ISSUE 81 JUNE 2010
All the key ﬁrms and products from this year’s trade show P21
COMPUTER & IT RESELLERS • RETAILERS • SYSTEM BUILDERS LDERS • DISTRIBUTORS • VENDORS
JUNE 2010 ISSUE 81
HARDWARE · SOFTWARE · CONSUMER ELECTRONICS www.pcr-online.biz
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Issue 81 June 2010 Incorporating
PCR CONTACTS Editor
Andrew Wooden firstname.lastname@example.org
"The movements of top-tier tech giants always trickle down, and if the mobile phone and PC markets converge, the repercussions on your business could be significant" THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN’ IF THERE'S one constant in the universe, it's said to be
change. And that's certainly evident by taking a look in our
Matt Grainger email@example.com
pages this month.
nothing more than by-the-numbers bits of corporate
Nicky Trup firstname.lastname@example.org
collaboration. But it wasn't so long ago the firms had barely
On the surface, Nokia's alliances with Microsoft and Intel are
anything to do with each other. Currently, so much marketing, Editorial Production Manager
Helen French email@example.com Sub-Editor
R&D and lip-service is flowing towards the mobile phone industry from the PC sector, it’s not surprising many are predicting a time when we can't tell the two apart. It may seem
Gemma Messina firstname.lastname@example.org
like a speculative concern, but the movements of top-tier tech
and if the mobile phone and PC markets truly converge, the
Lisa Foster email@example.com
repercussions on your business could be significant.
giants always trickle down to the rest of the trade in some way,
Tribeka has more direct potential for market change. Its inExecutive Advertising Manager
Katie Rawlings firstname.lastname@example.org Sales Executive
store software publishing system, which allows the sale of thousands of software products with practically no stock, represents a revolution for the sector. Smaller retailers could
Carly Bailey email@example.com
stock as many software lines as DSGi – at a standardised
level the playing field.
Carlo Inzalaco firstname.lastname@example.org Production Executive
Rosie McKeown email@example.com Designer
price. This represents a powerful tool for independents to OnLive, meanwhile, launches in the US this month and looks to be heading to the UK some time next year. The firm makes no bones about its ambitions to take on traditional gaming formats with its streaming service, essentially removing the need for a high-spec PC or console. And with
Kelly Styles firstname.lastname@example.org
such strong backing from games publishers, it might just do it.
often provide opportunities as they can problems. As Bob Dylan
Stuart Dinsey email@example.com
sang: "Your old road is rapidly aging, please get out of the new
Whether short or long-term, wide-scale upheavals can just as
one if you can't lend a hand, for the times they are a-changin’." He probably wasn't talking about IT convergence, but there's certainly a message to be taken there.
Editorial: 01992 535646 Advertising: 01992 535647 www.pcr-online.biz
PCR JOINS TCA MEANWHILE, PCR has signed up to the Technology Channels Association as a full member. We have always had close links with the trade body, both through promoting its events and
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through its monthly columns, however it seemed right to formalise the arrangement. We look forward to a continued partnership with the organisation and the important work it does supporting resellers and representing the trade.
Andrew Wooden, Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
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PCR Contents News 9
ISSUE 81 JUNE 2010
The future of the desktop
Frontline Retail Focus 34 Indie Profile 39 Mystery Shopper 40
We examine the increasing divergence between laptops and desktops, and the implications for the IT industry
GfK Analysis 77
Appointments 84 Brigantia 88
TCA 90 ITACS/NASCR 94 Out of Office 104
A guide to the key distributors in the industry, outlining their businesses, propositions and areas of expertise
Channel Expo Review
A round up of the exhibitors, key products being displayed and the issues discussed at last month’s Channel Expo
Memory sector guide The internal and external memory market has gone from strength to strength as consumers look for ever increasing levels of data storage. We present an overview of some of the latest products and investigate some key developments
Cases and cooling
PC efficiency comes down to more than just high-end components. We look at some of the latest developments in chassis and coolers
PCR talks to Synology’s sales director Victor Chiang about the company’s proprietary cloud storage software and its plans for the UK market
59 June PCR 5
Games Our round up of the best-selling full-price and budget games from the last month, along with a full listing of the biggest titles to be released on PC over the next few weeks
Koch Media Head of software sales, Joanna Kemp discusses PCindie.com and its longterm plans
MARKETPLACE 6 PCR June
THE BIG THREE Following news that Nokia has teamed up with Microsoft and Intel, we investigate the growing links between the PC and mobile markets
GFK Analysis Account executive Chris Kennedy-Sloane examines the growing tablet segment and investigates what impact it might have on the wider mobile PC market
MP NEWS 80 | NEW PRODUCTS 95 - 101 | PCR RECOMMENDED 103 www.pcr-online.biz
Cases t CPUs t Displays t Flash Memory t Hard Drives t Networking t Notebooks t Peripherals t Software t Video Cards
A-Data Portable Hard Drives, for at Home and On-the-Go A-Data SH93 2.5â€? USB 2.0 External Portable HDD tXBUFSQSPPGVQUPNFUSF NJOVUFT
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(#$BQBDJUZ 3BDJOH$BS:FMMPX 7*10SEFS$PEF
A-Data NH01 2.5â€? USB 3.0 External HDD t6MUSBGBTU64#JOUFSGBDF t&MFHBOUMZTUZMJTIFODMPTVSFXJUIBHMPTTZGSPOUQBOFM t.#TSFBE.#TXSJUFUSBOTGFSTQFFET t4BWFVQUPPOmMFUSBOTGFSUJNFDPNQBSFEUP64# tZFBSTXBSSBOUZ
PRICING Contact the VIP Sales team on 0871 622 7500 or buy online at www.vip-computers.com/uk ÂŠ Copyright VIP Computer Centre Limited. 2010. Information correct at time of publication E&OE
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Is this the future of the PC industry?
Top mobile phone and IT firms strengthen ties as two industries get ever closer Smartphone development is top of Intel's and Microsoft's priorities Market watchers claim we are moving towards a world where categories are indistinguishable Huge amounts of funding flowing to mobile sectors By Andrew Wooden
LEADING FIRMS in the mobile phone and PC markets are preparing for their worlds to fuse together, as they continue to forge cross-industry alliances to fortify themselves against a changing landscape. PC giants Microsoft and Intel have both signed key deals with Nokia to develop a number of smartphone projects, and have told PCR how they see the two markets melding together – a situation which could have far reaching implications on all facets of the computer trade. “The internet is driven by mobility at the moment, and the mobile and PC industries are converging,” said Nokia’s Robert Andersson, head of corporate alliances and business development. “The mobile industry has always been a very dynamic business, one which Nokia has been involved in and leading for a very long time... The most obvious change is what people are
demanding from their device, and the growth of the smartphone.” The world's biggest chip manufacturer Intel told us it is committed to investing ‘heavily’ in the R&D for smartphones, highlighting a wider trend in which top-level funding is flowing much more freely towards the mobile phone area.
able to provide what is needed to move this sector forward, in terms of innovation and performance. “Obviously we cannot do this alone, but we have good allies in the market. Personal high-performance mobile devices is where we are heading. And accessing the same content from a variety of devices is
"The term ‘smartphone’ is getting harder to define. We have seen a dramatic increase in mobile capabilities and a significant decrease in cost, expanding the reach and relevance of smartphones” Alex Reeve, Microsoft UK “Our focus is on the smartphone market, with the emphasis on ‘smart’. Processing power and building the ‘brains’ of today’s computing devices is what we excel at – we have a long history to prove that,” said Rod O'Shea, EMEA ESG sales director at Intel. “As smartphones increasingly become handheld PCs we find ourselves in our ‘comfort zone’ and
what we aim to facilitate. We call it the ‘Computing Continuum’.” Alex Reeve, director of Microsoft UK’s mobile business group said: “The market for more powerful mobile devices has experienced dramatic acceleration over the past three years, driven in – a large part by changes in customer expectations, the technology that powers devices and
the competitive landscape. The term ‘smartphone’ is getting harder and harder to define. We have seen a dramatic increase in mobile capabilities while seeing a significant decrease in cost, expanding the reach and relevance of smartphones.” The culmination of this convergence, and the PCs industry’s increasing slant towards mobility, has the potential rebound upon even the smallest retailer, though Carolina Milanesi, research VP for mobile devices technology and service provider research at market analyst Gartner told us that won’t necessarily be a bad thing. “Yes, they are increasing the focus on mobility but I do not see this as detrimental to their computer offering but as an extension of that offering as we move more and more towards a world where we will see little difference between a smartphone, a netbook and a notebook, other than hardware form factor.”
June PCR 9
NewsBytes ANALYST: 46M TABLETS TO BE SHIPPED IN 2014 Market analyst IDC has predicted that the media tablet market will grow to see over 46 million sales per year within five years. According to the figures, the tablet market will see an annual growth rate of 57.4 per cent, rising from 7.6 million shipments this year to 46 million in 2014. “IDC expects consumer demand for media tablets to be strongly driven by the number and variety of compatible third-party apps for content and services,” said IDC’s program director for the Digital Marketplace group, Susan Kevorkian. MICROSOFT LOSES TWO EXECS Following rumours of a significant restructuring to Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices Division, an internal memo from CEO Steve Ballmer has confirmed the retirement of EDD president Robbie Bach and, as rumoured, the departure of J Allard. Bach leaves after 22 years at the company, though Allard – a 15-year Microsoft veteran – is to remain as an official advisor. Effective from July 1st both interactive entertainment boss Don Mattrick and mobile chief Andy Lees will report directly to Ballmer. DCC SERCOM SEES STRONG Q1 The parent company of UK distributors Gem and Micro P has reported strong sales results for the quarter, having increased total
MOBILE PC SALES UP 40% Gartner figures have revealed that the mobile PC segment saw sales grow by over 40 per cent, reaching 49.4 million unit shipments in the first quarter. The 43.4 per cent year-on-year increase is the highest growth that the segment has seen in eight years and represents around $36 billion of consumer spending. “Mini-notebook PCs were a big part of the bump in mobile PC shipments in the first quarter of 2010, with shipments growing 71 per cent over the same period last year,” said Gartner principal analyst, Mikako Kitagawa.
10 PCR June
revenue for the group by 4.3 per cent to €1.6 billion. The company’s operating profit grew by 6.4 per cent and its distribution division achieved operating profit growth of 13.6 per cent, a success that it attributes to strong performance by its UK businesses. “DCC SerCom, DCC’s second largest division, performed well, driven by excellent results in its distribution businesses in Britain,” said DCC’s chief executive officer Tommy Breen. MINDSCAPE FORMS EXCLUSIVE PARTNERSHIP WITH GEM French publisher Mindscape has made an exclusive deal with Gem that will see the distributor handle its software in the UK and Ireland. A key new launch is the Wii-based title U-Sing Girls Night, featuring the vocal talents of stars like Lady Gaga, Gwen Stefani, Rihanna and Katy Perry. “We are thrilled to be working with a renowned and successful partner like Mindscape, U-Sing has already established itself in retail as a very popular music-gaming brand during 2009, and combined with our teams distribution and marketing expertise, along with our extensive retail reach, we’re confident that our partnership will greatly benefit both Gem and Mindscape,” said Gem’s head of purchasing Tracey Tennison. SYMANTEC ACQUIRES VERISIGN Symantec has bought VeriSign's security business, comprising its identity and authentication operations. The security firm shelled out $1.28 billion in the buyout, and takes a majority stake in VeriSign Japan. It is expected that the deal will be closed in September. Symantec appears to be angling the deal as a boost to its cloud and mobile security offerings, as well as bolstering identity protection. “With the combined products and reach from Symantec and VeriSign, we are poised to drive the adoption of identity security as the means to provide simple and secure access to anything from anywhere, to prevent identity fraud and to make online experiences more userfriendly and hassle-free,” said Symantec’s president and chief executive officer Enrique Salem.
Tribeka’s COO Stephen Precious is aiming to see the SoftWide system deployed worldwide
OnLive to hit UK ‘by end of next year’ RADICAL NEW gaming operation OnLive should launch in the UK by the end of next year, following a US launch this month. The system processes the game on external servers, and streams an image feed directly through to a TV or computer, negating the need for a console or high powered gaming rig in the house. BT has signed an exclusive deal with OnLive to distribute the service with broadband bundles. It will also be made available to PlusNet and existing broadband customers.
“Over time, as consumer broadband connectivity increases and as games become more complex, we expect cloud-based distribution models for gaming to become increasingly attractive and mainstream,” A BT spokesperson told us. “BT is well positioned to help support this transformation. The expectation is that many of the popular games accessible on consoles today will be made available via OnLive. We’ll announce further details about our launch plans later this year, but we would hope to make it available by the end of 2011.”
Tribeka’s software revolution expands to new frontiers Online and in-store software publishing system continues push to transform distribution Key deals with Symantec, Tesco, Microsoft and Carrefour Contracts with two new ‘major UK retailers’ in the pipeline By Andrew Wooden
HAVING SIGNED up key deals with Tesco, Carrefour and Symantec, Tribeka is preparing to further expand its in-store software publishing operation, which it says is set to change traditional distribution models. The SoftWide system, which allows consumers to print software themselves via a kiosk style booth in-store, dramatically enhances the number of lines available on a shop floor, since all stock is digital. The retailer can also take online orders, negating the need for a warehouse. After essentially transforming Tesco from a bit-player in the software market to a major contender with a thousand different trial lines, Tribeka is currently closing deals with two more major UK retailers. On the European side, the first SoftWide system in retail giant
Carrefour’s French operation opens this month. “When we acquire a new retailer we sit them down and ask them for a wish list of what they’d want, and then carry on acquiring,” Stephen Precious, chief operations officer at Tribeka told us. “The range is just growing all the time. Everybody within the software umbrella can have the choice of products. Our strategy was always to start with the UK, then Europe, and then across the water. But Microsoft came to us to get our system in their stores in America, which was a huge deal for us. That took us there a little bit quicker than we first thought, but you don’t refuse Microsoft. I’m back out there for the next six weeks organising the next two stores.” More software publishers have been keen to get involved in the operation. “We just signed a worldwide contract
“Our strategy was always to start with the UK, then Europe, and then across the water. But Microsoft came to us to get our system in their stores in America... you don’t refuse Microsoft” Stephen Precious, Tribeka
with Symantec, which is an amazing premium title software for us to have in the range,” continued Precious. “So I’ve just released it into France with Carrefour, and we’re just about to go with the next set for Germany, Australia, and Microsoft in the USA. It’s great that Symantec has come to understand that the on demand model is viable and is set to change the face of distribution, from physical to online or in-store. You have 5,000 titles in store, in stock, all of the time. So you can compete with the big internet warriors but have the presence in store as well.” Tribeka is also in the process of signing deals with major film studios around the globe, which would bring a huge range of motion pictures under the DVD printing operation, as well as facilitating a push into a Flash and USB motion picture operation.
Trade slams Government IT spending cuts THE GOVERNMENT’S £95 million IT spending cut has been slammed by members of the trade, who claim short-term investment in IT could provide the public sector with longterm savings. The cut was announced last month as part of the government’s £6.2 billion savings plan, which also includes axing £1.165 billion of local authority grants. “Although change programmes and technology have an upfront cost, they can deliver significant savings and efficiencies that could make an appreciable difference to the Government’s structural deficit over the medium to long-term,” said Sureyya Cansoy, associate director of trade body
Intellect, which counts public sector suppliers among its members. Colin Capewell, group sales director at Stone Group, told PCR: “IT remains an important vehicle for the efficient delivery of services and educational content – the latest power savings that the potential new equipment uses would actually contribute significantly to lowering energy costs. Whilst these spending cuts are concerning for Stone as a company wholly dedicated to the public sector, we are confident that we will stand to gain business as people begin to try and save costs and scrutinise the ways in which IT is procured.” Matthew Barnes, operations director at software asset management firm
FAST, whose clients include government departments, added: “Departments that don’t have solutions in place already will need to make decisions on the basis of what will drive efficiency and optimise their IT expenditure.”
The Government’s spending cuts also include closing Becta, the agency responsible for administering the Home Access Scheme. A spokesperson told PCR that as a budget had already been allocated for the scheme, it was not in jeopardy of closing.
June PCR 11
Wi-fi London ‘will complement’ ISP business, not steal it
London Mayor Boris Johnson promises free wi-fi across the city
Internet providers claim city-wide wireless service will not replace traditional home and office connections By Nicky Trup
LONDON MAYOR Boris Johnson’s plans to turn the capital into a ‘wi-fi city’ by 2012 are no threat to internet service providers’ business, industry experts have said. Mayor Johnson committed to the plans at the Google Zeitgeist search trends conference in Watford last month. “Every lamppost, every bus stop will one day very soon, before the 2012 Olympics, be wi-fi enabled,” he told the gathering of Google executives and business leaders. Darren Farnden, head of marketing at Entanet, told PCR that while some users might find a public wi-fi connection sufficient for their
needs, most would not. “Businesses are increasingly using their internet connectivity to publish or share data and/or applications between employees. The bandwidth demands generated would likely render a public wi-fi service inappropriate,” he said. “Residential consumers, meanwhile, would likely be concerned about the inability to effectively use streaming services such as video and music on demand, as well as internet TV.” DSL Plus’ managing director Mark Rushton also foresaw drawbacks to the scheme. “The key consideration here is that it will be part of consumers’ online take-up and a
supplementary service rather than a replacement for traditional internet delivery,” he said. “There will have to be some level of usage restriction and this will be coupled with the lack of any real service level agreement, static IP addressing and technical specifications that you see from modern internet connectivity packages.” BT, meanwhile, stressed that the service would complement its operations. “BT welcomes plans to make London a wi-fi city by 2012. We believe this will give people the opportunity to take the internet experience they have at home with them on the move. We believe that public wi-fi access is complementary and gives
“Every lamppost, every bus stop will one day very soon, before the 2012 Olympics, be wi-fi enabled” Boris Johnson
people the opportunity to be connected wherever they are,” a spokesperson said. So far 22 boroughs have signed up to the scheme. The Cloud, which currently supplies the City of London’s borough-wide wireless network, was reportedly lined up to run the Wi-fi London scheme, however, a spokesman told PCR the firm had not discussed this with the Mayor’s office.
PNY returns to its roots with memory market push
© Copyright VIP Computer Centre Limited. 2010. Information correct at time of publication E&OE
Vendor best known for graphics reports strong consumer demand for flash and USB memory
PNY TECHNOLOGIES is steaming ahead with a push into the memory market, reporting strong sales of flash products and forging new relationships with major High Street retailers. “Our focus remains on all our product categories; however over the recent recession years PNY has been able to forge new business partnerships with key retailers in the UK and across Europe
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for flash memory solutions,” retail account manager Richard Wells told PCR. “For USB memory, UK consumer demand decreased last year by nine per cent compared to 2008, however PNY was able to increase its output in the UK by 17 per cent. “On top of our long-term partnerships with key UK retailers such as DSGi, PNY has also developed strong working relationships with
Tesco, WHSmith, Staples and more recently Sainsbury’s over the last 18 to 24 months. We also hope to announce more new business partnerships with other key UK retailers during the course of this year.” According to Wells, PNY is now a USB memory market leader in the US and some parts of Europe. Over the past 12 to 18 months, the firm has expanded its operations into South America, Russia, Poland
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and the Middle East. While the firm is more commonly associated with graphics cards, it is keen to stress that its roots lie in the memory market. “PNY launched 25 years ago as a memory vendor and over the years have grown our range of products to include leading graphics in GeForce gaming and Quadro professional solutions,” Wells said.
