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Issue 65 February 2009 incorporating



Hardware offers from Gem available throughout February Special Pricing on many SKU’s across the Logitech range

Half Price from Saitek!


Throughout February you can get the C100X Wireless Desktop Set PK12V for half price.

Offers available throughout February. Contact your Gem account manager on 01279 822822, or go online at for more information. Logitech Focus Days are 4th and 18th February

Offer available throughout February. Limited stock available.

Get your hands on these AMAZING deals from Microsoft

Special Pricing on Creative’s Zen and Zen X-Fi MP3 players

To take advantage of this fantastic deal contact your Gem account manager today on 01279 822822 Saitek Focus Day is 13th February.

Huge savings on the following entry level and high tech peripherals

Offers available throughout February.

Offers available throughout February.

Contact your Gem account manager on 01279 822822, or go online at for more information. Microsoft Focus Days are 3rd and 24th February

Contact your Gem account manager to find out how much you could save! Offers also available online - Visit Creative Focus Days are 2nd and 27th February

Up to 5* FREE songs available to download from LIVE with every copy of Lips

Fantastic pricing on selected Kodak products!

Huge savings on many SKUs across the range!

*1 FREE download with Lips, up to 4 FREE downloads from 800 points card given in the promotion

Offers available throughout February.

Offers available throughout February.

Offers available throughout February.

Contact your Gem account manager on 01279 822822, or go online at for more information. Kodak Focus Days are 6th and 17th February

Contact your Gem account manager on 01279 822822, or go online at for more information. Exspect Focus Days are 5th and 19th February

Contact your Gem account manager on 01279 822822, or go online at for more information. Microsoft Focus Days are 3rd and 24th February

For more information contact your Gem account manager on 01279 822822, or visit

Credit where credit’s due

PCRETAIL CONTACTS Editor Andrew Wooden

IT MIGHT sound like a small detail to those not in the game, but any retailer responsible for a large chain of shops – indeed, even just a single store retailer – will tell you just how fundamental credit is to the vitality of the business. If insurers reduce credit for whatever reason, it can cripple the ability for retailers to remain stocked, as vendors, publishers or distributors become reluctant to put product into a store which they can’t guarantee is protected.

Deputy Editor Ben Furfie

Staff Writer Matt Grainger

Editorial Production Manager Helen French

Managing Editor Lisa Foster

Executive Advertising Manager Katie Rawlings

Advertising Executive Carly Bailey

Production Executive Abigail Fanger

Designer Kelly Styles

Publisher Stuart Dinsey 01992 535646

“I’m no financial expert, but one would assume a retail superpower like Best Buy won’t be receiving the same credit terms as embattled PC World stores – which would add an even greater advantage to the firm when it launches soon.” It might not sound like it would have a huge impact, but this is one of the most common ways retailers go out of business. In recent months, High Street stalwarts Woolworths and Zavvi – formerly Virgin Megastores – went under because EUK – the Woolworths’ owned distributor – had its credit significantly

reduced by insurers – which led to devastating stock shortages for the retailers. Commentators will be primed to see retail collapses everywhere following those recent fiascos. While it’s true the effects of tightening credit by insurers are being felt across retail, it has to be said DSGi looks pretty vulnerable given all that we know about the firm’s recent troubles. And it should also be remembered that Comet posted flat sales for Christmas. We talk about the looming Best Buy invasion a lot, but it holds particular relevance here. I’m no financial expert, but one would assume a retail superpower like that won’t be receiving the same credit terms as embattled PC World stores – which would add an even greater advantage to the firm when it hits the UK this spring. A meeting of minds Last month we covered Microsoft’s move into cloud computing, which was particularly interesting since the firm made its initial fortunes out of box product. Passing it on the other side of the road this month was Google, which is currently trying to make moves into the channel, after making its millions as a purely online business. That the internet firm is looking to woo reseller chains and independents is not surprising – the resilience of the latter especially in this country is to be envied by most industries. If Google Apps is to become as well adopted by business and consumers as it would like, it will surely need the help of those who are well entrenched in the software selling game. What is noteworthy is the blurring of the lines between online and physical business models. To reiterate the point echoed last month, the online versus box product software argument is no longer a case of either/or. When two of the biggest firms in the tech sector – who also happen to be rivals – agree on something, you can bet others will follow.

PC Retail - Total average monthly net circulation for January 1st to December 31st 2007: 13,885.

Intent Media is a member of the Periodical Publishers Associations PC Retail is published 12 times a year by Intent Media - Saxon House, 6a St.Andrew Street, Hertford, Hertfordshire SG14 1JA Fax: +44 (0)1992 535648. © Intent Media 2009 No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without prior permission of the copyright owners. Printed by Pensord. SUBSCRIPTIONS UK: £50 Europe: £60 Rest of World: £90. The international cost applies per subscription and covers airmail dispatch of 12 issues. To order your subscription via Visa, MasterCard, Amex Switch or Delta contact or call 01580 883848. Alternatively visit our website Subscriptions Manager: Hannah Short,


Andrew Wooden, Editor EDITORIAL: 01992 535646 ADVERTISING: 01992 535647 PCRetail February 3


Contents ISSUE 65 FEBRUARY 2009


Incisive Media We talk to Incisive Media, organiser of Channel Expo about the nature of trade shows in the current business climate






Notes from the Frontline 20 Richard Mills shares his knowledge from the Frontline of IT support



Games Releases 57 Plug and Play


GfK Analysis






Keith Warburton, CEO of the PCA, gives his views on all the issues facing the channel

Mac Association





Robert Peckham, Executive Director of the Mac Technology Association talks about all things Apple and Mac



The two trade bodies discuss issues facing independent retailers and resellers



Founder of the buying group Iain Shaw discusses problems posed to him by members of the group

4 PCRetail February

Xx Xx

Mystery Shopper


This month, our mystery shopper is in Watford, searching for VoIP phones

Video Cameras


It’s a market that is defying the downturn thanks to new technology and new formfactors. We chat with Gem, Midwich and Toshiba about trends and how to get into it

Audio Visual Editing Software

PC Speakers


Thanks to the increasing power of modern computers, the ability to edit video and audio like a professional is available to everyone. But how do you sell it?


Nanopoint Company Profile

Company Profile

Monitors and Displays 47 We talk to key figures to find out what 2009 holds for the complex monitor and display market

PC Retail sits down with DGM’s sales manager David Nazare to talk about the company’s recent rebranding, its plans for 2009 and just why making its own products have been – and remain – key to the company’s success with its customer base



PCRetail February 5

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Credit noose tightens on PC World, Currys and Comet Reduction of credit insurance for leading tech retailers could pave way for turmoil  DSGi insists it is still fighting fit with its new executive restructure and total store refit, due to be rolled out this year

Though credit insurers are currently reducing credit, DSGi remains positive. The company claimed that this is not a DSGi-specific issue and affects the whole sector

By Andrew Wooden

THE UK’S leading technology retailers, including PC World, Currys and Comet, could be facing an unprecedented stock crisis as insurers reduce credit – fuelling ongoing concerns following the collapse of fellow High Street retailer Woolworths late last year. PC Retail understands that three credit insurers have dramatically reduced credit –or even blanket refused it – for video games at Comet and DSGi retailers, which has made publishers reluctant to sell into the stores at all. If this trend is replicated in the hardware sector it has the potential to totally cripple the largest technology outlets in the UK. When contacted, both DSGi and Comet played down the potential damage to their businesses. “As everyone is

aware, credit insurers have been reviewing the level of insurance provided to suppliers across a number of

provided to suppliers by some credit insurers. However, we have seen no change in our overall terms with suppliers

“As market leaders we are an important route to consumers for our suppliers’ products and we have seen no change in our overall terms with our suppliers.” industries, including retail, this is not a DSGi-specific issue,” said a spokesperson for DSGi. “As market leaders, we are an important route to consumers for our suppliers’ products and we have seen no change in our overall terms with our suppliers.” Comet added: “Like a large number of companies we have been a part of the widespread review of insurance levels

and it has had no material impact on our business.” Meanwhile, following an executive restructure, DSGi is looking to roll out the revamped design across its whole retail portfolio, after the recent 2008 financials highlighted a 15-25 per cent trade increase in refitted stores compared to standard sites. With regards to the future, the firm remains bullish.

“DSGi went into the recession with a plan to transform the business for our customers,” continued the spokesperson.

“We will emerge offering an unbeatable combination of value, choice and service,” they concluded.

DSGi’s executive restructure:  DHL’s John Allan is to take over from Sir John Collins as chairman later this year.  Head of Currys chain Peter Keenan has left. Keith Jones is promoted to group retail director, taking over his duties.  Steve Ager, formally group buying director, has been made commercial director.  Group development director Sebastian James is to become services director of the overseas supply chain and Tech Guys.  Former head of Dixons Travel Andrew Milliken becomes transformation director, in charge of all new store formats.

PCRetail February 7


Google embraces UK resellers Internet search giant looks to woo the channel with partnership program  Says UK resellers need to adapt to new methods and not rely on ‘legacy models’  20 per cent of revenue available By Andrew Wooden

THE FIRM behind the world’s biggest search engine is looking to sign up reseller partners in the UK to sell Google Apps – a cloud-based set of office software which it claims over a million users worldwide are already using, with 3,000 new accounts created each day. The Google Apps Authorised Reseller Program is now available in the UK, and offers 20 per cent of the software’s revenue to resellers, with the flexibility to bundle the license fees with additional services. The online-based software has been touted as a direct rival to Microsoft Office since the former’s inception, and Google claims UK resellers need to embrace the new alternatives to box product software such as this in order to keep up with customer demand. “Cloud computing is not a ‘future technology’. It is here. It is happening. Already over one million businesses use Google Apps and we are seeing demand accelerate with over 3,000 new businesses signing up daily,” Peter Lorant, head of enterprise channels at Google EMEA, told PC Retail. “This is a new paradigm for

“Cloud technology is not a ‘future technology’. It is here. It is happening. Already over one million businesses use Google Apps and we are seeing demand accelerate.” Peter Lorant, Google EMEA

the market – it is important that partners embrace this new approach rather than relying on legacy models. For example, we issued over 100 major features in Google Apps last year – partners need to be on top of this and act as

the ‘innovation integrator’ for their customers.” While not dismissing box product software out of hand, Google is unsurprisingly evangelical about the benefits cloud-based alternatives provide for users.

“Traditional desktop software clearly has its place in corporate IT environments but the introduction of cloud computing provides customers with choice,” continued Lorant. “Being able to access your information from

wherever you might be, from any device with an internet connection, brings a mobility and flexibility to organisations large and small. Innovation and collaboration is achieved in a way that is easier, quicker and more cost effective.”

News Bytes TomTom offers Valentine voices Navigation device vendor TomTom is offering customers the voice of their dreams for Valentine’s day. Users can download the sultry celebrity tones of Brad, Sean, Kylie and Claudia to every purchase of a TomTom sat nav between February 7th and 21st.

8 PCRetail February

Digital blockbuster Sonic Solutions has teamed up with Blockbuster to give consumers access to a vast library of premium digital entertainment across a wide assortment of electronic devices. Blockbuster will supply the branded consumer interfaces and Sonic will power content delivery.

Communication database The National Registers of Communication Professionals working with deaf and deafblind people has launched a free-toaccess database of contact details for registered communicators. It holds details of around 800 UK professionals.

Carbon concerns

PC case out now

A survey of IT managers in retail firms, commissioned by distributor Zycko, revealed that 71 per cent of data centre managers in this sector feel under pressure to reduce energy usage in their data centres, and 57 per cent plan to reduce their carbon footprint in the next 18 months.

CMStorm has unveiled the ultimate gaming case with plenty of cooling for highend components. The Sniper features unprecedented airflow from up to three huge fans: a 200mm blue LED fan in the front, a top exhaust 200mm LED fan and yet another optional 200mm VGA intake.


Gem celebrates 25 years of success Distributor looks back on quarter of a century in the UK trade  Managing director hails significant milestone in the business  Month long ‘February Frenzy’ sales event has been announced By Andrew Wooden

DISTRIBUTOR GEM is celebrating its 25th year at the heart of the UK PC and video games trade, a timeline which spans numerous key milestones and is almost as long as the industry itself. The company was formed in 1984 and landed the allimportant Microsoft contract in 1988. After being acquired by DCC (which also owns

to thank everybody who has worked with us over the past 25 years and we look forward to another exciting 25 years in the industry.” More recently, Gem unveiled a new identity which represented the evolution of its business and further strengthened its importance in the sector. The launch of the Gem Logistics and Gem

“We are delighted to be celebrating this significant milestone in our business. I would like to thank everyone who has worked with us.” Chis Peacock, Gem

fellow distributor Micro-P) in 1995, the firm made a number of important moves in the hardware, software and video games markets in the ensuing years. “We are delighted to be celebrating this significant milestone in our business. This industry has advanced considerably since Gem was founded back in 1984 and we are very proud to be a part of it,” said managing director Chris Peacock. “I would like

Creative divisions along with its new ‘one integrated solution’ strap line signified the change and saw the distributor acquiring France based Banque Magnétique. After a strong year of success and a number of innovative campaigns throughout 2008, Gem was awarded the PC Retail Grand Prix Award at last year’s event. Gem is starting its celebrations with February Frenzy, a one month-long sales event for its customers.

Highlights of the 25 year history  Company formed 1984

 Moved into new dedicated distribution facility July 2005

 Appointed Microsoft distributor 1988  Gem acquired by DCC March 1995

 Acquisition of the Exspect brand July 2006

 Appointed exclusive Microsoft Xbox distributor October 2001

 New identity unveiled with launch of Gem Logistics and Gem Creative divisions

 Appointed exclusive Take 2 software distributor May 2002

 Acquisition of Banque Magnétique December 2007

 Moved into new sales, commercial and marketing office January 2003

 Awarded PC Retail 08 Grand Prix award March 2008

 Appointed exclusive Xbox 360 distributor May 2005

 Additional mezzanine floor added to distribution centre October 2008

SIGN UP FOR THE PC RETAIL NEWSFLASH SERVICE AT WWW.PCRETAILMAG.COM AVG and Sweex team up Security specialist AVG has allied with Sweex to include a free 90-day trial version of its AVG Internet Security 8.0 with a purchase of all new Sweex internet and networking products to protect against viruses, phishing, web exploits, spam, and spyware.

Target uses PayPal

Fighting fraud

4,000 IBM patents

Mitsubishi projects

Trade IT distributor Target Components has announced that account holders can now pay for purchases with Paypal. This increases the methods of payments available for those who do not have credit accounts. However, it will continue to take debit and credit card payments.

Collaborative fraud management organisation, Ethoca said the Global Fraud-Fighting Community saw dynamic momentum last year. It says the increasing understanding of the importance of sharing and collaboration to defeat fraud has expanded it to nearly 50 members.

IBM has shattered the U.S. patent record in 2008, becoming the first company to surpass 4,000 patents in a single year – the 16th consecutive year that IBM has achieved US patent leadership. This exceeds Microsoft, HP, Oracle, Apple, EMC, Accenture and Google combined.

Mitsubishi Electric’s Visual Information Systems division has unveiled the WL2650U, a widescreen WXGA resolution projector. Producing optimum quality images, this projector has 3,500 ANSI lumens of brightness, a contrast ratio of 600:1 and is designed for any business or classroom environment.

PCRetail February 9


Raft of new sponsors line up for PC Retail Awards Enta, Symantec and Well Child show backing as the PC Retail Awards 2009 loom  Comedian Adam Bloom is confirmed as the celebrity host for the event  Under two months to go By Andrew Wooden

WITH under two months to go until the 2009 PC Retail Awards, Symantec, Enta and Well Child have all signed up as sponsors to the event. Symantec, the firm behind Norton Security, becomes Gold Sponsor, Enta takes the Vendor Category Sponsorship and Well Child becomes the Charity Sponsor. They join AMD, Interactive Ideas, Widget, Channel Advantage and Gem on the list of firms backing the awards. Farhana Rafi, consumer marketing manager at Symantec UK, said: “The Norton team is proud to be a sponsor of this year’s PC Retail

Awards. The Channel remains our fundamental route to market and this sponsorship

during 2008, and through 2009 we will continue to support it in many of its

“The Norton team is proud to be a sponsor of this year’s PC Retail Awards. The Channel remains our fundamental route to market and this reinforces our commitment.” Farhana Rafi, Symantec UK

reinforces our commitment to Channel partners.” Jon Atherton, commercial vice president at Enta, added: “PC Retail has been an important marketing tool

activities, this being one of them. The focus it gives to the SME/SMB channel is spot on.” It has also been confirmed that comedian Adam Bloom will host the event. He has

been described as one of Britain’s most exciting and original stand-up comedians. Ricky Gervais recently said of him: “He’s been one of my favourite stand-ups for about ten years. Bloom not only has meticulous, brilliant lines, but also an intense and fragile honesty.” Bloom boasts a run of sellout shows at the Edinburgh Festival over the past few years, three series on Radio 4, and has also enjoyed stints on TV shows including Never Mind The Buzzcocks, Have I Got News For You and Mock The Week. The PC Retail Awards take

place on Thursday March 19th, 2009, at the Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington, with 60 different companies battling it out for one of 16 awards. An Industry Achievement award will also be handed out to an individual who has contributed strongly to the UK computing industry over the past year. Your full guide to the event is included with this issue of PC Retail. For information on sponsorship packages as well as ticket sales for the event, contact Katie.Rawlings@

widget Platinum Sponsor

Drinks Reception Sponsor

Gold Sponsor

Frontline Category Sponsor

Gold Sponsor

Vendor Category Sponsor

Gold Sponsor

Charity Partner

News Bytes Transcend offers USB card reader

Hansoft goes to space

Transcend Information has revealed its new P8 All-InOne USB Card Reader. All four of the P8’s card slots are labelled to avoid confusion and save time. Just plug the P8 directly into any USB2.0 port to transfer music, videos, photos or documents.

The Swedish Space Corporation has used Hansoft’s integrated solution for collaborative scheduling, Agile, bug tracking and workload coordination. The tool is fast and easy and builds on principles of team empowerment and increased communication.

10 PCRetail February

Non-food satisfaction

BT offers faster net

New SonicWall apps

Retailers are doing better at keeping customers happy, despite the economic downturn, according to the UK Consumer Satisfaction Index. The non-food sector is now top of the league out of 12 private and public sectors. Food is now in third place.

