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THE GREEN ROOM Energy efficiency and environmental awareness: green issues on the front line of white goods manufacture and sales






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Environmental awareness takes root in the kitchen

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The revolution in digital imaging and the opportunities it generates

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JULY 2010

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JULY 2010



hings may be looking up on the economic front, for now, if the headline figures are to be believed. But everything is still a bit fragile, and the effects of the “emergency” Budget have still to be felt as the public sector continues to contract and the Government relies on the private sector – that’s largely us, the denizens of middle England (a convenient expression that for this purpose should be assumed to include those in the middle of Scotland, Wales and NI as well) – to step in and make up the difference. As if belt-tightening and unemployment and taxes and the general prospect of longterm austerity were not enough to worry about, the UK appears to have found a “cause” to provide some diversion. That cause is resistance to the digital radio “switchover”, to which the tentative and probably unrealistic date of 2015 has been applied. It’s unfortunate, because this seems to have become a cause célèbre of the kind that is likely to generate more heat than light. There has been some light. Back in April Leslie Burrage, chief executive of Roberts Radio, addressed the retra Conference with a clear and realistic update on where we are now with digital radio in the UK. He welcomed the Government commitment to going digital, but said that the target date was probably not achievable. He added that we can’t turn off national FM without a great deal more infrastructure, investment, coverage, content, consumer education and a high-visibility campaign to persuade the British public they really want to change. Key to Mr Burridge’s assessment were the need to persuade the British public, and his preference for calling the operation a “migration” rather than a “switchover.” Acknowledgements that, notwithstanding the considerable (but probably solvable) economic and practical problems - 33 million FM radios in British cars; 100 million FM receivers in UK homes; the plight of local commercial FM stations - the migration doesn’t get to first base without persuading the British public that digital radio is a logical, beneficial, progressive step. A PR exercise. A need to win hearts and minds. And this is where the unhelpful heat starts to come in. Culture Minister Ed Vaizey

(presumbably representing the Government viewpoint) told the Intellect Conference that 2015 is an aspiration, not a deadline, and that, crucially, “consumers, not the Government… will ultimately determine whether a switchover to digital can happen.” Mr Vaizey could not, in all conscience, say otherwise, and should not be criticised for admitting that nothing can be “switched off ” without the consent of the British public. On the same day as his address to the Intellect Conference, the media, forewarned of its contents, chose to mount an attack on what the Daily Telegraph called an intention “to switch off analogue radio and force everyone to listen to digital.” Very unhelpful, and calculated to fire up middle England with a spirit of resistance. The Telegraph letters page carried a number of anti-digital letters, some well considered and well argued, but some tending to express that middle-England sense of effrontery in the face of Government interference with traditional ways of life. There is no disparagement of “middle England” intended. It pretty much means you and me and the majority of law-abiding, taxpaying, hardworking citizens. But if “disgusted of Tunbridge Wells” is encouraged to write to the papers, heat will rapidly take over from light and the real issues will be obscured. Something may perhaps be learned from the digital TV “switchover” currently in progress. But radio is not the same as TV. The technical and household ownership issues are different. And, perhaps more importantly, even though TV watching is seen as the predominant home pastime, radio is somehow a more precious, more pervasive, more traditional, more “British way of life” institution. Consumers talk of their FM radios – some of them 40 years old or more – as “old friends.” This is emotional attachment, and the industry and Government need to address it as such. The public needs to be reassured that digital radio is “real” radio, just like FM but with even more choice and versatility. Retailers, manufacturers, the Government have a huge PR operation on their hands to avoid the demonisation of digital radio. An operation best undertaken in unison. The public will decide, and they need to decide in the light of reason, not the heat of uninformed effrontery.

Marlinda Conway Editor in Chief

Terry Heath Editorial & Publishing Director

Will Dobson Creative Director

James McIntosh Consultant Home Economist

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George Cole Consumer Electronics Consultant

Top Cat The Voice of The Manufacturer

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Business failures fall 19.1% in Q2 2010 The number of business failures in the UK dropped 19.1% year-on-year during the second quarter of 2010 and 7% compared to Q1, according to business information provider Equifax. Retail saw a 23.6% year-on-year fall and a 14% reduction compared to Q1, making it the second best performing sector. Nic Beishon, Head of Equifax Commercial Information Solutions, said the actual number of business failures in Q2 is “not quite” back to the levels of early 2008, but in some cases they are “pretty close.”

Paul Antoniadis departs Best Buy Europe

GDHA appointed exclusive UK partner to GE Appliances Glen Dimplex Home Appliances has been chosen as the exclusive UK partner for GE Appliances and will add the brand to its Stoves, Belling, New World and Lec portfolios. The new GE division will be headed by Lec Commercial Director David Garden (pictured), whose team has been credited with the revival of the Lec brand following its acquisition by GDHA in 2005. Lec was named one of the fastest growing refrigeration brands in 2009. GE has a consumer appliance division worth in excess of $6bn and holds a major share of the US appliance market. The brand has had success in mainland Europe, but has struggled to deliver growth in the UK. GDHA said it is now in the process of securing selected independent retail stockists for the GE, GE Profile and GE Monogram cooking and cooling

collections and has modified its sales structure by appointing sales managers exclusively for these ranges. David Garden, Commercial Director for GE and Lec, believes the partnership with GDHA will pose a great opportunity for all. He said: “Despite the worldwide recession, market data has demonstrated that the premium appliance sector has continued to perform fairly well. However, there has been very little innovation in this end of the market and as a result we feel that the new GE line-up will bring some much needed excitement into the sector. “For retailers, our partnership with GE offers access to a strong American product range with style, unique features and real technological standout, all backed up by a dedicated, UK-based customer care and after-sales service plus comprehensive sales and marketing support.”


JULY 2010

Minimum wage set to rise in October


The Low Pay Commission has departed from the general practice of using the retail price index as a benchmark for rises in the minimum wage, with the result that the hourly minimum wage is due to rise 2% in October to £5.93 for adults over the age of 21. Workers between the ages of 18 and 20 will receive a 9p increase to £4.92 an hour; 16-17 year olds get a 7p uplift to £3.64, and there is a new minimum rate of £2.50 an hour for apprentices. Employment Relations Minister Edward Davey indicated that this year’s increases are appropriate to the present economic conditions in the UK. “The increases,” he said, “will strike a balance between helping the lowest paid whilst at the same time not jeopardising their employment.”

Best Buy Europe moved quickly to appoint Andrew Harrison as Chief Operating Officer following the surprise departure of CEO of Branded Operations Paul Antoniadis just 10 weeks after the opening of its first UK store. The retailer said Antoniadis decided to leave the business to “continue his passion for international start-ups and new business ventures.” Antoniadis led Best Buy’s entry into the UK but outsiders have speculated that he had become dissatisfied with the progress made by the US electricals giant. The first stores opened a year later than expected, giving DSGi and Kesa space to plan their counterattack and advance store revamp programmes. Both are reported to have felt “little impact” from the presence of Best Buy’s first UK stores. Best Buy has said it will open 80 stores in the UK within four years, but industry commentators are of the belief that this can only be done through acquisition. So far, three outlets have opened (Thurrock, Hedge End and Merry Hill) and a further four (Aintree, Croydon, Nottingham and Derby) have been confirmed. Commenting on Antoniadis’ departure, CEO Scott Wheway said: “We are grateful to Paul for his outstanding contributions not only to Best Buy Europe but also the Best Buy business, particularly in China and Mexico and we wish him every success in the future.” Andrew Harrison, reporting to Wheway, will continue to lead The Carphone Warehouse and The Phone House in nine European countries and will assume additional responsibility for driving Best Buy Europe’s “Connected World” strategy and customer proposition across all Best Buy Europe brands. Wheway said Best Buy’s first three UK stores “all opened with tremendous success and have underlined the important shift in the way customers shop and interact with the ‘Connected World’.” The organisational change, he added, “ensures that the talent we have across the business is aligned to deliver a common approach across our multiple brands.”

