.
Craig West, head of marketing, Consumer Electronics at LG, notes that consumers are increasingly interacting with multiple devices simultaneously and expect to be able to access content wherever and whenever they want. Therefore, it is important for manufacturers to offer increased accessibility to on-demand content and with easy usability. LG’s 2013 Smart TV platform is designed to offer
YAMAHA YSP-3300 SOUND PROJECTOR Complete focus on achieving the finest sound… This was the key goal with Yamaha’s latest high-end Sound Projectors. From this uncompromising aim, the new YSP emerged. The YSP-3300 features the ideal speaker unit size and layout with a chassis forged from aluminium aiding high rigidity. Add the gloss black finish on both the centre unit and wireless subwoofer and the end result is a design built on a firmly established plan. A philosophy geared for achieving optimum sound quality. For high sound quality wireless streaming, simply use the YIT-W12 Wireless Transmitter (supplied with the YSP-3300) and enjoy music from iPod/ iPhone/iPad or Mac/PC. For further information: 01908 366700 http://uk.yamaha.com
GET CONNECTED AUGUST 2013
LG’s 9.1 channel 1460W 3D Blu-ray home cinema system
Sony’s Kingdon says these new technologies provide opportunities for more interesting ways to present products, demonstrating how they work together interactively. “Manufacturers believe that retailers can do a lot to help customers plan their home entertainment purchases in order to get the best cinemalike experience.”
Superior sound is a must, as is an eye catching design and the convenience of wireless music streaming” According to Panasonic’s Marshall, retailers need to stock a good range of home theatre products in order to allow customers to touch and feel. “There are many different components to a home theatre set up, from Blu-ray players to wireless speakers, to Hi-Fi systems to home cinema systems, and retailers need to show customers how these products work together in order to help plan their home theatre.” He adds that, where possible, products should be powered so customers can try them effectively. Also, staff should be fully trained and learn about the products, so they can demonstrate and highlight the key features and show how these features will benefit the consumer. “Understanding the advantages and limitations of each model is also key,” he comments. “And, most importantly, retailers need to talk to the customer and understand their needs and what they’re looking for so they can recommend an appropriate product.” Marshall’s final advice for retailers is to explain the benefits of streaming at the point of purchase. “This could be through the use of display stands or, preferably, an in-store product demonstration. When you ask most consumers about streaming, they haven’t heard of it, but when you explain how it works they think it’s a great feature that they would love to use.”
Home Entertainment & AV Accessories
GIANT SOUND IN A COMPACT FORMAT Compact Cinema Systems from SHIFT Series by Paradigm Paradigm excels at producing room-filling reference sound in a compact format. A choice of 3 different fully powered audio/ multimedia systems with MSRPs ranging from £599 to £1,099. There are both satellite and soundbar solutions, making great sound accessible to everyone. All of these: ✓ Are easy to set up with outstanding sound and build quality ✓ Have a high-performance subwoofer ✓ Give a stunning musical performance ✓ Can be paired with a wireless streaming device such as Apple TV ✓ Include stands and brackets
Distributed by Anthem AV Solutions: 01825 750858 www.anthemavs.co.uk
“Having knowledgeable staff who understand the product and its benefits is important to the success of both manufacturers and retailers,” says Samsung’s Chris Moseley. “We are committed to specific audio training and our audio training facility at Brentford is staffed by ISF [Imaging Science Foundation] qualified trainers, providing retailers a bespoke training environment for our audio offering. This training is designed to give retailers the knowledge and skills required to advise and demonstrate the latest technology. In doing this, customers can see and hear how these products are brought to life on the shop floor so they have a full home entertainment experience as they would at home.” LG’s West says that the arrival of game-changing products such as OLED TV and Ultra HD TV means that it’s vital for retailers to have essential elements in place to demonstrate fully the advances in picture quality, such as Full HD video feeds and/or content, internet connectivity for Smart TV and space for 3D viewing. “With such premium TV products it is essential that retailers can display them correctly
and demonstrate the many benefits of each technology. It is also important that retailers explain clearly to consumers the improved viewing experience that they can offer. “LG is committed to continuing to support its retailers and believes that the in-store environment is a vital platform to showcase its products and help consumers make the right choice. As a result, LG has expanded its consumer electronics training initiatives with instore teams, online training activities, training initiatives from the LG Academy, as well as specialist workshops and hands-on training.” Shakeel Hassanali of Philips says that retailers shouldn’t just focus on product. “It’s easy to fail to take into account the dimensions of the room where the HT system will be used – an important point when it comes to choosing the size and placement of the loudspeakers. Also, the room acoustics play an important role: does it have carpets or a wooden floor, for example? Setting up an HT system can be daunting for the uninitiated, so guidance from the retailer here can greatly enhance the value-add and eventual customer satisfaction of the whole experience.”