BT has developed the IPlate, a unique filter that eliminates interference from telephone-extension wiring affecting broadband signals, potentially improving broadband speed and reliability. In trials the I-Plate has been shown to boost line speeds, typically by 1.5Mbps.

Secure network infrastructure firm SonicWall has announced the Aventail E-Class Secure Remote Access, which delivers secure, easy-to-manage remote access control for the mobile enterprise. The Aventail E-Class SRA is built on the powerful SonicWall Aventail SSL VPN platform.


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Ingram bids farewell to Patel UK arm of broadline distributor praises its long-standing commercial director  Michael Farrah is promoted to acting commercial director, taking over duties from early February By Andrew Wooden

THE UK arm of Ingram Micro, the world’s largest IT distributor, has promoted Michael Farrah to the position of acting commercial director following the departure of 18year veteran and key industry figure Bhavesh Patel, which was announced earlier this month. Patel was responsible for vendor category management, marketing and e-commerce in the UK. The former head of category for printers, peripherals, displays, AV and mobility, will take over Patel’s duties with immediate effect, for the short to medium term. It is understood that Patel is not planning on veering too far from the IT industry.

Patel oversaw a number of new channel initiatives during his tenure at the firm, most recently a program called Credit Builder, which allows resellers to build their credit facilities up to £100,000 over a 12 month period. Ingram Micro UK MD Julian Klein told us: “We had to think long and hard about replacing to Bhavesh – obviously they were some big shoes to fill over the many years he’s been with us at Ingram Micro. “Mike Farrah’s been with us for ten year’s now – he’s one of Bhavesh’s direct reports, and he’ll be taking on the majority of his roles from the beginning of February. This gives us some time to figure

Julian Klein

out the best way for us to replace Bhavesh.” Patel added: “I’m openminded about my future direction and have very much

Bhavesh Patel

enjoyed working with some great people across the UK, Europe and the Asia Pacific regions over the years with Ingram Micro. Part of the

Mike Farrah

journey for me has always been the ability to take on new challenges, and I look forward to whatever challenge may come up next.”

AVG tightens the screws on identity theft SECURITY VENDOR AVG is planning on dealing a blow to ID thieves – an area which it sees as becoming increasingly dangerous in 2009 – following the acquisition of identity specialist Sana Software. As a security firm, AVG obviously already provides some protection against identity theft. However, the buyout gives a huge boost to the firm’s ID theft prevention arsenal, incorporating Sana’s complex

behavioural tracking software, and developing its assets into a brand new division. AVG’s CEO JR Smith told PC Retail: “With regards to the behavioural technology, a lot of the threats out there are based on gathering information about individuals so that they can use that for profit. This is becoming more and more prevalent, especially in the UK. The technology from Sana will bolster our existing protection

– so if the traditional methods don’t catch something, then this will. “There are already bits of behavioural technology in standard security software, but on a very small scale. This is a robust solution that has been developed over seven or eight years. As a standalone it’s a very powerful product, but when you add it to a security suite it really, really enhances protection.”

Kaspersky is fave

IBM in antitrust suit US firm T3 has filed an antitrust complaint against IBM. The suit accuses IBM of tying the purchase of software to hardware. It also accuses IBM of attempting to block interoperability to prevent customers from moving applications and data to other platforms.

IRIS acquires Corismo

Sharp gets an award

According to recent data provided by GfK Retail and Technology, more than one third of all European consumers choose to buy Kaspersky Lab anti-virus solutions. The data is based on the GfK sales data from August to October 2008, and KL is the leading brand in Western Europe.

JR Smith

News Bytes Adder boosts Euro channel Adder, a developer of KVM switches, extenders and IP solutions, has announced it has entered into a strategic European distribution agreement with Intronics. The agreement establishes sale of all of Adder’s products through Intronics group companies.

12 PCRetail February

IRIS has bought all the shares of Corismo, an Antwerpbased company specialising in IT platform consultancy for key accounts in Belgium. Corismo will boost IRIS’s strategy aimed at enriching the range of existing outsourced solutions.

Sharp has won another prize – the Outstanding Achivement Award – from respected independent office-equipment testing lab Buyers Laboratory for the innovative design of its new multifunction printers, including the high performance MX-2600N and MX-3100N models.


BETT enjoys 30 per cent visitor hike as educational technology soars 30 per cent rise in pre-show registrations provides boost for educational technology trade show By Andrew Wooden

EMAP, ORGANISER of educational technology trade show BETT, managed to attract 30 per cent more pre-event registrations for this year’s event compared to 2008 – a figure which the firm claims is due to the increased focus on technology in schools. “BETT aimed to not only showcase the latest technology to support learning and teaching, but also help visitors gain best practice tips and advice regarding using ICT in the classroom and about the numerous changes and issues affecting the sector,” Keith Clifford, public sector marketing manager at Emap told PC Retail.

With PCs and related technology more prevalent in UK schools than ever, the organisers are looking to capitalise on the interest for next year’s show. “Visitors are now seeing BETT as not only the place to touch and test the resources on offer, but to learn exactly why using technology makes such a huge difference to the learning experiences of today’s children,” continued Clifford. “We have a few new ideas in the pipeline to keep BETT fresh and topical, so keep a look out on the website in the lead up to BETT 2010.” Next year’s show is from 13 – 16 January, back at the Olympia, London.

Seagate responds to hardware fault claims HARD DRIVE vendor Seagate has responded to a wave of complaints from resellers and consumers regarding a number of hard drives which appeared to be faulty. Apparently an isolated firmware issue is to blame for the malfunctioning drives, and Seagate is offering a free update for those affected. Reports of failures in some Seagate 1TB Barracuda drives

became widespread towards the end of January, with

“Seagate has isolated a potential firmware issue in

certain products, including some Barracuda 7200.11 hard drives and related drive families based on this product platform, manufactured through

December 2008. In some circumstances, the data on the hard drives may become inaccessible to the user when the host system is powered on. “We are offering a free upgrade to those with affected products. To determine if your product is affected, please visit our web site at gate/crm/selfservice/search.js p?DocId=20793”

Compal cuts its shipment forecasts

Computer Buyer closes its pages

EeePC tablet has been unveiled

Taiwan based Compal, the second largest contract notebook builder in the world, has significantly cut its shipment and spending forecasts. The firm, which supplies Acer, HP, and Lenovo, is set to halve its spending plans and cut its shipments by three million.

Dennis Publishing has axed Computer Buyer, after 18 years on the market. John Garewal, the deputy managing director of Dennis Publishing said that it made sense for the firm to concentrate on Computer Shopper – the market leader in that segment.

Asus has taken the wraps off its latest Eee PC at this year's CES show, the T91. The latest model to be unveiled by the vendor is the first Eee PC to feature a tablet-like design, with the device able to have its 8.9inch screen rotated 180degrees and placed flat.

“Seagate has isolated a potential firmware issue in certain products” Seagate Spokesperson

channel discussion forums such as Brigantia alive with speculation regarding the faulty hardware. A spokesperson told us:

News Bytes Market growth back to 2001 levels Retail sales helped to keep the channel alive during the fourth quarter of 2008 after demand from corporate customers collapsed, claim the latest figures from research firm Gartner, with the firm saying growth had returned to 2001/02 recession levels.

14 PCRetail February

Apple shares knocked Apple CEO Steve Jobs is taking medical leave until June, causing shares to fall by around seven per cent upon the annoucement. Perception of the firm’s value has always been closely linked to Jobs himself, who many see as almost solely responsible for the firm’s turnaround.

To order your stock today, call our sales team on

0871 250 6000 or email Sales Team: 0871 250 6000 Service Hotline: 0871 250 8000 Fax: 0871 250 7000 Email: DGM UK LTD Digimate House, Unit 1, Chancerygate Business Centre, Stonefield Way, Ruislip, London, HA4 0JA.


Microsoft reassures users over mass security breach Software giant insists updates are key to preventing infection by hugely virulent Conficker worm  Ministry of Defence and NHS computers contaminated MICROSOFT HAS advised users infected with the powerful Conficker worm – which at the time of going to print had infected around nine million computers – that installing Windows updates and ensuring sufficiently strong passwords are used are the best form of defence. The worm has proved unusually resilient to standard internet defence mechanisms, with some reports claiming it automatically disables the Windows updates Microsoft has developed to kill it. As well as millions of home users, the Ministry of defence and the NHS have been infected by the malware. A Microsoft spokesperson told us: “Microsoft is aware of the Conficker worm family. Our Forefront antivirus technology helps protect against it, as do many other

“Our advice is for users to ensure their antivirus protection is up to date with the latest definitions” vendors’ antivirus products. Specifically, Forefront has been protecting customers against

Conficker since November 21st 2008. We have also added detection and removal

capability via the free Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT). Our advice is for users to ensure their antivirus protection is up to date with the latest definitions. One of the ways Conficker spreads is by exploiting a vulnerability which was addressed at the end of October 2008 with Microsoft Security Bulletin MS08-067 which we further recommend users download.” MS08-067 addresses a server vulnerability, via a tailored RPC request. “Other means of infection include exploitation of weak password policies and unprotected file shares. The easiest way to ensure latest security updates are installed is to enable the Automatic Update feature in Windows. Those that do not use Automatic Updates can go to our website.”

Livedrive looks to sign retail partners LIVEDRIVE – a new firm offering unlimited online storage due to launch in February – is looking to sign up retail partners to support its initial drive. Apparently, the technology is designed to change the way people store, access and manage data. Essentially a cloud based offering, this ties in with a number of similar initiatives currently being pushed by more established players such as Google and Microsoft. Revenue sharing deals will be available for retailers interested in getting involved with the scheme, and the software will be sold either as a box product or as an online subscription service. “We are looking for launch partners that can help us grow our customer base as quickly as possible. We will be

running an affiliate programme following launch, but are currently in discussions with a number of potential partners from retail, manufacturing and web services,” founder Andrew Michael told us. “The idea behind these relationships is to offer Livedrive to their customers either on a revenue sharing basis or by means of a promotional offer of either a reduced subscription cost or an extended free trial period. “Livedrive can be packaged in a number of ways from a free CD or a box on a shelf through to a web link or promotional offer in a publication. We have an internal system that allows us to monitor where our customers come from and to cut cheques at the end of the month for our partners who delivered those customers. “We’ve been developing

Livedrive for some two years now and are very excited by the interest generated from a

CONSUMER PRESS This month PC Retail looks at Computer Shopper and Custom PC...

Bargain Netbooks  Best Buy: Samsung NC10 Dell Inspiron Mini 9 – 5/5 Asus N10 – 4/5 Power Efficient PCs  Best Buy: Sony Vaio VGC-JS1E/S  Budget Buy: Novatech Ion Home PC Bundle LCD TVs  Ultimate: Philips Ceneos 42PFL7603D  Best Buy: LG 37LG5000  Budget Buy: Matsui M19LID618  Budget Buy: Sony Bravia KDL-32V4000 Sat Navs  Ultimate: ToTo Go 740 Live  Best Buy: TomTom Go 530  Budget Buy: Navman S30 3D

couple of small mentions when we launched the beta service back in December.”

Fan Controllers  Premium Grade: Scythe Kaze Master Ace 5.25-inch  Premium Grade: Akasa Fan Control Probhavw  Approved: Zalman Fan Mare 2 LGA775 SFF Bare Bones  Approved: Shuttle D10 Games  Call of Duty 5: World at War – 63 per cent  Dead Space – 81 per cent  World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King – 75 per cent Andrew Michael

PCRetail February 17



New delivery at DSGi

This month, PC Retail looks at Personal Computer World and Computer Buyer...

DHL CFO to take over as chairman at PC World parent  Mobility Electronics Alan Case appointed to lead BullGuard’s 2009 UK sales plans and expansion

Video Editing Software  Editor’s Choice: Adobe Premiere Elements 7  Recommended: Muvee Reveal Blu-ray drives  Editor’s Choice: LG GGW-H2OL  Recommended: Buffalo BR-816 FBS Media Station Smartphones  Recommended: Nokia N85 Media Jukeboxes  Recommended: Western Digital WDTV  Recommended: Panasonic SDR-S7

Sub-£500 PCs  Good Buy: Cyberpower Gamer Infinity 600  Best Buy: Mesh Elite 4850 Power 802.11n Routers  Best Buy: Edimax BR-6754N  Good Buy: Linksys WRT61ON  Top Value: Buffalo AirStation Wireless-N Nfinity Giga Scanners  Top Value: Canon CanoScan LiDE 200 Digital Photo Frame Top Value: Linx Memoire 8-inch Security Software Best Buy: Eset Smart Security

18 PCRetail February

John Allan

 DSGI: The consumer electronics retail group has unveiled JOHN ALLAN, current chief financial officer of Deutsche Post World Net, as its new chairman. He takes over from SIR JOHN COLLINS, who retires at the beginning of September. Allan himself will retire from the parent company of DHL at the end of June. A date has not been set for when he will join DSGi as chairman, but it is thought that he will become a nonexecutive director sometime in the summer to accommodate the handover. “I am very pleased that John has agreed to join DSG International as our new chairman,” commented senior nonexecutive director Andrew Lynch. “John is a highly-regarded executive with a strong track record. He brings to the group a wealth of large multinational company experience from areas including marketing, service, and corporate management, and I know he will make a valuable contribution.”  BULLGUARD: UK-based security vendor BullGuard has strengthened its managerial team with the appointment of ALAN CASE as its new UK sales director. Case joins BullGuard from mobile electricals specialist Mobility Electronics, where he held the position of director of sales and marketing EMEA. The firm is hoping his experience with the mobile industry and strong contacts with the major operators and retailers will prove key to securing the emerging mobility market. “This appointment is an important step for our UK operations,” commented BullGuard’s CEO George Tennet. “Alan has held several key sales positions, in which he formed successful industry partnerships. He possesses immense experience in the channel and has a track record in providing solid sales growth.

Alan Case

 MEDEA: Scottish third party ink vendor Medea has promoted a raft of employees, and appointed a new business development director,in the biggest shake up to happen at the firm in recent years. Sales manager MIKE SCOTT has been promoted to sales director, while former sales executive STEWART COWIE is to replace him. Meanwhile, sales team manager KELLY SCOTT has received a promotion to the newly created post of marketing and events manager. The firm has also appointed a business development director. MARK IRVING also joins the company, with experience working at Orion Media Marketing. “Achieving the role of sales director is a huge achievement of mine,” commented Mike Scott. “Medea could not have not got to this position today without the massive support of our customer base, their continued loyality has made this promotion possible.” The promotions are likely to see the company up its marketing exposure and visibility at events: “Medea’s recent growth and entry into supermarkets as well as other high profile resellers means we have to overhaul our marketing,” added Kelly.

Kelly Scott

Stuart Cowie

Mark Irving

 FREESAT: The director of BBC Vision Operations and Rights BAL SAMARA is set to join the board of Freesat, the joint venture between the BBC and ITV. His appointment follows the departure of former BBC controller of distribution, Richard Waghorn.  ZOO: Head of marketing and public relations at the PC games publisher, ANDY GRAY has announced that he will be leaving the company. It is currently unclear where he will be going, but he has assured PC Retail that he will be staying within the video games industry.

Mike Scott

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Notes from the


Richard D. Mills RDM Computers Limited, Suite 18, Newlands Science Park, Inglemire Lane, Hull, HU6 7TQ Tel: 01482 875666 Web:

Richard Mills runs a local computer support company in Hull. He is a regular technology columnist for his local newspaper and has fronted a long-running phone-in on BBC Radio. Each month, he shares his experiences from the technology support frontline with the readers of PC Retail... WE RECENTLY sold a new computer build totalling £1,700, which was great, but gave us quite a bit of stress owing to faulty and incompatible components. We ended up ordering two (expensive) motherboards, two 1TB hard drives, and two hefty PSUs. The GTX graphics card cost more than most people spend on a new computer and needed two power connectors just to get it started. Fortunately, all was well at the end of it, and most importantly the customer was delighted and can now fly his flight sim to his heart’s content. But in terms of man hours did we make any more than a normal build? It’s a messy spreadsheet! WHICH brings me to the thorny subject of how much margin should you (and I) make on a new build? The big sheds obviously work on volume box shifting, so the margin per box must be very low. But for an independent builder, it means covering your costs and offering ongoing support. I know some will say that system building is not worth getting involved in nowadays, but on the flipside it does give additional sales opportunities like security suites, broadband set up, printers and other peripherals. We have always included local delivery and set up in our prices to differentiate us from the mass market. This does work – and we are quite transparent and will always tell people if it comes down to price, they can probably buy a computer cheaper elsewhere, but do they want after-sales support, and the answer is normally ‘yes’. But how much support should you give? Previously whilst on-site, we generally connected up any other existing equipment like printers and scanners, and set up internet and email, to ensure we didn’t get calls later saying this and that doesn’t work. But of course having done that, you then become partly responsible for that equipment. Now we charge for additional set up apart from the PC and monitor. ONGOING support can be tiresome, like one occasion when a customer phoned to say that every time he typed the letter K he got ‘KO’ on the screen. The striking proximity of the two keys obviously hadn’t troubled him too much before he used the phone. So after telling him to check if something was wedged in between them he remarked ‘oh yes when I type K I can see the letter O going down as well!’ What a surprise… If you have any similar stories, we’d love to hear from you. Please send them to ben.furfie@intent The best will get published in next month’s issue.

20 PCRetail February

Not Apple’s Regent Street store, but an example of what the ‘Temple of the Shiny White Box’ looks like.

JOINING those who worship at the ‘Temple of the Shiny White Box’, I recently visited the Apple store in London’s Regent Street to see the latest offerings. The place was humming – although I am sure a lot of people take advantage of the free. Internet access – and there must have been about 30-plus staff on duty. Training is a big part of the Mac culture it seems, and the store contains an appointment-only ‘Genius Bar’, another help desk and even a theatrestyle area upstairs. Very impressive. Walking back outside, what should be driving past but a Microsoft van with an ‘I’m a PC’ video screen on the side blasting out its message. Were it not for the horrendous congestion and double yellows, it probably would have parked outside!

Joined those who worship at the ‘Temple of the Shiny White Box’, I recently visited Apple’s store in London. Upon leaving, what should drive past but a Microsoft van showing its ‘I’m a PC’ ad.

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Top to bottom: Channel Expo (UK), CeBIT (Germany) and CES (USA).