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Britain in for “one L of a recovery” The British Chamber of Commerce and Institute of Directors have both warned that Britain’s fragile economy could dip back into recession, despite the positive growth recorded since the beginning of 2010. The BCC’s latest Economic Survey suggested that the UK economy saw further growth in the second quarter of 2010, building on the improvement in the first three months of the year, but despite key indicators on business conditions and domestic sales in both the manufacturing and service sectors gaining in Q2, the business group cautioned that “underlying weaknesses in the economy remain and these can not be ignored if a relapse into recession is to be avoided.” In particular, the BCC highlighted sluggish growth in the service sector as a serious concern, and a potentially “big issue bubbling under the surface” in the

manufacturing sector: around 80% of manufacturers reported increasing costs of raw materials adding to price pressures. The IoD, meanwhile, said Britain was in for “one L of a recovery”. In its latest UK Economic Outlook, the Institute forecasts GDP growth of only 0.9% in 2010 and 1.8% in 2011. The L shaped cycle, it said, does not mean there will be continued zero quarter-onquarter growth, but it does mean that the recovery is likely to be characterised by a weak upward gradient with a “ratchet” effect and quarters of acceleration, deceleration and even decline. “After a very abnormal recession it would be foolish to rule out the possibility of a very abnormal recovery as well,” commented Graeme Leach, Chief Economist at the IoD.  Read the full story at

Siemens launches refrigeration trade-in scheme Siemens has established an eco-friendly trade-in programme which offers a £100 trade-in on the purchase of the brand’s A++ freestanding refrigeration appliances and £50 on A+ and A-rated models via participating dealers. The scheme is supported by a high profile advertising campaign, and retailers have been provided with window posters, product stickers, ceiling hangers and local advertising material. A dedicated area at has been set up to help consumers find their local dealers. The campaign will run until 19th September 2010.


JULY 2010

Early take-up of 3D TV confirmed


Despite scepticism in certain quarters about the early take-up of 3D TV, GfK confirmed that the sector was responsible for £7.5 million worth of sales during May this year. The organisation also reported that the World Cup helped boost the total Television market by 9.8% in value and the overall CE market by 4.8% on the year prior, due in part to widespread promotions across a variety of sectors.

GfK said the demand for televisions was predominantly in the larger screen sizes and highlighted “notable growth” in 40-42” units, which now make up 27% of the LCD market. Full HD sets now hold more than 60% of the total market value, and activities during May led to sales of 71,000 Freeview HD TVs. The industry analyst said this “firmly establishes” Freeview’s HD offerings amongst those of freesat, Virgin and Sky.

Consumer electronics labelling “misleading people” says “Which?” Technical specifications on new electronic devices such as TVs, digital cameras and laptops can be confusing and misleading to buyers because they don’t always compare like with like, and consumers’ assumption that “big numbers” quoted on labels mean a better performing product is not a reliable measure. The consumer watchdog adds that retailers can compound the problem because they don’t always understand the significance of labels and specifications themselves. Retailers are often the “authority” customers rely on to help make sense of the jargon, and are also often the first to be blamed when customers realise the device they’ve bought doesn’t deliver what they expected. Which? technology editor Matt Bath says “televisions make a lot of claims and use a lot of big numbers, but, for example, claiming trillions of colours on a TV set sounds impressive yet no broadcasts use that many colours and the human eye is not capable of distinguishing that many.” Contrast ratios – another often-quoted “big number” – can also be misleading since not all manufacturers use the same standard of measurement. The advent of 100Hz and 200Hz screen refreshment rates was a significant step up in TV picture quality. So a TV labelled 600Hz should be even better? Not so. It refers to the number of individual pixels refreshed, not the whole picture. It’s not surprising that consumers can be confused, and while retailers do have a responsibility to understand what they’re selling, should they be required to enter into this level of technical explanation to clarify confusion created by non-comparable labelling? Digital camera labelling also comes in for criticism from Which?, specifically over the “optical zoom” and “digital zoom” specifications. Big numbers on the digital zoom spec look impressive, but how many customers understand that this is not the “real” optical zoom provided by a lens which gets closer to the subject, but just a means of enlarging part of the original image? With consumer electronics technology coming thick and fast, and a large proportion of “HD Ready” TV buyers allegedly still believing they are watching HD when they’re not, because they have not understood the relationship between a screen, an HD receiver and an HD source, is it time for the consumer electronics industry to look at standardised labelling, specification and consumer education programmes? The CE world is not going to get less complicated, and retailers can’t shoulder the entire burden of technical explanation. Nor should they be expected to.


Dyson extends Air Multiplier™ range Dyson has taken the development of its Air Multiplier™ Desk fan to another level with the launch of two new products for cooling larger areas, in which, commented James Dyson, “air conditioning is inefficient and gives little or no ventilation.” The UK master of air technology, whose products have raised the bar in their respective categories, said the new machines are engineered to circulate smooth, un-buffeted air in larger rooms. They “draw in and

multiply up to 50% more air than our desk fan.” The floor-standing AM02 Tower and AM03 Pedestal fans are supplied with magnetised remote controls that attach neatly to the units. The Tower fan, at one metre high and just 19 centimetres wide, draws in 33 litres of air per second and amplifies it 16 times using Air Multiplier™ technology. The Pedestal fan draws in the same quantity of air per second and amplifies it 18 times. Both units retail at £299.99.

Repaircare telephone number (0844 576 6841) which is open 7 days a week for guarantee enquiries. Comet owner Kesa Electricals posted a 28.1% increase in Group retail profit to £98.6 million. Group revenue rose 3.4% to £5,124.1 million. Adjusted profit before tax increased 17.8% to £81.9 million. Comet made a substantial contribution to the Group’s improved performance with a 13.9% uplift in retail profit compared to the previous year, even though revenue was 0.6% down. PJH Group has introduced a free 2-year parts and labour guarantee on its own-brand Prima Appliances collection and established a dedicated Prima

Digital radio manufacturer PURE has recorded unit sales in June outperforming those in the same month of previous years in its top five UK retailers. The company said the yearon-year rise of 20% was due to the World Cup, Wimbledon and a number of promotions that included the digital radio amnesty. Toshiba and Fujitsu have announced plans to merge their mobile telephone businesses, making the combined operation Japan’s second largest mobile provider. The merger is due to be accomplished by October this year.

Sky Sports subscribers given more choice Sky has announced that subscribers to its Sky Sports Pack will be given bonus access both to Sky Mobile TV and Sky Player until the end of the year. A single monthly subscription to the Sky Sports Pack will allow viewers to enjoy live access to their favourite sports across a range of platforms and devices such as iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, PC, Mac, Windows Media Centre, Fetch TV, Sky HD and Red Button. The announcement came on the same day that BT and Sky revealed the signing of a deal to allow BT Vision customers to watch Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2.

Tyrone the Recycled Rex livens up Recycle Week Indesit supported the launch of Recycle Week in June by introducing a four-metre-high dinosaur made out of recycled domestic appliances to London. Tyrone the Recycled Rex spent some time in Covent Garden helping to bring the ‘dinosaur appliances’ theme to life before being transported to the Dinosaur Park in Crystal Palace to rest his old bones. Indesit’s Nick Wilson said the sculpture was “a fun and creative way to engage and encourage the public to make a positive impact on the environment.” 15.4 million old, inefficient appliances are still in use in the UK.

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Silk print, bamboo and bouncy radios compete for judges’ votes in radio design competition Second year textile design students at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London produced a variety of unusual and innovative creations when invited by PURE to design a limited edition model of the brand’s EVOKE Mio radio, targeted at women. Entries were submitted in three categories – Innovation, Commercial and Packaging – and judged by Rob Hennessy, audio buyer at John Lewis; Ellie Tennant, deputy shopping editor, Ideal Home; David Nicholls, design editor at The Daily Telegraph and PURE marketing director Colin Crawford. Kalia Cox, winner of the Innovation category, designed a ceramic radio which can be personalised with embroidery to highlight a series of LEDs that light up when the battery is fully charged and go off one by one as it runs down. Olivia Clifford, using a selection of sophisticated silk prints, and Abigale Hartley with a picnic hamper theme,

were joint winners of the Commercial category. Runners up were a laser-cut bamboo radio and a handbag radio. Kalia Cox also won the Packaging category with a laser-cut wooden design that matched her radio, and Olivia Clifford was a double winner, too, coming second with a minimalistic carton design. Third place went to Julia Petges, who created packaging that doubles up as a hammock. John Lewis audio buyer Rob Hennessy commented on the high standard of the entries. He said: “I could certainly see one or two of the designs gracing the shelves of John Lewis in the future.” Other designs that caught the eye of the judges included a ‘grow your own crystal’ radio; a bouncy radio for clumsy customers; a lavender coloured pin-cushion radio for forgetful customers; a stretchy case for storing items such as an iPod or book; a radio skin woven out of cassette tapes and vinyl records, and a scratch ‘n’ sniff radio.