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Dell partners see massive growth Kathy Schneider says Dell is still building its partner programme
Business through reseller partners grows 45 per cent in revenue Vendor says success is down to ‘consistency of message’ New ‘innovation centres’ to open in Europe By Matt Grainger
DELL’S PARTNER programme PartnerDirect has seen sales growth of 45 per cent globally, compared to 21 per cent for the whole company, generating a quarter of the vendors revenues in the first quarter of 2010. Growth for PartnerDirect EMEA, which now has 30,000 registered resellers, stood at 40 per cent and has gone from strength to strength, seeing an increasing amount of business with each passing quarter. “PartnerDirect is now in its third year and obviously we’re proud of what’s been achieved, but we recognise that we’re still building this programme and it’s important to stay consistent to some key partner commitments,” Dell’s EMEA director for channel
marketing and programmes, Kathy Schneider revealed to PCR. As the partner scheme continues to grow in prominence, Dell is looking to further support its partners by opening up its Solution Innovation Centres in Limerick and Frankfurt. Partners will be able to
recommended to customers depending on their needs. “This is something that up until now has only been available to the Dell sales people,” notes Schneider. “We’re now making this accessible to our certified partners, and they would be able to use both the on-site and remote facilities, which I
“PartnerDirect is now in its third year and obviously we’re proud of what we’ve achieved, but we recognise that we’re still building this programme and it’s important to stay consistent” Kathy Schneider, Dell either visit or link remotely and demonstrate the capabilities of Dell products to potential clients. It is also planning a link up scheme, whereby Dell certified partners will be
think is a really big step forward in providing the tools to boost sales further.” Emphasising a consistent message of profitability, collaboration and communications, Schneider
says that the ongoing development of the partner programme, coupled with inventives has helped the partner division deliver its impressive results. “In addition to the growth rates, the number of collaborative deals has continued to grow incredibly over the last few quarters,” continues Schneider. “In Q1 we did almost 12,000 registered deals, versus Q4
which was 8,000. In addition to this, the approval rate has stayed up at around 74 per cent, which is really good especially considering the increase in partner numbers. “Much of this success has been down to the consistency of our message, as well as partners turning a big corner on trust and recognising that it’s of value to them to expand their portfolio and include Dell.”
Accountz looks to step up global expansion Quentin Pain says Accountz will export to new territories this year
14 PCR June
UK SOFTWARE firm Accountz is to step up its global expansion, having already cracked new markets in Europe, USA, Canada and Australia. The firm is looking to boost the reach of its accounting software following a major rebranding and repackaging of its entire offering, in an attempt to make it more approachable and accessible for consumers and small business owners. Accountz will now make a push into South Africa, and the firm’s founder says it is looking to challenge more
“The Accountz product range is innovative and our brand is ‘pure challenger’ as we want to offer great software and customer service” Quentin Pain, Accountz established rivals across the globe too. “We have just signed an exclusive distribution deal with Phoenix software, which
is one of the largest distributors of software to retailers in South Africa and the team at Accountz are looking to export the new range out to more territories in 2010 and 2011,” said Quentin Pain, founder and chairman of Accountz. “It really doesn't matter where you look in the world the accounting software market is dominated by giant traditional brands. The Accountz product range is innovative and our brand is ‘pure challenger’ as we want to offer great software and customer service at a very affordable price.”
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ANALYSIS FUTURE OF THE DESKTOP
Mobility and performance? The IT market has seen something of a divergence over the past year, with highperformance, high-cost, space-consuming desktops on one side and lower performance but mobile and cost effective devices on the other. Matt Grainger investigates the implications that this could have on the development of the industry…
“The market is getting more and more mobile – tablets are driving things forward and Flash memory is smaller in its footprint, but its also battery saving, so people wont have to worry about recharging" Gerry Edwards, SanDisk
THE MARKET has recently seen huge growth in the popularity of portable PCs, and at the same time we have seen an increasing number of vendors parading the mobile virtues of their products, from leightweight design to energy efficiency. In an environment where such credentials are seen as essential, what implications does this have for the desktop PC segment? The beige box machines that drove the market for so long are increasingly looking outdated, particularly from a marketing
standpoint, but are still capable of offering the kind of performance and versatility that most laptop users can only dream of. Despite this, the desktop segment has shrunk in the face of increasing competition from the laptop sector, as well as the introduction of newer devices such as netbooks and tablets. For a memory manudacturer like SanDisk, the trend towards mobility has had an extremely positive effect on their segment. “When it comes to memory, Flash takes up a lot less room
than a hard drive, so yes, mobility will be key,” predicts SanDisk’s product marketing manager Gerry Edwards. “The market is getting more and more mobile – we’re seeing tablets like the iPad driving things forward and obviously Flash memory is smaller in its footprint, but its also battery saving, so people wont have to worry about recharging and so on. I think products are becoming more mobile so the requirement for Flash memory is increasing, and for us that’s a good thing.”
June PCR 17
ANALYSIS FUTURE OF THE DESKTOP
Although netbook sales enjoyed a period of unparalleled and recession-defying growth over the course of 2009, it is also worth noting that Morgan Stanley Research reported that the growth curve slowed to just five per cent in April this year. While some have speculated that this was due to the launch of the iPad, it could be argued that these devices have fulfilled their market potential, with sales tending towards replacement and upgrade in the future, and encompassing a much smaller share of the market. While the segment was growing at a fast pace, it would be fair to say that mobility itself wasn’t the only factor behind the spurt – price point was also an important consideration. In such a market and with the economic situation far from stable, the implications for the high-end component markets are less than encouraging. “The market for high performance cooling is dropping; meeting price points is the name of the game,” reports Akasa’s marketing director Adrian Young. “To gain sales in the mainstream market a heatpipe cooler at £35 is top of the scale, as people are looking for value for money. Cases are in the same situation; before, the recession geeks would spend up to £200 on a chassis but the high-end case market has declined dramatically. The cases that sell now are around the £45 mark; I would say there is a growing market for mid performance components.” With a well-documented drop in consumer spending as a result of the recession, it’s tempting to speculate that the PC gaming niche might be in decline in the face of growing competition from other sectors, including consoles and smartphones. Young puts paid to this theory, pointing out a number of flaws in the console sales model, which – like many other business models – only began to show cracks during a time of economic pressure. “Despite high sales of gaming consoles, Microsoft and Sony still managed to create losses in their gaming divisions, which doesn’t look good for future developments of the consoles,” he notes. “There are very few new games for consoles as the licenses and platform restrictions are driving the cost and the
18 PCR June
risk in producing new games to a high level. As a result most of the games for consoles are sequels of the previous successful games. The PC games market does not have similar restrictions. “High-end PC components have developed fast, and new technologies make a real difference to the gaming experience. Consoles only come up with new colour skins and remote
market will be to develop a consumerfriendly design that fulfils the naturally modular nature of PCs. “The high-end components market has evolved significantly and as a result, we have different types of customers,” says PNY marketing communications manager Laure Lapegue. “The gamer is and always has been, of course, a PNY-targeted customer.
“High-end PC components have developed fast. Consoles only come up with new colour skins and remote control shapes, which can’t hide the fact that essentially they are the same box as the 2005 model – try selling five-year-old PC technology for £400!” Adrian Young, Akasa control shapes, which can’t hide the fact that essentially they are the same box as the 2005 model – try selling five-year-old PC technology for £400!” It is the ability to continually offer rising levels of technological innovation that sets the PC segment apart – and none more so than the desktop. The versatility the format offers is ideal for a device where individual components can be swapped out and upgraded where necessary. In fact, it’s likely that the challenge for the PC component
This active community looks for the best upgrades to enjoy one of the greatest experiences in gaming: physical effects, for example water, dust, glass explosion and smoke, or 3D effects using special glasses and a screen. These technologies are now becoming more accessible to our last target group – the mass market.” Bringing this technology to the mass market has always been a challenge for the IT industry, and is – in this reporter’s opinion – half the reason for
the success of consoles like the Xbox. As has been noted, consumer demand for digital content is rising and IT software is used in almost every daily activity, from reading the paper to watching movies. “The computer has become the main multimedia platform for the entire family,” continues Lapegue. “Activities such as watching a Blu-ray, creating a holiday movie or a photo album require efficient components. As customers become more and more demanding, the minimum system requirements for multimedia use are increasing.” With the specifications for everyday computer use growing, this presents an interesting quandary to the IT industry: can mobile devices offer the same kind of performance as desktop devices? It is certainly possible to fit high performance components in to a laptop, as can be found in the Alienware MX17, but these components present their own problems, such as cooling and power consumption. The possibility is that the desktop of the future will serve as a central hub for a home network, with netbooks and tablets acting as peripheral devices. This has been explored and there is an established NAS and wireless networking market that would
ANALYSIS FUTURE OF THE DESKTOP
Gerry Edwards, SanDisk
“Activities such as watching a Blu-ray, creating a holiday movie or a photo album require efficient components. As customers become more and more demanding, the minimum system requirements for multimedia use are increasing”
Laure Lapegue, PNY
Adrian Young, Akasa
Laure Lapegue, PNY
support such an arrangement. The challenges would lie in convincing end users – and vendors – that these mobile devices should not be seen as desktop replacements, and in reducing their price. But then, the IT industry has never been afraid of a challenge.
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June PCR 19
SHOW REVIEW CHANNEL EXPO
Capital gains The UK’s leading trade show of its kind – Channel Expo – opened in London last month, as the country’s trade gathered to network and do business in the Kensington Olympia. PCR takes a look at some of the highlights...
THE CHANNEL EXPO show made its debut in London last month at the Kensington Olympia, leaving behind the Birmingham NEC where it has resided since its inception. While the venue may have been brand new, the show’s focus remained strictly on the channel. Ninety-four exhibitors in total were showing off some of their latest lines to visitors, and most were offering exclusive deals on the day. As well as the stands themselves, the show retained its education and seminar platforms, which have been a strong part of the show for a number of years. Big name technology firms gave presentations on a variety of issues facing the sector.
One key theme that stood out was the channel’s relationship to the cloud. Industry analyst Gartner highlighted the opportunities for resellers to make more margin on hardware by utilising the cloud to sell less on performance and the latest tech, and more on the service bespoke PCs can provide. It also identified something of a drop in enthusiasm for cloud technologies after the initial surge in interest – which it says will finally plateau into a more balanced attitude. Meanwhile, Google presented its vision of the cloud as less of a unified platform, with vastly differing levels of reliability and service. The search giant was simultaneously pushing its Google Apps software for businesses, setting it up as a direct rival
to Microsoft Office. Microsoft itself also evangelised over the cloud-based features of its office software, while VMWare and IBM were also vocal about the current and future opportunities of the cloud concept. STARS OF THE SHOW Aside form the networking, the main thrust of the show is the stands themselves. We’ve rounded up a list of what some of the key firms were doing during the two-day event. Intel was showcasing its new 2010 range of Core i5 and i3 processors, specifically highlighting the products’ integrated graphics support. The chips allow a laptop to handle the full range of everyday
June PCR 21
SHOW REVIEW CHANNEL EXPO
tasks in HD without the need for integrated or discrete graphics support. The chip giant’s range of micro-ITX form factor motherboards were also being displayed, with Intel’s spokesman saying that there is now a micro-ATX board to work with every Intel chipset and declaring the end of traditional beige box desktop PCs. Microsoft was pushing its Office 2010 product, which is due for a consumer launch in mid-June. The package makes a great deal more out of cloud technologies than previous versions, as part of its intention to better facilitate multi-format operations across mobile devices and static workstations. The firm was also drumming up support for its partner network, which now has around 28,000 members. Resellers and retailers who join will gain access to Microsoft resources, and the firm claims to be able to help businesses that wish to become more specialised in a particular area. Acer concentrated on a number of key lines in its consumer range, such as the Z5620 all-in-one, which features a 23-inch full HD LCD touchscreen, as well as the Timeline X notebook and the 1825PT swivel screen laptop. Discounts on Acer’s TravelMate Timeline business notebook were also being offered. Security firm BullGuard was pushing its revenue share scheme, offering
Industry professionals gathered together for a day full of networking and business
retailers a 25 per cent share of revenue when customers renew their subscriptions. The Money For Nothing scheme focuses on independent retailers and apparently one lucky indie has been able to make over £15,000 from it. As well as free copies of BullGuard Internet Security, the firm was offering the chance to win a trip to Copenhagen. EntaTech had one of the largest stands at the show, which hosted individual vendor exhibits. Swan, Belkin, Asrock, Webroot, Shuttle, Microsoft, Billion, Intel, Trust, Freecom, Startech and Mad Catz all had a presence, and EntaTech itself had a number of competitions running as it looked to sign up more customers. Ingram Micro had the biggest stand
“Microsoft was pushing its Office 2010 product, which is due for a consumer launch in midJune. The package makes a great deal more out of cloud technologies than previous versions, to better facilitate multiformat operations across mobile devices and static workstations”
Xxx This year saw Olympia hold Channel Expo for the first time
22 PCR June
at the show, comprising a large number of compact vendor stands including Adobe, Acer, Antec, Blackberry, CA, Canon, Cisco, Ergotron, Hauppauge, Lite On, Logitech, Microsoft, Net Clean, Sage, Seagate Technology, Startech, Targus, Toshiba, Trend Micro, and Wacom. The distributor was also driving its AIM marketing arm, which helps customers create bespoke leaflets, email shots and other promotional materials – a service it isn’t actually charging for. Logitech had a smorgasbord of products on its stand, including new lines of iPod docks, DAB radios, webcams, mice and laptop coolers. Of particular note was a new Logitech exclusive darkfield mouse which works on glass surfaces, and a 2520 omni directional speaker system which effectively disperses sound around a room without the need for complicated wiring. Trade bodies continued to show support for the show, with the TCA and buying group Brigantia both boasting stands as they looked to sign up new members for their respective organisations. Fellow buying group Synaxon demonstrated its Egis online ordering system and McCue Cartridge Expert was looking to sell its ink refilling machines. Vendor PNY, probably best known for its graphics card business, has been pushing more into the storage market recently, and used Channel Expo to show its range of USB and flash drives. In order to facilitate this diversification, the firm is pushing its Business Privilege Scheme, a support network designed for resellers. Toshiba was inviting visitors to get involved in its patriotic offer called England Expects, in which the firm will give buyers of selected HD TVs and Core 1 series laptops their money back if England wins the World Cup. The firm was also showing off its lightweight laptops at the show, led by the R600. Gigabyte highlighted its USB 3.0 motherboards, including the UD9, which the vendor said was the fastest on the market. Released this month, the UD9 is priced at around £449. CCTV vendor Y3K was displaying its entry level E100B IP camera, which can be used both indoors and outdoors
SHOW REVIEW CHANNEL EXPO
Although the event was held at a new venue this year, its focus remained on the channel
and can be controlled remotely from anywhere in the world. Also on display was the high-resolution megapixel range of IP cameras. Foxconn was showcasing its wide range of products, including netbooks, net top boxes, cases and motherboards. Account manager Travis Lin told PCR that the company is currently trying to build its direct UK presence, and promote its role as a tier-one vendor. Japanese security software vendor K7 is making preliminary moves in the UK and used the event to scoop up reseller and distributor partners. The firm’s software is aimed primarily at the consumer and SMB segments. Data retrieval specialist Wasp, used the event as a launch platform for its new biometric clocking system. The firm is currently looking for reseller partners, and sees new VAR accounts as particularly vital to its growth strategy. Security firm AVG hasn’t attended the show in a few years, but this year looked to raise its profile with its own stand. As well as its standard security software, the firm was advertising its 24/7 email support service, and
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“Foxconn was showcasing its range of products. Account manager Travis Lin told PCR that the company is currently trying to build is direct UK presence, and promote its role as a tier-one vendor”
pushed the strong user base it can boast thanks to its free offering. PSA Parts was exhibiting its range of batteries and AC adapters, and highlighted a number of Duracell products – for which it is an exclusive distributor outside of the US – and intended to drive awareness of its own 2-Power range of products. PERIPHERALS AND ACCESSORIES Memory vendor Kingston Technology was giving away solid state drives in a competition, and was also showing its range of USB sticks, including the ‘world’s biggest’ – the 256GB. Also visible were encrypted USBs for corporate customers and some flash cards. RET UK was displaying its range of replacement laptop batteries and chargers, including one multi-battery charger aimed at the education market. Customers were also offered marketing materials and advice on their recycling obligations. Distributor J&J Associates’ stand was populated with a range of peripherals and accessories, including laptop bags, novelty mice and computer hygiene products.
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German security firm G-Data is currently boosting its presence in the UK market, and was present at the show to build awareness among the reseller community. It is currently in discussions with a number of distributors, ahead of a final UK strategy meeting. Case, cooling and PSU vendor Antec said it wants to ‘debunk myths’ about the laptop cooling sector, displaying its latest range. Its new notebook cooler design has a more svelte profile, and the firm claims it can extend the battery life of PCs. The firm is also looking to increase its presence in the laptop accessories market this year. HP was mainly looking to sign up new members to its rewards scheme, which provides cash back and other bonuses to members. It was also highlighting its extensive Probook range, including the 5310M and the 4520S. Finally, security firm Webroot was signing up business for its reseller education programme, and highlighted its plug-in delivery method as a key way of making add-on sales.
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Supply and demand The UK channel is a competitive place, with a broad range of distributors offering a huge number of different products, services and solutions. Nicky Trup highlights some of the key players out there...
A ONE DISTRIBUTION
0161 763 3633 www.aone.co.uk
AVNET A One Distribution is a long established importer and exporter of computer cases, power supplies, peripherals, components, monitors and TVs. Founded in 1990 and based in Bury, Manchester, the firm has steadily grown to stock brands including Asus, Enlight, FSP, Gigabyte, Zeppelin and its own CiT and Powercool brands. A One claims to be a leading name in computer cases and prides itself in making sure the products it offers are of a quality and look the whole company is happy with. The firm makes a policy of valuing each employee’s opinion and jointly making every decision regarding products. “We feel this is very important, as it also keeps the feeling we are all one and together pulling in the same direction,” said sales executive Rob Latham.
01344 662 000 www.ts.avnet.com/uk
Avnet Technology Solutions is a valueadded distributor of enterprise computing products, software and services with locations across over 34 countries, reporting revenue of $7 billion for the last fiscal year. According to the firm, its core values are integrity, customer service, accountability, teamwork and innovation, and its business strategy is to pay a high level of attention to the needs of its suppliers and customers. Avnet’s different sales divisions focus on specific sections of the market, and its customers include independent software vendors, original equipment manufacturers, system builders, system integrators, and valueadded resellers. The distributor was recently awarded the Intel EU+ Expansion Growth Award.
June PCR 25
>>> BLUEPOINT CORPORATION
0844 571 8001 www.bluepoint.net
Based in Milton Keynes, with a London sales office and international purchasing offices, Bluepoint has now been distributing IT products into the UK and Europe for almost 20 years. The firm stocks some of the biggest names in the channel, has direct relationships with key partners and is constantly increasing its product portfolio. “With over 25,000 items on our website, we do all the running around, becoming your one-stop fulfilment centre for UK distribution and more,” says UK sales manager Rizwan Datoo, “We offer direct shipment, branding services, and an unbeatable price matched with an excellent level of support.”
01256 378 000 www.centerprise.co.uk
01423 704700 www.ccidistribution.co.uk
An independent distributor of storage and multimedia products for businesses and consumers, CCI believes that distribution is no longer about simply shifting boxes. The company says it is committed to helping vendors grow their brand awareness and reputation through a range of joint marketing and promotional activities. CCI provides comprehensive sales and logistics support to over 3,500 resellers and retailers, and its portfolio includes more than 1,500 products. CCI also claims to be the UK’s leading optical storage device distributor, offers real-time pricing, and can distribute direct to end users on behalf of resellers and e-tailers.
CMS PERIPHERALS With over 27 years experience, Centerprise has grown to become one of the UK’s largest IT distributors, offering a specialist, customer-focused sales team. The company claims this allows it to not only offer standard products and services, but also to adapt to individual requirements in a quick and professional manner. Specialising in components, systems and peripherals, Centerprise can also offer software and value-added services such as hard drive encryption from leading technology brands. It has built up key strategic partnerships with some of the world’s biggest vendors and claims to have various new vendors and products on the horizon, and will also be launching its new website soon.