Growth from Knowledge
The lowdown on HE GfKâ€™s Nick Simon, Account Director, Consumer Electronics, provides an update on the Home Entertainment market
iven the wider perspective of a total TV market which has declined from a peak of 10 million sets sold in 2009 to a likely 2013 total below 7 million, it is not surprising that some commentators have expressed pessimism about future prospects for home entertainment. Furthermore, sales of other relevant devices have declined at an even more alarming rate. Fewer than 3 million DVD and Blu-ray players were sold in 2012 compared to a 2008 volume of more than 5 million. However, consumers are unlikely to be too concerned. Manufacturersâ€™ and retailersâ€™ frustrations notwithstanding, the most recent TV ownership figures measured by GfK still showed a total figure for British households in excess of 60 million, while cumulative sales of DVD and Blu-ray have now exceeded 40 million, so there is no shortage of products.
Although total TV sales have slowed down, the preponderance of very thin LED screens and the consequent loss of audio power have been beneficial to manufacturers and retailers of soundbars, which have become the norm among the many consumers requiring an extra dimension of sound.
Other key features which are having a positive impact include larger screens. These will inevitably showcase ultra high definition 4K TVs and, eventually, OLED sets when these appear in more significant quantities.â€? Other key features which are having a positive impact include larger screens. These will inevitably showcase ultra high definition 4K TVs and, eventually, OLED sets when these appear in more significant quantities.
Optimism represented by mobile connected screens
PORTABLE MEDIA PLAYER
January 2006 - April 2013
Great Britain Retailer
Sales Ths. Units
Smartphones NoteBook NetBook Media tablets
Sales Ths. Units ( x1000 )
Portable media player
20 15 10 5 0 Jan 06-Dec 06
Jan 07-Dec 07
Jan 08-Dec 08
Back in the present, more than a millionand-a-half smart TVs have been sold in the last year (twelve months ended May 2013). While there is still some scepticism about the amount of time that these products are actually being used for to connect to the internet, there is no doubt that they now constitute mainstream
Jan 09-Dec 09
Jan 10-Dec 10
Jan 11-Dec 11
Jan 12-Dec 12
May 12-Apr 13
entertainment. This considerable volume of web connectable TVs is augmented by similarly equipped Blu-ray (nearly threequarters-of-a-million in the June 2012 to May 2013 moving year) and a more modest quantity of set-top boxes with ethernet. Of course, we are no longer confined to the traditional consumer electronics universe, because the addition of all internet compatible durables products allows for the inclusion of laptops and desktop computers, tablets and smartphones. Enormous volumes of the latter category in particular meant that 30 million internet-friendly devices were sold in the last year alone, making a cumulative total of 95 million in five years. If near universal internet access represents the reality of life in 2013, we should not forget 3D. Although the BBC has added to doubts about its future by stopping 3D production, more than two million 3DTVs and one million Blu-ray players have been sold since launch. No article about home entertainment is complete without an appreciation of the impact of tablets on our lifestyle. If not quite ubiquitous, these products now comfortably outsell PCs and have become a key accessory, not just in their more obvious role working in tandem as remote controls with televisions, but also enabling the smooth transition from traditional mini, midi and micro to connected audio systems. At the same time, smartphones are overlapping with portable audio players to feed and control wireless speakers.