De Dietrich centralises customer service De Dietrich Kitchen Appliances has brought its Customer Service and Advice Line provisions together to offer customers of the company’s two brands, De Dietrich and Fagor, an integrated service where one call provides all. A newly created Consumer Support Team will supply the full range of services, from product advice through to stockist locations, brochure requests and warranty advice. Greg Teubner, director of service, said the new structure provides a “completely seamless approach.” The new De Dietrich/Fagor Customer Support Team can be contacted on 01256 308 045.

Iriver and LG Display establish joint venture for e-book business Iriver and LG Display have agreed to establish a 5 million dollar, 49%/51% (respectively), joint venture in China to expand their e-book businesses. L&I Electronic Technology (Dongguan) Ltd will be founded on OEM and ODM systems to develop e-books and provide production services. The two companies said in a statement that Iriver, which is to become L&I’s first customer, expects to gain a stronger market presence in the domestic and global e-book markets as it will gain a price-competitive e-book reader supplier from the new relationship. As for LG Display, the goal is to “stand out from its competitors” by securing a stable distribution line for its e-book displays, while also making its debut in the final product business.

“Vac from the Sea” project highlights plastic pollution Electrolux is to gather plastic from the world’s seas and oceans and turn it into vacuum cleaners. The “Vac from the Sea” initiative aims to draw attention to the problem of plastic pollution and the scarcity of recycled plastics needed for making sustainable home appliances.

BrightHouse accelerates store opening programme BrightHouse stepped up its development programme with the opening of five new outlets during June. The rent-to-own retailer established its 200th UK store in Bedford, and followed the achievement with openings in Andover, Orpington, Rhyl and Harlow. BrightHouse added 21 stores to its portfolio in the financial year ended 31 March 2010 and plans to add a further 30 during the current financial year, taking the total to 228. CEO Leo McKee said the alternative credit market in the UK comprises some 5.2 million households, “giving us the potential to expand the chain over time to as many as 650 stores.”

See for the stories behind the news…  Five pulls out of Canvas


JULY 2010

TV channel quits internet-connected TV project


 High street sales volumes decline in June Durable household goods enjoy “solid growth” as consumers spend on new TVs

 “Make Britain the place to work” CBI sets out measures to sustain employment during the recovery

 Coalition government axes £2bn of projects The coalition government has cancelled 12 projects totalling £2bn agreed to by the previous Labour government since the start of 2010

 Switchover tunes viewers on to technology gadgets One in three older people say getting ready for digital switchover has boosted their confidence with new technology



THE D&G COLUMN Domestic & General, the leading specialist warranty services business. Domestic & General provides warranty services for UK and International clients and comprehensive product protection for more than nine million customers.

Green path to profit In this month’s D&G Column, Jeff Griffiths gives some honest, no-nonsense answers to some of the questions and concerns raised by electrical retailers as the “green revolution” moves up the agenda for consumers.

Q: Price is still a big priority, especially in these times. Is there a way to make “green” appliances stand up in this environment as an attractive proposition? A: Selling a concept such as green and environmentally friendly credentials is never easy in a tough economic climate. Customers simply may not be able to afford to invest in some of the more expensive green initiatives - such as solar power for example. However, the longer term green benefits of keeping an appliance running with a warranty, for the entire viable life of the product if they wish, is not an expensive concept in its own right. And the benefits of a D&G warranty, including repair or replacement, first class customer service, accidental damage cover, do stand up in their own right. The environmental gain of a D&G warranty is simply another part of the portfolio of benefits.

A: Green issues are rather intangible to most people, so selling in environmentally friendly products and services is not entirely straightforward. If the customer is greensensitive, the simple benefits that they will be helping to reduce carbon emissions and contributing to a smaller carbon footprint can clinch the sale. For those less environmentally aware, then the top line benefit of greener products and services is in saving money. For example, buy an energy efficient washing machine with a D&G warranty, and save money on water usage, reduced electricity consumption and, should the product go wrong, on repair or replacement costs. Q: How does D&G present and promote the “green” aspects of its plans? A: To be honest, we have only just started to realise the ‘green’ marketable value of our warranty products, as we have always considered this part of our fundamental business. In the future, along with rebranded D&G point of sale, we will be looking at ways to highlight the longer-term environmental benefits of D&G warranties with quantifiable facts and figures. For retailers already having a repair service, they can easily show customers a comparison between the cost of a warranty and the cost of one or two typical repairs within the timeframe of a warranty. Add to this the ancillary benefits of repair or replace and accidental damage cover, and the green sell is a useful selling tool for warranties. Q: We hear a lot about “green credentials.” Does D&G have these, and what are they? A: Again, this is an area we are just starting to make use of in our marketing strategy, although it has been part of the business for over 50 years. In the heating part of the


business, we are a major warranty provider for domestic heating products such as boilers, and are positioning ourselves as the warranty services provider of choice for green, energy efficient and renewable domestic heating product manufacturers. We sponsor a major industry award for Green Domestic Heating Product of the Year, and have warranty propositions for solar heating products, ground-source and air-source heat pumps, as well as ultraefficient traditional fuel boiler systems. Our aim is to develop a similar position within the electrical market, so customers are immediately aware of the environmental benefits of purchasing a D&G warranty. Q: Selling a major appliance or CE equipment can be a complex business. Is there a way to “package” features: price, energy efficiency and warranty/insurance, when going for the sale, so as to make it clear, joined up and appealing to the customer? A: Our New for Old for Life plans do allow consumers to feel more confident in investing slightly more money in greener and ultra energy efficient appliances. Knowing that their purchase is protected and they will be saved the hassle of future bills is very comforting, particularly if the product is high value, typical of ultra-high efficiency products. Realistically, if the customer is prepared to invest the extra money in greener appliances, it is a natural step for the salesperson to highlight the green benefits of a warranty as part of the add-on warranty sale. If you are in a catchment area of higherspending environmentally aware consumers, speak to D&G about dedicated staff training to join-up the green initiatives across your sales strategy. 

JULY 2010

A: Many of D&G’s warranty customers probably fall into an eco aware group and look for the greener option, especially on whites. Our whole strategy as a warranty service provider is to repair a faulty product where it is both practical and economically viable. Repairing a product has much less impact on the environment than throwing a product away and buying a new one, both in terms of waste materials and the energy and materials used to develop new products. Of course, sooner or later a product will come to the end of its useful life, and if covered by a D&G warranty will be replaced with a new model. But customers can rest assured that we will have looked at the old machine and assessed the viability of extending its working life where possible. In a market where some electrical products are all but disposable, D&G is very proud of its successful repair rate and the green benefits that brings to the environment.

Q: What’s the real “positive” of energy efficient appliances? Is it saving the planet or saving on bills, and what’s the best way to pitch the benefits?


Q: “Green issues” seem to be here to stay. Do customers now see energy efficiency as more than a fashionable side issue?


Sony DSLR-A390 and DSLR-A290 14.2 megapixel cameras Sony has added two entry-level cameras to its alpha Digital SLR range. The DSLR-A390 (α390) and DSLR-A290 (α290) are promoted as ideal for first-time DSLR users. Both are said to provide a “dramatic” step up in picture quality and creative options from point-and-shoot compact cameras. 

Compact body with new grip design and revised button layout for comfortable handling

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Neff CoolDeluxe refrigeration collection CoolDeluxe, the new generation of Neff built-in refrigeration appliances, is a collection of five models (2 fridges, 2 freezers and a combination fridge freezer) offering convenience, energy efficiency and a “new industry benchmark” in terms of capacity. All models incorporate a state-of-the-art variable-output compressor which, along with the condenser and ventilation unit, has been neatly integrated into the appliance base. 

