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ISSUE 82 JULY 2010

The retail giant discusses its push into the software sector p21


JULY 2010 ISSUE 82


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Issue 82 July 2010 Incorporating


"Cutting edge tech like tablets and 3D hardware is seemingly skipping the high-end, enthusiast market and being thrown squarely at the masses"


Andrew Wooden andrew.wooden@intentmedia.co.uk

THE MASSES AGAINST THE TECHIES IT'S LONG been a position of this magazine that it is easy to

Staff Writer

Matt Grainger matt.grainger@intentmedia.co.uk

over-estimate the general public's understanding of the

Staff Writer

to be patronising – an ignorance of the specific benefits of a

Nicky Trup nicky.trup@intentmedia.co.uk

quad core processor over a Celeron should be no more

Editorial Production Manager

catalytic converter has a ceramic or stainless steel core. Just

Helen French helen.french@intentmedia.co.uk

products our industry is built on. This assertion is not meant

shameful than not knowing whether your car engine's fix the motor, mate. Telling users exactly how fast the hard drive spindle goes round can be seen as surplus to


Gemma Messina gemma.messina@intentmedia.co.uk

requirement in most cases, but that's how the industry is geared up to sell new kit. The average savvy of computer users probably used to be

Managing Editor

Lisa Foster lisa.foster@intentmedia.co.uk

higher – but vendors have never been so consciously

Executive Advertising Manager

laptops, cameras and printers, cutting edge tech like tablets

Katie Rawlings katie.rawlings@intentmedia.co.uk

targeting the mass market as they are now. As well as and 3D hardware is seemingly skipping the high-end, enthusiast market and being thrown squarely at the masses

Sales Executive

Carly Bailey carly.bailey@intentmedia.co.uk

from the off. For this reason Tesco, which has the 'average shopper' in its pocket, is stepping up in the tech space, and this is also

Sales Executive

Carlo Inzalaco carlo.inzalaco@intentmedia.co.uk

why it seems to be achieving so much success. The grocery

Production Executive

at the forefront of the new waves of tech coming our way. It

Rosie McKeown rosie.mckeown@intentmedia.co.uk

is also very aware that non-techy shoppers are often more

giant has invested in training up specialists, and wants to be

comfortable buying laptops from the same place they get Designer

Kelly Styles kelly.styles@intentmedia.co.uk

their family's food – not less. If the point needed proving, this month also sees BHS and Co-op moving into the technology market.


Stuart Dinsey stuart.dinsey@intentmedia.co.uk

And it’s not just retailers. This month's interview with AMD reveals the chip maker is turning its back on the ‘arms race’ culture which has defined its relationship with Intel. If you don't know what the cold string of numbers attached to the

Editorial: 01992 535646 Advertising: 01992 535647 www.pcr-online.biz

latest processor or graphics card means (and most people won't), it can seem intimidating and, well, pointless. The Vision system instead looks to simplify the whole process by essentially categorising computers into what they'll be used for. It’s a strategy that is aimed squarely at simplifying its new


PCR - Total average monthly net circulation for January 1st to December 31st 2009: 11,443 Intent Media is a member of the Periodical Publishers Associations PCR is published 12 times a year by Intent Media - Saxon House, 6a St.Andrew Street, Hertford, Hertfordshire SG14 1JA Fax: +44 (0)1992 535648. © Intent Media 2010 No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without prior permission of the copyright owners. Printed by Pensord.

technology for the mass market. Call it dumbing down if you like, but the trend has been developing for sometime now and the smart money is on more retailers and vendors following suit. It certainly hasn't done Apple any harm…

Andrew Wooden, Editor andrew.wooden@intentmedia.co.uk

SUBSCRIPTIONS UK £50 Europe: £60 Rest of World: £90. The international cost applies per subscription and covers airmail dispatch of 12 issues. To order your subscription via Visa, MasterCard, Amex Switch or Delta contact: pcr.subscriptions@c-cms.com or call 01580 883848. Alternatively visit our website www.pcr-online.biz Subscriptions Manager: Hannah Short, Hannah.Short@intentmedia.co.uk

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PCR Contents News 11



The retail giant’s category director for entertainment Rob Salter tells PCR about SoftWide and the electronics market

Retail Focus 40 Indie Profile 43 Mystery Shopper 44

GfK Analysis 83 Appointments 88 Brigantia 94


TCA 96

Head of EMEA product and field marketing Sasa Marinkovic talks about Fusion processors and the Vision Initiative

ITACS/NASCR 98 Out of Office 112

ISSUE 82 JULY 2010

21 OnLive Founder and chief executive Steve Perlman discusses his controversial game streaming service




Pages 49-65

Mac accessories We check out the market for Mac and cross-compatible accessories, and list some of the hottest products that are available


Centerprise Chief executive John Rainger talks about the history of the company and how it has managed to beat the recession

Ergonomic desk Solutions We take an in-depth look at the ergonomic peripherals sector and talk to some of its key players



64 July PCR 7


Pages 67-77

Business software PCR examines this key sector, which has seen a growing level of interest since the start of the economic crisis