For further information, contact Nick Simon, Senior Account Director, Consumer Electronics: Nick.Simon@gfk.com +44 870 603 8128 www.gfk.com/uk www.twitter.com/gfk_en 26
GET CONNECTED AUGUST 2013
George Cole Gets Connected George Cole pinpoints hotspots in the world of consumer electronics
3D or not 3D? – that is the question So,
where does 3DTV go from here? In view of recent developments, you might think that it’s heading for the technoscrapheap in the sky, along with other consumer electronics formats that have bitten the dust. But writing off 3DTV at this stage is premature, although there is no doubt that the format faces some big challenges. The news that the BBC is to end its two-year 3DTV experiment at the end of this year and leave a three-year gap before reviewing the situation is disappointing to those who have invested in 3DTV hardware and enjoy the experience. The BBC claims that although 1.5 million homes in the UK have 3DTV sets, only a few owners ever bother to use the system. The BBC’s decision followed the announcement by US sports network ESPN that it was pulling out of 3DTV, a move that has now put into doubt whether FIFA will offer 3DTV broadcasts during next year’s World Cup. While all this was going on, the research company Futuresource Consulting forecast that 40% of homes in Europe will have 3DTV sets by 2015, and 50% of homes in Western Europe will own a 3D Blu-ray player. That said, Futuresource notes that many of those opting for a 3DTV set may be buying them by default (because the technology is built in as standard) rather than by choice. The main source of native 3D content (as opposed to 2D-to-3D converted content) for UK consumers is Sky and 3D Blu-ray titles.
Furturesource says there are 43 3D Blu-ray titles in the US and 37 in the UK, with a third of them being non-Hollywood titles, such as nature documentaries. It’s a fair offering, but clearly more titles are needed. Sky says half-a-million of its customers have signed up for 3DTV and it has no plans abandon the format, not least because it attracts consumers to Sky and helps retain some of those signed up for the service.
One of the biggest objections to 3DTV is having to wear glasses, and so the arrival of affordable and effective glasses-free 3DTV must be a key industry objective if the format is to thrive rather than wither on the vine. The cause for 3DTV wasn’t helped by health scare stories in the press about 3D causing nausea, dizziness and eye strain, and the consumer electronics industry seemed more concerned with protecting itself from legal action than fighting its cause. Nor was it helped by the failure to educate the public about the place of 3DTV in home entertainment. Instead of positioning 3DTV as a special event offering for sport, films and the occasional documentary, some people think it’s about watching every TV programme in 3D.
Watch or wipe A result from a YouGov survey carried out for YouView caught my eye. It found that while the average home records around ten TV programmes a week, four of them are deleted without being watched. I can’t say I’m surprised. We can now record masses of TV and radio content off air and from the internet. I’m constantly downloading radio programmes which I never get time to listen to, and have TV programmes that have been sat on my PVR for months. An old friend had a golden rule when it came to recording programmes – if he hadn’t watched it within a week, it was wiped.
The split in viewing technologies (active versus passive) was bad enough, but then the failure to standardise viewing glasses and bring low-cost glasses to the market quickly, meant that 3DTV started off on the back foot. True, manufacturers have taken steps to make 3D active glasses interoperable on different brands of 3DTV (the Full HD 3D Glasses Initiative) and prices have fallen, but it’s a shame this wasn’t sorted before 3DTV reached the high street. But we are where we are. One of the biggest objections to 3DTV is having to wear glasses, and so the arrival of affordable and effective glasses-free 3DTV must be a key industry objective if the format is to thrive rather than wither on the vine. Production costs also need to come down dramatically so that more 3D content is available. And 3DTV might also be able to ride on the back of Ultra High Definition TV (4K). Despite the noise of nails being driven into the 3DTV coffin, 3DTV is not dead; it’s not even in intensive care, but it’s clearly not in the healthiest state.