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Gorenje iPod touch fridge freezer


JULY 2010

Gorenje has launched it’s ‘A+’ rated RK 1000IP iPod touch fridge freezer debuted at IFA Berlin in 2008 into the UK market. The Wi-Fi enabled appliance has two 50W speakers and an iPod docking station on the front which charges the iPod touch and plays back music and videos at the same time.


State-of-the-art cooling system with fast chill and fast freeze options

Automatic defrost refrigerator, frost free freezer

Cool ‘n’ Fresh compartment; large vegetable crisper; deepdoor bottle shelf

Ready ‘n’ Serve removable trays; cheese and deli container with wooden cutting-board fitted on top

0208 247 3980

Rowenta AIR FORCE ® handstick vacuum cleaner SDA brand Rowenta is re-entering the UK floorcare market with a cordless handstick cleaner. The bagless AIR FORCE® is said to provide an unmatched level of performance through the use of Rowenta’s AIR FORCE cyclonic technology, which maintains suction power at a high level. The unit has unique, double action air/dust separation and a patented Delta suction head with integrated high-speed electrobrush for areas difficult to reach. SRP £129.99. 

18 volts vacuuming power

Up to 40 minutes’ cordless cleaning time on hard floors and up to 30 minutes on booster mode for carpets

Rechargeable operation with jack-plug connection

Removable 9-litre dust container

01753 713000


Samsung FlexiClean SU88 vacuum cleaner FlexiClean (SU88) is the latest model to join Samsung’s range of vacuum cleaners. This large capacity appliance incorporates smart technology and brings together the benefits of a conventional upright and cylinder vacuum in one unit. A pop-up tool for cleaning under furniture and stairs detaches easily from the body of the unit and the air-flow path switches automatically from the main brush to the pop-up tool, and vice versa. 

15-inch wide brush for use in large spaces

3.5m stretchable hose

Dual Motor System adapts to different surfaces 

3-litre dust capacity

Auto Power Control

Multi-stage filtration system with HEPA 13 filter

01932 455000

Bosch Exxcel AquaStar dishwasher

Toshiba Satellite A665 3D-ready HD laptop The new Toshiba Satellite A665 3D-ready High Definition laptop promises immersive 3D visuals and excellent all-round multimedia performance. The unit is powered by a combination of NVIDIA 3D VISION technology and the latest Intel Core Series processors and comes with a selection of pre-installed 3D games. 

Supplied with a pair of 3D Vision™ active shutter glasses

3D HD 15.6” TruBrite LED backlit screen with 120Hz refresh rate

Integrated Harman Kardon stereo speakers; Dolby Advanced Audio

Toshiba USB Sleep-and-Music technology for playback from connected MP3 players

Large, textured touchpad offers multi-touch control for easier navigation

Toshiba Media Controller Plug-In for Internet Explorer pre-installed

08704 424 424 Bosch’s Exxcel AquaStar SMS63E12GB freestanding dishwasher uses just 7 litres of water for a full load of 13 place-settings. The appliance is ‘A -10%’ rated for energy, ‘A’ rated for washing and drying performance and incorporates Bosch’s VarioFlex basket system, AquaMix glass protection system and HydroSensor III, which Amica’s new 7kg determines if the pre-rinse water is clean washing machines enough to use in the main wash cycle. AWM712D (max.  6 programmes; ‘Hygiene exxtra’ for a 1200 rpm spin) and hotter final rinse AWM714D (max. 1400  Noise level 44dB rpm) are ‘A+’ rated for energy efficiency and  Detachable large-item spray head offer a selection of  Automatic detergent detection programmes – three  Self-cleaning filter developed specifically for children’s clothes. 01908 328201 The appliance has the facility to modify each wash to a bespoke setting if required.

Peerless-AV Europe has added to its range of TV wall-mount systems with the new PerfectMount line. Flagship model PEWS550/BK supports displays up to 71 inches and has a full range of motion: +15/-5 degrees tilt; +/- 90 degrees swivel and +/-5 degrees roll. Features common to the range of 7 models include: 

Integrated cable management

15 programmes plus Eco function

Improved universal adapter plate, reduced wall footprint and easy adjustment

Adjustable water temperature & spin speed

Consumer-friendly packaging

Start Delay to 24 hours; Pause facility; Child lock

SRPs range from £59.99 to £399.99

Pre-wash & extra rinse

01923 205 600

01425 461600


Peerless PerfectMount TV wall-mount range

JULY 2010

Amica 7kg washing machines


Touches of genius and flashes of inspiration, built-in.


Ae rated

Idea 10:

The world’s first induction oven

Idea 50:

Unique power slider temperature control

12400 GetConnected dps_2xA4_retouch.indd 1-2

Idea 6:

A energy rated ovens

Idea 38:

An induction hob with rotary controls

Idea 48: Easy clean enamel

Idea 33:

Flame safety devices across the range

Introducing our all-new built-in collection that’s full of big ideas. Starting with some genuine world firsts, including a patent pending built-in induction oven that uses 50% less energy than an A-rated fanned oven! And, what’s more, all of our built-in ovens are manufactured right here in the UK, ensuring the highest quality and the best supply.



5/7/10 12:27:14



Carbon reduction and the conservation of natural resources may have the support of Government and manufacturers, but is this enough to convert eco-apathy to eco-consciousness? Are we seeing a cycle of change in attitudes to the environment? What more needs to be done, and by whom? In this series of ‘The Green Room’ GC looks at the progress made in the sectors of ‘wet’ and ‘cool’ appliances





hen Tory leader David Cameron, now Prime Minister, was pictured cycling to work and having a car carrying his briefcase and shoes follow behind, the media and opposition unleashed an avalanche of criticism, accusing him of hypocrisy and “conning people” about the environment. Consumers already sceptical of the harmful effects of global warming – or that it may exist at all – sniggered with delight at the scenario, others charged the MP with making a mockery of his, and the Government’s, commitment to the environment. But the Government did later demonstrate its commitment to the ‘greening’ of Britain. Two years ago it took the step of establishing the 2008 Climate Change Act. Consequently, the UK became the first nation in the world to set legally-binding carbon budgets. The aim is for Britain to reduce carbon emissions by 34% by 2020 and a minimum of 80% by 2050. Everyone – consumers and businesses – must play a part.

However, while the plan for building a low-carbon economy is ambitious, the White Paper setting out the transition does recognise certain obstacles in the overall scheme of things, such as “upfront costs, a lack of information, or inertia” – the self-same challenges that face the electrical goods industry in encouraging consumers to tradein their old appliances for new models that provide better energy and water efficiencies.

Pulling together Ruth Ferguson, Marketing Manager at Gorenje, believes that Government policies at macro level have begun to make an impact and there has been a “growing realisation” that much can be done on a micro level too. This beginning with individual consumers and the simple lifestyle changes they can make at home. With the threat of higher energy prices in the future, and the “challenging” economic climate, Ferguson says consumers are more aware than ever of the need to conserve their outgoings, although she feels that “more people need to understand that old


other, evidence shows that the majority are still unapprised. Neff Sales Director Mike Jarrett, speaking about refrigeration in particular, says a lot more education is necessary. “A trend to more energy-efficient appliances is noticeable,” he comments, “but most consumers think an ‘A’ rated appliance is already efficient enough. This is probably due to the fact that they do not understand what the ‘little pluses’ next to the ‘A’ mean. Going for an energy-efficient A++ is definitely not established yet.” Jarrett does however appreciate an upward trend to A++ and says the rating is being forced in by manufacturers, as the EU has disallowed sales of ‘B’ rated refrigeration from 1 July 2010. Apart from the puzzle of the pluses, basic information on the savings to be had by investing in energy-efficient appliances is not being communicated to consumers. Jarrett contends that, “if you ask people if energy, resources and water savings are important to them, they will all say ‘yes’. Yet when it comes to paying for it, it’s a different story. If they knew they would save 25% more energy with an A+ and 45% with an A++, this might help.” Another fact that consumers may not be aware of is raised by Lec Commercial Manager David Garden, who notes that the 24/7, 365 days a year usage of cooling appliances makes

them the biggest power consumers in UK households, “accounting for a massive 18% of the annual electricity bill in a typical home.” If further evidence were needed that consumers are not well enough informed about the savings related to energy-efficient domestic appliances, it can be seen in a survey conducted by Whirlpool, in which 88% of people said they now switch off the light when leaving the room, but only 39% are replacing old MDAs with lower-energy ones. The same research showed that 83% now separate their waste, although perhaps through compliance rather than concern for the environment. As Whirlpool Brand Manager Juliana Sado remarks: “We have all been led into recycling, but it has not been voluntary.” Leading the public into changing old appliances for new has not received an automatic reaction either. Sado talks of manufacturers “banging the drum” for energy efficiency and consumers reluctant to spend money. She even goes so far as to say that energy efficiency is “massively underperforming, even though it is one of the greatest defences against escalating energy costs.” This is the time to change, she propounds: “With the prediction that our annual energy bills will reach almost £5,000 per year, investing in efficient appliances will reap rewards in the future.”