0870 060 3333
0208 960 6000 www.cmsperipherals.com
Established in 1988, CMS Peripherals claims to be the largest independent distributor of data storage solutions in the UK and Ireland. By remaining focused largely on storage, CMS says it provides its resellers with unrivalled expertise in a fast moving and complex market. The award-winning firm partners with over 30 vendors to offer one of the channel’s broadest portfolios of storage products and solutions and is structured to allow resellers to choose their engagement model. “Our entire proposition centres on the reseller, and this ethos forms the foundation of our drive to build mutually successful and rewarding relationships,” says group product marketing manager Joe Fagan.
ENTATECH As one of the UK’s largest IT distributors and part of the global technology company Tech Data, Computer 2000 offers one of the largest selections of computers, laptops, software, peripherals, consumables and supplies in the channel. It spans a collection of specialists including Azlan, Brightstar, Maverick and Datech, and offers its customers dedicated support whether they are focused on enterprise or SMB. Thanks to its size, the company benefits from a well-developed delivery service and one of the largest credit facilities in the industry. “The company focuses on supplying its customers with the knowledge and the choice they’d expect from a specialist,” says Computer 2000’s marketing director Andy Dow.
0333 101 1000 www.entatech.com
Currently celebrating 20 years in business, EntaTech boasts an awardwinning team, having received the Distributor of the Year and Sales Team accolades at this year’s PCR Awards. The firm was established by Taiwanese entrepreneur Jason Tsai, who in the 1990s decided to fill a gap in the UK market by providing affordable PC components. Enta’s diverse product portfolio consists of a mixture of OEM and retail products acrossa range of sectors including peripherals, components, software, hardware, accessories and CCTV equipment. According to the firm, it provides “innovative products, while promoting margin opportunities and maintaining high levels of service to customers.”
>>> 26 PCR June
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>>> GEM DISTRIBUTION
01279 822 822 www.gem.co.uk
INGRAM MICRO Gem provides its partners with end-toend integrated supply chain solutions and value-added distribution for software, peripherals and connected home technologies. Now in its third decade of operations, Gem has secured exclusive UK distribution of Codemasters, Livescribe, NCsoft, Take Two and Xbox 360 as well as being a leading UK distributor for vendors including Kaspersky Lab, Logitech, Microsoft, Sandisk and Symantec. Gem supplies to a customer base that includes well-known High Street and online retailers, corporate resellers, mail-order companies and independent retailers. The firm recently extended its reach into new sectors including audio-visual, digital pens and video cameras.
0871 973 3000 www.ingrammicro.co.uk
Ingram Micro is the world’s largest technology distributor and a leading technology sales, marketing and logistics company for the global IT industry. The firm creates sales and profitability opportunities for vendors and resellers through unique marketing programs, outsourced logistics services, technical support, financial services and product aggregation and distribution. In the UK, Ingram Micro supports its resellers through dedicated sales and marketing initiatives including AIM, the reseller marketing portal, and Credit Builder – offering resellers the chance to improve their credit line. The firm also recently expanded its logistics division in order to diversify the business and increase opportunities for growth.
020 8805 1000 www.interactiveideas.com
02920 713 713 www.kmscomponents.com
28 PCR June
Interactive Ideas is a leading value-added distributor of software and technology products. The company says it established itself by providing excellent customer service, proactively working with partners and identifying emerging technologies, and it won the Specialist Distributor prize at this year’s PCR Awards. It also recently achieved Silver Investor in People status. Interactive is structured into two divisions: the retail products team has a strong track record of working with retail, mail-order and TV shopping companies to supply to SOHO users, while the software solutions team works with resellers, VARs and systems integrators to provide cost-saving software.
KOCH MEDIA Formed in 1994, KMS Components prides itself on supporting its customers by trying to help them grow revenue from sales of its growing product range. Originally focused on supplying processors and memory to systems builders, KMS’ continual expansion has seen its range of products increase to include all major systems components, as well as the CnM brand of consumer electronics and security systems, which have been well received by the UK market. The company caters to all sizes of customers ranging from large retailers, e-tailers, distributors and system integrators to smaller customers, which the firm tries to help grow by tailoring its portfolio to increase sales.
0870 027 8700 www.pcindie.com
Koch Media acts as an extension of its publishers’ sales and marketing teams, as well as supplying warehousing and logistics facilities. Koch says it therefore aims to give retailers, resellers and VARs a dedicated focus and understanding of their needs, from presenting relevant products to managing sell-in, sellthrough, promotions, logistics and the full life cycle. “From a publisher’s point of view, they can rest easy knowing that Koch understands their product and has a manageable portfolio to ensure they receive the focus they deserve, gaining them the correct penetration into the UK market and driving their products forward to success,” says Jo Kemp, Koch’s head of software sales.
020 8676 3030 www.m2m-direct.co.uk
MERONCOURT M2m offers a broad portfolio of memory, graphics and storage products to customers, which include system integrators, retailers and electronic resellers. M2m’s technical and market knowledge has not only helped it become one of the first stops for channel partners stocking gaming components, but has also allowed the distributor to answer technical questions about issues such as memory module compatibility. The firm has distribution agreements with quality vendors including Samsung, Crucial, XFX, OCZ, HiS, G-Skill, Elixir, Lexar, Nayna, Rendition, and ATI. “We are very easy to do business with,” says M2m’s Hitesh Kothary.
01282 776776 (North) 01256 707070 (South) www.micro-p.com
MIDWICH IT and technology distributor Micro-P celebrates its 30th birthday this year. The company says it continues to adapt to the changing market, which is visible in the development of its communications and education teams, as well as its sales accreditation for the Government’s Home Access Scheme. Micro-P puts the company’s strength down to its flexibility towards customers; each account is treated as an individual, with dedicated account managers as well as flexible delivery and payment options. This, coupled with the distributor’s diverse range of consumer electronics and IT products, aids the continued growth of it’s retail channel – providing new margin making opportunities.
01480 435 881
01462 680 060
Meroncourt is well known as a distributor of PC gaming peripherals, and has shown continuous but controlled growth since its establishment in 1993. The firm launched the Roccat gaming brand over two years ago, along with Nova and Mionix, and most recently expanded its portfolio with new ranges from Ozone, CorePad and QPad. According to the firm, these signings allow it to cover the whole spectrum of gaming customers. Apart from PC and console gaming, Meroncourt represents many other brands for networking and connectivity, PC peripherals, licensed brands such as Hello Kitty, Ben 10, Disney and Bakugan, MP5, digital cameras, TVs and mobile DVD players.
Realtime Distribution is one of the UK’s leading distributors of enthusiast gaming PC components, peripherals and games. The firm puts its success down to strong product knowledge, solid relationships with its customers and manufacturers, and a unique product portfolio that includes gaming giants such as Razer, Sennheiser and Creative, as well as enthusiast brands including Corsair, Sapphire, Zotac and Xigmatek. According to the distributor it offers a personally tailored sales service, never putting customers in a difficult situation by overstocking them with products they can’t sell. As well as this, Realtime also provides focused marketing campaigns to create consumer demand.
01379 649 200 www.midwich.com
Established in 1979, Midwich is an award-winning specialist distributor of audio visual, consumer electronic and printing products from leading brands including Samsung, Sony, LG, Sharp, Panasonic, Philips, Toshiba, Monster, Onkyo, Harman/Kardon and JBL. The Norfolk-based firm’s core focus is on the retail market with a dedicated team of experienced specialists to support retailers. The distributor claims to have a formidable logistics network and offers a variety of timed delivery options. The distributor stocks a range of products, including the latest generation of LED, LCD and plasma TVs, projectors, hotel TVs and commercial displays, printing products, peripherals and accessories.
01722 341 234 www.retuk.com
Wiltshire-based RET is split into two divisions, with market leading offerings in both. The asset management division handles processing and re-marketing of its stock of refurbished IT products. Meanwhile, its power products division looks after the UK distribution of Powersquared – a range of laptop AC adaptors and batteries. “RET provides the UK with a one-stop shop for all its power product requirements,” says managing director Nik Hilliard. “The Powersquared range provides reliable, high quality batteries and AC adaptors at a fraction of the price the original manufacturers charge. Our massive UK stock holdings ensure most products are available for same day shipment.”
June PCR 29
>>> SJ SOFTWARE DISTRIBUTION
01282 865500 www.sjsoftware.co.uk
SJ Software Distribution claims to be the UK’s leading Sage distributor, specialising in supplying the vendor’s business software to the trade. It has been established 25 years and is an expert in Sage products, providing technical sales advice, strong customer service and competitive trade prices. Technical support is also available, including installation and training services. The firm operates a next working day delivery service, as well as a same-day download service. SJ Software has won numerous awards including Sage Payroll Business Partner of the Year, with over 15000 Sage customers. It also offers a ‘price beat’ guarantee on all its Sage products.
01977 739 300 www.targetcomponents. co.uk
With 12 years in the channel, Target Components is enjoying its best year to date, consolidating its position as one of the UK’s leading IT distributors. 2009 saw Target introduce innovations such as flexible product feeds, the automated business catalogue and the Technology Skill Share Programme. The firm claims 2010 is already proving as dynamic, as it leads the market with its extensive laptop repair products, expands its exclusive Evo Labs brand and prepares for the third annual Target Open Day; set to be the biggest yet. MD Paul Cubbage believes Target's success is down to two main factors: continued investment in customer service and the strength of its customers.
0871 622 7500 www.vipcomputers.com/uk
30 PCR June
01202 828 444 www.spire.co.uk
Now in its 20th year of business, Spire Technology is a specialist distributor and system builder. With dedicated and knowledgeable account managers, Spire says its emphasis is on providing customers with a strong all-round package comprised of great products, great prices and ‘common sense service’. A Microsoft Associate Distributor and Intel Channel Partner, Spire also distributes products from leading manufacturers including Asus, Toshiba, Acer, OCZ, Kingston, Kaspersky and BullGuard. The company’s system build team can build, test and certify almost any PC specification customers choose, with small form factor and green power systems being specialities.
01904 717180 www.varlink.co.uk
Varlink is a specialist distributor of mobile computing, barcoding and RFID data capture products selling exclusively to IT resellers, system integrators and solution providers. The firm distributes rugged hand-held terminals, mobile computers, PDAs, smartphones, barcode scanners, RFID readers and encoders, barcode label and mobile receipt printers, barcode label design software, mobile application and data capture software. Leading vendors in its portfolio include Baracoda, Datalogic, Fujitsu, Opticon, Pidion, Psion and Teklogix. The firm provides customer support and dispatches stock from its UK centre, allowing it to offer next business day delivery as standard.
WESTCOAST Now in its 20th year, Warrington-based VIP describes itself as the UK’s largest independent distributor of PC components, peripherals and finished goods. Aiming to provide system integrators with everything they need to build PCs, the firm has one of the largest and most diverse product portfolios in the channel. The company works with over 30 key vendors, representing a range of sectors including mobile broadband, 3D architecture, components and accessories. VIP’s purchasing director, Duncan McAuley said: “With such a wealth of experience in providing a trusted, flexible and reliable service, our aim is to continue developing long-term business relationships for mutual success.”
0118 912 6000 www.westcoast.co.uk
Westcoast is a leading retail and wholesale IT distributor for Apple, Toshiba, Samsung and HP products. Specialising in PC hardware, servers, storage, networking, printers, software, supplies, parts, displays and AV equipment, the firm also claims to be the country’s fastest growing Microsoft distributor. Westcoast, which has been operating for over 25 years, saw business revenue grow 15 per cent in 2009 to £659 million. The firm’s operations are spread across three UK offices and one in the Ireland, with its entire portfolio available for next day delivery. According to Westcoast, its passion “ensures that there is no problem too big to fix and we go a long way to satisfy our ever-growing customer base”.
Cases t CPUs t Displays t Flash Memory t Hard Drives t Networking t Notebooks t Peripherals t Software t Video Cards
Did you know? If you are a system integrator, then your systems must meet the new 2010 EUP (Energy Using Product) directive, by law. To achieve this you need to make sure that the components used in the systems meet this directive. The power supply must be a minimum of 80 Plus Bronze and it must use less than 1w of power while in stand by mode. Antec’s new range of EarthWatts GREEN power supplies, not only meet this requirement, but exceed them. Antec has launched the EarthWatt’s Green PSU series to help you comply. They are one of the most environmentally-friendly power supplies, delivering reliable and stable power, and meet the all important 80 PLUS® Bronze standard. On top of that, to reduce electrical waste even further, we have omitted the power cord from the box. Most system builders have access to power cords, and if not then they are available as a very low cost option (VIP Order Code: 1116).
EarthWatts Green 380W Continuous Power VIP Order Code: 102035
EarthWatts Green 430W Continuous Power VIP Order Code: 102038
EarthWatts Green 500W Continuous Power VIP Order Code: 102414
Contact the VIP Sales team on 0871 622 7500 or buy online at www.vip-computers.com/uk © Copyright VIP Computer Centre Limited. 2010. Information correct at time of publication E&OE
New TFT displays from Midwich Ideal for the summer of football
Ideal for creative and gaming industries
These Full HD digital TV monitors are available in the following sizes: 19, 20, 22, 23 and 27-inches. With a 5ms response time, Dolby digital sound and a built in digital TV tuner, these displays are ideal for home and office users.
The NEW interlocking Maize range of TFT displays come in 3 different configurations. Choose from a single 23-inch screen or multiples of 3 or 6. These monitors are ideal for financial, gaming, security, office and design environments.
Add the Btech BTEBT7382 mount for only £75 trade
Add the Btech BTEBT7382 mount for only £75 trade
Key for the education peak This 17-inch model has toughened safety glass fitted behind the bezel, making it ideal for education, retail and industrial applications. It also has a 5ms response time, 1000:1 contrast ratio and energy saving technology.
IIYPLP1705SB Add the BTEEBT7372 mount for only £60 trade
High-end desktop display producing quality images High-end desktop displays from the 90 series for corporate users and SpectraView displays for use in the colour-critical display industry are now available from Midwich. For further information contact your account manager or visit www.midwich.com/NECTFT Chief monitor mounts are available. Call 01379 649380 for more details.
Whichmounts – the quick and easy way to find your mounting solutions. The new Whichmounts mountfinder tool will enable you to find the right mounting solution for your customers in 3 easy steps. Save both time and money whilst offering your customers the right mount, by price, type or manufacturer. Visit today for further information www.midwich.com/whichmounts
For more information about these products please contact your account manager or the Midwich sales team on
Award Winning Midwich – the UK’s leading specialist AV distributor
01379 649200 or visit www.midwich.com
Terms & Conditions. Prices are trade and exclude carriage & VAT. Prices are correct at time of publication, please confirm at time of ordering. E&OE. All transactions are in accordance with our full terms and conditions, a copy of which is available on request. All trademarks are the property of their respective manufacturers. Your calls may be recorded for training purposes. Copyright © Midwich Limited 2010. Midwich Limited, Vinces Road, Diss, Norfolk, IP22 4YT NM10-309-Q2-2010
NEW Maize Range
audio visual • barcode solutions • consumables • consumer electronics • copy/print/scan/fax • digital imaging • digital signage • displays • hi-technology • interactive solutions • whichlamps • whichmounts
Vibrant, sharp & bright
PCR’s monthly look at the issues facing the retail sector
FRONTLINE Statistics and analysis on the month’s top selling products and wider retail trends P 39
INDIE PROFILE PCR talks to Az Ashraf, owner of A2Z Computing in Newport P 40
MYSTERY SHOPPER Our shopper goes to Leeds looking for a laptop that can offer top-notch performance and value for money
June PCR 33
RETAIL FOCUS FRONTLINE
From the Frontline This month infinite Field Marketing has visited 250 stores across the UK to gather real ‘grass roots’ feedback and opinion on the best-selling products in-store and issues affecting the industry... MIDDLE GROUND IT ONLY took a month or so for Symantec’s latest edition of Norton 360 to overtake its predecessor and take the top spot in our security software sales charts. This latest version includes the security packages offered by the awardwinning Norton Internet Security 2010, but also features an extensive range of identity protection options – an increasingly well documented issue with security at the moment – as well as effective blacklist based website advisory software. The keyboard and mouse segments show an interesting trend. Of our top five selling keyboards, four are wireless bundles, while the fifth – the Microsoft Comfort Curve – is an ergonomic solution. This reflects consumer interest in cost effective products, but also shows that wireless solutions are increasingly popular even at the entry level. It also indicates that people are willing to pay a little more for a perceived benefit, such as that offered by ergonomic solutions. The mouse chart continues this trend. With so many bundles available, a purchase of a mouse on its own is likely to represent an upgrade for the consumer. Every mouse on our chart is a wireless device, and it shows a trend towards mid-range devices, with Microsoft’s Wireless 3000 outselling more cost effective devices like the Logitech M205 or the Advent Wireless Laser Mouse. The laptop and desktop charts continue to indicate end-user interest in price point, with the Compaq Presario topping the desktop sales. This device can be found as a complete bundle, including peripherals and screen from just £379. firstname.lastname@example.org
32 PCR June
MICROSOFT WIRELESS 3000
2 COMPAQ CQ61-402
2 MICROSOFT WIRELESS 1000
3 DELL 1545
3 LOGITECH M205
4 HP G62-107SA
4 LOGITECH WIRELESS M505
5 COMPAQ CQ61-41SA
5 ADVENT ADE-EMB3 WIRELESS LASER
COMPAQ PRESARIO CQ5305
NVIDIA GEFORCE GT220 PCI-E 1GB
2 ACER ASPIRE X3812
2 NVIDIA GEFORCE GT240 PCI-E 1GB
3 HP S5300
3 SAPPHIRE RADEON HD3650 AGP – 512MB
4 PACKARD BELL
ATI HD4670 1GB
5 HP SLIMLINE S5306
5 PNY GEFORCE GTS250 512MB
MICROSOFT WIRELESS MEDIA DESKTOP 3000
NORTON 360 GOLD V4
2 MICROSOFT OPTICAL DESKTOP 1000
2 NORTON INTERNET SECURITY 2010 3 USERS
3 LOGITECH MK300
3 NORTON 360 V3 PREMIER EDITION
4 LOGITECH EX100
4 KASPERSKY ANTIVIRUS 2010
5 MICROSOFT COMFORT CURVE 2000
5 MCAFEE ANTI VIRUS PLUS 2010 www.pcr-online.biz
RETAIL FOCUS FRONTLINE
Infinite FMS is a specialist field marketing provider delivering bespoke solutions purely for the technology sector. With over ten years experience, we understand how to support manufacturers with the execution of their below-the-line campaigns, ensuring brands are reinforced, product messages are effectively delivered and sales objectives are achieved. Our services include product training, compliance & data capture, promotion & demonstration activity, Mystery Shopping & Roadshows. To learn more about how we can support you, please contact us on 01793 686504 or visit our website at www.infinitefms.com
WILL THE IPAD BE AS SUCCESSFUL AS THE IPHONE? A decisive result this month. A huge majority of respondents think that the iPad is set to take the world by storm, with 28 per cent remaining unsure, while absolutely no one thinks that Apple’s new device will fail in the market. Yes 72% No 0% Don’t Know 28%
NEWS BYTES BEST BUY OPENS SECOND STORE IN SOUTHAMPTON Best Buy recently opened its second store in the UK following the highly successful opening weekend for its flagship outlet in Thurrock. The latest ‘big box’ to operate in Britain opened on Friday May 28th at Hedge End near Southampton. Like the Thurrock launch, the Hedge End store offered a number of introductory offers to customers who visited on the opening weekend, including deals on Samsung and LG HD-ready LCD and plasma televisions.
CBI PREDICTS SLOW START TO CONSUMER SPEND GROWTH
KEY RETAILER COMMENTS
The Consortium of British Industry has warned that consumer spending will only see a modest rise this year, citing slow growth in pay increases coupled with increasingly high prices on food and consumer goods, despite a higher than expected increase in GDP. “We continue to expect only a modest rise in consumer spending this year,” said the CBI’s head of economic analysis, Lai Wah Co. “All eyes will be on the latter half of the year, when households and businesses will have a better idea about Government plans for fiscal consolidation.”