The future of

trade shows At the moment you can barely leave your chair without bumping into someone who’s banging on about the recession. While many people are calling this the worst financial crisis of the last 30 years (the rest equating it to the meteor strike which wiped out the dinosaurs) many are looking to rein in spending anywhere plausible. Andrew Wooden asked Mark Burton, channel publisher at Channel Expo organiser Incisive Media why the channel should carry on spending the money at trade shows, and how the UK’s biggest show of its kind is evolving to reflect the climate…. “Attending a trade show gives the retailer a fantasic opportunity to increase margin potential through meeting and learning from the key decision makers in the industry.” Mark Burton Incisive Media

22 PCRetail February

With the economy as it is, many retailers may be looking to reign in costs and might skip shows this year – how would you argue trade shows in general can in fact help them at this time? Retailers and resellers are coming under increased pressure from customers to show them business efficiency and a high return on investment. Attending a trade show gives the retailer a fantastic opportunity to increase margin potential through meeting and learning from the key decisionmakers in the industry, seeing and understanding the latest products and services and catching up with peers. Ultimately, by seeing the whole market in one single place, you can ensure you have the correct business strategy.

What would you say to vendors and distributors thinking the same thing? In potentially difficult trading conditions, with the same number of companies chasing diminishing pots of money, you have to work harder than ever to win what business there is out there. One of the best ways to give yourself an advantage is by exhibiting at a trade show. Trade shows provide vendors and distributors with the opportunity to fulfil a number of sales and marketing objectives at the same time – lead qualification, market research, product launches and brand building, for example. You can also see your whole marketplace in the space of a couple of days. I’d say the biggest strength of exhibiting at a trade show is


being able to engage in conversation with your target audience. How have technology trade shows changed in the UK and globally over the past five years? It is fair to say that the collosal exhibitions that include huge expensive stand designs are becoming a thing of the past. Exhibitors and visitors are interested in more specialist shows and niche communities. I can see this trend continuing. How do you see them evolving in the future? I see trade shows naturally evolving into more niche, specialist exhibitions with focus being the keyword. We will also see the growth of pre-show professional networking as visitors look to maximise their time on site, instead of simply turning up and visiting stands. Increasingly, exhibitions will be as much about meeting peers and industry leaders as visiting exhibition stands. What’s the hardest thing about running a technology trade show? Spending a week with our sales team. How will Channel Expo 2009 be different from previous shows? We have taken some vital feedback from the 2008 event and used it to build a more detailed education and training programme, featuring key speakers from all areas of the industry. We have picked out topical business areas that we think will affect our visitors the most over the next year and assembled a highprofile line up of expert speakers, business leaders and entrepreneurs to provide valuable advice and help for delegates looking to build a stronger business through difficult times. 2009 is also attracting more exhibitors as vendors and distributors recognise the value of the show. It’s great to see new clients exhibiting at the show such as Dell and Northamber and also exhibitors from 2008 confirming their presence again. What aspects must stay the same? Channel Expo’s ability to bring together buyers and sellers in a focused, high quality, professional environment. Would you ever consider expanding Channel Expo into Europe? The great success of Channel Expo is that the show understands and engages with the specifics of the UK market. Any European show would need to replicate that understanding across borders.

Channel Expo’s (top) focus on doing business is a sharp contrast to the likes of CeBIT and CES, which seem to go down to bigger is better route, with large scale stands and lavish surroundings

Where do you see the technology trade going in the next five years? What will be the major issues and most popular products? I think it’s difficult to look beyond this year as we all wait to see how 2009 unravels. Although cost slashing, acquisitions and restructuring tales were more common in 2008, many technology providers still posted strong results. 2009 may be the year when more traditional resellers finally bid farewell to box-shifting business models to concentrate their efforts on the sophisticated provision of solutions, crammed with value-add. Demonstrating return on investment and business efficiency will be key for all in the channel this year.

PCRetail February 23

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Mystery Shopper Watford This month our Mystery Shopper went out in Watford to look for a VOIP phone, testing store staff knowledge on features, benefits, wired and wireless availability, compatibility with ISPs, product range, and retailer perception. Read on to see what he found out... SIX STORES WERE VISITED: 3 Store, Comet, Currys, Maplin, PC World and Staples

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PCRetail February 27


3 STORE AS I WALKED into this spacious, uncluttered store I was greeted almost immediately by a happy and cheerful saleswoman. I explained that I was looking for a VOIP handset to connect to my computer. I was introduced to the 3 Skypephone S2I and told it was like a normal mobile phone, but with Skype software. It was available on Prepay for £69.99, or free on a £15 a month contract. There was a tempting offer of signing up to a sixmonth contract rather than the normal 18 months. The thought of using Skype anywhere sounded amazing, and almost too good to be true. There are no network charges when using Skype-to-Skype – the

only catch was that I would have to top up once every three months to keep Skype active. There was also a Fair Use Policy of 4,000 Skype to Skype minutes per top up (that’s 66 hours). We chatted about the cost of Skype to other numbers and countries, and I discovered that it was very cheap when compared to landline use, dependant on location. The saleswoman’s knowledge was impressive and had a ‘wow’ factor behind it, almost making me want to buy one there and then. She clearly believed in the product herself and left me feeling that this could be the future for Skype.

SCORE: 9/10 PC WORLD AFTER several minutes of browsing the store and being unable to find any VOIP handsets, I found a salesman who was just finishing up with a customer. When I asked about VOIP he told me that the store used to stock several models in the past. However, the only model available at the moment was a US Robotics USB Skype Internet Mini Phone priced at £14.67, which was currently out of stock. Feeling undeterred I asked him some questions to check his knowledge further.

I asked which VOIP services the mini phone was compatible with. Skype and MSN were the two suggested. I was told that as long as my service provider allows VOIP it would work fine. Offering an alternative method, he went on to tell me that using a webcam and microphone might be worth considering. As unfortunately I wasn’t able to find exactly what I was looking for, I left to continue my search elsewhere.

SCORE: 5/10 COMET UNLIKE the Currys and PC World on the retail park, this Comet store was not brimming with customers. Salesmen and women were wandering around the shop looking for people to serve. It wasn't long before someone sought me out. The sales assistant told me that the store didn’t stock VOIP handsets anymore. They didn't sell very well, he added. After I asked him to explain other ways of communication, such as Skype and MSN, he suggested three headsets – the Sennheiser PC131

(£29.35), the Plantronics 350E (£19.56), and the 325E (£14.67). The devices are compatible with Skype, MSN and most other VOIP services and are easy to use. The only difference was that I would have to dial the number using the software. His recommendation was the Sennheiser, due to what he felt was its excellent speaker quality. He told me the Plantronics, especially the 350E model, was suited more towards gaming. All in all, it was a useful visit and I came away with some good information.

SCORE: 7/10 CURRYS THIS store was busy in comparison with the others I went to, and I could see that it was going to take a while to get some help. To try and kill time I wandered around the shop in the search for my VOIP handset. This was one of the Currys ‘Winning New Revenues’ stores, with lots of manufacturer branding, plenty products on display – just not the ones I wanted – and demo-ready products.

The fixtures were low enough to allow the whole store to be scanned in one go, but yet no VOIP handsets were visible. I grabbed the attention of a passing salesman who stopped and told me that the store didn’t stock any VOIP handsets. He suggested it might be worth trying the PC World store a few doors down instead. I left without getting any further information.

SCORE: 5/10 28 PCRetail February


MAPLIN AFTER a thorough browse around this store there didn’t seem to be any VOIP phones. I asked a passing salesman who walked me back to the front of the store where the stock was hidden on a shelf behind the till. There were three brands: a small Nikkai A72FF (£14.99), an unbranded handset (£8.99), and the CyberPhone W (£29.99). I was told the differences between them were size, the lack of a keypad on the unbranded handset and styling – something only the CyberPhone seemed to have. I was recommended the CyberPhone due to “its traditional feel.” Compatibility didn’t seem to be an

issue – I was told that they would work on all VOIP services. The salesman quoted the most commonlyused applications as examples – Skype and MSN. He explained that cost savings could be gained if ringing from Skype to Skype, as it’s free. They also offer discounted call rates to other telephony providers, he added. The range was fairly small, but the information informative and succinct. Just before leaving the assistant told me he used a headset for Skype which could be another option. However, he didn’t offer any more detail beyond this.

SCORE: 8/10

STAPLES PRIOR TO visiting stores I had looked at a number of websites, Staples being one of them. There were three VOIP handsets shown on the site, but in-store there was no sign of these models anywhere. I asked at the print desk for help, only to be told they were no longer stocked in-store. Having spotted the same 3 Skypephone I had been so impressed with in the 3 store, I asked the salesman to give me some information on this version. I got a blank look and was passed onto another sales assistant, who again was unaware of the product, leaving me to show him where it was.

Stood in front of the 3 Skypephone, priced £59.99 on Prepay, he was still unsure about the product. In fairness, he admitted this to me rather than bluffing it and took me through the features from the information on the shelf and those listed on the box. Skype on the move, free Skype-to-Skype calls and cheap internationals calls were the key features highlighted. When asked to explain Skype, his confidence grew, using personal experience to get his points across. He told me his girlfriend uses it to speak to her parents in Poland.

SCORE: 6/10


I was surprised to find out that some retailers’ stock of VOIP handsets was minimal to non-existent, leaving it to online sites such as Dabs to stock models from Siemens (a dual phone handset) and a selection of other handsets. Retailers claimed that this was because VOIP handsets aren’t particularly good sellers and Maplin even hid the stock behind the counter. I can only surmise that with the introduction of Skype services on mobiles, the demand for VOIP handsets isn’t great.

PCRetail February 29

30 PCRetail February


Caught on camera With camcorders having broken the £100 barrier last year thanks to the emergence of cheap flash-based models, the face of the industry has been changed forever. Ben Furfie sits down with key figures from the sector to discuss just what these changes mean for retailers and resellers… “We’re finding big increases in sales volume from customers that want high definition at aggressive pricing, but don’t want to make that much of a compromise on features.” Graeme Simons, Toshiba


t’s a market that has seen the cost of buying an entry-level model crash over the previous year, high definition come into its own and the media which it is recorded onto undergo major upheaval. But despite all that, the video camera market has seen a huge increase in sales and, what’s more, look like it is going to shrug off the economic downturn, unlike other other consumer electronics categories.


Opening up the market “The introduction of sub-£100 camcorders last year has been crucial to the camcorder sector,” states Gem marketing manager Neil Handa. “The market isn’t standing still either. Newer models like the Kodak Zi6 are adding new features like high definition video while staying at wallet friendly prices.” Toshiba’s business unit manager for smartphones, PC options, peripherals and service, Graeme Simons, agrees, adding that the shift in pricing has lead to the opening of new markets: “It’s not just standard definition models that are coming down in price; high definition camcorders are now available for under £200 and that’s attracting a whole new class of impulse and fun users.”

However, with a market as fast moving as digital imaging, it’s not surprising that there are other developments that people think are having the biggest impact, as Midwich’s digital imaging product manager Alistair Coyne argues. “The biggest trend in the past six months has been the transition to high definition. In 2008, for example, high definition camcorders accounted for one in every five units we sold compared to one in ten during 2007.” Simons agrees, adding that there was the additional shift toward solid state formats such as HDDs and flash memory. He says that Toshiba has been quick to response to all three trends with the launch of its Camileo range. “Both high definition and standard definition storage have been key trends over the last few months, with many suppliers trying to gain a foothold in this segment.” The revolution will be televised Stressing how much of an impact these three trends were having upon the market, Handa adds: “Sub£100 camcorders have created a new category in the market for users who want a low cost, easy to use solution for everyday use. I foresee this category

PCRetail February 31


complementing the sales of traditional models in the long term. They may also have a positive effect on higher range models, with many users who are new to the market upgrading or buying an additional camcorder for their requirements in the future. Coyne agrees. “I think people are still looking for ‘value’ camcorders, but they are also willing to spend more for the latest technology such as HDD and flash-based recording because they are considered to be more user-friendly.” Despite that, he accepts that there has been significant price erosion, but adds that because of the new markets taking up camcorder technology for the first time, any losses in declining ASPs have been balanced. “Price erosion has been offset by volume sales. Last

year we sold 79 per cent more units than 2007 and we expect to see another increase this year.” Simons didn’t agree with the idea that low cost automatically translated into lower performance. “We’re finding big increases in sales volume from customers that want high definition video cameras at aggressive pricing, but do not want to make that much of a compromise on the features.” End of tape… One of the really interesting things to come out of our discussion with experts is that they, for the first time, agree that time is up for the MiniDV format. For the past two years, we’ve asked if the format, which is now approaching its 14th birthday, was on

Entry-level models Kodak Zi6 Distributor: Gem It wasn’t that long ago Kodak was a byword for photography. But while those days might be long gone, its Zi6 pocket camcorder is a sign of the direction that the firm is currently going in. A high definition camcorder in a small package, it records 720p video at 60 frames per second. It comes with 128MB of internal space – enough for around a couple of minutes of filming. This can be boosted thanks to its

Toshiba Pro HD Distributor: Ingram Micro Toshiba’s Camileo Pro HD Camcorder is the daddy of the entry-level market, with its more traditional handheld vertical design, high definition recording and flip-out screen for improved handling and use. Lightweight and practical, the flash-based Toshiba Camileo Pro HD is the ideal camcorder for someone who is looking to record their holiday experiences, but who doesn’t want to lug around a more expensive or bulky model, without losing features.

SD/SDHC slot, giving you another accessory area to boost margins in.

the way out and each time we’ve been met with a consensus that it still had some life left in it. Indeed, while there was some trepidation to put date on it, Coyne tells us: “We expect to see a decline in MiniDV models during 2009, but I still think they will be about for this year at least.” However, the devices might still have a role to play in the world of digital video, as Simons argues: “I think we’ll see more mainstream 1080p digital video camcorders for under £200 as we get further into this year.” Coyne isn’t so sure: “I believe that the switch to high definition from standard definition models will continue to gather momentum, spearheaded by an increase in the number of flash-based models.”

Flip Video Distributor: Gem The Flip Video is the camcorder that kicked off the pocket revolution. Flip’s pocket-sized wonder earned the nickname ‘pocket rocket’ from several high profile technology magazines and websites for its ease of use, both when it comes to filming, but also editing the taken footage and

uploading it to the web. The low cost of the device and its sturdiness makes it the ideal camcorder for children, either when they are on holiday or just wanting to make the next Hollywood blockbuster without putting your main camcorder at risk.

Mid-range models Sony HDR-TG3E Distributor: Midwich Sony’s high definition handheld, the TG3, is a small but extremely feature packed device. Featuring full 1080p high definition record, the device benefits from a Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens, with tentimes optical zoom – the largest in its class. It also benefits from the ability to record sound in 5.1. The device is easy to use thanks to it being based on Sony’s long-running touchscreen menu-based system, as

well as packing technology such as its face detection for both video and photos.



Sanyo VPC CA8 Distributor: Midwich If you’ve ever had customers looking for a waterproof camcorder to take on holiday – or for any other reason – then Sanyo’s Xacti CA8 is the ideal device for them. It can be used up to 1.5 meters in depth, more than deep enough for most users. It also features a 2.5-inch TFT LCD display and face chaser technology,

making it even easier to use underwater and adding a new dimension to users’ holiday videos.

High-end models

Canon HG-20 Distributor: Midwich Canon’s HV20 was one of the best selling camcorders of 2008, and the firm has similar hopes for the HDDbased version of the same

JVC GZ-HD40 Distributor: Midwich Featuring a plethora of manual modes including focus, the HD40 is a feature-

 Print Edition

Panasonic HDC-SD9EB-S Distributor: Direktek Panasonic has been one of the major pioneers in using flash technology in its devices – its P2 standard was one of the first flashbased codecs used in professional broadcast equipment. Its SD9EB-S camcorder benefits from that technology through its traditional but compact size, data reliability and fast data transfer.

This means that it can boast full 1080p high definition recording, backed up by its specially developed Leica Dicomar lens.

Prosumer camcorder. Boasting full 1080p high definition recording, with up to 22 hours of recording capacity thanks to its 60GB hard drive, it is the ideal all-in-one camcorder package for people looking for high performance, but low levels of fuss. It also has instant autofocus for when you need fast focusing, such as at sports days and other fast paced events. It has a mini-hotshoe, opening up the potential to add on a whole world of accessories such as external microphones.

packed affair. With a 1/3-inch CMOS sensor, it is ideal for low light situations such as weddings, and thanks to its 120GB hard drive, you can be sure that on special days the only thing you have to worry about running out is the battery. With 1080i high definition and a ten times zoom, there will be few applications where this camcorder won’t stand up to the test.

 Digital Edition

Canon XH-A1 Distributor: Direktek

Canon’s latest small-form high definition professional camcorder, the XH-A1, has a 3CCD-based sensor, meaning you don’t have to worry about the few issues that affect CMOS-based systems. It comes with full auto and manual settings, with precise control over everything from focus, to audio, right the way down to aperture. It’s the ideal camcorder for budding and aspiring directors, as well as businesses looking for a solution for ENG teams.

Sony HVR-Z1E Distributor: Direktek If your customer needs a flexible, but powerful high definition solution, then look no further than Sony’s HVR-Z1E. The flagship model of its small-body professional products, the Z1E has become the defacto standard when it comes to recording high definition programmes for broadcast when a

portable camcorder is called for. Packing advanced features such as XLR inputs, DVCAM recording and Zebra highlighting, it is ideal for a wide variety of users.

Distributors Direktek: 01494 471 100

Ingram Micro: 0870 405 3000

Gem: 01279 822 822

Midwich: 01379 649 200

 Mobile Edition

 Online Leader

Contact: Carly Bailey Telephone: 01992 535 647 Email:


Creative Things With increasing computing power available to both consumers and professionals, the creative software sector is experiencing a boom. Ben Furfie sits down with three key experts to find out just what it holds for prospective retailers and resellers… ver the past couple of years, the audio and video editing industries have undergone a major revolution thanks to a combination of technological advances and drastically lower prices happening within a short period of time. Both sectors have seen a mass migration towards digital formats, away from tape based platforms, though the video industry has been a lot slower than the audio side in doing so. The impact this has had on the industries has been immense, as director of product marketing for desktop and enterprise solutions at Grass Valley, Mark Naveson explains: “As acquisition moves from tape to file-based formats – which might be solid state or some sort of removable disk and is one of the oldest part of the industry – the capture-for-edit stage is largely disappearing.” As he explains, the decrease in time taken dealing with this period has been replaced by issues such as compatibility, but also an increase in access to the technology.