Seeing the light On the one hand, indicators signal a rise in the number of consumers who understand the effect domestic appliances produce both on the environment and the pocket, yet on the

JULY 2010

to be done to consolidate and build on consumers’ eco-consciousness. Dean says that Electrolux has tried to address the challenge of raising consumer awareness by launching ‘eco savings’ and ‘water savings’ websites but other European countries have tackled the matter by incentivising people to purchase efficient appliances: “Spain, Switzerland and Italy, for example, all have schemes up and running.” She points out that consumers in Spain can take advantage of a rebate scheme offering between €85 and €185 for upgrading to an energy-lean appliance; in Switzerland, a €120 refund for a class A+ or A++ refrigerator of freezer and €360 for an efficient tumble dryer has been made available; In Italy, up to a €200 tax credit is open for purchases of A+ or A++ cooling products. THE FU7814 ‘TURBO TIME PLUS’ WASHING MACHINE FROM FAGOR HAS A UNIQUE AGITATION AND SPRINKLER SYSTEM THAT REDUCES CYCLE TIMES AND GIVES IMPROVED RESULTS


appliances consume two or three times more energy and water than ‘A’ rated ones as this would prompt change-out of products earlier, rather than waiting for them to break down.” The fact that environment issues are being promoted by a number of non-government organisations/agencies such as the Energy Saving Trust and Waterwise is “really beginning to connect” with consumers, says Siemens Brand Manager Jane Massey. “Here at Siemens, we have carried out consumer insight studies across all of Europe and have seen energy move up the list of key criteria over the last 5 years. Now water conservation is beginning to take on a more significant relevance too.” Gina Gray, Trade Marketing Manager at Indesit, also notes signs of resource-saving appliances becoming more important to consumers: “GfK charts show that, after price, energy efficiency and lower running costs are the next most important reasons for purchase.” This is positive comment, and Electrolux adds to it by highlighting the “staggering growth” in sales of ‘A’ rated (or better) products. Head of Communications Susan Dean says this has been driven by “consumer pull and manufacturer push” and an increasing number of specifiers demanding efficient appliances to meet their own targets and customer requirements. But she believes there is more



Positive communication Richard Walker, Sales & Marketing Director at De Dietrich (De Dietrich & Fagor brands), addresses a product area which he believes has truly benefitted from “consistently positive” messages from manufacturers and retailers. “The misconception about dishwashers being both energy and water inefficient has been tackled,” he says. “Consumers are starting to give dishwashers the recognition they deserve.” Walker notes that while the overall domestic appliance market declined during 2009, one of the least affected segments was dishwashers with a water capacity of 12 litres or below and sophisticated electronics or sensor intelligence that bring about the best possible efficiencies. In contrast to appliances of the 70s, which used 50 litres of water, the triple-A rated Fagor LF73DWiTU can achieve a water usage as low as 10.5 litres, he points out. Another barrier to growth – accommodating a dishwasher in smaller kitchens – has also been eliminated, he believes. “Manufacturers like De Dietrich and Fagor include both 60cm and 45cm integrated options in their ranges.”


Returning momentarily to cooling products, Whirlpool has on many occasions highlighted a detail that is perhaps often ignored at the point of sale: it is the significant money savings to be made through rejecting the option of purchasing bottled water in favour of filtering it at home. The brand’s side-by-sides have an integral water filter that purifies 1,500 litres of water. Calculated on a cost of 95p per bottle for branded water, this amounts to £1,425. Filtering tap water produces another environmental saving, too, in that fewer plastic bottles are sent to landfill.

“There is little point in buying a highly efficient appliance if the carbon emissions used to import the product into the UK outweigh the amount of savings one can make in the home….”


JULY 2010



It has been an ongoing contest amongst manufacturers to improve dishwashing technology and drive water usage down. An example of such improvements in consumption can be seen in the development of the Maytag XXL dishwasher, which provides a capacity of 17 place settings and uses 9.9 litres to wash a standard load, and the new Exxcel AquaStar from Bosch which uses just 7 litres of water to wash 13 place settings. To put this into context, 7 litres of water is less than an average 3-person household is recommended to drink each day to stay healthy. A remarkable watersaving achievement for 13 full place settings. It seems that good health, energy efficiency and sustainability intermingle though a series of twists and turns before the desired outcome is achieved. Estimates show that 3 billion bottles of mineral water are sold every year, and half a billion of those are brought in from overseas, generating a massive carbon footprint. Transporting bottled water for and in the UK is estimated to produce around 33,200 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, which is said to be equivalent to the annual energy consumption of 6,000 homes.

Additional savings The above shows that there is more to securing the environment and making cost savings than meets the eye. Water and energy efficiencies offered by today’s appliances are only part of the whole package. The use of detergents, for example – a necessary supplement to the performance of ‘wet’ appliances – is another environment hazard, and overdosing of such substances is commonplace in UK households. But it is yet another threat to the eco-system and drain on the pocket that is being addressed by manufacturers. Hotpoint’s Aqualtis AQLF9D69 washing machine is a demonstration of the advances made in regulating detergent usage. The appliance incorporates an Auto Dose System programmed to measure the right amount of liquid detergent and fabric softener for each wash from two integrated storage tanks that hold 5.5 litres of liquid detergent and 3.5 litres of fabric softener. The machine carries the ‘Eco Tech’ symbol – Hotpoint’s guarantee of lower energy combined with higher performance – and is endorsed by the Energy Saving Trust.

On another note, Hoover Candy draws attention to the fact that to activate detergents, temperatures don’t always need to be high to achieve the best results: “Many of the detergents available today work just as effectively at reduced temperatures, so using lower settings will help consumers lower their energy bills and reduce their carbon footprint.” Washing machines, a category seen as the barometer of the white goods industry, is probably one of the most convoluted sectors in terms of features and benefits. And the fact that the majority of sales are distress purchases provides a challenge to the retailer intent on getting the advantages of modernday products across to consumers. Faced with a defunct appliance and an increasing pile of dirty laundry, customers will more often than not consider price and delivery time before the multitude of performance options and programmes. But while some industry commentators believe that most households use just one programme 90% of the time and between two to four programmes are around the limit, Hotpoint Brand Manager Iain Starkey says his brand is seeing a move towards programmes designated as ‘environment friendly’. ‘Eco Cycles’, which feature in Hotpoint’s Aqualtis range and were developed in partnership



Resource efficiencies in the varying collections of products available on the market can be difficult to explain at point of sale, but a recent addition to the Miele range of washing machines actually shows the energy and water used in individual cycles. The brand is claiming a “world first” in eco technology with the introduction of the W1945 Eco Comfort, an appliance incorporating an Eco Feedback function that provides accurate information on the energy and water consumption in previously used programmes. The feature is intended to raise consumers’ awareness and knowledge levels of resource efficiencies, “therefore enabling them to make informed choices about their usage habits and opening up potential money savings.” Miele says that, on average, a modern washing machine from the brand uses 40% less water and 30% less electricity than an appliance of 15 years ago due to the advancement of technology and the use of clever motors, insulation, sensors and controls. The company also points out that its high-performance tumble dryers use up to 50% less energy than other models, and the