ARGOS PLANS IPHONE APP
“Sales trends are showing strong results on laptops and netbooks, much slower on desktops”
Argos is to release an iPhone app after recording a 600 per cent growth in online orders from Apple mobile devices. The retailer observed 750,000 hits from Apple smartphones on December 2009. The new app will provide a ‘click and collect’ service on 17,000 of its products on the Argos website.
“No real changes towards PC sales, they are still strong and Macs are selling more” “Our best opportunity of good sales are with any product priced £399-£450” “Sales are always good at the bargain end but there seems to be increased demand for some higher performance devices as customers are becoming aware of the new Intel i3/5/7 chips and how good they are”
CHERRY KICKS OFF INCENTIVE SCHEME FOR RESELLERS
“We’re really noticing that customers are frequently asking questions and subsequently buying more Apple Macs” “We’re selling more netbooks as a first PC to parents as they get their children started using a laptop”
Cherry has initiated a prize draw for its resellers this month, offering a range of Formula One goodies to partners who sell more than £500 worth of Cherry goods per month. Prizes include a Ferrari versus Lamborghini driving experience for two, 42-inch Samsung LCD TVs, official Formula One team shirts, and the first hundred customers to enter the draw will receive a free Gentix illuminated mouse. Each £500 worth of Cherry products sold will results in an additional entry in the prize draw, offering a strong incentive for its partners to grow their sales.
June PCR 35
New and exclusive from Three. Check out the newest products from the network designed and built for the mobile internet.
In Car Wi-Fi
In car Wi-Fi – the ultimate in car entertainment.
Creating a Wi-Fi hotspot in your hatchback is as simple as switching on Three’s Mi-Fi device and entering your unique eight digit network key. MSN
The real bonus here is that it can utilise the UK highways where the 3G signal is at its most constant, so the In Car Wi-Fi system will be perfect for social networking, gaming or browsing on the move. Pocket-lint.com
Your own in car internet connection. Link up to 5 wireless devices at the same time, from iPods and laptops to games consoles. Comes with an in car charger, holder and 1GB of data that lasts up to 30 days, then just top-up.
Find out more about all these exciting new products at:
Pay Monthly perks, with no long tie-in. Our 1 month voice and Mobile Broadband price plans give your customers all the value and convenience of a monthly contract without the long term commitment. There’s no long tie-in, the contract carries on from month to month until your customer decides to stop it. Also, with ‘Call to connect’ there’s no need for your customer to wait around in store to sign up to the contract, they simply buy the product and call Three to connect it when they’re ready.
1 month SIM:
1 month Mobile Broadband:
• 300 any network minutes • Unlimited internet • Unlimited texts • Unlimited Three to Three calls • SIM and ﬁrst month’s line rental included, then £15 a month
• 5GB of data • Dongle and ﬁrst month’s data included, then £15 a month
Bringing you an even better network. We’ve got the UK’s biggest 3G network and we’re continuing to build an even better network for our customers. Our aim is to increase cover of the UK population from 92.5% (in 2009) to over 98% by the end of this year. This means better coverage for using the internet on your phone; and a faster service for our Mobile Broadband customers.
RETAIL FOCUS INDIE PROFILE
This month Roger Humm talks to Az Ashraf, owner of A2Z Computing in Newport... A HEAD TEACHER recently approached Az Ashraf, owner of A2Z Computing, with a computer to be repaired. She said he had fixed her computer 22 years ago. This was a bit of a puzzle for him, since he had only been in business for 18 years. Eventually it clicked – he had fixed her computer when he’d been in school. His computer teacher had driven him round to her house during lunch break. Things have moved on a great deal since then, but Ashraf has maintained an ongoing contact with the world of educational computing and technology, since that day 22 years ago when one of his school teachers had spotted his talent in the field of digital technology and encouraged his interest. That teacher eventually became a business partner. These days a large part of A2Z’s almost £1m turnover business is in the educational arena, and not just with schools in the local area. One of his largest clients is in Liverpool, and his systems – he has his own brand of notebook computers, among other things – are in use as far as Switzerland and the USA. The company now has a headcount of 15, including ten engineers, and has a branch office in Swansea.
“One of our engineers gave me a reasonable business proposal for us to run a digital photography course,” says Ashraf. “We did that, and ran training in Photoshop and other aspects of digital imaging. Now our conference room doubles as a photography centre and is used by several photography
“We are currently working very closely with Intel on the development of the Fizz Book for schools. We have developed several unique elements of the control software” Az Ashraf, A2Z clubs. It makes use of our premises when we don’t need them, and you wouldn’t believe the amount of sales and maintenance business that comes out of it – as well as licences.” Q1 of 2010 was an exceptionally busy time for A2Z, as education authorities worked hard to spend their budgets ahead of the end of the financial year. Quite a few orders were for the company’s proprietary ISCSI systems, as
well as for electronic whiteboards, but Ashraf is well aware of the potential vulnerability of the education sector and continues to develop other aspects, with servers being a major area for profitable new business. A2Z has its own server farm in Canary Wharf – but Ashraf has other irons in the fire as well. “We are currently working very closely with Intel on the development of the Fizz Book for schools,” he continues. “We have developed several unique elements of the control software in conjunction with Intel’s design team in Egypt as well as the sales and technical people in the UK. We are one of just four system builders of the Fizz Book, the other three being Argos, Littlewoods and dabs, but the key difference is that we have the capability to actually deploy the product.” So, what’s Ashraf’s vision for the future? “More branches and partnerships. We are always looking for good resellers who can take on board our products, and who are capable of really looking after customers in the same committed way that we do.”
FACT BOX Year established: 1994 Number of outlets: 2 Number of staff: 15 Regular vendor lines: Intel ,Microsoft, Toshiba, Fizzbook, ZoomStorm, Clevo, Mitec, Acer, Asus, Kingston Contact name and address: Az Ashraf, owner, The Old Chapel, Hereford Street, Newport NP19 8DT Telephone: 01633 676543 Email: email@example.com Website: www.a2z-computing.com Roger Humm is Head of Membership Relations at Brigantia Computer Experts – firstname.lastname@example.org
June PCR 39
RETAIL FOCUS MYSTERY SHOPPER
Leeds This month our Mystery Shopper hits the Yorkshire city in search of a laptop that can offer both performance and value for money...
CURRYS DIGITAL SALES AND finance offers adorned the windows as I entered the well lit store. “Good morning is there anything I can help you with?” asked a sales assistant. Proceeding to the laptop section he introduced me to another member of staff, who assisted with my query. “What do you use your laptop for?” he asked. I answered that I used it for work, word processing, internet browsing, emailing, watching videos and storing photos. “If you play a lot of games or watch a lot of films then you will need better graphic cards and processor,” he said. The sales assitant pointed out the Sony Vaio VPC-F11JOE/H at £1099.99 (16.4-inch
40 PCR June
widescreen, Intel Core i5- 520M 2.4 GHz, Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit, 6144MB, 320 GB HD, DVD-RW and Blu-ray player) and then the Toshiba L505-144 at £699.99 (15.6-inch widescreen Intel Core i5- 430M 2.26 GHz, Windows 7 Home Premium, 4096MB, 320 GB HD, DVD-RW rewriter). I asked why there was such a huge price difference between the two laptops, to which the staff member said: “The Sony Vaio uses a Nvidia GeForce GT 330M GPU, which is renowned as be the best brand in graphic cards, whereas the Toshiba has an ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4570 – 512MB. The Sony also has more memory, which it
RETAIL FOCUS MYSTERY SHOPPER Turn the page for more Mystery Shopper results
needs for the Blu-ray drive. Both use the new Intel processors, on this occasion it is Intel i5. This is the equivalent rating of four stars out of five.” The recommendation was confident and based on product knowledge rather than personal opinion which was reassuring, although the £400 difference in price for a similar specification laptop seemed a little excessive. The information regarding the Blu-ray drive and graphics card was appropriate and relevant to my answers, but of SCORE course it depends on how much value you place on these features.
CLEARLY VISIBLE signs in the spacious store directed me straight to the laptops, which were displayed in order of price. 15 minutes of looking interested in purchasing finally attracted attention and a member of staff asked if she could help. After considering my quest she started quoting points from the various laptop price tickets and mentioned the new Intel processors. “Intel has a new range of processors, i3, i5 and i7 and they are faster than the older ones. The i3 is slightly faster than the Core 2 processors, for example.” Prompting the conversation along I enquired: “Which are the best laptops for performance and value?” She suggested the Sony Vaio VPCCW2S1E/R (Intel Core i3-330M 2.13 GHz, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit, 4096 MB, 320GB HD, DVD-RW, 14-inch widescreen) at £699.99. “Sony sells well because of the brand reputation. I would also recommend the HP DV6-2110 15.6-inch because the specs are similar, if not higher, and it is much better value for money.” (Intel Core i7720QM 1.6 GHz, Windows 7 Home Premium, 4096 MB, 500 GB HD, DVD-RW, 15.6-inch widescreen, priced at £849.99.) She then commented that Toshiba machines are also a good brand to buy because of their reliability. With little in the way of detail the recommendations didn’t seem carry a great deal of weight, picking points from tickets I had already read didn’t make me feel particularly confident in the assistance offered. Both products seemed appropriate but I left the store feeling like I needed SCORE to go away and do more research to further narrow down my choices.
OFFERING A wide range of products and services including new and re-conditioned PCs and notebooks, internet terminals and PC repairs, the store had a vast amount of information on the walls. A sales assistant greeted me as I walked in and asked if I was looking for a laptop. I outlined my requirements and he directed my gaze down through the glass counter he sat behind. Three laptops were displayed, but it was difficult to see if they were brand new products.
“Investigating the Asus laptop a little further showed that the price was below that quoted in the Argos catalogue, suggesting it was a re-conditioned product” “I would say the Asus, priced at £349, is fine for doing the work you have told me about,” he said. The laptop he pointed to was the X5DIJ, with an Intel Pentium dual core T4200 processor 2.0GHz, 4GB RAM, 15.6-inch screen, 250GB HD, and 1.3MP webcam. He continued: “The Intel Core Duo is the best processor available” and compared it to the Intel Pentium in the HP laptop the store had on display. Investigating the Asus laptop a little further showed that the price was below that quoted in the Argos catalogue (£399.99), suggesting it was a re-conditioned product. The customer service was friendly and the Asus was the most expensive laptop available in store, boasting the highest spec but I would have needed SCORE more persuading to prevent me from visiting other stores before purchasing.
June PCR 41
RETAIL FOCUS MYSTERY SHOPPER This Mystery Shop was conducted by infinite Field Marketing Solutions, a leading provider of field marketing services to the technology sector. The solutions provided include Training, Market Research, Mystery Shopping, Demonstration Days, Roadshows, Merchandising and Compliance & Data Capture. Visit our website for details and to request a Case Study.
I FELT OPTIMISTIC on entering the newly launched hybrid store. Could it really be the best of both worlds? A good range of laptops priced from £400 up to £1300 was neatly laid out in the PC World area, all powered up and flashing features and offers on the tailored screensavers. After a few minutes browsing I was approached by a sales assistant. “Hi there, do you need any advice?” he asked with a friendly smile. After describing what I used my current laptop for, he showed me the Toshiba L505-144, which I’d been shown in another store, priced at £699.99. He pointed out the main features and said: “This will suit your needs now but I think you could have a better model for a little more money, which will remain up to date into next year and the next.” He pointed out the Sony Vaio VPC-EB1ZOE/B for £799.99 (Intel Core i5-430M 2.26 GHz, Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit, 4GB RAM, ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5470 Graphics, 15.5-inch screen, 500GB HD, Blu-ray ROM/Dual layer DVD rewriter). “The new Intel processors in both laptops operate on i5 standard,” he said. “The price difference is because the Viao has a Blu-ray player and a larger hard drive. The extra cost is worth it – being able to watch HD movies is great, especially if you are away with work and more space for storing photos and music is always useful.” I asked if I could have some information to take away and the sales assistant printed out spec sheets before thanking me. I felt content with the recommendations and was more than happy to accept the up-sell to a more SCORE expensive model as the additional features definitely added value.
BLANK LAPTOP screens greeted me as I found the section in the quiet store. I browsed the display hoping for some staff interaction but as with the laptops there was little to see. Over 15 minutes passed before someone noticed me and made himself available. After initial small talk I explained my requirements although I wasn’t sure if the staff member was listening, as he pointed towards a piece of Intel point of sale and told me the new processors were slightly faster, allowing me to have more programmes open. “The HP (WA052EAABU) has an i7 processor which is the highest of the new releases (15.6-inch HD LED display, 4GB RAM, 500GB hard drive for £849.99) or the Sony Vaio (VPCEB1Z0E) has an i5 chip, which is the next one down (15.5-inch display, 4GB RAM, 500GB hard drive for £799.99),” he said. The information had been gleaned from the sales tickets, which didn’t boost my confidence. I thanked the assistant and made my excuses. The visit was a disappointment as the range of laptops could have allowed more comparisons of performance and value for money but this wasn’t realised. SCORE Unless I had known exactly what I wanted there was nothing to encourage a purchase.
THE LAPTOP section appeared a little disorganised on entry as there were a few missing POS cards, however, all models were priced and turned on. Two laptops on display had missing keys on the keyboards; presumably these had been pulled off by shoppers. I was approached in store within ten minutes and explained what I was after. The sales assistant recommended the Acer AS5532 TF20 (15.6-inch display, 1.6GHz AMD Athlon 64 TF20 processor, 3GB RAM, 250GB hard drive, ATI Radeon HD 3200 shared graphics and Windows 7 Home Premium), which had £100 off the price. As talked me through the specs and attempted to demonstrate the speed of the processor by opening a few menus (rather than programmes) and inviting me to have a go myself. The staff member was confident in answering questions without any additional assistance, but I was surprised he didn’t offer a choice of laptops or show me a comparison against another model. The AS5532 was certainly good value but not really a performance laptop as the processor isn’t the fastest. The attempt at a product demonstration was much SCORE appreciated, as this was something sorely lacking on most of the other visits.
42 PCR June
[SUMMARY] Judging by my visit, the perceived balance of laptop power versus value lies around the £700 mark, with Sony Viao laptops proving popular with most stores. Detailed knowledge of the new Intel processors varied, although staff awareness of the performance improvement was noted in all stores stocking the products. It was disappointing to see staff simply reading points from a price ticket as, although useful, they should not make up the entire conversation. Many of the laptops mentioned had similar specifications but it seems that the additional value provided by Blu-ray playback and larger HD space will become more important in the future to secure a sale.
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Hardware PCR’s monthly look at recent developments in the hardware market P 47
CASES AND COOLING We look at some of the latest trends and innovations in desktop chassis and coolers
© Copyright VIP Computer Centre Limited. 2010. Information correct at time of publication E&OE
With prices for solid-state drives falling and storage capacity rising, PCR asks the experts about the lucrative memory segment
We talk to Victor Chiang, sales director of NAS specialist Synology, about the firm as it looks to expand its presence in the UK and mainland Europe
Toughpower XT 850W
Exceptional Power, Performance & Efﬁciency
r 'BO%FMBZ$PPMFOBCMFTVTFSTUPDPOUSPMIPXMPOHUIFDNGBO DPOUJOVFTUPPQFSBUFBGUFSTZTUFNTIVUEPXO VQUPTFDPOET
r 415JOEJDBUPSTIPXTUIF146TTUBOECZ 1(TJHOBMUFNQFSBUVSFTUBUVT r )JHIRVBMJUZ+BQBOFTFDBQBDJUPSTPGGFSTVQFSC performance & reliability r 4'$RVJFUUFDIOPMPHZTPUIFGBOBMXBZTPQFSBUFTBU PQUJNBMTQFFEGPSRVJFUPQFSBUJPO r ZFBSTXBSSBOUZ
VIP Order Code: 102004
CALL FOR PRICING
Sales: 0871 622 7500 www.vip-computers.com/uk
HARDWARE CASES AND COOLING
Bluepoint: 0844 571 8001 Spire Technology: 01202 828 444 Realtime: 01480 435 881 VIP Computers: 0871 622 7500 Target Components: 01977 739 300
SRP: £49.99 Distributor: VIP Computers They say: The ultimate overclocking thermal structure design with an ultra powerful dual 120mm VR fan and eye-catching cover Specs: Supports Intel 6-core processors, 0.5mm aluminium cooling fins, five copper heat pipes, two 120mm VR fans, 1200-2500 RPM fan speed
Cold case As PC components become ever more capable, so the requirements for effective cooling and efficient cases grows. Matt Grainger examines some of the hottest products on the market and talks to industry experts about the latest developments and what to expect from the sector this year… "High-end cases often come with pre-installed fans and give you the option to add several more fans – all of which enables enthusiasts to optimise the air flow throughout their system" Mark Holdich, Realtime
AT THE END of 2009, Intel unveiled its prototype ‘single-chip cloud computer’, a 48-core processor that made a few jaws drop as well as reinforcing the company’s ongoing commitment to fulfilling Moore’s Law. Aside from impressing journalists, the prototype also indicated that the development of more powerful components is still at the forefront of the agenda for many vendors. As these products become more powerful – using higher volumes of power and generating more heat – users increasingly have to consider advanced cases and cooling solutions to ensure that their hardware operates at maximum efficiency. “The benefit of a high-end case is that it gives users more cooling options,” says
Realtime product manager, Mark Holdich. “They often come with preinstalled fans and give you the option to add several more fans – all of which enables enthusiasts to optimise the air flow throughout their system. “On the other hand, a good quality cooling solution will increase the reliability, performance and longevity of a PC. This becomes vitally important for enthusiasts who are looking to overclock their systems.” The regulation of temperature is one of the most important variables that a PC enthusiast can face. As Holdich notes, overclocking is almost standard among those who wish to squeeze a little extra performance out of their machines, but to do so without any kind of cooling is a risky business as
heat rises exponentially beyond a certain point. “Heat has a direct impact on the efficiency and life of a computer component – this is proven fact,” notes CoolIT’s sales manager Chris Elt. “By keeping components cool with advanced liquid cooling, such as the solutions provided by CoolIT Systems, components function at a higher performance, with a longer lifespan and increased reliability. Moore’s Law, which still stands true today, shows that the number of transistors in a computer will double every two years. With this increase in transistor count comes additional heat, and there is no getting away from that.” While a good case and efficient cooling
June PCR 47
HARDWARE CASES AND COOLING
SRP: £65.99 Distributor: Realtime Distribution They say: Design and features such as coated SECC and steel mesh are spotlighting your chassis when your system is built Specs: Nine 5.25-inch external drive bays, seven VGA expansion slots, ATX and micro ATX motherboard compatible, ATX/EPS power supply, three pre-installed fans on top, front and rear with an additional six optional fans, includes infrastructure for water cooling
SRP: £16.00 Distributor: Bluepoint, Spire Technology They say: The Viper fan creates more focused airflow, providing blind-spot cooling, which makes it an ideal solution for a case or heatsink fan Specs: 12cm case or heatsink fan, S-Flow blades, supplies 30 per cent more airflow than a standard fan, 600-1900 RPM speed
offer prolonged life for components, another benefit that they bring is the versatility that only the desktop segment can offer. “First of all these high-end cases are engineered to last as well as providing an infrastructure that is conducive to system building and upgrading,” says Akasa’s marketing director, Adrian Young. “Most high-end cases feature low noise cooling that provides good airflow, this enables the PC to run at relatively low temperatures, thereby ensuring processing stability.”