AUGUST 2013 GET CONNECTED
From The Bench
4G interference update Alan Bennett looks at current predictions and news of Freeview TV reception from next-generation mobile communications
technology brings many benefits. It is typically five times faster than the current 3G system, and lends itself well to the uses people want to put their phones and mini-PCs to these days: video, broadcast TV, streaming, gaming, browsing and tweeting. EE (Everything Everywhere) was first in the UK with 4G from October last year, using the 1800MHz band. Beginning next month or soon after, EE and other mobile comms operators O2, Three, and Vodafone will begin to roll out, initially in the London area, 4G services in the 800MHz band, now vacated by broadcast TV. The aim is to have 4G coverage of 98% of the UK population by 2015, two years ahead of the regulatory requirement.
The problem is that some of these new mobile transmissions will cause interference to existing Freeview terrestrial TV broadcasts, primarily those at or near the top end of the band. It will take the form of frozen, blocky or streaky pictures and sound dropout, manifest in districts where the received TV signal is relatively weak and 4G masts operate on Block A frequencies: here there is at worst a gap of just 1MHz between them and TV transmissions on Channel 60. TV channels 58 and 59 are vulnerable to a lesser degree. Initially it was thought that as many as 2.3 million households would be affected, based on Ofcom’s computer modelling which assumed that interference would take place up to 1.5km from 4G base stations. Practical experience in France and Spain has shown that this was pessimistic; UK field trials in Brighton, London, York and elsewhere have confirmed this, and now the prediction is that just 90,000 or fewer households will be at risk, less than 1% of homes whose primary viewing platform is Freeview. The majority of these use communal aerials and masthead amplifiers. A list and maps of likely interference areas can be found at website www.ukfree.tv/ dttvs4g800map.php It won’t be long now before the ship hits the flan and then we shall know for sure what the real impact of the clash will be! 28
GET CONNECTED AUGUST 2013
An agency has been set up to deal with the problem of 4G interference to Freeview television. It’s called at800, and has a budget of £180 million, provided by the mobile phone operators themselves. Its job is to mitigate as far as possible the impact of the new transmissions. Primarily it will dispense advice to the public and the trade. Once it has been established that any problem is due to 4G interference and that an adequate aerial is in place it will provide a single indoor filter, free of charge, to each affected household, to be fitted by the user. In cases where there is a masthead or outdoor distribution amplifier at800 will pay for (and arrange, if required) a weatherproof filter to be fitted on the mast or wherever. In extreme cases – where filtering does not provide a solution – it will pay up to £10,000 (where did that figure come from?) for migration to another platform,
There will be a need, too, for new aerial and dish installations, some of the latter paid for by at800, likewise Freesat tuners in the extreme cases mentioned above.
It won’t be long now before the ship hits the flan and then we shall know for sure what the real impact of the clash will be!” usually Freesat. It undertakes to advise all potential sufferers of the likelihood of interference by postcard (many have already been sent out) up to 12 weeks before the local 800MHz base station is activated. See www.at800.tv or ring 0333 3131 800/freephone 0808 13 800. It is unlikely that TV viewers in London will be affected because of the very strong Freeview signals there.
It is likely that retailers’ phones will start to ring from the moment that interference crops up in the afflicted areas. There are opportunities, then, for dealers to sell and fit extra filters because only the main set in each household is within the remit of at800. Aerial riggers will find business (if only in a brief but intensive burst at the start) in fitting outdoor filters funded by users and by at800, and in dealing with blocks of more than four flats, also commercial premises, both of which are outside the scope of at800 operations.