Realising environmental goals Global ‘greening’ is not a passing fad serving to occupy the time of Governments and local councils. It is a foremost issue costing countries – i.e. tax payers – a great deal of money, and it can only best be served by public recognition of the task in hand. Manufacturers have grasped the nettle; now it’s time for consumers to pull their weight too, and this can only happen if the word is spread from the top down. Setting a country’s carbon agenda is one thing, creating awareness of its existence another; making resource-friendly products is one thing, creating awareness of environmental savings another; greening business is one thing, creating awareness of environment-friendly practises another. There’s plenty of media attention surrounding the subject of the environment, but more specific knowledge needs to be communicated and more enthusiasm generated. The point of sale is where the two can best be projected. Siemens’ Jane Massey says manufacturers, in partnership with retail channels, need to build on consumers’ eco-consciousness by developing clear and coherent strategies for demonstrating the savings to be achieved by the purchase of high level, energy-efficient products. “Promotional activity and incentives to encourage the purchase of these products would also be useful,” she adds. Lec’s David Garden reasons that the best way to build on consumers’ eco-consciousness is to continue educating them on the “real” advantages that products possess. “Eyecatching point-of-sale materials and displays that attract consumers’ attention as soon as they enter a showroom will help capture an initial interest, and promotions such as discounts on energy-efficient products will assist sales.


“As always, knowledge is of paramount importance in these circumstances, and manufacturers must ensure that they educate retailers thoroughly on the benefits of their products and new technologies. If the cost and energy benefits of products are accurately conveyed to consumers, a sale is more likely, although it is worth remembering that, for some, price point will always be the most important factor. Comparing cost savings to tangible products will help consumers identify with the ‘real’ benefits.” For Electrolux’s Susan Dean the key message has to be the “huge steps” made in terms of efficiency: “Today’s appliances are as much as 70% more efficient than those of 15 years ago.”

Green for all… Most people tend to think that they alone can’t make a positive impact on the environment simply by choosing an appliance with a good energy rating, so it is down to retailers to personalise their approach to individual consumer needs, says Gorenje’s Ruth Ferguson. “The retailer can demonstrate the positive effect a ‘green’ appliance will have, and lead consumers to decide that it is the right product for their lifestyle. “Everyone can do their bit to make the world a better place for future generations,” she adds. The majority of commentators agree that the greening of Britain poses a great business opportunity and retailers have a valuable role to play in the transition from carbon overkill to that of more moderate carbon generation. Reflecting on the commitment to saving the environment’s resources and reducing carbon, Whirlpool’s Sado considers tradingup to energy-efficient appliances to be a beneficial proposition for all: “The consumer will benefit immediately with financial savings and the retailer finds a new and profitable way to market.”

JULY 2010

Performance measures

T 8926 WP heat pump dryer (energy rating A) is the ”perfect choice” for those who want an environment-friendly and efficient dryer with reduced energy usage: “Heat pump technology ensures rapid transfer of heat for a 46% reduction in energy consumption and running costs compared to a conventional condenser tumble dryer.” Siemens, a company globally renowned for its energy-efficient products, is also quick to note that its iQ700 and iQ500 washing machines produce a 30% saving on the standard A-rating, and its new A-rated dryer with heat pump technology (model ref: WT46W566GB) delivers 50% more in energy savings; it also boasts a self-cleaning condenser system that ensures the machine “stays that way for life.”


with Ariel, are “not only proving popular at point of sale, but research conducted by Hotpoint also demonstrates that they are well used by consumers, making up a significant proportion of the cycles selected on wash day.” The three “unique” Eco Cycles – Cottons, Synthetics and Fast Wash – are said to save up to 50% of the energy normally used on a low temperature 30°C wash, without compromising the end result. One of the prime drivers of sales of laundry appliances is capacity. Recent figures show a hand over fist rise in sales of machines that hold 6Kg and above. Even Miele, which refused to enter the market of 5kg-plus for some time on the basis that the majority of consumers wash loads in the region of 4kg, now has bigger capacity machines in its laundry portfolio. You’ve got to be in it to win it, and statistics show that ‘big’ is what consumers will buy. Hoover Candy Marketing Director Steve Macdonald is keen to point out the benefits of using a large capacity machine, which he says can cut the number of washes by half each week “saving water, electricity, detergent and time.” Macdonald highlights the Hoover Dynamic 10, a 10kg machine incorporating a sensor that weighs the laundry and adjusts the cycle time, water and electricity consumption to suit the size of the load and the program selected. “This ensures the machine is always operating at optimum efficiency and enables it to operate with 69% less water and 42% less electricity when compared to standard machines.”




Digital clicks:

Dedicated digital cameras and camcorders may have appeared under threat from improved camera performance on mobile telephones. But consumers are finding there is nothing like a “real” camera – be it a point-and-shoot user-friendly compact, a “professionally” featured Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) or a Full HD digital camcorder. Cameras at every level are now so versatile, convenient, user-friendly, stylish and full of quality-enhancing technologies that consumers can really see the benefits of owning a proper camera. At the same time, digital imaging has cut through much of the esoteric mystery that surrounded film-based photography, opening the market to more users and more retailers.

cameras capture consumers’ imagination


JULY 2010




rom early 2009, when the recession was cutting deeply into discretionary spending at retail, DSLRs were defying the trend with 60% value and 45% volume growth, becoming, according to GfK, one of the best performing technology products. GfK’s account director for retail and technology Matt Gibbs said: “Far from being affected by the general downturn in retail sales, the DSLR market has actually seen sales accelerate.” This, in turn, fuelled growth in sales of lenses and accessories as consumers, won over by the “instant results” nature of digital photography and impressed by the quality and ease of use of compact digital cameras, found a new interest in “proper” photography and started to look for a step up from compacts to DSLRs. The major appeal of digital imaging was, at first, the ability to review images instantly and reject or save them without the uncertainty and potential disappointment of waiting for film to be developed. In this sense, consumers were able to become better photographers very quickly by spotting their “mistakes” as they were made and improving their framing, composition and choice of subject “on location.” It’s not easy to revisit the exotic holiday scene if the snaps don’t turn out as expected, so the ability to check results the

moment the picture is taken is an enormous benefit. Compact digital cameras delivered this “instant” dimension to photography, and also, as technology and new features developed, a quality, user-friendliness and a virtually “foolproof” way to capture moments and memories. For those who wanted to just point and shoot, fuzzy ill-focused or badly lit shots became a thing of the past. Success breeds ambition, and the migration to digital single lens reflex cameras gave many more consumers the opportunity to be a little more artistic and produce even better pictures. Keeping, editing, organising, viewing and sharing those pictures has been made easy, quick and intuitive in this age of online sociability, and there are – for those who still value the tangibility of photographs - many low-cost ways to produce quality prints. Very importantly, it is digital imaging that can help consumers exploit the full potential of their High Definition – and now 3D ready - flat panel TV screens by feeding them with self-produced content in the form of stills and moving images. Digital imaging technology has democratised the photography sector not only for consumers, but also for more general electrical retailers who can sell a level of results-oriented equipment that was previously the preserve of specialist photographic retailers.