“We’re seeing an increasing amount of home users demanding more editing capabilities from for their audio and visual recordings, for which they’re willing to invest more in order to do so.” Andy Miles, Interactive Ideas

Changing of the guard However, this change is having an effect on the old guard. “We’ve found a downward trend in sales of specific audio editors,” comments SCV London communications manager Matt Esau. “Digital audio workshops such as Sony’s Acid Pro 7 have become much more comprehensive packages and most now offer enough audio editing for the general user.” It’s a point Interactive Idea’s Andy Miles echoes. “We are seeing an increasing amount of home users demanding more editing capabilities for their audio and visual recordings, for which they are very willing to invest more in to do so.” However, there is still a market to supply professionals, as Esau explains. “There is still a healthy amount of mastering and audio design users who need the professional features offered by the likes of Sony’s SoundForge 9, so sales are still strong.” Indeed, Naverson believes that both groups are seeing a significant increase in demand – especially in the past few years – because of explosion in

PCRetail February 35


processing power available to both consumers and professionals. “The increase in computer power – and particularly the prevalence of multi-core processors – has made the modern desktop editor the remarkable tool that it is today. The same power is now moving to laptop computers, which in turn are becoming ever more popular. It is perfectly possible to perform sophisticated editing on a laptop.” Naverson adds: “For the professional editor, these developments mean more creative power and productivity. For the videographer, they mean that a wedding video can be as highly finished as a broadcast drama. But it also means that the amateur has access to editing facilities for utility tasks like transferring movies from VHS tape to DVD.” He is keen to stress though that unlike other software, these programs still require some know-how, so it important to guide customers to the right purchase for their skill level and needs. However, Esau is quick to stress that the impact increased processing has had much less of an impact on the audio editing sector. “I don’t think that processing power has affected specific audio editing packages greatly – SoundForge 9 for example has a fairly low draw on the CPU. However, as he adds: “Where digital audio workstations are concerned, this has made a huge difference and users who need multi-track recording and utilise a lot of built-in effects benefit from this drastically.”

Accessorise Both Esau and Naveson had recommendations around how to boost margins in terms of accessory sales, with both echoing the point that equipment is and can be a valuable part of a solution. “The camcorder is the single most important accessory enabling everyone from the single user to large broadcast stations to access standard definition and now high definition video sources at reasonable prices,” argues Naveson. “Whether your customer is an amateur looking to capture for a hobby or a top producer working on a high definition broadcast programme, the right camcorder is paramount.” However, it isn’t just a consideration of what to stock, as Esau stresses: it’s also what not to stock: “The traditional studio has been suffering more and more as the average home studio – ran from a single computer – has become a much cheaper route for music production and editing. This has seen the reduction in sales of outboard equipment such as EQ, compressors, FX units and recorders.” Continuing, he advises that much of the equipment used these days are based around components, making it the ideal time for PC retailers and resellers to muscle into the market. “The decrease in outboard equipment has been spearheaded by the increase in focus of getting high quality sound in and out of the computer. This has seen sales of high quality soundcards, as well as microphones, increase.”

Music to your ears Regarding the best way to increase sales if you are already in the sector, or things to consider if you are thinking of diversifying into it, each expert has their own advice. “Anyone interested in producing audio and video content, especially with the increasing popularity of sites like MySpace and YouTube – plus podcasting – needs a means of getting material into their computer,” explains Esau. “Therefore, we have found an increase in sales of affordable but good quality microphones and speakers. However, it isn’t just accessories that have seen an increase in demand, says Esau. “There is also an increasing number of people archiving old tape and vinyl collections to computers, and wanting high quality playback comparable to their hi-fi.” “Rescue Your Vinyl and Tapes, enables home users – without any extra expensive hardware or advanced technical knowledge to convert older recordings to current media files and edit them in a whole manner of ways.” explains Miles.

“The increase in power has made the modern desktop editor the remarkable tool that it is today. It means it is perfectly possible to perform sophisticated editing on a laptop computer.” Mark Naverson, Thompson Grass Valley

Naveson takes a different tact focusing on video, but echoing the message about helping customers convert legacy formats. “Particularly in the amateur and hobbyist section, which are primarily the retailers’ market, remember that old standards take a long time to die. You need to be sure that you support legacy video and audio formats – like VHS – as well as emerging ones.” For any retailers that are considering diversifying into these areas, PC Retail publisher Intent Media also publishes two audio and instrument specialist trade magazines. Please contact subscriptions on 01580 883 848 for more details.

THE PRODUCTS Sony Creative Software Audio and Video Editing Sony’s Creative Software range caters for a wide collection of customers from intermediate users all the way through to professionals. Its Vegas Movie Studio and Acid Music Studio are both aimed at intermediate users in audio and video editing, while Acid Pro 7 and Vegas Pro suites are for professionals. Vegas and Acid Studio: (Intermediate) – Acid and Vegas Pro (Professional) Distributor: SCV London

36 PCRetail February

Magix Range Audio and Video Magix’s easy to pick up range of audio and video software has been designed with those not versed in this type of software. Its Samplitude Music Studio 14 and Rescue Your Vinyl are its audio products, while the latter is aimed at those with large vinyl collections that they want digitising. Rescue Your Video acts similarly to its vinyl software, albeit for digitising old VHS videos. Level: Beginner Distributor: Interactive Ideas


Steinberg CuBase Audio Editing CuBase is a specialist computer program designed for editing and producing music on PCs and Apple Macs. A combination of MIDI, music sequencer and digital audio editing software, it is one of the flagship programs in the audio sector. Level: Professional Distributor: Arbiter

Avid Range Audio and Video Editing Avid is one of the giants of the editing sector, producing the industry standards for both the video and audio industry in Liquid and Pro Tools respectively. It also produces consumer versions of video software through its Pinnacle and analogue-todigital Dazzle subsidiaries. Level: Pinnacle Studio 12 & Dazzle range (Beginner) Avid Liquid 7 & Pro Tools (Professional) Distributor: Open

Apple Range Audio and Video Editing Apple’s editing packages are amongst the highest rated editing suites on the market today. GarageBand is seen as the benchmark for consumer audio editing, and iMovie is also respected. Both its Final Cut and Logic packages are contenders for the market standard. Level: GarageBand & iMovie (Beginner) Final Cut & Logic Express (Advanced) Logic Pro & Final Cut Studio (Pro)

Corel VideoStudio Video Editing Corel’s VideoStudio is one of the longest established consumer video editing software packages and for good reason. Its simple and stable user interface has helped it to develop a strong community of users. Ideal for those looking for a simple to use, but powerful beginnerlevel video editing package. Level: Beginner Distributor: Open

Adobe Creative Suite Audio and Video Editing Adobe’s CS4 is the market standard in the photo editing and design sectors, and also has strong offerings in the video and audio markets too. Premiere Pro has been used in Hollywood blockbusters and its audio editing software Soundbooth is designed for use in video composition by people whose specialisation is not audio production. Level: Professional Distributor: Ingram Micro

Roxio Creator 2009 Video Editing Roxio’s Creator 2009 suite is a general package of media editing software that will provide a basic, but solid solution for anyone looking to do some light video editing. It’s also great if you have customers looking for an all round editing package for their PC. Archiving music, editing photos and backing up data are other features of the suite. Level: Beginner Distributor: Gem Distributors

Thompson Grass Valley EDIUS

38 PCRetail February

Video Editing Suite EDIUS is a non-linear video editing application, which is designed to support a huge number of video formats including almost all moderns standards as well as several archaic platforms. It is designed primarily for broadcast and post production environments, which might be forced to work with several different formats to be made into a single production. Level: Professional Distributor: Open

Arbiter: 0208 207 7860

Ingram Micro: 0870 405 3000

Avid: 0207 534 2800

Interactive Ideas: 0208 805 1000

Corel: 0800 376 9271

SCV London: 0208 418 1470

Edirol: 0870 350 1515

Thompson Grass Valley: 01189 230 400

Gem: 01279 822822

Westcoast: 0118 912 6000




Now in its thirteenth year, UK-based specialist LCD monitor and television vendor DGM has been celebrating a spectacular performance in 2008, and is looking forward to 2009 with open arms. Ben Furfie sits down with DGM’s sales manager David Nazare to find out what went so well…

008 was an eventful year for London-based vendor DGM. Fresh from a major re-branding, a name change, and a substantial growth in the LCD market, the vendor is now looking forward to 2009, with plans for further product ranges and an expansion of its partner programme in the pipeline. Now in its thirteenth year, the vendor has become a worldwide leader in high quality LCD products and digital accessories.

2 “Sometimes a simple change of name can unlock the potential that was there all along; celebrities do it all the time.” David Nazare, DGM

Global Leader “Digimate was founded back in 1996 as a forwardthinking enterprise dedicated to research and development, as well as the design, marketing and manufacture of LCD television and computer products,” explains DGM’s sales manager David Nazare. “We have offices all over Asia and we have a European head office in London, which is

responsible for administering the entire region.” Having offices all over the world has been key to the firm’s success, according to Nazare: “The biggest success for DGM in 2008 was our growth in the LCD television market, which is very difficult to establish yourself in.” In addition, Nazare was keen to stress the importance of the vendor’s sales and marketing teams to its success: “It has taken a lot of work from the sales team and the marketing team in launching the products, as well as our new website, which has been designed to offer our partners and other customers the correct information at the click of a button.” Changing Names The other significant event during 2008 was the major rebranding of the company and its product lines under one moniker. “Sometimes a simple change of name can unlock the potential that was

PCRetail February 41


there all along; celebrities do it all the time,” explains Nazare. He added that part of the reason was to simplify the name and branding across all of its operations, adding: “[celebrities] know that if you want people to remember you, it helps to have a name that sticks in the mind of the audience. For us, it was just a case of outgrowing the name we started out with, Digimate fitted us fine in 1996 when we began selling computer parts and it still worked for us 12 years later.” Explaining the reasoning behind the name change, he adds: “As a global company, we needed a name and a brand that will be recognised anywhere across the globe. The name DGM brings together more than 20 different trading names around the world. It’s perfect for us because it’s short, memorable and feels positive and lively.” Nazare was keen to stress that the change extended to its name only. “Apart from the new

“DGM is looking forward to 2009, despite the downturn. We’ve got a new range of products and we’re looking at expanding our network of partners and distributors.” David Nazare, DGM name, we’ll be carrying on as usual,” he adds. “We’re proud of our heritage and our values. We’ve gotten to know our customers and have found that the best way to provide services is to treat every person as an individual. That’s something we’re definitely not going to change in the future.” Indeed, the total gearing of the company around the needs of its customers as individuals has filtered right the way down to product level. “Each of our products and services are tailored to focus on the specific needs of retailers and consumers,” adds Nazare. “We’re continually broadening our product range, while maintaining our very high standard of quality control and in house customer service.” The Personal Touch Key to maintaining this personal focus on the customer has been the firm’s commitment to developing and manufacturer of its own products: “We are the main manufacturer of our own products. In addition, we are constantly using our understanding of the global marketplace, our buying power and our insight into emerging technology to drive prices down and explore new opportunities.” Indeed, this philosophy lies at the heart of the company’s plans for 2009. “We will be launching our new range of LCD televisions in the next couple of months, as well as a new range of audio and video product accessories as well,” explains Nazare. “We are looking to expand our sales force to give our customers more sales support.” Nazare also hinted at plans to ramp up the firm’s channel program later in the year, as well as increasing the number of distribution partners it has at the moment. “DGM is looking forward to 2009, despite the downturn. We’ve got a new range of products and we’re looking at expanding our network of partners and distributors.”

42 PCRetail February

Left to right: John Lim (director), Vishal Gohel (sales director), David Nazare and Ron Kan (director)

Get Connected Basic Wireless

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s Operates in the 2.4GHz and 5GHz

Wireless-N radio bands simultaneously for smoother HD video, gaming and music.

s Includes StorageLink for sharing an external USB drives on the home network.


Powerline Network Kit PLTK300

s Turn a home's existing wiring into a digital network – instantly.

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Go wireless with Linksys by Cisco and put the Internet where it matters - in everyday life. Enjoy movies, music and gaming wherever and whenever you want. visit

Linksys, Cisco and the Cisco Logo are registered trademarks or trademarks of Cisco Systems, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and certain other countries. Other brands are the trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective holders. Maximum performance derived from IEEE Standard 802.11 specifications. Actual performance can vary, including lower wireless network capacity, data throughput rate, range and coverage. Performance depends on many factors, conditions and variables, including distance from the access point, volume of network traffic, building materials and construction, operating system used, mix of wireless products used, interference and other adverse conditions. Copyright © 2009 Cisco Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.


Making Noise From letting you know you’ve recieved email, to the latest gaming phenomenon, sound is crucial to the modern computing experience, as are speakers. Matt Grainger tunes in... n terms of audio, there was once a time when the best a PC user could hope for was a selection of beeps emanating from the back of the desktop case. Driving games sounded like a wasp trapped in a jam jar and any attempt at music bore a strong aural resemblance to someone squeezing a series of variable-sized whoopie cushions. Nearly two decades later, audio support on PC has evolved to accurately reproduce the sound of the human voice and the vast majority of home users are able to play music through their PCs. In fact the growing role of PCs as a media centre for home users has made audio support more important than ever. Sound support has grown to include more and more channels over the years, with newer sound cards able to support the 7.1 channels required for cinema style surround sound. “PC audio has transformed since its inception,” says Interactive Ideas’ marketing executive, Andy Miles. “It went from being a tool of the music

I “PC audio has transformed since its inception. It went from being a tool of the music industry, to being a necessary part of the growing gaming market.” Andy Miles Interactive Ideas

44 PCRetail February

industry, to being a necessary part of the growing gaming market. Graphic and sound support have both advanced as a result of the money that was generated by that channel.” Most higher end speakers will require sound cards, and are generally needed for lavish touches like surround sound or for professional projects such as sound or music editing. Many motherboards today come with onboard sound processing, which reduces the need for a sound card, and its presence means that consumers are just as likely to be looking for a lower-end set of speakers as they are for those at the high-end. “We plan to continue offering our customers a wide range of speakers from all our vendors, which enables us to be able to satisfy the needs of all types of users,” says Miles. “These range from entry level speakers and media player docking stations through to advanced 5.1 surround speaker sets and high end multimedia speakers with the look, feel and sound of top end hi-fi speakers”


Hercules XPS2.1 50 Speakers MicroP SRP: £39.99 Designed to be shown off, the Hercules XPS 2.1 50 comprises of a ported wooden subwoofer with bass control and two magnetically shielded wide-band satellites. It is compatible with a broad variety of formats such as PC, Mac, MP3 players, CD and DVD players, televisions and game

consoles. RMS is 32 watts, with a peak power of 64 watts.

Sweex USB Speaker Set 100 watt Centerprise SRP: £14.99 With a modern design that suits any computer, the Sweex USB Speaker Set 100 Watt enables the user to enjoy perfect sound. Plug and play connectivity allows users to simply connect the speakers via the USB connection and since the speakers draw power via the USB, no wall power point is required. The speaker set includes a built-in stereo amplifier and is magnetically shielded.

Trust SoundForce Vivo 2.1 Interactive Ideas SRP: £29.99 A stylish 2.1 speaker set that includes a wooden subwoofer with

Hercules XPS 2.0 60 MicroP SRP: £69.99 Hercules says that the launch of the XPS 2.0 60 Hercules heralded a new era in the design and manufacture of multimedia speakers for people who want to listen to music on their home computers. It also has wooden satellites, multiple connectivity

Sweex 2.1 Subwoofer System 175 Watt Centerprise SRP: £15.99 The Sweex 2.1 Subwoofer System contains an in-built stereo amplifier

a total RMS power output of 42 Watt. The powerful subwoofer gives a deep and solid bass to boost any music and gaming experience. The set includes an easily accessible wired remote with volume control, power switch and headphone connection and features a convenient extra line-in connection on the remote control for iPod or other portable media player.

options and precision audio technology normally associated with hi-fi products.

and can be connected to a number of devices including PCs, CD and MP3 players and game consoles. This magnetically shielded system features a three-inch subwoofer and two 2.5-inch satellites and carries a simply plug and play connection.

Sandberg Panther Sound 2.1 Speaker System Interactive Ideas SRP: £27.99 The Sandberg Panther Sound 2.1 is a smart amplified speaker set comprising of a subwoofer and two satellite speakers. The subwoofer gives a strong bass, while the satellite speakers produce pure treble. The set includes a cabled remote control allowing the user to easily adjust the volume. The set uses a normal headphone connector, so it also works with devices other than a computer, such as MP3 players and TVs.


MICRO-P SOUTH: 01256 707 070

MICRO-P NORTH: 01282 776 776

INTERACTIVE IDEAS: 0208 805 1000

PCRetail February 45


Monitor progress Declining desktop sales and reduced consumer spending have played havoc with the display industry over the past year. But though the future looks stormy, the growing consumer trend towards widescreen and HD technology means that blue skies are out there as Matt Grainger finds out when he speaks to the industry... “I can foresee casualties in the market. In particular within the branded sector in Europe, whether it be office closures of the discontinuing of brands. It will become very difficult to compete next year.” Martin Kent, Hannspree

Martin Kent

ast year was a tough one for monitor sales. Initially, things all looked very rosy for LCD sales, which have steadily replaced CRT as the format of choice. Rising demand for laptops and the emergence of the netbook category actually created demand that far outweighed the available supply and as a result LCD panel vendors reported treble profits during the second quarter. However, the credit crunched and demand dried up in the major consumer nations of Europe and the US. The heavily competitive LCD industry was forced to cut prices to entice the consumer market back in to spending and to avoid stock piling. However, prices slid further and at the beginning of 2009 LG, Sharp and AU Optronics announced plans to cut back production in order to stabilise prices. “Last year was a hard one for monitor sales,” says Hannspree’s territory manager for the UK and Northern Europe, Martin Kent. “In general, year-onyear sales decreased, however, we were still very pleased with what we achieved. HannsG’s market share in the UK remained very high – in Q3 2008 HannsG was placed sixth for UK market share based on monitor sales.”