AKASA FREEDOM XONE
SRP: £51.50 Distributor: Bluepoint, Spire Technology
SRP: £44.50 Distributor: Bluepoint, Spire Technology
They say: Uses zoned thermal management including base-mounted PSU and smart cable management giving that clean, tidy system. All-round easy access including rear entry to the motherboard for heatsink backplate fitting and tool freeHDD installation makes system-building a breeze
They say: Venom delivers ultra high performance enabling serious system overclocking. The 12cm killer Viper yellow fan uses S-Flow blades providing 30% more airflow than a standard fan at the same speed
Specs: Compatible with ATX and micro ATX motherboards, four 5.25-inch external bays, one 3.5inch external bay, five 3.5-inch internal bays, two integrated fans with mountings for five more, supports ATX and EPS power supplies, seven expansion slots
Specs: Fits Intel LGA775, LGA1156, LGA1366 and AMD 939, AM2, AM2+, AM3 socket types, high grade aluminium fins, copper heatpipes, 600-1900 RPM fan speed
This kind of stability and versatility is not just for the niche PC enthusiast segment, although they do represent a strong buying market. Young notes that these benefits appeal to a wider range of vertical niches. “Gaming is only one of the markets that prefers quality cases and cooling,” he observes. “They appeal to CAD, graphic design, video editing, music, medical and many other segments where high performance is essential. Several suppliers now ship overclocked PCs, and Scan and Mesh computers supply with our performance coolers as standard.”
“Gaming is only one of the markets that prefers quality cases and cooling. They appeal to CAD, graphic design, video editing, music, medical and many other segments where high performance is essential" Adrian Young, Akasa
Elt notes that water cooling solutions, which were once the exclusive preserve of extreme enthusiasts, have been brought in to the mass market, vastly increasing their potential user-base. “Liquid cooling used to be restricted to enthusiasts who have the time, money and expertise to build custom designed water systems inside their PCs,” he states. Despite the increasing capabilities offered by a desktop PC, it should be noted that the desktop segment is in decline when compared to mobile PC sales. However,
June PCR 49
HARDWARE CASES AND COOLING MEET THE EXPERTS
THERMALTAKE ARMOR A90 SRP: £84.99 Distributor: VIP Computers
Adrian Young Akasa
Chris Elt Cool IT
They say: A modern design with high performance cooling, designed for the latest hardware. The case is optimised for both liquid cooling and air cooling.
Mark Holdich Realtime
Specs: Black ‘bulletproof’ design with metal mesh elements, top and front backlit fans, large front door for drive access, bottom-based PSU, side panel window with 120mm side cooling panel, includes infrastructure for liquid cooling
EVO LABS E-S601
SRP: £42.99 Distributor: Target Components They say: Excellent EMI protection design with shiny gloss front panel and refined design, plus folded metal edges for safe assembly Specs: Pre-fitted with micro ATX standard PSU, supports Intel and AMD motherboards, two front USB 2.0 ports, 3-in-1card reader, one 5.25-inch internal bat, two 3.5-inch expansion slots, four free fan spaces
the majority of these sales account for light PC users who most often just want internet access; the real workhorse of the IT world remains the desktop PC and while there are a few high performance laptops out there, most performance PCs are desktop machines. “Gamers, and particularly overclockers, have typically been the pioneers of cutting edge thermal solutions,” notes Matthew Parrish, product manager at VIP Computers. “Whilst this segment will invariably continue to lead the way in terms of innovation, all users, irrelevant of their
50 PCR June
EVO LABS E-802DR
SRP: £27.99 Distributor: Target Components They say: ATX form factor case with piano black and red front panel Specs: Front HD audio USB, 80mm rear side panel fan, 450W real power supply, one SATA connector
skill level, will benefit from improved heat management. The classic example here is that of the laptop user who demands good performance from components crammed in to an incredibly tiny, poorly ventilated space but isn’t aware that by using a simple laptop cooler thay can noticably increase the performance on their device.” Holdich has also observed the prevalence of desktop machines in the high performance bracket, but notes that small scale systems are the last thing on the mind of their users. “High-end cases and cooling solutions predominantly appeal to enthusiast PC
Matt Parrish VIP Computers
COOLIT ECO ALC
SRP: £74.99 Distributor: Realtime Distribution They say: An elegantly engineered ultra-low profile thermal solution positioned at an economical price point Specs: Pre-assembled closed liquid cooling system comprised of copper micro-channel fluid heat exchanger, long life CFF1 pump, custom engineered radiator, low toxicity coolant, support for Intel 775, 1156, 1366 and AMD AM2, AM2+, AM3 sockets
gamers, the market segment that spends the most on PCs the most frequently. PC enthusiasts take great pride in building their own machines. This is not a market segment that looks to build the smallest PC they can; in fact, the opposite is true – they want to build a large computer with a glass side panel so that they are able to show their friends the components that they have put in their rig.” As development continues, the odds are that we will continue to see a growing number of processor cores within our PCs, users will no longer be able to rely on basic convection current cooling
solutions, and systems we now consider to be high-end will become standard. “There will be more die shrinks,” predicts Young. “The CPU guys are constantly working on this as it enables them to pump up the megahertz without producing more heat. The direction has been fixed, more cores is the answer, and with six core CPUs already in the marketplace, this path towards multi-core technology will continue. Also, the GPU will be on board with the main chip; this has thermal issues that will need addressing before the combined chip becomes mainstream. Life is full of surprises, expect the unexpected.”
The most comprehensive Memory supplier in the UK specialising in gaming, desktop, laptop and server memory Gaming Memory: G-Skill, Crucial Ballistix, OCZ Desktop Memory: Samsung, Elixir, Crucial Ballistix, G-Skill, Rendition Laptop Memory: Samsung, Crucial Server Memory: Samsung, Crucial G-SKILL MEMORY Focussed on being the industry leader in high performance DDR3 4GB & 6GB Kits at speeds up to 2500mhz and Cas Latencies as low as Cas6. G-Skill families such as Ripjaws & Trident have become favoured choices amongst the gaming community in Europe, Asia, and North America. BALLISTIX MEMORY The Ballistix family has been recognised as some of the most stable and most recognised gaming memory brands globally. This Summer Ballistix will be launching a range of updated skuâ€™s pushing performance further with exciting heat dissipation solutions
VIP Computers: 0871 622 7500 Micro P: 01282 776 776
Realtime: 01480 435 881 Ingram Micro: 0871 973 3000
A-DATA SH93 PORTABLE HARD DRIVE SRP: £54.99 Distributor: VIP
They say: The industry’s first ever waterproof and shock resistant portable HDD designed specifically for students, road warriors, and sports enthusiasts
EntaTech: 0333 101 1000
Specs: 2.5-inch SATA external hard drive, USB 2.0 interface, transfer rate of 280MB/s, shockproof and waterproof rubber casing
M2m Direct: 0208 676 3030 KMS Components: 02920 713 713
Remember me With prices for solid-state memory falling and storage capacity rising, as a stand-alone market and in terms of product variety and breadth, the memory market is in a stronger position than ever before. Matt Grainger examines this lucrative niche, and talks to some key figures from the channel… “From a flash memory point of view, smart phones are a very big driver and HD video, is another big driver, too” Gerry Edwards, SanDisk
THE MEMORY sector has grown in leaps and bounds over the last five years, in terms of both market value and the sheer range of products. Once limited to storage, RAM and floppy disks, the development of innovations like flash memory and USB ports have opened up the category in a way that was previously thought impossible. Although cloud and network based options are increasingly available, a significant proportion of the consumer market still likes to put its trust in storage that they can see and hold on to – and fortunately the channel is in a position to meet this demand and the technology is becoming more refined with each generation. “SSDs are now gaining more mass market appeal due to a greater
understanding and adoption of their key benefits, such as quieter running, better cooling and faster performance than traditional hard disks,” notes Kingston Technology’s European product marketing manager, Steve Hall. “Other than that, two new technologies are becoming more relevant; SATA 3.0 for SSDs and USB 3.0 for USB drives. These new interfaces basically offer increased bandwidth for faster Flash-based internal (SATA 3.0) and external (USB 3.0) drives – bandwidth that traditional HDDs can only dream of reaching.” In addition to refinements in the technology behind solid-state devices, the capacity that such products can offer is increasing all the time, with SanDisk soon to be releasing
an SD card with storage of up to 2TBs. “We’re doing something called SDXC, which is the next generation of the ubiquitous SD card used in cameras,” elaborates SanDisk’s product marketing manager, Gerry Edwards. “SDXC stands for SD Extended Capacity, so it covers anything above 32GB right up to 2TB.” Edwards notes that much of the demand for larger storage capacities has been generated by the explosion of video content, boosted by smart phone cameras and HD content. “From a flash memory point of view, smart phones are a very big driver and HD video, is another big driver, too,” continues Edwards. “More recent changes are
June PCR 53
HITACHI SIMPLEDRIVE 2TB SRP: £149.99 Distributor: VIP
They say: SimpleDrive by Hitachi delivers better USB 2.0 external storage. The compact size of this feature-packed drive is ideal for space saving desks, while the aluminium enclosure keeps your drive cool and working at its best
Specs: External hard drive, USB 2.0 interface, transfer rate up to 480MB/s, two terabyte capacity
PNY ATTACHÉ FLASH DRIVE SRP: £10.99 Distributor: Micro P
They say: You’ll love the styling, metal finish, and diminutive dimensions of this micro USB key. Equipped with a handy strap, this USB key is sure to become your constant companion, letting you bring along all your favorites every time you head out the door Specs: USB 2.0 interface, USB 1.1 compatible, works with Windows, MacOS 8.6 and Linux, data storage for minimum of ten years
CORSAIR NOVA SSD 128GB SRP: £319.99 Distributor: Realtime
Specs: 2.5-inch form factor, max. sequential read speed of up to 270MBs and write speed of up to 195MB/s, 64MB cache, internal SATA II connectivity, 2.5-inch to 3.5-inch bracket included for internal use
Steve Hall, Kingston Technology
54 PCR June
SRP: £215 Distributor: Ingram Micro
They say: Replacing your hard disk with a Corsair Nova Series Solid State Drive (SSD) will revolutionise your computing experience. Games and apps load quicker, systems boot-up faster, run cooler and quieter
“It makes a lot of sense to store the OS and application executables on a super fast SSD, while everyday data files on a traditional HDD. This will see significant speed increase for system start up, application responsiveness and stand-by recovery”
KINGSTON SSDNOW V-SERIES 128GB BUNDLE
They say: For notebooks, SSDNow drives are a perfect replacement for hard drives resulting in a faster performance. This change will improve a notebook’s efficiency in booting-up to running the most demanding operating systems and apps Specs: 128GB capacity, sequential speed up to 200MB/s read, up to 160MB/s write and three-year warranty
things like the iPad, which started a whole segment that wasn’t there before. The iPad doesn’t have an SD expansion slot, but there are manufacturers coming out with products that do. “While they are used mainly for transfer, it adds to the environment. It’s not just for cameras any more, you can transfer anything you want using SD or any kind of flash memory,” says Edwards. Realtime’s product manager Daniel Bennett has noted the penetration of solid-state in to the consumer market, which has been driven by falling prices:
CORSAIR REACTOR SSD 60GB SRP: £169.99 Distributor: Realtime, EntaTech
They say: It has perfect balance of performance and value. Its 128MB on-board cache ensures smooth, stutter-free operation and read speeds up to 250MB/s and write speeds up to 170MB/s Specs: USB 2.0 external connectivity, SATA II internal connectivity, max. write speed 170MB/s, max. Read speed 250MB/s, latest generation JMicron JMF612 controller and MLC NAND Flash
“With manufacturers bringing out new solid-state hard drives at lower prices, we have seen the introduction of solidstate hard drives into the consumer market. Consumers can now enjoy a much faster, silent, less power hungry and secure form of storage.” Although solid-state drives have come down enough in price to enter the mass market, the likelihood of them replacing traditional spindle hard drives is low. The capacity offered by spindle drives can now commonly be seen in sizes of two terabytes or more, and the price point for these devices is still highly competitive.
“Kingston Technology’s view is that SSD and HDD can and, in many cases, should co-exist in desktop PCs,” says Hall. “Take a standard desktop for instance; it makes a lot of sense to store the OS and application executables on a super fast SSD, while everyday data files are stored on a traditional HDD. With this set up, users will see a significant speed increase for system start up, application responsiveness and stand-by recovery.” Edwards concurs with this view of co-existence dependent on usage: “I think both formats will be able to live side-by-side, and I think it’ll come
HARDWARE MEMORY MEET THE EXPERTS
Daniel Bennett Realtime
Darren Jackson VIP
Steve Hall Kingston Technology
Gerry Edwards SanDisk
CORSAIR 64GB FLASH VOYAGER SRP: £174.99 Distributor: EntaTech
G.SKILL TRIDENT SRP: £185 Distributor: M2m Direct
CNMEMORY MISTRAL 400GB EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE
SRP: £74.99 Distributor: KMS Components
They say: G.Skill has been continually working to develop the ultimate high performance memory in order to satisfy the demands of top overclockers and PC enthusiasts worldwide. This device pushes the hardware limit even further than ever
They say: Say hello to the new look, sleek mistral drive from CnM. Easy to install (plug and play) and lightweight makes the mistral drive an excellent partner for all our portable storage needs
Specs: DDR3, 2000 MHz, includes three 2GB modules, fits Intel X58 chipset
Specs: 400GB capacity, USB interface, 5400rpm, 8MB cache, comes pre-loaded with BullGuard Internet Security
WD SILICON EDGE BLUE 128GB SSD SRP: £349.99 Distributor: Ingram Micro
G.SKILL RIPJAWS SRP: £99.99 Distributor: M2m Direct
They say: The Flash Voyager GT 64GB is the most convenient way to transport large amounts of any kind of data – highresolution photos and artwork, massive databases, or even entire music collections
They say: These highly rugged, lightning-fast solid-state drives are designed for technology enthusiasts who want faster speed for their notebook and desktop PCs and OEMs who need high-performance, read-intensive solutions
They say: G.Skill Ripjaw Gaming Series Memory is designed to optimise the high performance DIMMs for reliability in order to get gamers consistently fantastic FPS, while maintaining a solid overclock to prevent a mid-game PC failure from memory errors
Specs: 64GB capacity, read speed up to 30MB/s, write speed up to 16MB/s, rugged rubber casing
Specs: 128GB capacity, up to 250MB/s read, 170MB/s write speed, high tolerance to shock and vibration
Specs: DDR3 dual-channel, up to 1899MHz, heatspreader design, fits Intel P55 chipset, up to 8GB capacity
down to how they’re used, to be honest. Things like tablets, netbooks and notebooks may come to use NAND Flash memory – that is what we’re predicting – but there will still be demand for hard drives, purely because of the capacity they offer. So, they will be used on devices that aren’t required to be small and portable.” Over the course of this year, it is probable that we’ll see the continued expansion in the capacity available for hard drive storage. As Edwards noted, the demand for high definition video and photographic content is higher than ever before, and we are seeing
“Over the next twelve months I think we will see SSD becoming a mainstream product, and also continued growth of the capacity of hard drives, including 1TB 2.5-inch hard drives and 3TB 3.5-inch drives” Darren Jackson, VIP
vendors migrating RAM storage over to DDR3. “Over the next twelve months I think we will see SSD becoming a more mainstream product, and also continued growth of the capacity of hard drives, including 1TB 2.5-inch hard drives and 3TB 3.5-inch drives,” predicts VIP’s product manager Darren Jackson. Meanwhile, Edwards forecasts strong growth for the memory market, driven by the consumer’s demand for digital media content on devices like MP3 players, cameras, smart phones and tablet PCs.
“We see the memory market in terms of flash memory as really growing,” he states. “I think we’ll still see growth in capacity and I think video will be driving it. With the SDXC cards, you’re going to be able to get Blu-ray movies on there. One day you’ll be able to put an SDXC card in the side of your TV and just press play. That’s the kind of technology that we see as apparent very soon. “Smartphones and tablet computers – these are the drivers, and I think the future is very bright. In terms of the amount of Gbs the markets going to use – it’s going to grow exponentially.”
June PCR 55
6 6 6
Spire Technology 5 Black Moor Road Ebblake Industrial Estate Verwood, Dorset, BH31 6AX Tel: 01202 828 444 Fax: 01202 813 966
Enta Tech Stafford Park 6, Telford, Shropshire, TF3 3AT Tel: 0333 101 1000 Fax: 0333 101 1100
HARDWARE SYNOLOGY COMPANY PROFILE
Storage space With demand for digital and online content on the rise, storage methods that were previously considered highend business tools are becoming a realistic option for consumers. Andrew Wooden talks to Victor Chiang, sales director of NAS specialist Synologyâ€Ś IT'S TOUGH to say whether the surge in demand for online media over the last few years has driven increased internet speeds and new ways of connecting to the web, or the other way around. Certainly, the last five years has seen an explosion in the sheer amount of data we store and consume over the web, which has been a large factor in the marketâ€™s slant towards higher capacity hard drives, home networks and more recently consumer-focused NAS (network attached storage) products. Files stored on a NAS server can be accessed around the world through any device connected to the network. For ten
Turn to page 63
June PCR 59
COMPONENTS ÂŁ60.00 New Solution NSK 6582-GB System Cabinet Antec introduces a desktop solution that combines versatility, quiet performance and 80 PLUS Bronze certified power. The NSK 6582 and NSK 6582B merge convenient features like a removable 3.5â€? hard drive cage (that holds five removable trays) with Quiet Computing technologies like silicone grommets, to give you a superior desktop experience. Powered by Antecâ€™s 80 PLUS Bronze certified EarthWatts 430D Green power supply, the NSK 6582 and NSK 6582B are not only reliable, but extremely energy-efficient. And with front bezel vents and an elegantly understated style, the elegant, silver NSK 6582 and the stylish, black NSK 6582B make the perfect additions to your home or office. Ingram Micro P/N L740694
ÂŁ106.00 Hitachi XL2000 Desk Drive Black t4JNQMFQMVHOQMBZBEEPOTUPSBHF t5VSCP64#JOUFSGBDF VQUPGBTUFSUIBOUSBEJUJPOBM64# t"Ă˛PSEBCMFBOESFMJBCMFEFTJHO t"XBSEXJOOJOH'BCSJLCBDLVQTPGUXBSF JODMVEJOH(#GSFFPOMJOFCBDLVQ t#VJMUJODPPMJOHWFOUTGPSRVJFU SFMJBCMFQFSGPSNBODF t"VUPNBUJDBMMZQPXFSTPOPSPĂ˛XJUIZPVSDPNQVUFS t$PNQBUJCMFXJUI64# t4JUTĂ¸BUPSTUBOETVQSJHIUXJUIJODMVEFEDSBEMF
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ÂŁ171.00 Barracuda XT 7200.12 2TB 3.5IN 7200RPM 64MB SATA 6GB/S Barracuda XT ST32000641AS Hard Drive becomes more prolific and a fundamental enabler of the digital ecosystem, we recognize the need GPSQSPEVDUTUVOFEUPUIFVOJRVFOFFETPGEJĂ˛FSFOUDPNQVUJOHQMBU forms and applications. you can rest easy knowing your Barracuda XT hard drive wil provide you with more than ample space and years of worry free operation.
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HARDWARE SYNOLOGY COMPANY PROFILE
Synology’s range of products covers a wide audience, meaning that all customers from home users to businesses can find a suitable product
years, Taiwanese vendor Synology has been developing its own proprietary software to facilitate this. In 2004 it launched its first products, putting together its own hardware to go with it. The firm has been honing the platform since then, and of late has been concentrating on making what was previously considered quite a high-end business product simpler, and more accessible to home users. “Overall, Synology is very dedicated to our UK market. We are here to generate market demand, work with our customers, and provide local services so they feel confident
to purchase our product in huge quantities. Just one or two boxes can be delivered in two days,” Chiang adds. “On the service side we have the site in Milton Keynes, so if there are any questions or a defective product customers can come to us directly there. So we provide a very efficient service for resellers in the UK. Some of our competitors do not have a warehouse or even a service centre in Europe as we do. These are two real strong points that Synology provides to its customers.” The fact that the firm develops its own software is also identified as a key strength by Chiang. “Software is one of our other key strong points.