Compacts still thriving – and developing

outstanding picture quality. The IXUS 300 HS offers a f/2.0 lens for low-light operation, a 28mm wide angle lens, and effects such as fish-eye and miniature modes for more creative picture taking.

is the opportunity to shoot their own Full HD movie content and view it on their HD TV screens at home. If there is still a shortage of broadcast HD – and latterly 3D – content to take advantage of today’s flat panel screens, the idea of fulfilling their potential with selfproduced movies holds a powerful appeal for consumers. Small, light and powerful are the top qualities of today’s camcorders. Canon’s smallest ever digital camcorder, for example, the LEGRIA FS306, can shoot up to 3.5 hours on a single charge, recharges in just 20 minutes, has a 41x advanced zoom and incorporates a Video Snapshot mode allowing users to merge clips in-camera to produce professional-looking movies. JVC’s 2010 camcorder range is rich in choice, from the top of the range Everio GZ-HM1 through a well thought-out collection of GZ models, all of them compact and stylish, to suit a wide variety of consumer needs. The range is now both PC and Mac compatible. Sanyo has this year launched what it claims is the world’s smallest, lightest and thinnest Full HD camcorder, the VPC-CSI, which is capable of shooting 1060i, is less than an inch thick, can take 8 megapixel stills even while shooting video, has a 38mm lens with 10x advanced zoom, and has sophisticated inbuilt features such as “Face Chase” technology, colour targeting and digital image stabilisation. From Toshiba’s extensive range of Camileo camcorders comes the BW10 “all purpose” camcorder, specifically aimed at “adventurous holidaymakers and sports enthusiasts.” It’s the first Camileo water and weather resistant camcorder, a lightweight unit capable of shooting full 1080p HD footage. It is waterproof to 2 metres with full underwater operation, is equipped with Camileo Uploader software for easy upload to YouTube and PictBridge for photo printing. It has 10x digital zoom, can shoot stills up to 5 megapixels and has HDMI and USB 2.0 connectivity. Whether it’s still or movies – or the ability to shoot both – that your customers are looking for, the digital imaging market has never been so rich in choice, quality, style and value. Real technological sophistication delivers user simplicity, and all consumer electronics retailers now have, with a little training and product familiarization, the opportunity to take advantage of this rich array of product, whether their clientele is predominantly beginners or professionals.

Many consumers upgrade from compacts to DSLRs when coming back into the market, taking advantage of lower DSLR prices, but compact sales have stood up remarkably well. “It seems the DSLR boom has failed to dampen the thirst for compact cameras,” according to GfK. And it seems that compacts have spearheaded the massive advances in technology and design. Compacts may be small, light, easy to handle, easy to use and up there with the most iconic electronic gadgets in terms of colour and design, but they are also “serious” cameras capable of achieving excellent results. There is now technology to make its own instant decisions about focus, exposure, aperture and “virtual” film speed, to achieve great pictures in low light conditions and to compensate for camera shake. These sophisticated benefits are fast becoming standard, and being joined – as in the case of the Sony Cyber-shot™ range – with face recognition technology that can identify a smile and take the picture at exactly the right time, and even distinguish between adults’ and children’s faces. Sony’s introduction of the Sweep Panorama feature – advertised with a powerful media campaign including TV ads. – has brought a further dimension to photography, allowing users to take wide panorama shots simply by pressing the shutter button and sweeping the camera across the chosen scene. The camera then processes the digital information from multiple frames taken and creates a continuous panorama shot. Sony’s Cyber-shot™ TX9 extends the Sweep Panorama facility to underwater shooting with the addition of a marine housing and white balance optimisation technology to produce natural results with underwater subjects. The underwater option is offered on a range of other compacts such as Canon’s rugged, go-anywhere PowerShot D10, which is not only waterproof to 10 metres but is also shock and dust resistant, and can operate in temperatures down to -10 degrees for winter sports use. Canon’s range also includes the PowerShot SX210, a small pocket camera with 14x optical zoom, Image Stabiliser technology and the ability to shoot HD movie footage. The EOS 550D is at home with stills or full HD movies, has enough versatility to suit both beginners and more ambitious photographers, and can capture low-light scenes with

Another dimension And, talking of other dimensions, Sony has brought the current buzz in consumer electronics - 3D – to the Sweep Panorama facility with the Cyber-shot™ WX5 and TX9 compacts, allowing users to shoot 3D and display it on any 3D-compatible TV screen. These two new compacts from Sony also feature 1080i Full HD movie recording for playback on HD TV, Superior Auto mode, which captures very low-noise images with the wide dynamic range close to the expressive power of a digital SLR camera, and “Background Defocus” mode which can produce professional-style pictures with the subject in sharp focus and the background in soft focus, similar to the effects achieved with a wide aperture SLR. The DSLR is still seen as the way to go in terms of creativity and versatility for users wanting to achieve that extra edge of quality, and there is plenty to choose from a range of leading brands to accommodate relative beginners through to professionals. Sony has added the 450 to its successful range of DSLRs, aimed specifically at those who may be new to DSLR photography. And the NEX-5, claimed as the world’s smallest and lightest interchangeable lens digital camera, and the NEX-3, now have a free firmware update allowing 3D Sweep Panorama shooting, improvement of the non-3D Sweep Panorama, less power drain when switched off and quicker start-up in low light conditions. The traditionally established “names” in SLR photography – such as Canon and Nikon - have also embraced the digital revolution with powerful ranges of DSLRs which achieve the versatility and user-friendliness of digital whilst not compromising on the lens and build quality associated with their positioning in traditional SLR photography.

Moving on – the modern digital camcorder While many digital stills cameras have a video shooting facility, the huge leaps forward in camcorder technology now offer outstanding quality, super compactness, a range of in-camera editing functions, long battery life, and a range of storage from internal Flash Memory/SD card to full HD hard drive. Very appealing to consumers



JULY 2010




George Cole ” George Cole pinpoints hotspots in the world of consumer electronics. E-mail:

THE POWER OF THE WEB A restaurateur once noted: “If a customer enjoys a meal at my restaurant, he tells a few of his friends; if he hates it, he tells everyone.” You can’t overestimate the impact of word of mouth, and the rise of the Internet is testament to this. Viral


marketing is used to create a buzz which spreads around the

So, after yet another media blitz reporting that

Internet like wildfire – think of the number of YouTube videos

analogue radio would be switched off by 2015,

that are seen by millions as a result of emailed links being

we have another government minister (this

passed onto friends.

time in the form of Ed Vaizey) telling us that the

But word of mouth can also have a negative impact on

target date is merely an “aspiration” and that

a product, company or service. An airline that damaged a

“consumers will decide when FM ends.” If that’s

musician’s guitar in transit and failed to compensate him

the case, expect a very long wait for digital radio

resulted in the aggrieved customer making a video about the

to become a mass market offering. The latest

incident and posting it online. It became a major hit and the

figures show that a quarter of all radio listening is

airline was forced to change its refund policy. A video of a

via digital (DAB, digital TV and the web) and that

laptop bursting into flames as a result of a faulty battery saw

more than 11 million DAB radios have been sold.

thousands of computers being recalled. These days, it’s almost

But with a conservative estimate of 100 million

impossible for a company to ignore its customers and not face

analogue radios still in use, there is clearly

the risk of having its shabby behaviour reported to a worldwide

a large mountain to climb. There are various

audience. But the Internet can also be a great marketing and

reasons why consumers are reluctant to switch

communication tool for companies. I was reminded of this when

to DAB, and one of them is the (incorrect) fear

I had a look at Humax’s Facebook page (just type “Humax” and

that DAB is outdated technology and that DAB+

“Facebook” into your search engine and you’ll find it).

would be a better bet. Many manufacturers now

Humax is using Facebook to interact with customers.

put DAB/DAB+/FM chipsets into their radios as a

When several of the company’s personal video recorders had

matter of routine. The chipsets are not that much

teething problems, Humax posted a message on Facebook,

more expensive than DAB/FM ones, and it means

apologising for the problem and promising a software fix.

radios can be exported to different markets. Most

When the fix was available, Humax let its Facebook followers

companies don’t advertise this fact, but perhaps

know it was ready. The feedback responses show that

they now should? Then consumers could be told

customers appreciate this kind of care and attention. On the

“DAB is here to stay and will be around for a long

face of it, Humax’s Facebook page looks very basic, but the real

time. However, if DAB+ is ever used in the UK,

work is in ensuring that the page is constantly monitored and

you’ll have a radio ready to receive it.” That might

updated – you can’t ignore someone with a question, comment

ease the worries of some consumers.


JULY 2010

or grievance for too long. And that’s not all. The company


provides telephone and email contact details for anyone wanting more information. In other words, Humax doesn’t see the Web as a cheap replacement for traditional forms of communication; it supplements them.


More and more people are spending a lot of time online

A consumer writes on a website: “John Lewis sells

and many now expect companies to have some form of online

3D active glasses for £139.95 for two pairs. For my

presence, especially younger consumers. The best companies

family of five children and two adults I need four

are doing what Humax has done – they are embracing the

sets of glasses costing £559.80. Then I need a 3D

Internet’s potential to have an even stronger dialogue with

TV for a minimum of £1199. The glasses are half

their customers.

the cost of the TV.” He does have a point.