An example of the doldrums that the sector has found itself in is illustrated by Samsung’s financial results at the end of Q3 2008. Despite selling a record 51.8 million units and being one of the few companies in the sector to actually post a profit, the reduced end prices and low demand saw Samsung’s operating profit fall by a gut-wrenching 44 per cent. The end result of all this is that it’s now a buyer’s market out there, which puts the retailer in an interesting position. Costs are likely to fluctuate over the coming months as the vendors try to stave off slumping prices, but overall they should be lower than at the beginning of 2008. However, margins will be tighter as the consumer expects to pay less and the multiples are likely to keep retail prices down. “In the current economic climate, price will become one of the main driving factors for the market,” continues Kent. “Unfortunately, I can foresee casualties in the market as a consequence. In particular within the branded sector in Europe, whether it be office closures or the discontinuing of brands. It will become very difficult to compete in the market unless you are a panel manufacturer or directly affiliated to one.”

PCRetail February 47


Hannspree XM New York MicroP SRP: £129.99 The first monitor from the series to be launched is the new Hannspree New York, a superb 19-inch widescreen monitor inspired by the ultra modern, industrial and mechanical styling of New York. The monitor looks sleek and refined, housed in bold black. It boasts a super fast five-ms response time, 150 degree viewing angle and 1,440 x 900 high definition display.

It also includes a high contrast ratio ensuring high quality, cinematic high definition images.

HP DreamColor LP2480zx Westcoast SRP: £1,848

The HP DreamColor LP2480zx Professional LCD Display is the world’s only colour-critical LCD based on HP’s DreamColor Engine technology. This uniquely affordable monitor delivers broad colour support, rich visual quality, and consistent results. It allows unprecedented colour fidelity through a tri-colour LED backlight; work with deeper colours, CRTclass black, and programmable white all on a 24-inch diagonal wide-aspect screen.

48 PCRetail February

contrast and bright screen for a continually impressive sharp, bright and colour rich image.

HannsG HG281DJ Ingram Micro SRP: £399 The new 28-inch widescreen, HG281DJ monitor from HannsG is the perfect choice for all high definition needs. Sporting a HDMI port and a 1,920 x 1,200 WUXGA true 1,080p resolution, the HG281DJ monitor displays high definition content in its true entirety. The HG281DJ delivers a spectacularly rich colour palette and crisp, sharp images without lag for the ultimate high definition experience.

Samsung McKinley SM923NW Westcoast SRP: £112 Created as part of a range of monitors, this display is designed to allow users greater freedom and flexibility to create their optimum working environment. Elegant and slim, with superior technical specifications and outstanding features, this 19-inch monitor carries a resolution of 1,440 x 900 with a contrast ration of 1,000:1.

HP L1908w Westcoast SRP: £120 The large-screen HP L1908w 19inch widescreen LCD monitor offers essential performance features in an elegant 19-inch diagonal wide-aspect display designed for users who prefer widescreen viewing, wherever they work. Offers a crisp, clear, high resolution view with a 1,000:1 contrast ratio, sharp resolutions to 1,440 x 900, and fast five-ms response time.

Asus VW246H VIP SRP: £282.22

HannsG HG221AP Ingram Micro SRP: £109.99 The new HannsG HG221AP boasts a high end technical specification. Offering a high resolution widescreen display and a decent five-ms response time to ensure visual clarity, the HG221AP is a truly outstanding visual performer for multimedia applications and more than qualified for standard computing tasks. The HG221AP also boasts a high

The VW246H offers full high definition 1,080p for highresolution digital content display combined with an HDMI interface. Features a 16:9 wide screen and its 1,920 x 1,080 resolution is high definition optimised. The ASUS Smart Contrast Ratio technology automatically adjusts the luminance of the backlight for better displays and improves the contrast ratio to 20,000:1 – resulting in more realistic depictions of night scenes during games or movies.

Samsung Kilimanjaro SM2693HM Westcoast SRP: £448 This model features a height adjustable stand, built-in-speakers, HDMI technology, full 1,080p input and fast response time. The 2693HM carries a dynamic contrast of 10,000:1 that optimises between frames and its wide colour gamut offers 15 per cent better colour reproduction than traditional monitors. The 2693HM is Windows Vista certified.


Asus VK246H VIP SRP: £304.04

Like the VW246H, the VK offers full high definition 1,080p with a screen resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 and an HDMI interface. However, the VK includes a built-in 1.3 megapixel webcam, making it easy to conduct face-to-face live conversations. The webcam features smart exposure value control technology to compensate for poor lighting conditions and brings good image quality in comparison to that of the most consumer stand-alone webcams.

Asus VH226H VIP SRP: £167.30 This 21.5-inch high definition display carries a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 and in-built HDMI. The VH226H uses Splendid Video Intelligence technology, which adopts a colour engine to detect activation and usage of video applications and automatically optimises image quality with intelligent colour, brightness, contrast and sharpness.

Asus VK266H VIP SRP: £386.96 The VW266H features full high definition 1,080p together with an integrated webcam and HDMI interface. Its 16:10 wide screen with 1,920 x 1,200 resolution supports full 1,080p vision. This monitor is fully interoperable with other devices such as Blu-ray players, DVD players and consoles. Various PC and video inputs and outputs link all gears into one LCD monitor, including HDMI, DVI, Dsub, PC audio input, SPDIF audio output and earphone jack.

Asus VH242H VIP SRP: £238.58 This 23.6-inch 16:9 wide screen, like the other Asus offerings, features a full high definition optimised 1,920 x 1,080 resolution and an HDMI interface. The VH242H carries smart contrast ratio and Splendid video intelligence technology for an enhanced visual and colour experience.

Edge10 T171 Bluepoint SRP: £94 The hard glass T series range of LCD Monitors from Edge10 is designed for any environment. As well as the obvious advantage of protecting the LCD panel, the special glass improves the visual experience to the user by raising the colour intensity and enhancing the sharpness of the image. The monitor is ideal for wall mounting with VESA 75 compliance and coupled with the anti-glare glass makes this the perfect monitor for professional installations.

LaCie 320 Bluepoint SRP: £749 A perfect match for graphics professionals, this 20-inch monitor is equipped with a uniformityenhanced A-TW-IPS LCD panel, which delivers a CRT-grade 72 per cent NTSC gamut, high brightness, and a strong contrast ratio of 700:1. With exceptional 12-bit gamma correction, the smoothest colour gradients can be reproduced.

Iiyama ProLite E2208HDS Bluepoint SRP: £149 The ProLite E2208HDS widescreen LCD is the first to feature true high definition, 16:9, 1920 x 1080 pixels as its native resolution. Impressive colour reproduction is achieved with a typical contrast ratio of 1000:1 with the user option to enhance further with

Advanced Contrast Ratio enabled for 10,000:1.

Distributors Bluepoint: 0870 121 8001

VIP: 0871 622 7500

Ingram Micro: 0870 405 3000

Westcoast: 01189 126 000

Micro-P: (North) 01282 776 776 (South) 01256 707 070

PCRetail February 49

Revolutionary home security from Logitech

Logitech® Outdoor Video Security Master System

Logitech® Indoor Video Security Master System

• Easy setup gets you up and running fast for immediate viewing – no new wires to run, no network configuration

• Easy setup gets you up and running fast for immediate viewing – no new wires to run, no network configuration

• Weatherproof, waterproof design ensures yearround use – even under harsh conditions

• Flexible PC-viewing options let you see live footage or store it on your hard drive for later replay

• Flexible PC-viewing options let you see live footage or store it on your hard drive for later replay • Motion-activated cell-phone* and e-mail alerts quickly update you when you’re on the go • Free remote viewing via the Internet allows you to log into a secure, Web-based account to view live video online – anywhere, anytime SRP

£249 inc VAT

Outdoor Add-On Camera SRP

£199 inc VAT

• Motion-activated cell-phone* and e-mail alerts quickly update you when you’re on the go • Free remote viewing via the Internet allows you to log in to a secure, Web-based account to view live video online – anywhere, anytime • Support for up to six cameras lets you add Logitech® Indoor, Outdoor or Clock Add-On Cameras in any combination for maximum coverage SRP

£249 inc VAT

Indoor Add-On Camera SRP

£199 inc VAT

Logitech® Clock Video Security Master System Discreetly monitor your home and business with the Logitech® Clock Video Security Master System, a revolutionary video security system you can install in 15 minutes. It’s all plug and play. Using innovative HomePlug™ technology, the Logitech® Spy Camera Video Security Master System transmits encrypted video over existing electrical wires straight to your PC. SRP

£249 inc VAT

Clock Add-On Camera SRP

£199 inc VAT

For more information contact your Gem account manager on 01279 822822 or visit EXCLUSIVE


Computer Assist

FACT BOX Year established:

This month, Daniel Doyle from Computer Assist in North Walsham, Norfolk tells us about his business, the PC industry and his history in it… I BEGAN building PCs and carrying out repairs in 1994 as an outside interest, which very soon developed into a part time business. Initially the business was based out of rented premises, but upon receiving my severance payout from my previous job, I was able to buy out the current property in 2000 and run it full time. I was joined by my wife Penny and my son Liam, who initially came in to help after school and later after college, and is now a full partner in the business. The business grew and we soon became so busy that employing staff became a necessity. We currently run with three full-time technicians and one part-time, all trained in house to our very high standards. I am always searching for new ideas to expand the business and am a great believer in trade bodies. Our current premises used to be a bakers with a restaurant, which converted gives us a nice large workshop capable of carrying out ten simultaneous PC repairs plus have printer and other repairs all ongoing at the same time. As retail is

becoming increasingly difficult with etailers often selling below our cost price, I often wonder if we really should persist with retail and just concentrate on our repairs and services, but that is something to be decided in the near future. Computer Assist has constantly developed and evolved from its humble beginnings as a system builder with a simple repair shop to now being heavily involved in servers, networks and storage solutions. However, due to our local geography we spend many hours on the road attending to our clients needs, something that the big players in this industry will never understand. At the moment we are still involved in retail, but it is


seriously down on what it used to be. We no longer stock plasma TVs and projectors and so on, as when we have trialed this sort of product. It has just resulted in us selling at a loss. However, our workshop is always busy and I see this as our most likely future unless the industry wakes up and starts to work with profit instead of turnover.

1994 Number of outlets: One Number of staff: Five Regular vendor lines: AMD, AVG, BullGuard, Intel, Lenovo, Microsoft, Netgear, Seagate, Western Digital, Ubuntu Contact name and address: Daniel Doyle, Hamilton House, 3 Norwich Road, North Walsham, Norfolk NR28 9JP Telephone number: 0870 421 1081 Email: Website:

The channel’s calendar is full of important events. Here are some upcoming highlights…


MARCH 2009

MAY 2009

DISTREE EMEA February 9th – 12th Monte Carlo The channel event linking the whole of the EMEA channel, from the southern tip of Africa, right the way across to the Alaskan coast of Russia, and of course the UK and Western Europe, returns – and this time it’s taking place in Monte Carlo. It caters for everyone in the channel, from the vendor and distributor, right the way through to end users.

CeBIT 2009 March 3rd – 8th Hannover Fair, Hannover, Germany CeBIT is one of the world’s largest technology exhibitions where major vendors show off their 2009 in the consumer and business IT channels.

Retail Vision Europe May 18th Berlin, Germany This year’s event looks set to build upon the positive response gained from the 2008 show, which was praised for its tight focus and networking opportunties.

PC Retail Awards 2009 March 19th Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington, London The PC Retail Awards return for a second year. With all the categories from last year’s event – and the addition of the new Industry Achievement Award – this year’s is set to be the social event of the calendar for anyone involved in the PC retail sector, and a well deserved celebration for the nominees.

Channel Expo May 21st – 22nd NEC, Birmingham The channel’s premiere trade show, Channel Expo returns to Birmingham’s NEC and is set to be just as influential as ever. With key director and managerial level attendees, and the biggest names in the channel exhibiting, it really is the only place to get an idea of what the year ahead holds for not just retailers, but also resellers, VARs and service providers.

PCA Northern Conference and OGM February 17th Holiday Inn, Manchester Airport, Wilmslow The PCA heads to Wilmslow, Manchester for its annual northern conference and OGM. Last year’s event saw Dell detail its UK partner programme to the channel for the first time, and this year will see key speakers from channel giants including Intel, Samsung and Sony. The event also plays host to the year’s first social event of the PCA calendar: the conference dinner.

If you would like to promote your event, please contact This information is believed to be correct, but potential visitors should confirm details with show organisers before making arrangements to attend

PCRetail February 51

There are a few recruitment agencies in our industry so to make sure you are working with the right one - whether you are a client or a candidate, take a look at this simple check list. Tick a box if you think it's important. If you tick the boxes then get in touch.


We have been working within the games and new media industries for 22 years. That means we are pretty experienced. It also means that along with a few laughter lines we've also collected an unrivalled database of contacts. We know people. We've either placed for them or placed them. Tick the box if you think this is important.


For us it's about people. So we'll deal with you on a one to one basis. Senior industry figures trust us and engage with us as part of their team. We like to cut through corporate claptrap. If you like to as well then tick the box.


To keep ahead of the rest we stay informed. We believe it is vital to be at the forefront of forecasting and understanding new trends within the industry. Do you?


We are trained in life coaching. This gives us a better insight into role requirements and candidate ability which allows us to ensure the right people are matched with the right roles. Do you want to make a difference?

Thank you for ticking all our boxes. If you want to be a client or a candidate then contact us using the details below.

Lis Welsh Search & Selection, South View Farm, Main Street, Tur Langton, Leicestershire LE8 0PJ 52 PCRetail February

t 01858 545 355 m 07968 114 812




anoPoint is the UK subsidiary of MaxPoint, the German manufacturing group and supplier of high-end PC peripherals, headquartered at Ahrensburg near Hamburg. Founded in 2004, NanoPoint forms the UK distribution arm of the MaxPoint group, which has brands in Europe, Asia and the United States, each with its own focus and specific clientele. While the focus of the group is mainly on the manufacture and supply of PSUs, the result of the varied specialisation is that NanoPoint can draw upon a wide range of products to bring a broad portfolio to its clients. As an example of this, a look at a few of NanoPoint’s suppliers in the PSU sector shows the variety of clientele that the company can cater for. Tagan produces a range of power supplies aimed at gamers and enthusiasts, Seasonic produces a range of high-end efficient, reliable and silent units and


“The MaxPoint Group always aims to satisfy its clientele and offers a well-adapted overall portfolio in the power supply market. Other strong products include high-end PC cases, keyboards and laptop bags.”

NanoPoint has a wide variety of products in its range, making it an invaluable supplier of PC peripherals. Matt Grainger talks to Nathan Walters about the challenges ahead and what’s in store for the firm... Etasis manufactures PSUs for server applications such as redundant PS or IPC. The MaxPoint Group claims it always aims to satisfy its clientele and offers a well-adapted overall portfolio in the power supply market. However, the business is not limited to the power supply sector; other strong products include high-end PC cases, keyboards and laptop bags. The company’s product portfolio also extends to server racks, external enclosures, NAS systems and Backplane systems, as well as SOHO and RAID partition systems. NanoPoint has seen some profound changes to the market over the last year and, like many businesses, has found that its core business market is shrinking. “Many new brands have joined the power supply market and it is now flooded with a huge range of wattages and features,” says NanoPoint’s Nathan

PCRetail February 53


NanoPoint doesn’t just stock power supplies. Its range includes a variety of peripherals including NAS devices and multimedia players

Walters. “However, many budget power supplies are now available. The power supply is the heart of any computer system, providing power to components, and I must stress that the importance of providing stable and efficient power should be a top priority when building any system, which is why we only offer high quality and premium brands, such as the Icy Box. The last twelve months have been very positive for this product. With such a huge range and support for all types of hard drive, it is important for us to be constantly updating our product portfolio to ensure that the latest features and technology is supported.” As befits a national distribution arm, NanoPoint’s goal is to use the service and product portfolio of the whole MaxPoint group to offer innovative products, but with service as a prime focus. Walters attributes the success of NanoPoint to this emphasis on good customer service, as well as to the continuing research and development that is undertaken by its partners at MaxPoint and RaidSonic. “The most important thing to look out for when purchasing any type of product from anywhere is a good service and quality,” continues Walters. “NanoPoint offers a great service and a very high standard in quality products. Our sales team will treat all accounts with care, ensuring that you’re purchasing the correct product for your needs, and will keep all account holders up to date with the latest products.” NanoPoint places a strong emphasis on good quality products such as its IB-NAS4220-B, a two-bay network attached storage device for 3.5-inch SATA hard drives with RAID support that can allow seven servers in one. “This is a very good seller at the moment and during the launch of

54 PCRetail February

“Raising the company profile and gaining more resellers who can purchase direct from us will be our aim over the next twelve months. We are also looking to take back the market share which has previously been lost to budget brands.” Nathan Walters, NanoPoint

the product we struggled to meet demand for the first month as we were overwhelmed with the response.” NanoPoint has also branched into the lifestyle storage market by offering fully functional multimedia players. Its key product in this category is the IBMP3010-HW, which has wireless capabilities, allowing media files to be shared from a network, and includes a record function and HDMI interface. The firm also continues to see popularity with all Tagan power supplies for both the modular and standard models. For the time being, with the economic climate

making things difficult for all businesses, NanoPoint is looking to continue to maintain its highly stable operation. However, Walters maintains that having a relatively small team makes things much easier during such times and the continuing strategy of honing its ability to forecast demand and cultivating excellent relationships with its long-term customers means that NanoPoint is able to keep ahead of the market with new ideas and innovations for the future. “For a manufacturer it keeps us out there in the field with many different solutions to offer,” he says. “So raising the company profile and gaining more resellers who can purchase direct from us will be our aim over the next twelve months. We are also looking to take back the market share which has previously been lost to budget brands who do not offer the quality and premium kit that is available from NanoPoint.”


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Entertainment Industry’s Annual

Charity Golf and Spa Day The 2009 Annual Charity Golf and Spa Event will be held at the prestigious Grove course which is widely regarded as one of the finest golf courses in Europe and recently hosted the World Golf Championships and American Express Championship 2006. It's time to test your skills here for charity and see how you compare to Tiger. The event will consist of 18 holes of golf with buggies provided, followed by a 3 course awards dinner in the impressive Grove Hotel. We have also arranged for exclusive use of the Grove’s Sequoia Spa’s indoor pool and fitness facilities, including at least one hour of treatments, for non-golf playing partners, friends or colleagues we negotiated reduced rates in the hotel if you are too “tired” to go home at the end of the night please quote ‘Charity Golf and Spa Day’ when booking accomodation. Contact the hotel at 01923 296010 Discount Prices: Standard Room - £220.00 Superior Room Single Occupancy £240.00

The Grove Golf Club, Chandlers Cross, Herts 14th May 2009 If you are interested in sponsoring or participating, contact Richard Stickler on 01279 822832 or at


Game of the Month F.E.A.R 2: PROJECT ORIGIN WARNER GAMES  Distributor: Centresoft  Available: February 13th  Price: £34.99 Taking place shortly after the first game, Project Origin once again plunges players into the dark and paranormal world of F.E.A.R. Focusing on Delta Force Operative Michael Becket, F.E.A.R 2: Project Origin continues the story of the mysterious and powerful psychic child named Alma.