“Not too long after I arrived in the UK, some of my IT friends said that it was a pity that we only have one product line,” Chiang comments. “But I think that is actually a very positive point because NAS is all we do, and we are very focused and do it best. It’s not one of many product lines which simply get forgotten if they doesn’t do well.” Commercially the firm says so far it has made as much this year as it did for the whole of last year. As well as its
own growth, Synology sees the wider NAS market increasing in popularity in the near future. “Overall we are looking to triple what we did last year, and next year we will be looking to triple again. But with a different strategy I think we can do more than triple next year. To give you an example from our experience, in 2005 we sold about 20,000 units,” concludes Chiang. "For the whole of last year we sold almost a million units, so the NAS market is definitely growing.”
“We are looking to triple what we did last year, and next year we will be looking to triple again. In 2005 we sold about 20,000 units. For the whole of last year we sold almost a million units, so the NAS market is definitely growing” Victor Chiang, Synology promoting our products, knowing we are here to support them,” says sales director Victor Chiang. “Our products actually stem out to several areas: media streaming, backup, CCTV, and web servers. The range of Synology products covers a huge breadth of customers, which means that everyone from the home user to the corporate business has a product that suits – and they are scalable.” The firm is looking to expand its business across Europe over the next year, particularly in the UK, and it believes its regional command base and the specialised software it develops will give it the edge over competitors. “Synology wants to provide for resellers. We have a warehouse in Holland and our customers don’t have
We are actually the first to implement Surveillance Station onto our platform. We are the first to introduce Ajax web interface into our platform and we are the first to create wizards using a web-based browser. You do not need to install anything on your PC – just log in on the browser. So we are very strong on the software side. That is what makes us different.” Most firms will diversify their offering to a greater or lesser extent, in order to spread the risk as well as boost revenues. Concentrating on one very specific product area could be considered a risky proposition, however Synology sees it as crucial to the firm’s ability to expand its position across the globe in the NAS market.
June PCR 63
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Software PCRâ€™s monthly look at recent developments in the software market
GAMES Our round-up of the monthâ€™s best-selling PC games and a look at some of the biggest forthcoming releases
KOCH MEDIA Head of software sales Joanna Kemp talks about the challenges facing the software market and how PCindie.com has performed
June PCR 65
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SOFTWARE KOCH MEDIA COMPANY PROFILE
Staying independent PCindie.com, Koch Media's online software operation which sells exclusively to independent retailers, has been going for over 12 months now. It’s a year that’s seen more and more tech companies talk up their own visions of the cloud, the realisation of which could disrupt the traditional boxed software market. Andrew Wooden catches up with Joanna Kemp, Koch’s head of software sales, to get her take on the changes facing the market and how the firm has been getting on over the past year… It’s been a rough 12 months for most – how has trading been for Koch? I never want to fate things, and would rather be modest about how things are going. It’s been a good past year for Koch Media and the software division, with good steady growth; thankfully we were well positioned with good relationships on both the customer and supplier side to see us through any potentially difficult times during the recession.
PCindie.com has been around for over a year now – has the initial phase gone as you’d hoped? There were never unrealistic expectations at the start, so yes the first year has gone as I had hoped. Saying that, we don’t want to rest on our laurels and not develop the site and continue to expand. I’ve got a lot of ideas and a great creative team around me, which will hopefully mean that our customers and suppliers
June PCR 67
SOFTWARE KOCH MEDIA COMPANY PROFILE
see some interesting changes throughout 2010. We will continue to launch major brands on the site and expand our offering to our independents.
"I cannot see the traditional retail/e-tail customer moving to cloud-based purchasing for some time; early adopters absolutely will, but not the mainstream"
What’s next for PCindie.com? For our independents I want to start making clever tweaks to the site to improve navigation and understanding of it. We are starting to put various plans in place internally to identify promotions and how we carry them out. For our suppliers we will be continuing to develop the back-end reporting system, which gives them complete transparency and data when they need it.
Joanna Kemp, Koch Media More and more companies are paying lip service to cloud-based initiatives – how do you think this will impact the traditional software distribution and retail sector? Of course eventually retail box distribution will be limited. As and when that will happen isn’t a question I can answer. I cannot see the
traditional retail/e-tail customer moving to cloud-based purchasing for some time; early adopters absolutely will, but not the mainstream. In terms of traditional cloud initiatives I see it impacting our volume licensing sector first, particularly in the corporate sector. With budgets under constraint, cloud purchasing is a cost-effective way to have access to non-essential software for certain users as and when required, compared to rolling out yearly costly licenses. How has Koch changed as a business since it was founded? We have continually grown our turnover year on year, but honestly we have stuck to what we know and developed and grown on our strengths, rather than changing and diversifying and trying to be everything to everyone. Koch Media has and always will be a true value-added sales and marketing company backed by a first class logistical and warehousing facility. We pride ourselves on our knowledge and unique place in the
market. That’s something I am personally very proud of. What’s next on the agenda? Are you looking to expand the business in the UK or abroad? Koch Media UK is part of a worldwide operation, with operating companies in nine countries. As for what’s on the agenda for software this year – we are always on the look out for new acquisitions and extending our range. In fact, we are busy working on opportunities now to continue bringing fresh new products to the market. Where do you see Koch in five years time? As I said, Koch is busy working on opportunities to maximise its potential and the company been over in China in the last month looking at new technologies and potential markets. I really see Koch leading the way in value-add distribution and evolving our customer relationships to bring new technology and ideas to the market. Watch this space.
Koch Media is looking at branching out into new technologies and markets
68 PCR June
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SOFTWARE PC GAMES
Game On PCR looks at the best-selling PC games and those due for release over the coming months...
GAME OF THE MONTH PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE FORGOTTEN SANDS Publisher: Ubisoft Distributor: Gem Released: June 11th Price: £29.99 THE PRINCE of Persia franchise has been around for nearly 20 years, first made popular in the early nineties on consoles and DOS formats. In The Forgotten Sands the prince visits his brother's kingdom and finds the royal palace under siege from a huge supernatural army about to destroy it. In
response, his brother Malik lets rip with time-warping magic. Imbued with special powers, players must embark on a quest to wipe out the evil hoards, manipulating time and nature. A graphical overhaul and engine updates make The Forgotten Sands look and play sharper than previous games in the series. Prince of Persia games have performed well over two decades of releases on a variety of platforms, and the game looks set to be one of the best selling new releases of the month.
NEW RELEASES TITLE
ON THE RADAR GENRE
I'm Not Alone
Space Shuttle Simulator
Prince Of Persia: The Forgotten Sands
June 11 June 18
Pro Cycling Tour Manager: Tour De France 2010
Shrek: Forever After
0121 625 3388
A New Beginning
0121 506 9585
0121 506 9585
Disciples III: Renaissance
0121 506 9585
Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4
0121 625 3388
0121 506 9585
The Sims 3: Ambitions
0121 625 3388
Alabama Smith: Escape From Pompeii
Farm Frenzy 3 Pizza Party
Front Mission Evolved
020 7324 5200
Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 Publisher: Warner Games Distributor: Centresoft
The Sims 3: Ambitions Publisher: EA Distributor: Centresoft
FULL PRICE TOP 5
BUDGET TOP 5
Football Manager 2010
The Sims 3: Des & High Tech
The Sims 3
Napolean: Total War
World of Worldcraft: Battlechest
Battelfield: Bad Company 2
Rome: Total War
The Sims 3: World Adventures
The top five charts are based on monthly sales figures supplied by Chart Track, figures are for April 2010
*ABC-certified distribution 102,010 Jan-Dec 05
Electronics PCRâ€™s monthly look at recent developments in the consumer electronic market
THE BIG THREE
As Nokia teams up with Intel and Microsoft to boost its smartphone offerings, we ask the three firms about how this sector overlaps with the PC market
Account executive Chris KennedySloane asks whether consumers will really embrace the tablet revolution, providing a boost to the industry
June PCR 73
CONSUMER ELECTRONICS MOBILE WARS
The big three Nokia has been busy forging alliances with two of the biggest firms in the PC sector – Intel and Microsoft – as it looks to strengthen its position in the smartphone market. Apart form the immediate effects of these deals, the new partnerships reveal just how intertwined the PC and mobile phone industries have now become, and the firms involved believe this is only going to increase. Andrew Wooden takes a look… “We share a vision for the future of mobile working with Nokia, and we both want to deliver groundbreaking, enterprisegrade solutions for mobile working” Jacob Jaffe, Microsoft UK
74 PCR June
SMARTPHONES have long commanded the majority of investment and development in the mobile phone industry, since they represent the most advanced sub-sector of the market. But more recently the devices have fallen under the wing of the PC industry, with firms such as Dell, Microsoft and Acer all pouring cash into their respective projects, alongside other mobile platforms. This represents a change in dynamic from how the PC market has traditionally evolved. Rather than a
constant arms race to get faster and more powerful equipment out as quick as possible, the focus in this area tends to be about transposing existing PC functionality into as small a package as possible. Nokia, which before the influx of smartphones sat comfortably astride the mobile phone industry in Europe, now has reason to fear Apple, HTC and RIM, all of which are gaining ground with their smartphone offerings. The firm has therefore allied itself with the
two biggest names in the PC industry – Intel and Microsoft. Microsoft and Nokia have just launched the first formal product of their alliance, which is essentially a communications platform exclusively developed for Nokia phones. Called Microsoft Communicator Mobile, the software aggregates and streamlines different ways of getting in touch with your contacts. It’s not groundbreaking in itself – the HTC Sense software does a similar job and includes social
CONSUMER ELECTRONICS MOBILE WARS
networking sites – however, it is the opening volley, and promises to be the first product of many. “Our engineering teams are hard at work together, as this client shows, and we will have much more coming down the line,” comments Jacob Jaffe, information worker business group lead at Microsoft UK. “Our marketing teams across the globe are also engaged and working together in profiling the benefits of our market solutions. We also share a vision for the future of mobile working with Nokia, and we both want to bring the best productivity experiences to more people across the globe and deliver ground-breaking, enterprise-grade solutions for mobile working that address the current and future needs of mobile professionals.” Intel has been working with Nokia for sometime on a ‘new class’ of mobile device, taking advantage of the chip giant’s proprietary architecture. More recently, the two firms announced MeeGo, which combines Intel’s Moblin and Nokia’s Maemo projects into one software platform. The idea is to generate a common, open-source development framework that will ensure applications developed are compatible across a range of devices – a major part of the project appears to be to better port the functionality of PCs to phones. “Personal high-performance mobile devices is where we are heading. And accessing the same content from a variety of devices is what we aim to facilitate,” says Rod O’Shea, EMEA ESG sales director at Intel. “We call it the ‘Computing Continuum’. Our focus is on the smartphone market, with the emphasis on ‘smart’. Processing power and building the ‘brains’ of today’s computing devices is what we excel at – we have a long history to prove that. As smartphones increasingly become handheld PCs we find ourselves in our ‘comfort zone’ and able to provide what is needed to move this sector forward, in terms of innovation and performance. Users have come to expect a PC-like experience when they access Flashbased content on the internet; this requires both performance and compatibility that we can offer. Obviously we cannot do this alone, but we have good allies in the market.”
Rod O’Shea, Intel
Jacob Jaffe, Microsoft
Robert Andersson, Nokia
Carolina Milanesi, Gartner
Through these strategic alliances, Nokia is looking to leverage the experience Intel and Microsoft have in PCs and attempt to better incorporate it into its phones. The alliance of these three firms – as well as further agreements with Yahoo – also serves as
smartphone in the world, its tough to see the dividing lines. Nokia itself believes it’s the evergrowing demand for constant access to the internet that has fused these two markets together. “The mobile industry has always been a very dynamic
"Our focus is on the smartphone market, with the emphasis on ‘smart’. Processing power and building the ‘brains’ of today’s computing devices is what we excel at – we have a long history to prove that" Rod O’Shea, Intel a useful metaphor of just how intertwined the two industries now are. It wasn’t too long ago that they had barely anything at all to do with each other – now, when Carphone Warehouse is one of the biggest laptop retailers in the country and a computer vendor (Apple) is manufacturing the most succesful
business, one which Nokia has been involved in and leading for a very long time,” notes Robert Andersson, head of corporate alliances and business development at Nokia. “A significant change has come recently with the growth of mobile internet and the emergence of the US – particularly Silicon Valley – as a hub
for innovation. The most obvious change is what people are demanding from their device, and the growth of the smartphone. “We are offering a number of different solutions for the large number of people across the globe, looking to ‘democratize’ the smartphone and push it to more attractive price points with Symbian, and really offer the ultimate mobile computing devices with MeeGo. The internet is driven by mobility at the moment, and the mobile and PC industries are converging.” The fact that so much investment in the tech industry seems to be swinging in favour of mobile phones and other smaller devices rather than more traditional PCs could cause some disruption to the current business model, which has always been about reaching for the next, more powerful product, rather than the most mobile. Not all see this as having a catastrophic effect, however. “Yes, [PC firms] are increasing the focus on mobility but I do not see this as detrimental to their computer offering but as an extension of that offering as we move more and more towards a world where we will see little difference between a smartphone, a netbook and a notebook, other than hardware form factor,” suggests Carolina Milanesi, Gartner’s research VP for mobile devices technology and service provider research. With so much emphasis being placed on smartphones, not everyone will be so confident that the PC business will come out unaffected. Eugene Kaspersky, CEO and founder of security firm Kaspersky Labs said to us earlier this year that he sees a future in which all computers will essentially be mobile phones, which plug into dumb ports scattered around the planet when a larger screen is needed. Not everyone will be anticipating a world in which PCs as we know them disappear completely either, but if the top tech firms in the PC and mobile phone sectors continue to integrate their businesses and we do see less of an emphasis on traditional PCs, then just like Microsoft and Intel, the rest of the industry will have to re-evaluate how and with whom it earns its money.
July PCR 75
broaden your view watch internet based media on the new iViewer TV
CONSUMER ELECTRONICS GFK ANALYSIS
Can tablets cure IT’s headache? Despite the IT market’s propensity for innovation, there is some speculation as to whether end-users will embrace the influx of non-traditional tablet devices. GfK account executive Chris Kennedy-Sloane discusses... “I doubt anyone could have predicted the success of the netbook 24 months ago, but we can certainly guess that we’re going to see some interesting times ahead” Chris Kennedy-Sloane, GfK
TRADITIONAL tablets have always been a small segment of the market – comprising about four per cent by value share, and with a relatively high average selling price of around £700. This has come down recently, from a base of about £1300 two years ago. However it is still a very high price considering the lower specifications of the average tablet computer in comparison to a traditional notebook. These new launches are alleged to be selling in the range of approximately £400-500 – a lower price than traditional tablets. However, many of them are slated to have a lower
specification build than even some netbooks and some if not all will have smaller screen sizes with a lack of the usual ports we associate with a desk or mobile PC. Moving past the initial hype, are we expecting consumers to pay more for less, even though it’s in a different package? As previously mentioned, the netbook is a lower specified and lower priced version of the traditional notebook. If we were to compare the netbooks entrance into the market then there a possibility these products will do well. Also when taking into account the most successful netbook
models have had significantly lower specifications with notebook level prices, it seems plausible that consumers are now coming to terms with the idea of doing less on their computer in exchange for a more convenient form factor. On the other hand while the netbook has seen success as an alternative form factor, there are those that would argue we have seen cannibalization of the notebook market. Consumers buying a netbook instead of a notebook spend an average of £190 less when comparing the two average prices in March. What we may have here is a consumer who is now getting used to spending less for a PC, albeit a lower spec one and it’s debateable whether they’ll be willing to pay in the region of £500 for something slightly more attractive than their £240 netbook, with lower specifications to boot. We still can’t be sure of course how these new launches will affect the face of the PC market. I doubt anyone could have predicted the success of the netbook 24 months ago, but we can certainly guess that we’re going to see some interesting times ahead. Chris Kennedy-Sloane can be contacted on 0870 603 8136
June PCR 77
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AVERMEDIA LAUNCHES USB TV TUNER RANGE Digital media hardware firm AVerMedia has launched four new AVerTV USB tuners in time for the World Cup. The Volar HD PRO A835 gives users full Freeview and HD viewing. The Volar H830D Video Capture USB adds the ability to capture, record and edit HD content from Blu-ray, DVD and other digital media sources. The Hybrid Volar HD H830 handles Freeview and analogue transmissions, while the A820 DH Plug and Watch USB works with both PCs and Macs. The devices are stocked by Interactive Ideas. AVANQUEST REVEALS NEW RESELLER PORTAL Avanquest has unveiled its PanEuropean reseller portal, which delivers a range of the firm’s business software via electronic download. Avanquest Partner Online provides resellers with licensing keys and download links, as well as exclusive offers such as £200 of free software to new partners. “With a simple internet connection, anytime and anywhere, you can instantly quote the right price for utility, security, office, translation and graphics software. Plus you can deliver it immediately without having to manage stock, and it’s as simple for three as it is for 10,000 user licences,” said Jolyon Ostrick, Avanquest Software’s managing director, B2B Europe. BUFFALO TECHNOLOGY SIGNS DEAL WITH HYPERTEC Storage vendor Buffalo Technology has signed up Hypertec to distribute its full portfolio to SMEs, NGOs and blue chip multinationals. The distributor will also work with resellers to develop custom-built storage solutions. Paul Hudson, Buffalo’s sales director for Northern Europe, said: “Increasingly, small to medium businesses are requiring storage solutions which are integrated and cost-effective. Our objective is to expand and increase our breadth of resellers across the UK and EMEA and with its specialist channel expertise Hypertec will ensure we increase sales of our business-focused products.”
80 PCR June
Realtime’s Julie Darrington says the two firms complement each other
SERVERS PLUS TOASTS FIRST ANNIVERSARY Servers Plus, a division of distributor Target Components, is celebrating the end of its first year in business. The firm generated £1.5 million revenue in the last 12 months despite the recession, and also picked up IBM’s MidMarket Business Partner of the Year award in November. Servers Plus distributes more than 3,000 product lines to over 1,000 customers, and counts leading firms such as HP, IBM, Lenovo, Fujitsu and Microsoft among its vendor portfolio. “The results have exceeded our expectations for the first year,” said Servers Plus business manager James Yates. NANOPOINT UNVEILS NEW MINI WIRELESS KEYBOARD Nanopoint has launched the KSK3201RF mini KeySonic wireless keyboard, which is half the size of a regular keyboard. According to the vendor, it is 20 per cent lighter, 6cm slimmer and features a built-in 7mm optical trackball. The trackball has mouse functionality and two buttons, giving users full desktop control up to ten metres away from their PC. The keyboard also features two status LEDs for battery low and pairing/transmitting and 12 multifunctional shortcut keys for tasks including email, play/pause and media player.
MOTION UNVEILS RUGGED TABLET DUO Motion Computing has expanded its range of tablet PCs with the addition of what it claims are the industry’s first slate PCs to contain Intel Core vPro processors. The F5v and C5v feature enhanced integrated features, connectivity and durability and are designed to be used by workers across a range of industries. “From its inception, Motion has delivered tablet PC solutions that address the needs of a highly mobile workforce,” said Mike Stinson, vice president of marketing at Motion. “We extend that leadership with the introduction of the industry’s most advanced purpose-built slate tablet PCs that offer mobility, power and durability.”
Meroncourt expands networking offerings MERONCOURT has partnered with Dynamode to distribute the networking manufacturer’s product range in the UK and Ireland. According to the vendor, the deal will allow it to bolster its presence in both online and High Street retail outlets. “Dynamode is delighted to establish a distribution partnership with Meroncourt in promoting our products in the UK and Ireland to a wide and varied target audience. We are excited to be able to utilise the first class pre and post-sales support that customers have come to expect from Meroncourt Europe,” said Dynamode account manager Anthony Lock. “Meroncourt is delighted to add yet another high quality brand to its portfolio with the addition of Dynamode. It will fill a gap in our current range by allowing us to offer
Anthony Lock, Dynamode
great value products in connectivity and networking and so allowing our customers to compete at all levels of the market. Dynamode has some exciting, cutting-edge products and already has some USB 3.0 enclosures and interface cards which we will stock immediately,” added Meroncourt’s sales director, Steve Walsh.