Alan Bennett reviews the rapid development of thin screen technology approach the standards set by Pioneer

manufacturers and developments

(now out of the TV business) and adopted

such as 3D imaging have led to the most

by Panasonic, an excellent example of

intensive research and development:

which is the new LG PK range. Here the

compare a new current screen, LCD or

very narrow (‘razor’) bezels give a real

plasma, to its counterpart of two or three

picture-frame effect; hopefully there will

years ago and the progress is obvious.

be no physical repercussions from this as

which shutter each eye in turn to give two

happened elsewhere with a lighter LCD

separate images and the 3D effect. The TV

model in which flexing of the display panel

transmissions, decoded in the receiver,

could lead to failure.

provide the two images; thenceforth the

LCD Backlight technologies continue to improve, with LED arrays becoming better and

Still there is no real solution to the risk


signal processing and screen structure is

cheaper. Side-lighting makes for very thin

of phosphor-burn in plasma panels, in

up to the setmaker, balancing (as ever!)

panels, while full-field LED lighting, by local

spite of manufacturers’ claims: moving the

performance against cost, and trying to

dimming and by colour matrixing, improves

image about just blurs the edges of any

second-guess the punters’ preferences.

contrast ratio and colour rendering

burn, while ‘washing’ and ‘wiping’ systems

The high initial price of 3D screens will

respectively. All LED backlights use much

inevitably come down, depending largely

less energy than fluorescent ones. The

have minimal effect, I’ve found. When the problem is really solved set makers will

latest advance to come onto retailers’

stop excluding screen burn from their

feeling is that 3D will not become a mass-

shelves is the incorporation – by Sharp in


market product.

their QuadPixel models – of a fourth sub-

The reflectivity of the glassy surface of

on the take-up of this new feature. My own

One spin-off from this technology which

pixel colour, yellow. In normal TV displays

the plasma panel can dilute the contrast

yellow is produced by a combination of

and be distractive in a well-lit room. Look

I think could do very well indeed is a dual picture TV screen, on which two totally

red and green light, be it from phosphors

at the screen surface with the set switched

different images could be simultaneously

in plasma panels or filters in LCD ones. The

off. LCDs are very black while plasmas can

displayed, depending on the viewing angle.

gamut of colour this offers in LCD displays

be lighter, and reproduced image-black

This would solve, once and for all, a huge

is not as good as that of a dedicated yellow

can only be as dark as the un-energised

conflict in the average living room, and is

filter, with which gold and similar colours

screen, relevant in any viewing situation

perfectly feasible, though the sound is less

look better. It is important to remember,

short of total blackout. Think of reflective

easily dispensed! One programme would

however, that the range of colours in a

cinema screens and the old cathode ray

have to be via the speakers, the other by

broadcast picture is limited to some degree,

tubes which got better and better as they

headphones. No more fighting over the

and a chain is only as good as its weakest

got darker and darker over the years.

zapper, no more kitchen-viewing of Corrie

link. Some local picture sources (PC, game,

Plasma does best in dark surroundings and

when the football’s on ... I could sell a lot

AVC-HD) can be better.

without the fixed picture structures and

of them and cement marital harmony with

icons incorporated into some games and in

every one. Two and a half grand a pop?

computer displays.

No problem.

down to the digital processing engine as to

3D screens

Test cards

the screen itself, though the latter has to be

The new Sky 3D transmissions lend

I wish one of the broadcasters would

‘fast’ enough to do it justice.

themselves to two types of display. The

transmit an always-on test card. A

simplest for the viewer uses passive

stationary picture like this takes up zilch

spectacles with opposing polarities for each

bandwidth, and the tantalisingly brief

Plasma sales continue to wane in the face

eye, and a screen with a light-polarising

broadcasts of it on BBC HD show up

of competition from LCD, at least from

layer which matches the L/R images to

many aspects of TV display, particularly

where I’m sitting. Our plasma customers

them. The alternative (and better, I believe)

definition. With digital TV a stationary

now tend to be home cinema enthusiasts

is a sequential system in which left and

image does not tell the whole story, so

and TV perfectionists. These screens

right images progressively alternate on the

moving ones to check for lip-sync and

continue to improve in terms of black-

screen in very fast sequence; synchronised

motion artefacts could be incorporated

level reproduction, with some mainstream

to these are the active viewing glasses

– or given a separate slot?

Faster image-refresh rates are demonstrably improving motion rendition in terms of smoothness; this is as much


JULY 2010

manufacturers’ products starting to

is very rapid. Competition between



he evolution of TV screen technology



” A self-confessed adrenaline junkie, Hoover SDA marketing communications manager Peter Regan values having his decisions questioned and challenged, but that has not stopped him from indulging in embarrassing dancing, and he admits to a partiality to karaoke: facts(probably) entirely unrelated to his aversion to Pop Tarts, the cause of which remains a mystery. Why did you choose to work in the electrical industry? I was in the right place at the right time and fell into the industry!

Who in the industry would you like to spend time with? My colleagues. They are some of the most hard-working, passionate people around

What makes you laugh? Michael McIntyre. I find observational humour hilarious. It’s funny, because it’s true

What was the greatest turning point in your life? Picking Grapes in Mildura (Australia) and understanding the true nature of hard work

Hobbies? Snowboarding, Diving and White Water Rafting. I’m an adrenaline junkie

What’s the worst lie you’ve ever told? “No I won’t push you off the bungee”

What’s your greatest regret? Holding back and not saying “I love you”

What historic figure do you identify with most? WH Hoover – he revolutionized the lives of men & women all over the world

How would you describe yourself? Inquisitive

How do you think others see you? I think I surprise people with a mix of pragmatism and out of the box thinking

Pet hate?


JULY 2010

Life’s too short to let small things get to you


Any bad habits? Karaoke

Favourite cuisine? Italian. Whether I’m cooking it, or at a restaurant, I love it!

You have been offered a leading role in a film of your choice, what character would you like to play? Jack Bauer in the 24 movie

If you ruled the world for a day, what would be the first change you would make? I would rid the world of dust mites

Is there anything about yourself that you would like to change? More hair!

Any hidden talents?

I’ve been lucky, so nothing of note

What’s the best kind of punishment….? One where a lesson is learned

…and who deserves it? The thoughtless and the rude

Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time? Down the park with my kids

What’s your greatest fear? Drudgery Whom do you most admire? Got to be Barak Obama. Hope he can deliver over the next few years

I can play the Saxophone and specialize in embarrassing dancing

What’s your favourite piece of kit?

Any particular fetishes?

What motto do you live by?

My Hoover RUSH. Obviously

Does Carol Vorderman count as a fetish? – Definitely! (Ed.)

Today is the first day of the rest of your life

What would you put into Room 101?

…Be better

Tomorrow I will…….

Pop Tarts - long story

What’s your greatest achievement? I hope that’s yet to come

What sort of music do you like? Eclectic - from The Verve to Vivaldi

Favourite quote? “Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.” – attributed to Roosevelt from West African origins

Who has been the greatest influence in your life? A close friend, who questions and challenges all of my decisions

If you weren’t in your present position, what job would you choose to do?

Name your poison? Mine’s a Guinness

Dive Instructor on the Barrier Reef

How to make a million!

Favourite TV programme? 24

What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you?

What do you daydream about?

What surprises you?

What’s your favourite holiday destination?

People – you never quite know what’s going to happen next

Chamonix. It’s a great mountain resort, with perfect snow

Independent retailer:

“The World Cup did deliver for us to a certain extent, although the England team didn’t (so what’s new?) I’m hoping we’ll get a Christmas surge before VAT goes up in January, but I’m most of all hoping that the price deflation madness in consumer electronics will not undercut me even more in 2011. I can’t afford to shave my margins any more.”

Brown goods manufacturer:

“I believe there’s enough innovation and value coming to market to make consumer electronics a very exciting prospect for consumers. I would hope that our sector doesn’t continue to shoot itself in the foot (it’s running out of toes!) by sacrificing profit in the name of competition and market share.”

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Get Connected: July 2010  

Get Connected: The Magazine of the Electrical Industry. July 2010 issue.

Get Connected: July 2010  

Get Connected: The Magazine of the Electrical Industry. July 2010 issue.