Following a rise in paranormal activity, Becket must track down and stop Alma before she changes and distorts our reality with her own. The first game was widely praised by critics, and sold well. Initial indications are that the sequel will do the same, making it an ideal game to stock if you're looking for a way of boosting your margins this month.


It’s February and some of the biggest titles of the year will be coming out this month. Empire: Total War may have been pushed back, but The Sims 3 wasnt...







Hotel for Dogs


505 Games

0121 506 9590


February 6 2009

Bionic Commando



0121 625 3388


February 13 2009

F.E.A.R 2 Project Origin


Warner Games

0121 625 3388


February 13 2009



Kalypso Media

020 8309 3600


February 20 2009

Street Fighter IV



0121 625 3388


February 20 2009

The Sims 3



0121 625 3388


February 20 2009

Silent Hill Homecoming



020 8987 5730


February 27 2009

War Leaders: Clash Of Nations


V.2 Play

0121 625 3388


February 27 2009

Codename Panzers: Cold War



0121 506 9585



Age Of Pirates: City Of Abandoned Ships RPG


0121 625 3388


March 6 2009

Company Of Heroes: Tales Of Valor



0121 506 9585


March 13 2009

Real Madrid: The Game


V.2 Play

0121 625 3388


March 13 2009

Pool Hall Pro



0121 625 3388


March 20 2009




0121 625 3388


March 20 2009

Empire: Total War



0121 625 3388



EVE Online



0121 506 9585



Puzzle Quest: Galactrix



0121 625 3388



Aliens: Colonial Marines



020 8995 3399


Q1 2009

Alpha Protocol



020 8995 3399


Q1 2009

Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena



0121 506 9590


Q1 2009

CID The Dummy



020 8309 3600


Q1 2009

CSI: New York



0845 456 6400


Q1 2009

Grand Ages: Rome


Kalypso Media

020 8309 3600


Q1 2009 Q1 2009

Heroes Over Europe



0121 506 9590


Monsters Vs Aliens


Activision Blizzard

0121 625 3388


Q1 2009

Things On Wheels


South Peak

020 8309 3600


Q1 2009

Tom Clancy's HAWX



0845 456 6400


Q1 2009



South Peak

020 8309 3600


Q1 2009




0121 506 9590


June 19th

Hysteria Hospital: Emergency Ward



020 8309 3600


Q2 2009

*ABC-certified distribution 102,010 Jan-Dec 05


The Sims 3 Publisher: EA Centresoft: 0121 625 3388 Available: February 20th Price: £39.99

Resident Evil 5 Publisher: Capcom Centresoft: 0121 625 3388 Available: March 13th Price: £29.99

Ghostbusters Publisher: Atari Advantage: 0845 456 6400 Available: June 19th Price: £39.99


This month, PC Retail takes a look at Panasonic’s new bridge camera, the FZ28, and Microsoft’s new Sidewinder X6 – a gaming keyboard with a massive 30 programmable keys...



Bridge Digital Camera Direktek: 01494 471 100 Price: £239.99

Gaming Keyboard Realtime: 01480 435 881 Price: £69.99

in action. And while the he FZ28 is a surprisingly camera’s 2.7-inch LCD is a compact camera and modest upgrade from its thanks to a predominantly predecessor – the FZ18’s 2.5plastic build it is lightweight but, inch screen – it’s a good screen quite sturdy in the hand. There with bright colours and good are no creaks or groans from detail even in brighter poorly fitting body parts here. conditions. This so called ‘bridge’ design Backing up the LCD is an offers good handling; the shutter electronic viewfinder, which is release sits recessed with the disappointingly still affected by lens’ zoom lever; the release lens flare. provides the normal dual Although it pressures to turn on metering and This is a superb, easy has a rather harsh plastic focus with the to use and wellsurround, it first, the second firing the shutter, specified camera provides an easier method but the pressure able to produce of composition, between them is if bright too slight. stunning shots. conditions Here you also make using the LCD hard. access Panasonic’s clever iA There is a manual focus (intelligent Auto) mode, which option, but the combination of chooses the ‘correct’ camera using the small back plate setting for you dependent on joystick and the screen’s what’s presented to the lens. magnified section that helps This works unerringly well but you get things sharp, is a tad does mean choice manual cumbersome. control treats, such as In other words, this is a combined JPEG and RAW superb, easy to use and wellcapture, are not available, specified camera able to which remain the preserve of produce stunning shots. Overall, the manual control modes. a good balance between Kit such as the Face features, control and image Detection AF, which can now quality provide an excellent track up to 15 faces in a scene all round, surprisingly compact – an impressive feat indeed – package. works really well as you watch it


this particular section all the icrosoft has long hoped more important. Getting all 30 to rule the roost with PC close together for those kind of gaming peripherals, and titles that require frequent the sleek SideWinder X6 keyboard button presses is an treat. is its latest attempt at grabbing What makes these 30 this huge share of the market. programmable keys all the more Immediately you’ll be aware appealing is the included of the keyboard’s ample size. At software which allows you to over 20-inches wide and nearly assign specific configurations for ten-inches deep at its lengthiest, different games. All you need to those of you with already do is simply load up your game cramped desks may need to of choice, and the keyboard will get the tape measures out automatically before making configure the key any form of It’s a comfortable layout desired for purchase. that particular title. The X6 packs keyboard that Not only handy, a removable packs a number of but easy to use. keypad, which One of the best you can attach features that make features is the at either end of the price tag seem ability to record the keyboard. these simple It’s a pitful. macros. For those particularly of you whose only nice touch for macro experience is during dull gamers who have always lessons with Excel that may craved their numbers at the mean little, but to WoW players opposite end to the usual in particular it could prove a keyboard standard. It all slots major selling point. Actions that together via a magnetic could take a half dozen contact, which feels not only separate presses can now be well made, but something that easily chopped right down to won’t fail you no matter how one swift push of a button. many times you shift the keypad. For gamers, there’s little to The biggest selling point for sway anyone against the gamers is the 30 programmable SideWinder X6. It’s a keys. The first 12 are set to the comfortable keyboard that left of the keyboard, with the packs a number of features that rest set out on the keypad, make the price tag seem pitiful. making the customisability of




Are there still Blu skies for the stand-alone multi-disk drive market? With sales of internal DVD-RW drives declining thanks to the fact they are increasingly becoming the standard in new PCs, does high definition, and in particular Blu-ray, hold the key to revitalising this once strong market? ast year was not a positive year for the multi-disk drive market, which saw sales fall by 11 per cent in volume and one per cent in value, when comparing November 2008’s figures against those of 2007. The multi-disk drive market is one that is predominately associated with upgrading or enhancing your PC. Multi-disk drives still remain dominated by the DVD-RW drive which holds a 92 per cent share for November 2008, and which has remained consistently above 90 per cent for the past 23 months. Evidence would suggest that this market has already reached its maturity and will continue to decline in the forthcoming months. However, further analysis could prove that this market segment is far from finished. In November, 68 per cent of the DVD-RW drives were internal, which one can assume will be used to go inside a desktop computer. However, for a long time now desktop computers have been falling out of favour with the consumer, which is opting for the mobility of a laptop or netbook, but are by their nature, harder to upgrade. Subsequently, sales of desktop computers have been in steep decline, which has not helped the once resilient upgrade aspect of the multi-disk drive market. This is a possible explanation for why the internal versus external share is wavering towards external DVD-RW. Furthermore, when looking at the types of optical drives that laptops are being installed with, 81 per cent came with a DVD-RW and 86 per cent in desktops during October 2008. Nonetheless there could be still hope for the multidisk drive manufacturers, in the form of the high definition drive segment. Combining sales of HD-DVD and Blu-ray drives, this segment has managed to hold four per cent volume and 16 per cent value share for November 2008. This growth has helped to keep the decline of the market small. When you then look at the PC market compared to the DVD-RW, it is possible to see that there is still an opportunity for the upgrade market, as only one per cent of desktop PCs have a high definition drive pre-installed.


60 PCRetail February

What is even more promising is the fact that the premium you have to pay for a desktop computer with a high definition drive makes it cheap to buy a desktop PC and internal high definition drive separately. The average price of desktop with a high definition drive pre-installed in October was £955, while the average price of an internal high definition drive for the same month was £133, and a desktop computer with just a DVD-RW pre-installed was £403. The consumer would make a saving of £419 if they bought the normal PC and Blu-ray drive – enough to buy another computer if they were so

inclined! Even if the consumer didn’t know how to upgrade their desktop, they could purchase an equivalent external drive for £192 and still make a huge saving of £360 over buying a new computer. As a result, there still maybe a ray of light for this market. However, as the differential between computers with a high definition drive and those without continue to be eroded over time, the standalone multi-disk drive market is only set to further decline. It will not be until Blu-ray becomes widely adopted by the consumer that we will see this decline ease off in the market.



The greatest show on Earth... his year’s CES was a watershed one. Not because of Windows 7 or any other announcement, but because with a global downturn in full swing, the eyes of the world were on Las Vegas to see what the tech industry had up its sleeve. Sony used the event to unveil a raft of new products, including new digital cameras and camcorders, but the gadget that stole the show at the vendor’s stand was it new Vaio-P range. The new line shares the same footprint as a netbook, but comes with the power of a full-sized laptop. You can read more about it, and Sony’s other announcements on page 72. AMD also had a big show, unveiling its Dragon desktop platform, which it hopes will capture the niche – but highly profitable – gaming market. The hardware isn’t the only thing it expects will drive adoption of the platform: it is also hoping its price point will entice even the most ardent of Intel and Nvidia fans towards it, with the firm boldly claiming it is over £1,000 cheaper than a comparitive system. You can turn to page 76 to find out more. Palm also had a good show. After a couple of years being out in the dark, it found itself at the centre of many CESflavored conversations thanks to its Pre smartphone: more details about the hotly anticipated phone are on page 80. And it wouldn’t be CES without some futuristic gadgets. This year’s superstar came in the form of Powermat’s wireless charging solution, more about which is on page 86. We can see this one being a genuine winner; especially if it stops us from having to spend several hours a month untangling power cables.


Ben Furfie, Deputy Editor

To advertise on these pages please call Carly Bailey TELEPHONE 01992 535647 OR EMAIL CARLY.BAILEY@INTENTMEDIA.CO.UK PCRetail February 63


Sunbelt vows to shake up UK security sector Vendor claims market has been 'dominated for too long by traditional approaches that don't meet the demands of customers' S security software vendor Sunbelt Software has announced plans to shake up the UK security market, after it signed a distribution deal with Interactive Ideas. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The antivirus market in Europe has been dominated for too long by traditional approaches that donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t meet the demands that our customers now have for security and performance,â&#x20AC;? stated director for international sales, John-Erich Mantius. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Too many security solutions are now a collection of different pieces of software bolted onto a core, which only ends up making it resource intensive and not


â&#x20AC;&#x153;Too many security solutions are now just a collection of different pieces of softwareâ&#x20AC;? John-Erich Mantius, Sunbelt Software

very responsive,â&#x20AC;? he told PC Retail. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve taken a different approach and built up our security solution from the ground up. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Interactive Ideas provides us with an ideal way to reach our target markets, through both the consumer

retail channel, as well as a significant corporate valueadded reseller community,â&#x20AC;? continued Mantius. Interactive Ideasâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; managing director Mike Trup echoed his comments: â&#x20AC;&#x153;We are looking forward to supporting Sunbeltâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s expansion in the UK and Ireland across the consumer, small business and enterprise markets.â&#x20AC;?

Midwich makes its move on European projector lamp market idwich has announced plans to enter the European market with its projector lamp business, with the distributor saying the increase in volume will mean more availability for its UK customers, as well as better pricing thanks to increased buying power. â&#x20AC;&#x153;As the largest projector distributor in Europe, it is a natural aspiration to become the largest lamp distributor,â&#x20AC;? said Midwich divisional director, Darren Lewitt. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We have invested in a huge stockholding portfolio to support our pan-European launch so more stock will be available for our UK customers to call on.â&#x20AC;? The distributor also expanded its


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64 PCRetail February

range of specialist auto-ID equipment through its specialist division Synergix. The firm claims a deal with HTC will strengthen Synergix presence in the market. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Midwich has a strong presence in the IT reseller market and an exceptional reputation for customer service, making us the ideal supplier for HTC's convergent devices,â&#x20AC;? commented Midwichâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s auto-ID sales manager Alain Picard. â&#x20AC;&#x153;HTC devices are a perfect fit for our Technology Partner Programme because most of our ISV partners develop applications for mobile technology that runs on the Windows Mobile 6.1 operating system.â&#x20AC;?

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Target broadens its payment options with introduction of PayPal Distributor says move shows the firm is willing to listen to feedback from its customers arget is expanding its payment options with the announcement that it will begin accepting PayPal transactions for its account holders. The payment method allows those who donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have credit accounts to purchase goods without the need to use their credit or debit card. The distributor is hoping that the move will not only help its customers during difficult times, but also show that it is responsive to feedback.


â&#x20AC;&#x153;They would like to be able to pay for goods using their PayPal account and we have listened to themâ&#x20AC;? Caroline Spillane, Target Components

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Our customers have suggested that they would like to be able to pay

Simms signs IOGEAR imms has signed US peripherals vendor IOGEAR as it prepares to launch its move into the UK. The vendor, which produces a range of KVM and KVM peripherals, said that the decision to go with Simms was motivated by its reputation in the UK retail and channel markets. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The combination of IOGEARâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ground-breaking, unique products and Simm's expertise in the UK channel and retail technology markets, are a perfect combination,â&#x20AC;?

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commented IOGEARâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s executive vice president, Miranda Su. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We feel its innovation, expertise and enthusiasm for this growing market perfectly complements Simms policy of working with vendors who provide best of breed product that offer real business opportunities for resellers and solutions for their customers,â&#x20AC;? added Simmsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; sales and marketing director. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We look forward to a long and fruitful partnership,â&#x20AC;? added Su.

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for goods using their PayPal account and we have listened to them,â&#x20AC;? said

Targetâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s marketing manager Caroline Spillane. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We will continue to take debit and credit card payments for customers who do not have credit accounts with us. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We are just adding to the ways of payment we offer our customers,â&#x20AC;? added Spillane. PayPal is a third party ecommerce business that allows payments and money transfers to be made through the internet. It charges a fee to handle payment processing online.

Roxio partners up for new markets oxio has signed a new distribution deal, which it hopes will lead to it breaking into markets it does not traditionally have a presence in, such as the education, charity and not-forprofit sectors. The deal with specialist software distributor Douglas Stewart EDU covers its Roxio Creator 2009 creative suite, as well as its market leading Mac duplication software Roxio Toast 10 Titanium and Roxio WinOnCD 2009 for PC. Speaking about the deal,


Roxioâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s retail sales director Steven Mold said: â&#x20AC;&#x153;We are confident that this new partnership with Douglas Stewart EDU will enable the Roxio brand to further expand into the education and nonprofit sectors.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;We feel Roxioâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s products have a great reputation and will deliver great benefits to schools, colleges, universities, as well as non-profit organisations who are looking to make more of their digital media and data,â&#x20AC;? added managing director of Douglas Stewart EDU, Lori Mercier.

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lll#k^e"XdbejiZgh#Xdb$j` PCRetail February 65


Is Horlicks exciting? This month, PCA chief Keith Warburton reveals an ongoing fascination for hot malt drinks... I’M EMBARRASSED to admit that when I saw that Horlicks is aiming to re-position its advertising for an up-coming campaign, I was rather excited. And let‘s face it, it takes quite a lot for something as mundane as your grandmother’s favourite bedtime drink to become exciting. But it was the very fact that I found the story interesting that was, in itself, exciting. Of course, exciting is a word much beloved of the marketing clan, and much abused by them – laughably so sometimes. Every new product, latest revision or re-launch is occasion for near-orgasmic joy, according to the marketers. Oh yes, I forgot to say, I neither like nor use the expression ‘marketeer’. Who coined it, I wonder? Was it someone who needed to make their career sound more exciting and fancied a subliminal link to Alexandre Dumas’ Three Musketeers, or to those heroic not-quite-pirates of the Elizabethan high seas, the privateers? These days, more than ever before, players in this marketplace of ours, especially resellers, could probably stand to learn a bit from both musketeers and privateers. They have to be courageous – very often they feel out on a limb, without decent support – and unless they think on their feet they stand a chance of being sunk without trace (or stabbed in the back) with nobody to mourn their passing. If they are successful then there’s a good chance that they will be sniped at by others jealous of their progress. Support from their fellows is an important element in keeping them afloat. That last bit was a plug for trade associations, in case you hadn’t noticed. ‘What a load of old Horlicks,’ I hear you say. What has all this got to do with our business? Well, back to where I started: you might not have noticed, but as of January 1st there was a new marketing campaign for Horlicks. The bedtime drink is being repositioned not as something to help old folk sleep, but as something to help you unwind after the rigours of your hectic day, and as such is being aimed at the over-35 marketplace as opposed to the over-65 one where it seems to sit at the moment, mumbling to itself and dunking biscuits. The contents of the jar remain unchanged but still you say, what has all this talk of Horlicks got to do with me? Well, how about this: if an entrenched (i.e. ancient) brand, in what is apparently a very staid marketplace can hope to reposition itself to hit a new demographic, then surely players in our exciting, dynamic, go-get’em world of technology are capable of repositioning their offering in order to reach new users, or indeed of making use of existing users to generate better profits by providing them with new products. Or simply using existing products in new

and innovative ways. If you are in a situation where your margins are falling and you have to do the breathless trick of running faster just to stay still, then it makes sense to maximise your assets. Your biggest asset is your (presumably happy) customer base. They trust you, or at least they should, so sell them new products and services – incremental business. You have the choice: sell existing products to new customers, or new products to existing customers. I know which is easiest, and most profitable. And if you present it right, it can even sound exciting. We’ll have some really exciting products for you, and some speakers offering insight into new profit areas, at the PCA Conference on February 17th, in Manchester. Have a look at our website for more details on what companies such as Intel, Sony, Samsung, Synaxon and FixItLocal are offering to do for you and your business over the coming year. Gosh, is that the time? I’m ready for my Ovaltine. I don’t particularly like Horlicks.