As can be imagined, manufacturers in the aerial and allied fields have been busy designing equipment which rejects or attenuates the 4G 800MHz carriers. Several makes of inexpensive in-line indoor filters are available, all with similar characteristics and approved by at800; our picture shows an example. The CAI (Confederation of Aerial Industries) has established an ‘LTE-certified’ benchmark for UHF aerial performance and several models of aerial are now compliant with this. Televes has a 4G filter, model 403301, which uses microcavities in miniature form instead of conventional filter components; its trade price is about £45 ex VAT. Antiference, Labgear and Teldis make a range of filters for indoor and outdoor use at trade prices ranging from £5-odd to over £100, the latter in the form of cluster filter/levellers, specifically designed for UK transmitters and their multiplex frequencies. Details of all these are available at their manufacturers’ websites.
Case Study – Sparks Direct
Embracing mobile e-tailing With tablets and smartphones fuelling the development of mobile e-tailing, GC looks at a case study from Cyber-Duck, one of the UK’s leading independent digital agencies specialising in user experience, web design and technical development, which outlines how responsive web design increased electrical online wholesaler Sparks Direct’s online sales and revenue by over 60%.
the leading lighting and electrical online wholesaler in the UK, Sparks Direct features over 9,000 products on its website. Its extensive range includes lights, sockets and switches, dimming systems, heat and ventilation solutions, fire and security systems along with an array of other electrical products. The inspiration behind developing a revamped responsive website was in response to the growing trend of people accessing the web through a range of mobile platforms. Sparks Direct worked with award-winning digital agency Cyber-Duck to launch a mobile-ready website which has enhanced the visitor experience, as customers are able to access and view the site on virtually any device or screen size. Those accessing the site via mobiles and tablets now account for 25% of its traffic and so improving the user experience on these devices was key to engaging with the ever increasing mobile audience. Responsive website design was just one of the objectives in Sparks’ renovation of its online presence. The transformation also included upgrading the website’s e-commerce system, re-categorisation of Sparks’ products and improving design and navigation around the site.
WHY DID SPARKS GO RESPONSIVE?
WHAT IS RESPONSIVE WEB DESIGN?
Investing in the future
At the forefront of innovative web design, responsive technology enables the design and development of a mobile friendly website. Web pages automatically respond to the screen size of the device they are being viewed on, so that the images, content and layout of each page feel like they are tailored to that device. This ensures the best possible user experience on any screen size used to access the website.
Putting the customer first Ensuring that consumers receive the best customer service is important to Sparks Direct. Extending this philosophy to its rising mobile audience by enhancing the user experience of its website through responsive web design ensures that all online visitors are catered for. Regardless of device, screen size or interface method (touch, mouse or keyboard), visitors are able to browse products and pages with more speed and ease than before. This is because the website has been designed to be mobile friendly from the outset and so aspects such as navigation buttons compatible for thumbs and fingers enhance the user experience and navigation on tablet and mobile devices. A further benefit of a responsive website is that the customer is able to access all features of the desktop site on tablets and mobiles; content is not compressed or reduced for a separate mobile website. This means fewer assumptions need be made about visitors and their habits as they are able to access all of the same content that would be found when accessing the website on a desktop PC.