XFX signs with Realtime Graphics card vendor boosts market presence through links with PC components distribution operation By Nicky Trup
XFX HAS inked a distribution deal with Realtime, aimed at increasing the market presence of its Nvidia GeForce products in the UK. The distie is now stocking the vendor’s entire range of Nvidia graphics cards. “Realtime’s partnership with XFX gives greater depth to our Nvidia graphics portfolio. XFX is an ideal fit for Realtime due to its well-established name with enthusiast PC gamers,” said Julie Darrington, the distie’s purchasing director.
“With Realtime being the UK’s number one distributor for enthusiast PC gaming components and peripherals, the forces of both our businesses complement each other.” Gavin Pitt, XFX’s UK sales manager, added: “Realtime is one of the longest standing specialist component
distributors in the UK Market and I am very pleased that XFX will now be able to reach a broader range of
“Realtime’s partnership with XFX gives greater depth to our Nvidia graphics portfolio. XFX is an ideal fit for Realtime due to its wellestablished name with enthusiast PC gamers” Julie Darrington, Realtime customers than was possible before.” He added: “To be backed up by a team like Realtime really adds so much
value to XFX’s operations, and is the perfect compliment in a market where the customers are more sophisticated and will only accept the best possible service backed up by the availability of strong brands, first class market intelligence – where adaptability is a key factor in operational longevity.” Meanwhile, Realtime has also signed up specialist computer and monitor cleaning manufacturer Dust Off, the consumer electronics cleaning arm of Falcon Safety Products. “Realtime’s partnerships with Dust Off enables us to offer our customers a complete cleaning solution for laptops, TVs and PC rigs and peripherals. This is a simple, high quality solution for anyone looking for the best way to care for their computer,” said Daniel Bennett, product manager at Realtime.
Centerprise snaps up Gigabyte Distie will bring a vast range of new products to market, including touchscreen swivel-screen netbook CENTERPRISE INTERNATIONAL has added Gigabyte to its vendor portfolio and is set to launch the hardware manufacturer’s new line of notebooks in the UK. According to the distributor, it will be stocking Gigabyte’s entire range of laptops and netbooks, as well as a number of as yet unannounced products. “Centerprise is delighted to partner with Gigabyte and launch its new products into the UK marketplace. Gigabyte is a well respected manufacturer with high quality products – the new range has been well researched and there has been a large amount of positive feedback on it,” said Emma Loveless, Centerprise’s business unit operations supervisor. “We believe it’s the perfect addition to our current line-up of products. We have a very successful
"We now have the added benefit of being able to supply our customers with a range of netbooks/notebooks" Emma Loveless, Centerprise
business within the high-end toughbooks in the market and now have the added benefit of being able to supply our customers with a range of netbooks/notebooks. This can only benefit them and also help us to improve and develop future relationships throughout the channel.” Two of the new products Centerprise is introducing to the UK
are the T1000 tablet netbook and the M1405 ultra-slim notebook. The T1000, which comes in a ‘latte gold’ colour, features a swivel multi-touch screen and uses Intel’s Pine Trail-M platform. The M1405, meanwhile, sports Smart Turbo technology for easy overclocking, a slimline DVD-RW drive, fingerprint technology, HDMI and an Nvidia GT220 graphics embedded docking station. While Gigabyte is best known for its motherboard and graphics accelerator products, notebooks now represent the vendor’s fastest growing product range. Hampshire-based Centerprise specialises in delivering IT products to the corporate, education, government and reseller sectors.
June PCR 81
82 PCR June
COMPANY PROFILE VARLINK
Link in the chain
The Varlink team has grown considerably since it was founded in 1994
During 2009 most companies would have been happy just watching business tick along, but distributor Varlink managed an impressive 81 per cent jump in profits, and has some similarly ambitious plans for the rest of 2010. Andrew Wooden talks to CEO Mike Pullon about the firm’s recent success...
CONTACT Phone: 01904 717 180 Web: www.varlink.co.uk
"We have seen a number of broadliners add mobile computing and data capture products to their ranges. This has spurred us to develop our product/service mix so as to increase the competitive gap" Mike Pullon
When, where and by whom was Varlink set up? Varlink was established by myself in York in late 2005 as a specialist distributor of rugged mobile computing and associated data capture products. I also formed ABC Distribution (a barcode and electronic point-of-sale specialist) in Hull in 1994, and within eight years turned it into a £14 million turnover enterprise which was subsequently acquired by USbased ScanSource in 2002. What would you say your main area of business is? Our products are marketed to mobile computing solution specialist resellers and to IT resellers and systems integrators who want to develop, or build, a position in the supply of mobile computing and data capture products or solutions. Over the past years we have seen a number of broadliners add mobile computing and data capture/Auto ID products to their ranges. This has spurred us to further develop our product/service mix so as to increase the competitive gap between ourselves and the broadliners, as well as Auto ID distributor competitors.
How has the last year been for Varlink commercially? Varlink bucked the recession and was pleased to post an increase in profit and turnover in 2009. Varlink posted its end of year result in December and capped a year of growth by posting an 81 per cent increase in net profit. The company’s financial year ended on August 31st 2009 with a turnover of £7.02 million, compared to £5.45 million in 2008. Net profit stood at £216,586 for the year-end 2009, compared to £119,486 in 2008. Our core mobile computer brands have all performed well and have featured in a number of larger projects carried out by our resellers (large utilities boards, railway operators, pallet delivery networks). Psion Teklogix, Opticon, Datalogic, Pidion, Janam and Trimble have all introduced new terminals during the past year which have been well received by the end users who buy from our customers. We have added functionality to our e-commerce sites, offered flexibility in the provision of credit and have increased our inventory levels so that the quality of our basic distributor
services increased in line with the expectations of the reseller community that we work with. Growth has been driven by strong reseller recruitment and by increased levels of business from our existing customers. The launch of our EPOS Division in summer 2009 has also boosted growth and reseller recruitment in this space is still growing strong. From eight staff in October 2005, Varlink’s head count has now reached 21. What plans to you have for the year ahead? We plan to open up 200 plus new accounts, get back to market development work around mobility applications, implement sector specific marketing campaigns, expand our offering to fill the gaps in our range, and broaden our customer base of by adding new brands. Where do you see Varlink in five years’ time? We will continue to work hard to further grow the development of the business so that our customers want to increase their level of business with us.
June PCR 83
MARKETPLACE APPOINTMENTS/EVENTS APPOINTMENTS
Carlo Inzalaco bolsters PCR sales team Gem appoints Le Duc and Nelson as national account managers Integra elects Bishop and Emery to its board PCR CARLO INZALACO has joined PCR as sales executive. Having previously worked at a prestige car sales company and a credit control firm, he will support Katie Rawlings and Carly Bailey in the sales department as PCR looks to expand upon its market leading position. “IT has long been a great interest of mine, and I’m looking forward to being on the cutting edge of the industry working with PCR,” Inzalaco said.
GEM FAYE LE DUC, who previously worked for PR firm Imacula and tech site Hexus, has been hired by Gem as national account manager, responsible for Argos. DAVID NELSON has also joined as national account manager for the telco division. “Having worked closely with Gem for a number of years, I’m thrilled to be joining the lively sales team and am
Faye Le Duc
looking forward to developing the business within one of their biggest retail accounts,” said Le Duc.
INTEGRA OFFICE SOLUTIONS Integra Office Solutions has elected SIMON BISHOP, managing director of Bishops Office Products and DAVID EMERY, managing director of operations for COS Group, to its board as non-executive directors.
Emery said: “I feel very privileged to have been appointed to the Integra board and look forward to joining the team and providing an input from a dealer’s perspective. Although it has been a difficult couple of years for businesses in general I strongly believe that Integra has what it takes to take members forward.” Bishop added: “I am delighted to have been elected to the Board and despite challenging times this is an
exciting time for Integra. I hope I can provide a valuable contribution to the development of Integra over the coming months and look forward to the challenge.” Aidan McDonough, managing director of Integra Office Solutions commented: “David and Simon bring new ideas and perspectives to the board and I look forward to working more closely with them to develop the business further.”
DIARY DATES 2010 The UK’s channel calendar is full of important events. Here are some upcoming highlights of the year ahead…
CHANNEL GOLF DAY
ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY'S ANNUAL CHARITY GOLF AND SPA DAY MAY 27TH CHANDLER'S CROSS, HERTS The event will consist of 18 holes of golf on the prestigious Grove course, followed by a three course awards dinner in the Grove Hotel. Exclusive use of the Grove’s Sequoia Spa’s indoor pool and fitness facilities are also provided.
JULY CHANNEL GOLF DAY JULY 8TH STAVERTON PARK, DAVENTRY
The TCA’s annual golf day gathers together key players from the country’s IT and PC trade, offering the chance to network and compete with business contacts. For golfers and non-golfers, the event includes a networking dinner and charity pool competition, as well as a spa and free golf tuition. NBG SUMMER FUN EVENT JULY 8TH WOODLAND GRANGE CONFERENCE CENTRE, LEAMINGTON SPA The Network Buying Group’s annual summer event gathers IT retailers, resellers, vendors and distributors together for
networking and business opportunities. This year NBG is taking over a ten pin bowling alley for some serious competition.
AUGUST GAMESCOM AUGUST 18TH - 22ND KOLN MESSE, COLOGNE, GERMANY The second Gamescom event follows on from the success of last year's debut, which attracted around 245,000 visitors. The games show begins with a tradeonly day, later opening its doors to the public to see the games industry show off the latest titles and hardware.
If you would like to promote your event, please contact: email@example.com NBG SUMMER FUN EVENT 84 PCR June
This information is believed to be correct, but potential visitors should confirm details with show organisers before making arrangements to attend
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The way ahead for the
indie channel Brigantia’s Iain Shaw discusses the buying group’s new partnership with US non-profit organisation NEF, including new opportunities for accreditation... "We will concentrate on making sure our members fully embrace the Brigantia Computer Experts Accreditation Scheme at a local level by placing our logo on their shop fronts and throughout their marketing materials and advertisements"
88 PCR June
I HAVE written before in this column about how important I believe it is for independent computer solution providers to turn their ‘on the job’ knowledge into industry recognised certifications. This becomes particularly relevant when the potential customer is a local or national government department or other government funded organization. The recent experience of our members assisting their local care homes to obtain grant funding through the £12 million Get Connected scheme has shown that accreditation is important when applying for a listing on the national Suppliers Directory, which covers ICT suppliers providing goods and services to the voluntary, community sector and registered adult social care provider organisations in England. In order to assist our members with the certification process, Brigantia has teamed up with the National Education Foundation (NEF) of the United States. NEF was recommended to us by our American affiliate ASCII Group, which has worked successfully with it for a number of years. NEF is an American not-for-profit organisation with its headquarters in Washington, DC. Founded in 1989 after consultations with high-profile figures including President Bill Clinton and Intel co-founder Dr Gordon Moore, NEF bridges the employment, digital and academic divides by providing high quality affordable online education to millions of students in countries including the US, India, Egypt, Jordan, Mauritius and now the UK. NEF offers web based training courses that can be undertaken 24/7 over 12 months. There are 40 IT Certifications available, with the most
popular being Cisco CCNA, Microsoft MCSE, CompTIA A+, Net+, Security+, IT Security (CISSP), Web Master and Project Management Professional (PMP). There are also 500 business, management and small business skills courses available. Brigantia has negotiated substantial ‘scholarships’ for members wanting to use NEF’s e-learning courses for their business owners, employees or apprentices. The scholarships bring the cost of the courses down to $60 (about £40), which represents a huge saving. The schemes can be accessed quickly and easily through the members’ portal. As the UK channel embraces NEF it is our intention to ask Cisco, Microsoft and CompTIA to support the work we are doing with the Brigantia Computer Experts Accreditation Scheme, which by its nature is an umbrella standard that we will develop over the coming years. We will be asking them for assistance in raising awareness of the work we are doing at a national level while we concentrate on making sure Brigantia members fully embrace the scheme at a local level by placing our logo on their shop fronts and throughout their marketing materials and advertisements. Rather than talking about this as other bodies have been doing, we have been quietly getting on with it. The future of the channel is service and to be able to go after the better contracts, certification in various fields will be increasingly required. We are promoting this new scheme to our members in the hope that its use will give them more of a competitive edge.
CONTACT IAIN SHAW firstname.lastname@example.org 0870 160 3215 www.brigantia.com Iain invites opinions from PCR readers and will respond though this column
Keith Warburton is the president of The Technology Channels Association. email: email@example.com
Think outside of the big box Keith Warburton looks at the impact an american import will have on UK independent resellers and discusses the fall out from the general election – suggesting local technology projects won’t be funded...
WHILE VARIOUS vendors and distributors have been quoted as being politely supportive of Best Buy, in the ‘competition is healthy’ vein, I’m sure that any independent reseller who finds one of the new mega-stores on the doorstep will be somewhat anxious about the impact this American import will have on their business. But, although independent resellers might be rather worried, it is more likely to be DSGi that is busily looking for a change of underwear. It is my view that as far as sales are concerned the ‘big box’ retailers are simply not interested in the independents – they just don’t appear on their radar. The big guys will fight it out and there will eventually be a winner, and the smart money seems to be on Best Buy. Of course not appearing on the big ships’ radar is something that captains of smaller boats are rightly apprehensive about – you can be run over and the perpetrator won’t even notice. Of greater concern to the independent reseller is The Geek Squad, Best Buys’ brilliantly named and cleverly marketed support service (it works on so many levels). The company promotes its technical services quite heavily and there is no doubt that this has paid off for them well in the past – in the USA they have an enviable reputation for support. But guess what, there is still a thriving independent
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reseller community in America. And surely it is no small co-incidence that the two leading trade bodies there focus very heavily on training, certification and professionalism, with well attended forums, information exchanges and networking events held regularly at local and national level. The rallying cry for UK independent resellers, or at least those who would like to have the best possible say in their own survival
“There is no doubt that video conferencing is coming into its own, and with entry level around £5,000, it starts to make sense for a huge portion of British enterprises. But to get it right, resellers will have to invest time, and a bit of money, in their own education”
success and prosperity, must be ‘associate and upskill’. Meanwhile we have the fallout from the general election to contend with. One thing you can be sure of, the national government will not be pumping money into local technology projects any time soon, instead there will be cuts, cuts and more cuts. The mantra for so many of the channel’s customers will be make-do and mend, for several years, at least. And who is better placed than local technology specialists to educate users as to how they can achieve more with less? They’ve been doing it themselves for years, after all. There will continue to be plenty of upgrade business for the foreseeable future. But why not turn current problems on their head, and really seize the initiative? Government departments and large corporations down to small enterprises are all under great pressure to cut costs. Travel is a huge overhead for many. There is no doubt that video conferencing is coming into its own, and with entry level now around £5,000, it starts to make sense for a huge portion of British enterprises. But to get it right, resellers will have to invest time, and a bit of money, in their own education. By the time you read this, the TCA will have held its first video conferencing summit. I’ll let you know next time round how it went.
Robert Peckham is a director of The Technology Channels Association. email: firstname.lastname@example.org
A new deal Robert Peckham takes a look at the disappearance of the Apple dealer and how the channel could benefit from Apple’s new scheme...
“Apple wants to build a dedicated network of individuals and small support companies who have achieved the highest qualifications in training and technical knowledge of the Mac, managing Apple systems and networks”
APPLE’S RESELLER accreditations have become a very complex affair over the years, often based on with many strange rules and regulations. For most of the decade before Apple realised the power of having a major retail presence, pretty well any computer reseller could be an ‘Apple Dealer’ simply by keeping an up-to-date demo Mac in their showroom. Apple gave their dealers a lovely logo to use on stationery and advertising along with signs and window stickers to promote this title, and boxes of leaflets and POS materials. If a reseller was a specialist in a vertical market like photography – as I was – Apple then granted ‘Channel Partner’ status. But best of all, for larger resellers who only sold Apple computers and had a demo showroom full of Macs, Apple would award the lofty accolade of Apple Centre. But since the Apple Store arrived to start building a direct-sales dominated Apple channel, resellers have had to work much harder to get accredited. Now they can set-up their own high profile Apple Store look-a-like retail premises, and they will be called an Apple Premium Reseller (APR). Apple Channel Partners have become Apple Solutions Experts (ASE), and Apple Centres? Well, they’ve disappeared completely. As for the many hundreds of Apple dealers, many disappeared when Apple introduced Authorised Reseller status and raised the qualifying bar considerably, but even this title was quietly killed off by Apple last year. This now means that if you’re a company selling Apple systems without a suitable
retail premises to be an APR store, you’re selling only Macintosh solutions but without the vertical-market focus to qualify as an ASE, and you have demo room with plenty of up-to-date machines, then you no longer fit any of Apple’s reseller accreditations. And now there’s a new title just getting off the ground in the UK and throughout Europe – the Apple Consultants Network (ACN). ACN has been running in the USA and Canada for the past 15 years, so it’s been a long time arriving here. Apple wants to build a dedicated network of individuals and small support companies who have achieved the highest qualifications in training and technical knowledge of the Mac,
managing Apple systems and networks, and who want to support Apple users from major corporates right down to home users. On the face of it, this scheme is a winner. It will allow an army of independent Apple experts with little chance of otherwise achieving recognition from Apple for their professional services, to finally receive an accreditation which fits their abilities, market position and dedication to the Mac platform. Plus, Apple itself says it will be calling on this network to assist with the field support of all those people buying direct from Apple or through APR stores. This could be just what the channel needs.
The TCA is the not–for–profit trade body with membership made up of businesses from all parts of the channel.
Visit www.tcauk.org for more information
June PCR 91
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to talk ITACS chairman Matthew Woolley discusses the growing need for accreditation among servicefocused independent PC retailers...
"I would love to be accredited with something relevant to my customers – word of mouth and good service do the job, but I would like more. In fact, we should demand more"
SINCE LAST month we have been in discussions with Microsoft regarding issues that occur when supporting consumers. It is interesting to note that Microsoft does not sell to consumers – they sell to the channel. The channel does the support. This may have been okay in the old days but it does not work so well when the consumer has a choice about which product to buy and where to get it serviced. Laptops are now being purchased by grannies who want to keep in touch with their grandchildren, and an overseas support line is not what they want. OEM rules mean that we are at a disadvantage to pirates and cowboys when it comes to supporting consumers. As consumers account for most Windows 7 sales it is something the industry might want to address. My shop has no partner programme to sign up to and we don’t do many sales. We do virus removal, fix booting problems and program home routers. There are no exams for us to pass, and no certificates to put on our wall. I would love to be accredited with something relevant to my customers – word of mouth and good service do the job, but I would like more. In fact, we should demand more. 50 per cent of computer purchases are made by consumers – that is a big business and a big opportunity. We in the industry should work together to make sure every consumer is looked after and every business that does this should be supported.