“You have the choice: sell existing products to new customers, or sell new products to existing customers”



Strange times This month, Robert Peckham looks back at a watershed Macworld Conference and Expo event and looks over a month that saw a swathe of consolidation within the Mac reseller channel... reparing this column each month always proves to be a challenge, either because there are usually too many issues to write about, or simply not enough. And remember, it takes this column a month to appear, so forward-guessing what will be the hot topic in four weeks time is another challenge in itself. But this month, I thought I’d highlight some recent Apple channel developments that might indicate where the market is generally heading, and how the market will possibly fare in the current economic climate. As I write this, MacWorld Expo in San Francisco is happening, and along with all the usual extraordinary sales statistics that Apple is still racking up, the keynote announced updates to the superb iMovie, iPhoto and GarageBand as part of its new version of iLife as well as Apple’s increasingly credible alternative to Microsoft Office, iWork. It also announced a restyled MacBook Pro 17-inch – nothing too surprising there then. But the really big question on every journalist’s list was ‘where was Steve Jobs’? After Apple announced that he wouldn’t be presenting the keynote for the fist time since he returned to Apple nine years ago, the longstanding rumours of his ill health were confirmed a few days before MacWorld opened. But he didn’t appear at the show at all – even as a visitor – and now there’s also reports that he’s not been seen around Apple’s Cupertino


“Square’s takeover of GHC give it a well-established and much admired business in the midlands and north” HQ since November. And what’s happening in the UK? In early December, Square Group took over Gordon Harwood Computers – better known as GHC – based in Derbyshire. Square has been a member of the Mac Association for a couple of years, and is weathering the current economic storm

with admirable skill and judgement. Its take over of GHC gives it a well-established and much admired business in the region, plus superb base from which to cover the midlands and north of the UK, along with an excellent engineering team. The combination of these two businesses makes perfect sense. More of a surprise was the announcement on Christmas Eve that Trams was taking over Rapid Group. Trams was once the UK’s largest Apple reseller, selling to major corporate users throughout London, but its diversification into Windows hardware, mid-range and midi-systems over recent years has diluted its claim to this title. Rapid Group, which are Hampshire-based, has grown through specialisation in Mac-based digital imaging systems and services, so the synergy between the two operations appears less clear. Time will tell how the new combined group will fare in the Mac market together. By an odd coincidence, Square and Rapid were the only major resellers to have any presence at last year’s MacExpo UK. The Apple-channel rumour mill is currently rife with similar stories and theories of other possible mergers and take-overs that might or might not happen – all we can say is watch this space, and let’s hope they’re all Mac Technology Association Members when it happens.

ROBERT PECKHAM is the EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR of the MAC TECHNOLOGY ASSOCIATION, which began life as The UK Mac–Dealer Association five years ago, and re–branded in 2007 to reflect the changing, consultancy and services–driven business model that many Apple resellers have now adopted. WWW.MACTECHNOLOGY.ORG.UK | INFO@MACTECHNOLOGY.ORG | TELEPHONE: 08717 177264

PCRetail February 67



Seventh Heaven

£1000s per litre

By By Simon Aronowitz ITACS Committee Member

By Geoff Carr, NASCR Committee Member

icrosoft’s Windows Vista has virtualisation products like VMware – it often been touted as an makes it easy to fire up another OS on opportunity to sell new PCs one of the machines you have to try out and software to customers. However, Windows 7. Once you have familiarised not everyone in the industry is quite so yourself with the OS you should then evangelical about the benefits of it. look at installing the beta on a range of Many are aware of the problems with it hardware. Most of you should have a such as processor overhead, couple of computers hanging around. compatibility and the lack of a repair or Plug in a spare hard drive and find out install option. In the how well this new OS will words of one ITACS cope with existing member: “Where’s hardware and software; ITACS is keen to my f****** repair check out graphics cards, get feedback gone?” Nonetheless, printer drivers etc, as well from members Vista still generates as your usual software like good income from about this beta. anti-virus and Office services such as XP suites. Finally, it’s time to Please take the downgrades, reg-edits break it. Turn it on and off time to test it to fix networking whilst it’s booting, see issues, upgrading and tell us your what gets broken and then memory and selling figure out how it can be experiences. new compatible repaired. peripherals. ITACS is keen to get By the time you feedback from its members read this, Windows 7 will have been about this new beta. Please take the available in beta more than a month. time to test it and get involved with the Some members of ITACS have been discussions on our forum asked for Windows 7 beta to be installed /forum3. Once there is a consensus, we on new computers. It’s obvious there might be able to get Microsoft to change will be a demand for this product when some things to make our lives easier, for launched, so have you downloaded it example ensuring the final release and installed it yet? If not, why not? incorporates a repair install option. Consider taking some time out during A world of new opportunities is these quiet months to skill yourself up opening up with Windows 7. Heaven or on the new technology. Start with hell: the choice is yours.

n the first of December 2008, were way in excess of inflation. in an attempt to help the However, the biggest rises are going economy, the rate of VAT to be foot-bullets for them as the went down to 15 per cent. It meant customers are already voting with very little to most people, literally just their wallets. a couple of pence in the pound, yet it To put it simply, printer vendors: caused a lot of extra paperwork for be careful you are not pricing some businesses. As a yourselves out of lot of retail prices are the market. rounded to the nearest Worse yet, it is Printer 99p anyway, the not just for the manufacturers reduction may not short term. If a always have reached customer ditches must be careful the consumer. But of a printer they that they are more interest to many have decided now not pricing of us, on the same day costs too much to some of the printer run, they are themselves out manufacturers put highly unlikely to the market with their prices up. Cynics buy the same their recent would say that it was make ever again. timed to take increases for ink. When people are advantage of the VAT buying new change by hiding some printers they of the increases. Yet it regularly tell the didn’t end there, by the beginning of story of a Brand X machine they January 2009, Epson, Canon, Hewlett once had, but would never touch Packard, Lexmark and Brother had all Brand X again because of some increased their inkjet cartridge prices. unfortunate aspect. Of these HP has put prices up the As we get further into 2009 and furthest, by a quarter or sometimes people get further into their belt even more. tightening, any manufacturer who The manufacturers can’t even use can say that their printer does more the excuse of keeping up with prints to the pound is going to sell inflation as there had already been more printers and ink, and we all price rises during the year and these know that the profit is in the in.



68 PCRetail February




Contact Iain Shaw

Each month, Iain Shaw chooses a topic taken initially from the Brigantia members forum and provides a considered response for PC Retail readers…  0870 160 3215

Getting attached in 09 SINCE writing last month’s column, much has happened in the IT channel and we have seen a further tightening across all sectors due to the economic downturn, but with the retail sector feeling the most pain. Brigantia members report increases in the amount of repair and upgrade business, but very poor retail driven sales. The good news is that the

called have also been asked if they would like to opt into the Brigantia Directory which gives them a basic listing within our highly popular indie postcode locator. The listing raises the profile of a business within it, but also allows easier two-way communications between Brigantia, our associates and the broader indie channel throughout the UK. Next month I intend to look further into the

changing software opportunities within the indie channel, given the generally held belief that retail sales are dead in this sector. I would invite feedback from anyone with views on this issue. I believe that there are great opportunities for indies in this sector, and paraphrasing the words of Mark Twain on reading his own obituary “reports of the demise of software retailing are grossly exaggerated!”

Repair and upgrade opportunties are driving attachment sales for such things as components, peripherals and software; in particular external hard drives and other ranges repair and upgrade opportunities are driving attachment sales for such things as components, peripherals and software. The types of peripherals members report selling include external hard drives from vendors such as Seagate and Western Digital, together with many items from the comprehensive Genius, Antec and Netgear ranges. Software as a service offerings from the likes of Webroot are also creating new opportunities for Indies whilst in front of business end-users. As I mentioned last month, Brigantia members are also reporting seeing more and more opportunities around the GPU as endusers look to get more out of their existing hardware. January has seen Brigantia undertaking a Herculean task in contacting all 24,000 IT channel related business to which we have access. Our specialist call centre has been running red hot as we have reached out across the length and breadth of the UK to update our records ready to populate the Brigantia IT Channel Directory in February. The feedback has been very interesting, and the number of businesses that have gone bust is quite staggering. The result is probably the most compressive picture of the indie channel which we now intend to keep updated on a rolling basis. We will be offering a database clean up service to our associate member distributors, vendors and service providers to allow them to update their own records in a highly cost effective manner. All those

Iain invites opinions from PC Retail readers and will respond though this column

PCRetail February 69


Expert advice In-store machines that refill ink cartridges have been rising up the list of priorities as green attitudes become more prevalent among businesses and consumers. Andrew Wooden talks to Ian McCue, MD and proprietor of Cartridge Expert… “The company has evolved. What I think is a driver for change has been the technology of the retail process we’re involved with. Refilling, to the unitiated, seems a simple thing to do. But what most people don’t understand is that it’s a fairly sophisticated process.” Ian McCue, Cartridge Expert

70 PCRetail February

When, where and by whom was Cartridge Expert started? I’m the sole owner of McCUE, of which Cartridge Expert is an operating division. McCUE was set up in 1991 and Cartridge Expert was set up in 2004. We’re located in Hedge End near Southampton.

It’s a completely different technology to the machines we initially produced.

Was the company very different at the start? It certainly has evolved. One driver for change has been the technology of the retail process we’re involved with. Refilling, to the uninitiated, seems to be a fairly simple thing to do – just get a syringe and some coloured inks and put it back into the cartridge. But what most people don’t understand is that there’s a fairly sophisticated process within the cartridge itself. And the machines that we’ve developed can very accurately position the ink within the cartridges to ensure the proper ink jet action takes place when it is re-used.

What is your main product focus? We make machines for use in the retail environment, for refilling while the customer waits. We’re basically confined to the United Kingdom and near Europe – such as France, Belgium, Holland, and Italy. There is a substantial global market but we have yet to get into that, including the USA.

How many staff do you currently employ? We’ve just got ten people, as most of our manufacturing is subcontracted.

What would you say your main strengths as a firm are? What differentiates you from your competitors? It comes back to the technology – we use a


completely unique method of ink delivery, which is fully patented. Therefore, when we sell the machines to a shop, that business is then tied to us so they have to buy the cassettes of refill ink which fit into the machine and fit the cartridge type exactly. Ongoing cassette sales are a key feature of the technique that we’ve adopted. That’s a patented process. All the others that do in-store refilling have to use bulking, with the consequence of handling and potential spillage. What were your main achievements in 2008? We established a stronger foothold in Europe. We found the right kind of distribution partners – that’s key to the whole thing. In Italy you’ve got a fairly limited market for knowledgeable distributors in

“We use a completely unique method of ink delivery, which is fully patented. Therefore, when we sell the machines to a shop, that business is then tied to us so they have to buy refill ink.” Ian McCue, Cartridge Expert

this sector. It’s the same with France and elsewhere. If you can identify the right kind of trading partner who has got access to the target market, then it’s much easier to achieve success.

What European countries have you moved in to so far? Outside the UK: France, Italy, Belgium, Holland, Germany, and Ireland. We’ve moved there during the last two years. Italy, for example, was last year. Any plans for growth? What we’re doing right now is talking with some prospective partners to expand dramatically through the EU, and the partner also has a base in the United States, so we will be looking to expand there too, which represents quite a massive expansion. It will involve having product manufactured in the US and ink supplies being created over there. It’s a technology transfer as well as a new market opportunity. The new plant won’t have to be all that specialised but it will be dedicated. I personally have 40 years of experience developing businesses in the United States, and I spend almost half the year of every year on business activities over there anyway. So it’s natural for us. By how much with this move into America be expanding your business? I suppose you could say our move into North America, which includes Canada and Mexico, represents half of the world’s opportunity, and Europe represents a third, as far as we’re concerned. So America will be big if we get it right. What would you say your company ethos is? Quality. Products that work, that are fit for their purpose, and that the customer gets good value for money. In other words, he should be able to get payback well within the year for his capital outlay. What do you think the biggest technological leap forward will be in your sector over the next few years? Where inkjet technology is concerned, the current technology is well established. The OEMs like Lexmark, HP, Dell, those sorts of companies have a vested interest to drive the market forward, because they’re really in the business of selling ink and they have put relatively low cost printers into that market. So it’s well established and it’s not going to change very much anyway. Behind that there are other technologies, both with the imaging itself and with the cartridges. Some cartridges can be refilled only once, and Lexmark, for example, produce a cartridge that self destructs. They’re not very attractive to the market place; there are green issues with that sort of product. So while I think there will always be some threat from new technologies and new ideas, the traditional printer market is pretty well established, certainly for the next ten years.

Cartridge Expert looks set to grow even larger over the next few years

PCRetail February 71

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New consumer ranges from Sony Vendor unveils raft of new consumer electronics devices at CES


ony launched a swathe of new products last month, the highlights of which were three new Cybershot digital cameras, the VAIO P-series range of compact laptops and a new high definition camcorder range. Sony describes the dimensions of the VAIO-P laptops as slightly larger than an office letter envelope, and they come loaded with 3G connectivity, a full keyboard and a highresolution screen. It weighs less than 640g, is comparatively leading its product bracket, including 2GB of RAM, 1.6GHz CPU, and a 128GB solid-state drive. For the internet, the seriesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; VAIO Everywair WWAN technology allows usage of 3G mobile phone networks, so the internet can be accessed from any location, while GPS allows easy

locating of restaurants, bars and other local places of interest. Updating its Cybershot W Series of digital cameras, the W220 and W210 have impressive 12.1 effective megapixel resolution, and a Carl Zeiss 4X optical zoom lens, SteadyShot image stabilisation, and high sensitivity anti-shake functions. Both cameras also feature Intelligent Scene Recognition, which automatically compensates for the best picture in common situations, such as backlit scenes or twilight portraits. The pictures can be uploaded and viewed through high definition televisions via a cable provided. The firmâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new high definition Handycam range comprises of seven new models, which feature enhanced image quality and a number of intelligent features. The rangeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s

highest-end model, the high definitionR-XR520VE, can hold 101 hours of high definition video on its 250GB hard disk drive. The models also include advanced features such as the Exmor R CMOS sensor, which further increases image quality by reducing noise.

Sonyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new range of laptops and cameras are likely to prove popular this year


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72 PCRetail February



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To advertise on these pages, please call Carly Bailey on 01992 535647 or email


HP updates Pavilion laptop range Vendor bolsteres its Pavilion laptop line with two new models, launched at this year’s CES and designed to appeal to its full range of consumer, business and enterprise customers


he HP Pavilion dv2 notebook is an inch thick and is 3.8pounds, and comes loaded with discrete graphics, a highcapacity hard drive of up to 500 gigabytes, and Blu-ray support. The HP Pavilion dv3 has a 13.3inch diagonal BrightView LED backlit display, a built-in optical drive and a lightweight magnesium casing. It is slightly heavier at 4.35 pounds, and includes sufficient processor and graphics power to handle a wide range of productivity and entertainment applications. “HP enters the New Year showing its resolve to provide consumers, business people and enterprises market-defining products that are a step ahead of the competition. Our customers receive the highest

74 PCRetail February

value, combining top designs, innovative features and simple user experiences,” said Satjiv Chahil, senior vice president, Worldwide Marketing, Personal Systems Group at HP. “From our leadership in touch interface

technologies to our expanding line of ultra-mobile notebooks and companion PCs to our highperformance computers including mobile workstations with DreamColor displays, we offer the industry’s broadest line

of products aimed at satisfying the wants and demands of our diverse customer segments.”

“HP offers the broadest range of products aimed at satisfying the wants of our customer.” Satjiv Chahill, HP

HP’s dv2 and dv3 have been designed with the customer’s varied needs in mind

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AMD unleashes its new Dragon platform upon rivals’ products


MD has unveiled its Dragon Desktop Platform, squaring up to rivals by boldly claiming it is over $1,000 (£670) cheaper than a similar rig built with competing products. Describing the platform as offering ‘elite level performance for under $900 (£609)’, the vendor has already signed deals with several high profile system builders including HP, Dell and Alienware. The platform combines the Series 7 chipsets with its new AMD Phenom II X4 processor range and ATi’s Radeon 4800 series graphics cards. The first systems featuring the platform are expected to reach US retail during the first quarter of 2009. The firm also showcased its new ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4000 series graphics platform,

76 PCRetail February

“AMD has exceptional graphics success that will bring unprecedented power and performance for the mobile platform. The ATI Radeon HD 4600 and HD 4800 represent the pinnacle of gaming.” Erik Kuo, MSI

its next generation series of notebook graphics processors. The firm claims the graphics

processors redefine mobile gaming with advanced capabilities including support for

the latest Microsoft DirectX 10.1 games, a home theatre-quality high definition multimedia experience, and energy-efficient features for long battery life to help users get the most out of their notebook. So far Asus, Dell and MSI are utilising the hardware. Eric Kuo, MSI sales director said “The MSI EX625 notebook, with ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4600 series graphics, and the GT725 notebook, with ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4800 series graphics, represent the pinnacle of gaming and multimedia graphics for the mobile platform. “AMD has exceptional graphics success that will bring unprecedented power and performance for the mobile platform,” added Kuo.

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OQO launches ultra mobile PC V endor OQO was showing off a new ultra mobile PC at CES, managing to attract interest for a type of device which many have claimed is no longer relevant, thanks to more powerful smartphones and more affordable laptops (netbooks). The firm claims this new OQO Model 2+ is the smallest machine capable of running Microsoft’s Windows Vista, and has double the power of its predecessor. Weighing less than a pound with dimensions of 5.6-inches, by 3.3 inches, by one inch, the device is certainly portable. However, with pricing starting at $999 (£670), many will be – unfavourably – comparing it to the much cheaper, and less powerful netbook segment. The OQO Model 2+ will arrive sometime in the first half of this year – though no pricing has yet been announced for the UK. “OQO is excited to work with Intel to deliver the highest

78 PCRetail February

performing Mobile Internet Device (MID) on the market today,” said Bob Rosin, senior vice president of sales and marketing at OQO. “The OQO Model 2+ provides enterprise users and prosumers with everything needed to get all

“The OQO Model 2+ provides enterprise users and prosumers with everything they need to get work done on the move, anywhere.” Bob Rosin, OQO

their work done as they move through their day – full Windows, complete mobility, and immediate access to information and applications from wherever they are.”