One key advantage of responsive web design lies in its flexibility. Rather than being designed for each specific device, the responsive approach responds and adapts the web page layout according to screen size. Implementing this technology has made Sparks Direct’s website future friendly as it will be compatible for devices that haven’t yet been released. From a website management perspective, responsive web design
is sustainable for its developers because all content and code is managed in one place. This means that the code-base can be easily managed and maintained, eliminating the need for separate content management systems for mobile and desktop websites. With Sparks Direct featuring over 9,000 products on its website, this is incredibly important. Online marketing advantages Sparks’ new website will also carry search engine optimisation benefits and help to rank it higher in online search engine results, which should in turn drive more traffic to the site. This is because mobile compatibility and usability is now a factor that Google takes into consideration when ranking where a website is positioned in search engine results. In fact, Google recommends using responsive web design when creating a mobile friendly website. With improved rankings in search engine results, naturally targeted traffic to the website increases. Sparks’ increase in sales and orders can be attributed to these online marketing advantages, along with the enhanced usability of responsive web design and upgraded e-commerce solution that has been implemented. Execution The design process for Sparks Direct’s website was structured around Cyber-Duck’s user-centred methodology, whereby every decision regarding design was focused around the visitor’s user experience. This entailed thorough research and user testing; a factor that was important to Sparks in the modernisation of its online presence. Putting customer service at the centre of the website’s design was the key driver behind the responsive approach. An example of this user-centric design is illustrated in the online shop layout. Product categories were refurbished, reorganised and simplified for an improved online experience, through better
navigation around the site. This is demonstrated on Sparks’ lighting and electrical home page, which features quick links to the website’s most popular pages according to search data – ceiling lights, wall lights, outdoor lights and the ‘switch and socket wizard’. Restructuring the Sparks categories and organising its products has brought about benefits for search engine optimisation as the new architecture is easier for search engines such as Google to crawl through. In the website’s revamp, the e-commerce system powering the online shop was upgraded from ZenCart to OpenCart, improving speed and efficiency. The new system is easier to manage and was tailormade for Sparks Directs’ needs. It was important in the redesign that the popular features from the old website were preserved in the new design. This included the Sparks ‘switches and sockets wizard’, the ‘product comparison tool’, and the ‘tax toggle’ which enables pricing to be calculated both with and without VAT – a feature that is particularly important for trade customers. These favourite features, whilst remaining on the website, have also been upgraded in accordance with the rest of the redesign and are more compatible to work across any device, rather than working exclusively on desktop. New features have also been implemented to complement the existing popular features. One of the new elements is the viewing of products in grid or list layout, which provides a quicker solution to browsing products when navigating the site.
The redesign, reorganisation and revamp project that Sparks undertook for its website has proved to be highly successful. In the month following the launch, the number of orders from the site increased by 66% and revenues from online sales increased by 60%. Sparks Direct has embraced the mobile revolution and in implementing this responsive technology has reaped great returns on its investment. Explore the Sparks Direct website on desktop, laptop, tablet or mobile by visiting www.sparksdirect.co.uk AUGUST 2013 GET CONNECTED
2-minute Interview S
imon Buckingham, UK Marketing Manager for distributor Hama, is a bit of a silver-tongued action man, who claims to be “charismatic”, “funny” and, although modest about his talents, has been blessed with the ability to sing. He is also renowned for being talkative, a characteristic evidenced in the number of words we’ve had to squeeze onto this page!...
If you weren’t in your present position, what job would you choose to do? I would definitely be an actor, despite being thrown out of most of my drama classes at school for being the “class clown”
…attention-seeking behaviour? Into the corner yourself Buckingham! – Ed.
You have been offered a leading role in a film of your choice, what character would you like to play? A leader alongside Optimus
Prime in the next Transformers film. I don’t care in what capacity that is, but as long as that cool dude is next to me I don’t care!
Why did you choose to work in the electrical industry?
Do you have any particular fetishes?
Blondes who drive VW Golfs or Minis – that is all I am saying!
The industry not only matched a big interest of mine, but it brought together experience that I had in retail over 7 years and my marketing background in one place
What surprises you? The fact that
Who in the industry would you like to spend time with?
Who do you most admire? Dolphins,
I would have loved to have met Steve Jobs to thank him for the best innovative product so far this century and for bringing me so much joy. But as he is not around anymore I would settle for Oh-Hyun Kwon, the CEO of Samsung Electronics, his experience and knowledge is incredible and his vision has helped Samsung majorly in the last few years
What was the greatest turning point in your life? When I was ill last year with
glandular fever and tonsillitis at the same time, I was out of action for over a month. This made me change my eating and health plans forever as well as changing my outlook on everything in life
we know less than about 10% of what is underwater at the bottom of the sea! Crazy!
because they are so intelligent and there is so much more we can learn about them. They are also very social, like me, so that is why I think I like them so much (I cannot talk to them yet though!)
Favourite cuisine? More recently it is Thai
food, although who doesn’t like a good oldfashioned Indian on a Friday night!