INDEPENDENT TRADE ASSOCIATION OF COMPUTING SPECIALISTS YOU CAN CONTACT ITACS ON 08445 763 760 OR VISIT WWW.ITACS.ORG.UK
94 PCR June
The dangers of DIY desktops NASCR committee member Geoff Carr looks at the perils of selling components to customers who don’t know what they’re doing... DO YOU cringe when Joe Public these things are returned with and walks in and asks for internal PC you can’t resell them for full price components? Many dealers are when they aren’t in pristine condition. willing to sell the fragile, static Obviously, not everyone who sensitive parts to anyone who asks, wants components from a shop is while carefully covering themselves going to wreck them and some with warnings and disclaimers posted people are quite capable of installing all over their walls and receipts. them properly. But you can’t test The trouble is that DIYers will customers’ knowledge and qualify have a go without full knowledge them before refusing to sell about what they are doing. At best, something that was already out on rather than just the shelf for sale. How asking for a can you sell to one guy mysterious and not the one "Some customers behind him? Some unidentifiable memory upgrade, expect full technical even expect full back up and support technical back up and they’ll pull a memory module for free instead of support for free out of their back paying to have the instead of paying to pocket along have the job done by a job done by a with a dirty comb professional in the professional in the first place. and ask if you’ve first place" got anything It is easy to see why similar. Last week some dealers charge somebody asked restocking fees and me for a motherboard for an Acer, testing fees. If they are prepared to but that was as specific as that have the resultant battles with request got. They want fancy customers, they may get away with graphics cards without knowing selling components, but it really is a which type of slot they will fit in, dilemma as to whether it is a never mind whether they have a worthwhile exercise. In our shop we suitable power supply. Or they want simply offer to do the job for them Mike Scott drives and look blank when asked but if the customer still insists they what type of connector. want to do it themselves, we let Personally, I won’t sell components them go elsewhere. That way of because I know that some of them are dealing with the problem isn’t for going to be returned, and that I could everyone and for those who do sell do without, for the sake of a poor components, if you can keep your profit margin. Understandably, the customers happy we’d love to hear at disties won’t accept the daft reports NASCR how you do it.
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SPECIALIST COMPUTER RETAILERS YOU CAN CONTACT NASCR ON 08456 440715 OR VISIT WWW.NASCR.ORG
Exspect flies the flag Distributor lands official licensing deal and launches World Cup themed skins for gadget users “Thanks to our partnership with Digital Goals, fans will be able to fly the flag for England on their favourite gadget throughout the summer. Easy to apply, remove and reuse, we expect these skins will prove popular with supporters long after England lifts that World Cup trophy” Mike Sanderson, Exspect
EXSPECT has developed a range of skins for the iPhone, iPod Touch and Nintendo DS, following its branding and licensing deal with Digital Goals. The partnership is expected to open up a host of new opportunities for Exspect customers to stock a range of branded accessories featuring the Three Lions Logo and the official England FA hologram. Additionally, while the range is currently limited to skins, the distributor plans to extend it to Blackberrys a nd laptops, later this year. “Football lovers up and down the country are looking for ways to show their support for England during the World Cup,” said Exspect’s head of development, Mike Sanderson. “Thanks to our partnership with Digital Goals, fans will be able to fly the flag for England on their favourite gadget throughout the summer. Easy to apply, remove and reuse, we expect these skins will prove popular with supporters long after England lifts that World Cup trophy.”
Former Exspect commercial director and founder of Digital Goals, Neil Meredith, hinted at further licensing deals in the future: “Obviously with the ongoing relationship I have with Exspect and GEM it was an easy choice for me to select them and work with them when I was looking for the best route to market in time for the World Cup.
“We have other licensed property opportunities in the pipeline and we are looking forward to announcing them soon.”
June PCR 95
Adobe releases Creative Suite 5 range Vendor drives new line of creative software with packages aimed at web designers and film makers â€œThe four packages contain varying combinations of popular Adobe software such as Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Acrobat and Illustratorâ€?
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ADOBE has released the new Creative Suite 5 software range, including Master Collection, Design Premium, Web Premium and Production Premium. Available now from Ingram Micro, the four packages contain varying combinations of popular Adobe software such as Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Acrobat and Illustrator. The packages can also access CS Live, a set of online services for initiating tasks such as web conferences and website previews. Master Collection, which Adobe claims costs up to 60 per cent less than purchasing the 18 different products separately, allows users to design and develop work and collaborate with others. The software includes Flash Professional CS5 for creating microsites and casual games that present designs consistently
across different platforms, and Premiere Pro CS5 for fast video editing. Design Premium aims to provide designers with the complete toolset to produce high-quality print designs. Packages including Photoshop CS5 Extended, Illustrator CS5 and InDesign CS5 allow users to create images and graphics, lay-out pages, build standard-based websites, create interactive content without writing code and extend page layouts for viewing with e-book readers. Web Premium allows users to design and develop web content using integrated Adobe Flash platform tools. It includes Dreamweaver CS5, Flash Catalyst CS5,
Flash Professional CS5 and Flash Builder 4, among others. Production Premium, meanwhile, contains software for creating video productions, motion graphics, visual effects and interactive experiences. Products in the package include After Effects CS5, Photoshop CS5 Extended, Premiere Pro CS5 and Encore CS5.
Cello launches iViewer range British company creates TV capable of streaming iPlayer without any additional hardware or software CELLO ELECTRONICS has launched a range of LCD digital TVs that allows users to stream online media services such as BBC iPlayer directly through their television without the need for any third party products. The iViewer connects to the internet via an ethernet or wi-fi connection and allows the user to stream digital content through their TV. Although iPlayer and Sky Player are directly linked, users can also view YouTube videos and access Facebook and Twitter as well as uploading photos from a PC for display. The TV is available in 32-inch and 22-inch models, which are full HD, or a 26-inch HD-ready version. All devices in the range include two integrated freeview channels and a seven day electronic programme guide. Each model features stereo sound with separate bass, treble and balance controls. two HDMI connections and two scart inputs. They ship with a remote control and stand included and are also wall mountable.
"Although iPlayer and Sky Player are directly linked, users can also view YouTube videos and access Facebook and Twitter as well as uploading photos from a PC for display"
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Sweex unveils new ranges Dutch vendor broadens its portfolio with consumer electronics offerings, including a new MP4 player with an integrated video camera "The Sweex LED TVs come in 22-inch and 26-inch sizes and allow users to link digital content to the televisions. Sweex claims these LED models consume 30 per cent less electricity than LCD TVs”
DUTCH FIRM Sweex has released a number of new additions to its product range, including an e-reader, LED TVs, an MP4 player and wireless mouse. The Sweex eBook Reader has a sixinch high-resolution e-ink panel screen and, according to the vendor, a battery that lasts for up to 8,000 page views, only drawing power when a new page is loaded. The device offers integrated storage for around 500 books and includes 15 books pre-loaded, but the addition of a 2GB SD card increases storage to up to 3,000 books. Another addition to the consumer gadget portfolio is the Sweex Vici MP4 Player and FM radio receiver range. Available in 4GB and 8GB versions, these devices feature a polished aluminium casing, which is available in six colours, as well as an integrated
camera, which can take pictures or record video and display them on the two-inch TFT screen or can be transferred to a PC. The new range is further bolstered by the Sweex LED TVs. These devices, which come in 22-inch and 26-inch sizes, feature USB, VGA and HDMI ports, allowing users to link digital content to the televisions. Sweex claims these LED models consume 30 per cent less electricity than LCD TVs. The vendor’s other new energy-saving offering is the Wireless Voyager Mouse, which includes features such as low power wireless technology and an on/off switch to lengthen the battery life. The mouse is ergonomically designed, has an operating range of ten metres and is compatible with both Mac and PC.
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98 PCR June
TP-Link offers ‘one-stop networking’ New device offers three-in-one modem, router and wireless access point with speeds up to 150Mbps TP-LINK has launched its new TDWireless G products, allowing the W8950ND 150Mbps Wireless Lite N user to stream content like HD video. ADSL2+ Modem Router, a modem It also carries integrated security router that also functions as a wireless packet inspection, allowing parents access point. and network admins to The TDregulate traffic. “A one-stop W8950ND “This three-in-one solution to combines a high device combines the speed DSL modem functions of a highacquiring and with a four-port sharing high speed speed DSL modem, a 10/100Mbps NAT 4-Port 10/100Mbps internet access router and NAT router and a over a wired or includes a Wireless Wireless Lite N access wireless network” point, meaning there’s Lite N access point, which no need to buy a Eric Wang, TP-Link complies with separate router and wireless 802.11b/g wireless access point,” and is compatible with the said TP-Link’s UK country manager 802.11n standard. Eric Wang. “The TD-W8950ND is TP-Link says that the device offers designed to give you a one-stop speeds of up to 150Mbps, solution to acquiring and sharing representing nine times the speed and high speed internet access over a four times the range of traditional wired or wireless network.”
June PCR 99
Devolo launches new freesat HomePlug kits Both products feature an energy saving mode, enabling them to use up to 60 per cent less power when on standby
100 PCR June
NETWORKING vendor Devolo has launched two new HomePlug solutions, the dLAN 200 AV Kit and dLAN 200 AVpass Kit. Both products are designed to allow freesat viewers to watch online TV services such as BBC iPlayer through their televisions. The difference between the two kits is that the dLAN 200 AVpass includes inbuilt electrical sockets in each adaptor, allowing additional devices to be plugged in, while the dLAN 200 AV is a more compact solution without integrated power points. With both kits, users simply connect their broadband router to one adaptor, and their freesat box to another, allowing them to use the household electricity network to achieve data speeds of up to 200Mbps. Once the adaptors are connected, users can press the red
button on their remote controls to view internet TV services. “The dLAN 200 AV Kit and dLAN 200 AVpass Kit offer users a simple and
"The dLan 200 kits offer users a simple and effective way to enjoy internet TV services on their television for free and without having to wait for downloads, providing customers with an even greater choice of programmes"
programmes to watch,” said Peter Huddleston, Devolo’s UK operations manager. According to the vendor, both kits feature its patented power saving mode, which automatically uses up to 60 per cent less energy when in standby mode. The dLAN 200 AVpass Kit retails at £119.99, while the dLAN 200 AV Kit is priced at £99.99. The kits come complete with two adaptors and two ethernet connection cables.
Peter Huddleston, Devolo effective way to enjoy internet TV services on their television for free and without having to wait for downloads, providing customers with an even greater choice of
CyberLink releases new media software Users can use one application for all their needs and upgrade movies to HD or 3D with PowerDVD 10 Ultra CYBERLINK has released Power DVD 10, a universal media player software package which is now compatible with more formats than ever. The CyberLink PowerDVD 10 Standard edition is a media player for DVDs, videos and music, while the Ultra 3D version allows users to view movies in both HD and 3D. The two versions are available now from Koch Media. Ultra 3D plays Blu-ray 3D discs, DVDs, video files and music all from within one application. According to the vendor, the software is optimised for the latest graphic technologies, creating smoother playback and launching Blu-rays up to four times faster. The software is compatible with all 3D
hardware including glasses, graphics cards and monitors. DVDs and video files can be upscaled to HD quality using TrueTheater technology, and can be converted from 2D into 3D with TrueTheater 3D. TrueTheater Surround, meanwhile, optimises audio for home theatre and PC hardware. The software also supports high-definition audio formats. Users can enhance home videos to improve the quality, and the software can be used to upload clips to YouTube. Reviews can be created by bookmarking favourite movie scenes and writing short comments on them during playback, which can be posted live to social networking sites.
June PCR 101
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102 PCR June
HTC LEGEND IT’S A CLICHÉ but it’s true. The iPhone 3GS has been top of the smartphone pile for nearly a year now, and its reign has been pretty much unchallenged. At last, however, it has a rival – the HTC Legend. It’s a gorgeous piece of kit, with a body machine from a billet of aluminium, an optical four-way control set minimally into the phone’s subtle ‘chin’, and soft touch pads on the rear to prevent it from being scratched. Turn the Legend on and its tremendous OLED screen glows into life. Colours take on an almost hyperrealistic hue, which helps UI elements, graphics, video and web pages leap from the screen. The beauty of the Legend isn’t just skin deep, however, there’s plenty of substance behind the perfect façade. For starters, it runs Android 2.1 (aka Éclair), which means you get a unified email inbox, support for multiple Gmail accounts and five home screens. Then there’s the latest version of HTC’s Sense UI added on top. The key
benefit of this is that it unifies contacts, pictures and updates from Facebook, Flickr and Twitter into one location. Battery life is not particularly impressive, though. With just a 1,300mAh lithium-ion cell inside, that isn’t surprising, but we’d prefer to have seen more than 40 per cent remaining after our 24 hour test. It’s wonderful to finally have an Android smartphone that stands toe-
URL: www.htc.co.uk SRP: £370
“The beauty of the Legend isn’t just skin deep – there’s plenty of substance behind the perfect facade. It runs Android 2.1, which means you get a unified email inbox, support for multiple Gmail accounts and five home screens” to-toe with Apple’s finest on design, speed and ease of use. Better still, the HTC Legend manages to do so without costing the earth. The iPhone 3GS just about shades it, thanks to its superior app selection and slightly better battery life, but there’s barely a hair’s breadth between the two.
SAMSUNG R580 INTEL’S CORE i3 processors are set to power budget laptops to performance levels previously reserved for pricier portables, and Samsung’s R580 is one of the first of this new breed. With dedicated graphics courtesy of Nvidia and a price tag that sneaks in
“The R580 makes a dramatic entrance. Samsung’s touch of colour design makes a big statement – the glossy blood-red finish stands apart from the legions of jet-black laptops on the market”
URL: www.samsung.com/uk SRP: £577
below the £500 mark (exc. VAT), it looks set to bring portable power to the budget-conscious masses. There’s little question that the R580 makes a dramatic entrance. Samsung’s touch of colour design makes a big statement – the lid infused with a glossy blood-red finish stands apart form the legions of jet-black laptops on the market. The interior is equally
fanciful, with the Scrabble-tile keyboard surrounded by red curves sweeping from edge to edge. Look past the flash harry exterior and there’s little to disappoint. The Core i3-330M processor lacks the Turbo Boost trickery of its Core i5 and i7 cousins, but the 2.13GHz clock speed propelled it to a grand score of 1.32 in our benchmarks. And the Nvidia GT 310M graphics chipset, while no 3D-accelerating goliath, provides enough gaming grunt for the mid-range market, only stumbling to an unplayable 14fps once we upped Crysis to medium detail and a resolution of 1,280 times 1,024. Some might find the R580’s attention-seeking looks a little too gaudy for their tastes, but there’s no doubt that it makes a great case for Intel’s new budget-focussed processor. Battery life isn’t a strength – we’re still waiting for the long-life Core i3 we know is possible – but the R580 does just enough to earn a recommendation. It provides good ergonomics, great performance and generous connectivity at a very sensible price.
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THE IT CROWD
THIS MONTH: Realtime party, PCR’s charity walk and the Retail Vision Awards...
KEEPING IT REAL Figures representing all parts of the channel, from retailers to vendors, hit Archangel bar on Kensington High Street for Realtime's Channel Expo After-Party last month. Guests were able to relax after a hard day at the trade show with rather potent complementary cocktails and tasty canapés, with some attendees hitting the dancefloor until the early hours. Sponsors of the event included Sapphire, Creative, Sennheiser, Xigmatek and AMD.
Realtime's Victoria Large with Nick Loftus from iMinds
Top right: Keith Williams with Imacula’s James Dean Bottom right: Razer's Darren Roberts, Realtime's Julie Darrington, Sapphire's Steve Morgan, AMD's Carly Hill and Realtime's Hannah Horne
Realtime's Georgina ’s Wilmer with Best Buy Richard Tennant
eri from Aria Left to right: Aria Tah Talbot, Hannah s Ros e's ltim Rea h wit mer, Phil Davis, Horne, Georgina Wil ola Pace Nic and ge Lar Victoria
KASPERSKY RACES AHEAD Kaspersky Lab has formed a technical partnership with Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, which will see the security vendor's logo appear on the team's vehicles for the 2010 and 2011 seasons. The Kaspersky logo made its debut last month on cars racing in the 1000km of SpaFrancorchamps, Belgium.
104 PCR June
WALK THE WALK Members of PCR’s advertising, editorial and production teams raised £1,350 for breast cancer charity Walk the Walk. The girls donned decorated bras and joined thousands of other women on the Playtex MoonWalk – a midnight marathon march across London.
Left: Katie Rawlings, Rosie McKeown, Suzanne Powles, Gemma Messina and Carly Bailey
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A VISION OF SUCCESS
A day in the life or Account Gary Read Seni ch Manager, Logite
The European retail industry descended on London last month for Retail Vision Europe, which was held in the UK for the first time. The day was followed by a networking event and awards ceremony at the Sofitel London Heathrow. Winners included Trust, Veho and Best Buy.
MARATHON WOMAN Kingston Technology’s regional director for the UK and Ireland Ann Keefe ran this year’s London Marathon in support of the Vision Charity, achieving an impressive finish time of five hours and five minutes despite tearing her achilles tendon just two months before. “I couldn't run for almost five weeks and couldn't do any more training before the actual marathon,” Keefe said. “At the last minute I decided that it was an opportunity of a lifetime and decided to go along and just enjoy it with no pressure.”
SHINING STARS Five celebrities are starring in a series of short films about the work of five technology pioneers. The campaign, organised by BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT, features comedian Dom Joly, TV presenters Ortis Deley and Kate Russell, actress Miranda Raison and ex-England cricketer Phil Tufnell.
“I get satisfaction from providing sales people with product training and knowledge sharing, and can safely say I get to work with some of the best people in the industry” I JOINED Logitech on August 2008 after spending almost three years working in the OEM division of Microsoft as a business manager. My day normally begins with my threeyear-old daughter and six-year-old son standing by the side of the bed asking Mummy or Daddy to make them some Coco Pops at around 6.30am. Once I have switched the TV on to Peppa Pig or Ben 10 and fed the little piglets, I normally finish my coffee and set off from my home in Swindon, Wiltshire, to the Logitech office in Slough. My daily roles consists of ensuring meetings are in place for the week ahead, checking sell-out reports from the previous week, analysing stock reports, scheduling call-out and sellthrough plans and attending morning meetings with my colleagues. The atmosphere in the office is very positive; some great ideas are created amongst the team and with our latest recruits on board and the newly decorated office complete, there is certainly a great buzz on a Monday morning. I currently manage the sell-through of our distributors’ stock and spend Tuesday to Friday on sales floors and feel I have very much become a face associated with Logitech. I love the chance to meet new people and get out on the road. I get a great deal of satisfaction from providing sales people with product training and knowledge sharing, and can safely say I get to work with some of the best people in the industry. I generally spend my evenings watching TV, but with my BlackBerry never too far away, waiting for the dripping tap of email.
June PCR 105
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PCR Editorial Planner
HOT SEAT Kieron Reardon, Sales Director at CCI Distribution
JULY 2010: MAC SPECIAL Advertising deadline: June 16th Mac peripherals Business software Ergonomic desk solutions EVENTS: TCA GOLF DAY To advertise call Carly Bailey on +44 (0) 1992 535647 or email Carly.Bailey@intentmedia.co.uk For editorial please contact Andrew Wooden on +44 (0) 1992 535646 or email him at Andrew.Wooden@intentmedia.co.uk
AUGUST 2010 Advertising deadline: July 21st Back to school issue Back to school hardware and software
Describe yourself in three words Determined, focused and stubborn – not always in that order How do you relax away from work? Watching football and spending time with the family
SEPTEMBER 2010 Advertising deadline: August 18th Gaming issue Graphics cards Peripherals Displays Gaming hardware EVENT: PIXEL EXHIBITION
OCTOBER 2010 Advertising deadline: September 15th Security special Security software Digital storage Photography EVENT: STORAGE EXPO
NOVEMBER 2010 Advertising deadline: October 20th Christmas special Novelty Gadgets Notebooks Laptop bags and accessories
DECEMBER 2010 Advertising deadline: November 17th MP3 players and accessories External hard drives Distributor opening times
What’s your favourite book? Hairy Maclary, by Lynley Dodd, as I read it to my four-year-old most nights before bed What’s your favourite film? Carlito's Way, staring Al Pacino What’s your favourite album? Plan B - The Defamation of Strickland Banks What was your first computer? Showing my age now but it was a ZX81 What’s your best memory of working in the industry? Selling my first product into Dixons, which was a Samsung CD-R in a 25-pack cakebox Who’s the funniest person you’ve ever met? I was privileged to have a drink in a airport lounge with Billy Connolly while waiting for a delayed flight – very funny man What did you want to do when you were younger? My mother wanted me to be a Catholic priest, but I had my sights set on becoming the first round-the-world truck driver
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Published on Jun 3, 2010