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Palm’s new touch screen phone R iding the enduring wave of popularity for the touch screen functionality of the iPhone, Palm has used this year’s CES to showcase its forthcoming rival device. The Palm Pre has been in development since 2007, apparently under the supervision of former Apple executive and cocreator of the iPod, John Rubenstein, and carries the new Palm Web OS operating system. The new smart phone features GPS location technology, Wi-Fi wireless connectivity and a full slide out keyboard. It will be available exclusively through Sprint Nextel Corp in the first half of 2009 but a retail price is not yet disclosed. The Palm Synergy feature

allows Facebook, Outlook, Google contacts and calendars to be synchronised into one place. The feature also allows all communications with one person to be grouped together, whatever the medium. For example, it could store text messages with instant messages together in once place.

connects applications to the web so they are updated automatically. The Palm Pre also has an interface that’s more similar to an operating system, with notifications logged at the bottom of the screen to be opened at the users leisure.

“The new smartphone features GPS location technology, Wi-Fi wireless connectivity and slide out full keyboard” For internet access the device apparently will come loaded with a particularly fast web browser which will be more akin to surfing on a computer than a mobile phone, and constantly

The Palm Pre was developed under the supervision of former Apple executive and co-creator of the iPod, John Rubenstein

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Nvidia launches two new GPUs G

raphics specialist Nvidia impressive results on complex has unveiled two new DirectX 10 environments and high end GPUs for PC high frame rates in heavy high gaming enthusiasts – the definition resolutions. GeForce GTX 295 and the Both the GTX 295 and GTX 285 GeForce GTX 285. were designed with Nvidia’s The GTX 295 is loaded with two CUDA technology in mind, and GeForce GTX are built to 200 GPUs, which provide faster Nvidia claims and more The GTX 285 is makes it the powerful results in apparently the fastest dual GPU areas such as product on the image world’s most market. The processing, video powerful single card was made playback/editing GPU with an eye on and audio files. delivering the The products are best possible designed to work performance on especially well on some of the most graphics editing software such as CS4. hungry PC games, such as Far The hardware is also Cry 2, Mirror’s Edge, and Call of compatible with Nvidia’s new Duty 5: World at War. GeForce 3D Vision glasses, which The GTX 285 is apparently the allow games to be played in world’s most powerful single true stereostropic 3D. GPU. Nvidia claims it delivers 30 Launched at CES, both the per cent faster performance GeForce GTX 295 and the than competing single GPU GeForce GTX 285 are available products, and provides for purchase now.

84 PCRetail February

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Powermat makes electricity wireless


ardware vendor Powermat spent CES showing off its yet to be released product line which allows multiple devices to be charged wirelessly, removing the need for multiple chargers. The technology is based on principles of magnetic induction, and takes roughly the same time to charge a device as the original wired charger would. The products are thinly layered mats, which are generally designed to be laid on top of a work surface. A number of receivers (that can take the form of plugs, dongles, and docks) are embedded within the â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;formfittingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; covers, which perform a virtual handshake with the device to ascertain how much power it needs. A wide variety of gadgets are covered in the initial model, including GPS devices, mobile phones, media players

and Bluetooth headsets. Depending on the model, as many as six devices can be charged up simultaneously. The technology has been employed in various versions as well as the basic flat mat style product. Currently, a specialised car charger and wrap-around iPod cases have been announced, while new models for Nokia phones and BlackBerry devices will be announced soon. The device is being primarily targeted at those on the move a lot, who would benefit form not having to take multiple chargers and leads with them as well as the devices themselves. It should also be attractive to users with a lot of mobile devices at home, who have found that they are having to plug in a large amount of seperate chargers. The Powermat range should be available for purchase by autumn this year.


86 PCRetail February

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The GV-N295-B carries the latest CUDA and PhysX technologies

Gigabyte unleashes dual GPU accelerator


ased on Nvidia’s latest GTX295 dual processors, graphics card vendor Gigabyte has launched the GV-N295-18I-B. It features 896MB GDDR3 memory, 480 stream processors, and the latest Nvidia SLI, PureVideo HD, PhysX, CUDA and Microsoft DirectX 10 technology. The card’s output interfaces support Dual-Link DVI, D-Sub, and HDMI with HDCP, providing extremely high resolutions. Gigabyte is promoting the card by claiming the combination of all of Nvidia’s latest hardware combine to make a ‘new class of physical gaming interaction,’ which essentially means more realistic next generation graphics. The PhysX and CUDA technology in particular combine to enhance the graphical prowess of modern games, making complex faces, explosions and detailed environments smoother and clearer. In line with Nvidia’s own messaging, Gigabyte is also marketing the ability

88 PCRetail February

of CUDA software to help the card boost non-gaming functions of the PC, helping the GPU to take over from the CPU in some cases. The GIGABYTE GV-N295-18IB’s on board PureVideo HD technology allows top of the range HD video capabilities, bolstered by the ‘Dual DualLink’ DVI and HDMI, which provide 2560 x 1600 resolution. Elsewhere, Gigabyte has also launched its AMD based Ultra Durable 3 Classic motherboard technology. The chief feature of the technology is the increased amount of copper used in the manufacturing process, which provides lower system temperature, improves energy efficiency, and enhanced stability when overclocking.

The on-board PureVideo HD enhances video capabilities

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VIP introduces new Antec gaming case D

istributor VIP Computers is set to launch Antec’s Nine Hundred Two chassis, aimed at the gaming market. The Nine Hundred Two is loosely based on the previous Antec Nine Hundred chassis in its design, maintaining some of the more popular features whilst incorporating new additions. The perforated front panel remains, along with its capacity for up to six variable-speed fans. Antec has added a top 200mm ‘Big Boy’ TriCool fan with blue LED, fan control knobs, built-in washable air filters and eight expansion slots to the original Nine Hundred design. The combination of cooling, performance and convenience, make the Nine Hundred Two

ideal for handling the demands of the latest games. “The additions to this new case show Antec is listening to its customers and taking action, which is one of the reasons VIP is proud to work with Antec in the UK,” said Victoria Davies, Antec product manager at VIP. “The Antec Nine Hundred is a hugely popular gaming case so I am sure this will be a welcomed addition to the range.” Jerome François, European sales manager at Antec, added: “With improved airflow, greater versatility and dominating style, Antec’s Nine Hundred Two is ‘The Ultimate Gaming Case, Evolved’. You won't find a better deal in the gaming area.”

VIP is confident that the Nine Hundred Two will perform as well as its predecessors.

PCRetail February 89

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The ARCHOS 10 marks the vendor’s entry into the computer market

Archos enters netbook area


ortable media player specialist ARCHOS has become the latest consumer electronics vendor to enter the computer market with the launch of its ARCHOS 10. The machine weighs around 1.3kg, incorporates a 10.2-inch (1024 x 600) ‘super bright’ LED screen, an ergonomic keyboard and is designed to be used easily on the go.

and video calling, instant messaging and low-cost calling to landlines and mobile phone numbers. Other features include a four -in-one multi-memory card reader, a VGA connection, headphone and microphone jacks and three USB ports. It also comes packed with a large variety of multimedia features based on its popular

It also comes packed with a large variety of multimedia features, based on its popular portable media software. Its Archos Media Club has the latest movies and video content available to download.

Powered by the Intel Atom low power processor, it runs on Windows XP, has a 160GB hard drive storage, and comes ready loaded with Lotus Symphony office applications and Xnview photo editing software. For internet access, it comes with 802.11b/g wireless LAN and 10/100 Ethernet LAN connectivity. Furthermore, it has a 1.3 mega pixel webcam with wireless connectivity and Skype software for free voice

90 PCRetail February

portable media player software, such as instant access to the vendor’s highly regarded Archos Media Club, with the latest movies and video content available on demand, Deezer, which gives access to a range of free music, and vTuner, which allows the use of 1,000 web TV channels, 10,000 web radio stations and 100,000 podcasts. The Archos 10 is available now through distributors and retails for around £349.

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Transcend debuts new multi USB card reader Flash memory vendor The device plugs in via a Transcend has launched the P8 USB plug, and can then be All-In-One USB Card Reader. The used to easily and quickly product has been designed with extract music, video files, style as priority, and as such is documents and pictures. thin with rounded edges. In addition, each P8 Card It comes in Reader comes black and with preThe product has white versions, loaded photo and measures recovery been designed 77.7mm by software that with style as a 46mm by provides 15.8mm, and previews of priority, and as as such is recoverable such is thin with relatively data. This rounded edges small. software can The firm has help users also restore lost or apparently damaged files developed the card reader with with relative simplicity. simplicity in mind, with clearly With support for high-speed labelled function information for Ultra DMA transfer mode, the all the card slots available. device provides decent speeds,

especially when using highspeed 300X CompactFlash cards. It is compatible with a wide range of memory cards, including the CF, SD, SDHC,

MMC, MMCplus, RS-MMC, MMCmobile, microSD, microSDHC, Memory Stick. miniSD, miniSDHC, and MMCmicro among others.

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here’s one very good and 512MB of DDR2 RAM. reason why Acer is selling These helped to ensure the more laptops in Europe Aspire One felt speedy enough than any other company: the in use, although it takes three or Acer Aspire One. It took Asus’ four seconds to launch vision of a bargain notebook to applications. We would prefer surf the web, and concentrated more memory if it was using on getting the basics spot on. Windows XP, but Acer’s build of The first basic is the keyboard. Linpus Linux Lite has no issues. It’s cramped due to the The choice of Linux does chassis’ width, but we found it have some disadvantages. possible to touch Apart from type with ease. “This is a very light losing the The other basic familiarity of laptop: it weighs Windows, it isn’t is the screen. While the Asus’ only 1.06kg, which as good at Eee PC’s screens puts it just behind managing tend to suffer power as Toshiba’s X300 and Microsoft’s OS. from graininess, the Aspire One’s We found there an apricot. is sharp and was always a Despite this, it is bright – a real faint hum of pleasure to use. fully specced PC.” fans emanating And this despite it from the Aspire only being 8.9-inches One, while its battery life score diagonally. of two hours 30 minutes under We were also impressed by light use means you’ll generally the build quality. It may not be need to carry the power able to match the very best adapter with you on your here for ruggedness – the HP travels. Mininote in particular – but it’s Or alternatively, you can solid and the screen feels well choose from one of its optional protected. Our only mild extras and buy an extended criticisms are of the tinny battery. We found a six-cell, speakers and oddly positioned 6,600mAh unit on sale for £43 mouse buttons on either side of excluding VAT, which should the trackpad. take life to around five hours. This is an extremely light There’s no denying this is a laptop: it weighs only 1.06kg, basic machine – like most which puts it just behind the netbooks on sale these days – Toshiba and an apricot. Despite but as a second system to sling this, it uses a fully fledged into a bag when all you need is 120GB SATA hard disk, which is internet access – when teamed accompanied by Intel’s nearwith mobile broadband – it’s a ubiquitous Atom N270 processor, great value choice.

94 PCRetail February

hile the Asus Eee Top bleed on a dark screen despite takes aim at the most the powerful backlight, while casual and basic of colour gradients were perfectly web surfers, Sony’s latest all-insmooth throughout our tests. one PC shows precisely how to It’s a great package, appeal to everyone. The silver particularly for the price. When styling is gorgeous, the display is you consider that the cheapest as good as any external model in Dell’s XPS One family – monitor, and the internals are its all on one range – costs more than capable of handling nearly £100 more than this, but a rigorous daily routine. comes with a slower processor, It owes a lot to Apple’s less RAM and a smaller hard design disk, not to expertise, with a slightly “For years, Apple mention a brushedbulkier design, it’s users have been metal finish clear that this and a body happy to pay a silly Sony is a real that’s winner. premium for this sort remarkably thin We’d prefer of beautiful design. more than a considering the power it packs; single year’s If it can offer the only the iMac warranty, but the same for a matches it for build quality is aesthetics. The light enough to comparitive main body has up for that pittance, then we’ll make a handle-like minor complaint. be first in line.” bar at the base You could, of to act as the course, buy a main foot, while the rear stand similar specified budget PC and – little more than a single thin a decent 20-inch TFT for less metal arm – slides back and than the Sony VAIO VGCforwards with ease to adjust the JS1E/S, but that would be screen’s angle. missing the point. And that screen is up to It takes up less room on a Sony’s usual high standards. It desk than most monitors of its boasts a 20.1-inch diagonal size, yet has an entire PC – and screen with a 1,680 x 1,050 a fully functional one at that – widescreen resolution; it’s crammed in at the rear. bright, glossy, incredibly sharp, For years, Apple users have and provides vivid colours and been happy to pay a silly superb contrast. The old issues premium for this sort of of the glossy finish apply – it’s a beautiful design, so if Sony can little blue-ish at times and offer the same for a reflections can be visible under comparative pittance, we’ll be office lights – but we saw no first in line.

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PCRetail February 95


A day in the life

This month: This month, we bring you the best and worst of CES 2009, as well as news of UK Online’s attempt to get technophobes addicted to the internet...


Bart Hoorntje Sales Director, Widget UK NORMALLY I am up before my the CardScan and Dymo kids as I have a one hour ranges and the team needs to commute from Stanford to be kept up to date with Stevenage and I like beat the product developments. traffic. Although with a third After the main sales meeting child due next month, I may we split into two sessions: one not be the first up soon! for the external account On a Monday morning, I managers and another for the usually have an hour to sort internal ones. I tend to work in out email and check the Dutch the office two or three days per football results from over the week, getting out to customers weekend, for the rest of before the the time. Even “Some of my 8.30 catchup when I am in meeting with best deals have the office, I am our managing not a desk been done director Jo bound person, outside in the Foreman, so I prefer to and head of use my phone rain while an logistics walking round articulated lorry Grant the building, Davidson. calling round passes me by” At 10.30 our key we run the customers to weekly sales see how their meeting, to track the sales stocks and sales are going. from last week against budget, From time to time these organise priorities for the week wanderings still take me ahead and bring up any news outside to the car park where I from our suppliers. Our largest give into my tobacco cravings. supplier TomTom now has a Some of my best deals have much more complex range of been done outside in rainy products than it did when I Stevenage, phone in one hand worked for it several years ago, and a Marlboro in the other, with different price point while an articulated lorry passes models to divide the market up three feet from me as it heads into niches. When I started in towards the ‘goods-in’ bay. this market there was only one Then I leave at six, giving model. It was a lot simpler me just enough time to get then. We also distribute other home and tell my kids a story consumer products, such as before they go to bed at seven.

96 PCRetail February


Send your pictures to andrew

GET ONLINE DAY UK Online recently celebrated its second ‘Get Online Day,’ managing to get 12,000 people up and down the country in front of a computer and on the internet – and in some cases, for the first time. The event, which took place in October, saw 500 centres open their doors to the estimated one in three adults who still don’t use computers or t’internet.

CES is always a veritable Smörgåsbord of gadgets – some useful and some, well... less useful. Touch was one of the big themes, with both HP and Microsoft showing off their goods, while Sony’s CEO Howard Stringer called on the services of Tom Hanks to promote its 3D technology.

PCRetail February 97






“We’re taking these steps in anticipation of an environment we think will get worse before it gets better. This is the sort of time you want to have cash.” Logitech CEO Gerald Quindlen discusses job cuts following a severe drop in profits due to weakened demand. “He wants a rest. Peacefulness. What happens when you rest – your mind floats. And a person like he is will probably work out better concepts and products and ways that the future could be. More than any other individual could. It will probably be a great thing for Apple.” Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak philosophises on the implications of Steve Jobs’ health related absence from Apple, on US TV channel NBC.

“Intel has weathered difficult times in the past, and we know what needs to be done to drive our success moving forward. Our new technologies and new

products will helps us ignite market growth and thrive when the economy recovers.” Intel CEO Paul Otellini talks about the 90 per cent drop in profits for the third quarter of fiscal 2009. “Its been a mess. I regret ordering the computer. The person I was talking to said Ubuntu was great, college students loved it, it was compatible with everything I needed.” An American woman complains to her local media after finding that her Ubuntu based Dell could not run Microsoft Word. “They write the lines, I tell the truth...what a fool I’d have been if I had been one of the 600 people who bought a betamax. I had to (be here), you wrote it into my can I have my money from Angels and Demons?” Actor Tom Hanks delivers a less than enthusiastic introduction for Sony at the CES in Las Vegas.

Name: Robert Peckham Position: Executive Director Company: Mac Technology Association Describe yourself in three words? Decisive, focused, optimist How do you relax away from work? Being with the family and walking the dog in the Oxfordshire countryside What’s your favourite game/book/film/album? Whoa – too many to list, and they’re changing all the time! The last new film I saw was Wall-E, which was a breathtaking insight into what the world could become, and I’d certainly rate it up there with all my favourites What was your first computer? Sinclair ZX-something, but I never figured out how to work it. My first real computer was an Olivetti M24, but only because I worked for Olivetti. My first Mac was a Classic II (gotta get that one in) What’s your best memory from working in the industry? Mygate getting nominated for Best Reseller at the MacWorld Awards in 2000 - I was its sales manager at the time Who’s the funniest person you’ve ever met? Dudley Moore (he was a client of mine briefly back in the 80’s) What did you want to do when you were younger? RAF Pilot or a photographer. Managed to do one of these for awhile When were the ‘good old days?’ Hopefully they’re yet to come

NEXT MONTH  Security Software: The constant presence of hackers, crackers, exploiters and phishers means that security is a constantly evolving marketplace. PC Retail takes a look at some of the software options available and talks to some of the companies on the frontline of PC security.  Office Peripherals: We take a look

98 PCRetail February

at office peripherals, a sector that has seen enourmous changes over the last year with the stresses of reduced business spending and the renewed emphasis on environmental concerns.  Smart Phones: One of the few real growth industries, Smart Phones have exploded in to the mass market. We take a look at the iPhone and its rivals.




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PC Retail Issue65, February 2009  

The trade monthly for all computer retailers and IT suppliers

PC Retail Issue65, February 2009  

The trade monthly for all computer retailers and IT suppliers