Favourite TV programme? I am a huge ‘24’ fan, but on the side it has to be Family Guy and The Simpsons
Favourite holiday destination? So far it has to be the Dominican Republic, whatever time of the year you go it is very hot and very relaxing
I would definitely be an actor, despite being thrown out of most of my drama classes at school for being the “class clown” Hobbies?
I am a sport fanatic, from football and tennis to swimming and training at the gym. I have become more of a traveller in the past year and actively try to find new things to do
How would you describe yourself?
I like to think I am very open and charismatic, always happy and I hope that it rubs off on the people that I meet each and every day. I definitely know that I am funny!
How do you think others see you?
Well I know for sure that most people I know say I talk too much and I am the most random person they have ever known but I hope that I provide some sort of ‘feel good’ experience when they are in my presence
the rocks with a slice of Lime – let’s go!
What do you daydream about? The beach. Doesn’t matter where, just any hot and sandy beach Pet hate? People who dither in shopping isles What’s your greatest regret? My dad
always said you should never regret anything and use your mistakes as a lesson in life
Do you have any bad habits? Not sure if it is a bad habit or just OCD, but everything has to be even, especially the volume level number!! What’s the best kind of punishment?
Jim Carey and my malamute husky, Sasha – both crazy and a pleasure to watch
Best punishment? Wow… Probably being slapped on the rear end by my parents for being naughty when I was a kid. It made me the nice person I am today though!
What’s the worst lie you’ve ever told?
Who deserves it? Certainly not me! But I
What makes you laugh?
I am a billionaire. That is my chat up line on a night out!
Name your poison? Vodka Lemonade on
GET CONNECTED AUGUST 2013
can think of a few people that need to go into the corner (not naming names)
You have been offered the opportunity to rule the world for a day, what would be the first change you would make? Take a quarter of the profits from fuel companies and stop world poverty all in one go
Is there anything about yourself that you would like to change? I would like to be more organised. Even from a young age I have always been easily distracted and have all my things everywhere, you only have to look at my current work desk and my old school reports to see what I mean
What’s your greatest achievement?
So far, it has to be finishing Uni. I wasn’t expecting to go initially, but I know that I would not be where I am now if I wasn’t pushed by my parents so much through Uni
Do you have any hidden talents?
I can actually sing really well. I just don’t say anything about it to anyone
…they’ll all know now – Ed.
What sort of music do you like? Absolutely anything, although currently I am really in to House and Dubstep, just because they are two ends of the music spectrum, House being quite calming, and Dub because it is so chaotic! Both represent different moods I think
Favourite quote? “Don’t do tomorrow what you can do today” I think about that one every day Who has been the greatest influence in your life? Too many to mention, but my late
Grandmas were an inspiration of strength and love, whilst my parents carry that too, along with encouragement. Although he probably doesn’t know it, my brother also plays a massive part in my life
Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time? Other than Miami, I see myself
hopefully with Hama and overseeing 5 years of amazing changes that make us even more of a powerhouse than we already are
Greatest fear? Not doing as much as I can
before I get too old. That is why the quote I mentioned earlier sticks at the front of my mind all day and every day
What’s your favourite piece of kit?
My Urbanear’s Zinken headphones – all I can say is everyone should definitely get a pair – WOW!
What motto do you live by? Work hard and play harder
…what you make of it!
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• The most affordable HD Slingbox. Ever. • Connects to satellite or terrestrial set-top box or DVR • Watch and control TV on a compatible smartphone or tablet using SlingPlayer ® software (sold separately) anywhere in the world where there is an internet connection. Stock Slingbox today, order from:
PRICES FROM ONLY £399!
The ultimate indoor & outdoor TV protection
£50 - £150
ON ALL TV SHIELDS ORDERED IN AUGUST* *T&C’s Apply
Mention Get Connected to receive special discount
IN LE 6” B A 9-2 AIL AV IZES 1 0-60” 3 S 47” 5 30
The low cost revolutionary way to protect your TV screens
SECURE & DURABLE
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