Games We present our regular round-up of the top-selling budget and full-price PC titles, as well as a full listing of the biggest releases coming up

77 Consumer Electronics

Pages 79-83

80 Interactive Ideas Marketing director Michael Breeze talks about how the distributor plans to continue its 40 per cent annual growth



Chris KennedySloane examines recent sales figures and suggests some products to look out for this year

MP NEWS 86 | PCR RECOMMENDED 111 | OUT OF OFFICE 112 www.pcr-online.biz

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Tesco steps up its game in the changing technology market Consumer electronics are 'increasingly big business' for UK's biggest retailer  Customers are 'intimidated' by specialists, opting instead to buy hardware and software from supermarkets “We’ve doubled our market share in both hardware and games. And we’ve invested quite heavily in resources” Rob Salter, Tesco

By Andrew Wooden

ELECTRONICS and PC sales are rising up the agenda of the country’s biggest retailer Tesco, as it looks to be at the forefront of the 3D and tablet boom in the UK. While the supermarket has been involved in tech hardware for some time now, it sees this new wave of products as increasingly relevant to the mass market, an area in which it dominates. “It’s quite clear from the development on our electricals business and what we’ve done

there, that we have been serious about this for quite some time,” said Rob Salter, Tesco’s category director for entertainment. “It’s increasingly big business for us. The market is moving at a pace now where the process of a technology going from a high price early adopter market to mass market is seriously narrowing and narrowing. You almost have to ignore that and think about mass market from day one.” The company, whose 2,482 strong UK portfolio dwarfs rivals, claims it is picking up business from non-techy customers that are put off by specialist retail outlets. “I think a lot of customers are possibly intimidated by some of those environments, and it’s absolutely on pitch for us to provide that service if customers feel that way,” added Salter.

Last month, the firm announced the strategic alliance with SoftWide, which has given the retailer access to thousands of software titles. Currently it is only an online initiative, but the firm hasn’t ruled out rolling it out into physical stores. The mammoth retailer is also planning to boost its presence in the video games market, after a strong year in the sector. “We’ve doubled our market share in both hardware and games. And we’ve invested quite heavily in resources – we’ve got a new team together, we’ve got more space, and we are moving into pre-owned games this year. A lot of it is investment in people, and we are working that market this year.”

Electricals have recently become a major part of Tesco’s business

AMD ends arms race with Intel CHIP MAKER AMD is looking to end the culture of commoditised oneupmanship that has defined its relationship with the industry, thanks to the rollout of its Vision concept in the UK. Vision is designed to clearly label the capabilities of PCs through a tier system, putting lengthy specifications into the background. The firm says this is vital to the modern consumer technology industry, where the criteria


for consumer choice is changing. “The first race in the industry was about the frequency,” said Sasa Marinkovic, head of EMEA product and field marketing at AMD. “If you remember ten years ago it was Intel and AMD fighting over who was going to get to 1GB first. We got to that point first, and then it was who has the most cores. But I think everyone is realising now the limitations of those approaches. If you look at what

"Ten years ago it was Intel and AMD fighting over who was going to get to 1GB first, then it was who has the most cores. I think everyone is realising the limitations of those approaches" Sasa Marinkovic, AMD

consumers care about today, it’s different to what they cared about 20 years ago. How we marketed in the past was to talk about the technology and the performance, but if you look at how consumers are buying today, its more about experience and design.” Vision puts PCs into either Vision (basic), Premium, Ultimate, or Black categories, and AMD will be ramping up work with OEMs and retailers to implement the tiered system.

July PCR 11


NewsBytes LINUX ADVANTAGE LAUNCHED A new information service for open source systems and technologies has been launched called The Linux Advantage. The website and print publication has been developed to generate interest among IT managers in mixed IT environments about Linux software, services and technology. The first issue covers operating systems, disaster recovery, data management, virtualisation and traning, with future issues to be published both on and off line every quarter from June 2010. INGRAM MICRO GOES LIVE! Ingram Micro has launched a marketing tool called LIVE!, a desktop notification tool that informs partners of its latest promotions. The company says that this latest launch forms part of its continued commitment to providing reseller partners with a solid portfolio of marketing tools and promotions to help grow their business. The app runs in the background and pops up once per day with an offer from the distributors key vendor partners. It can be downloaded directly from Ingram Micro’s website, with a guarantee that the notifications will not exceed one per day. FREECOM GROWS SALES 126% German vendor Freecom has recorded monthly sales growth of over 120 per cent despite poor

VAT RISE BAD FOR BUSINESS Financial advisory service provider KPMG has warned that the recently confirmed VAT rise could push some retailers in to bankruptcy. “Businesses which have been unable to resolve their problems in this period of grace now face a stark future,” said KPMG’s UK head of restructuring, Richard Fleming. “Retailers and property businesses, such as in secondary shopping centres, have struggled to cope with the drop in demand. With VAT now confirmed at 20 per cent we could see consumer spend drop by billions.”

12 PCR July

sector performance in the UK. The company’s national account manager Tim Stevenson attributes the strong performance to close collaboration with the National Buying Group: “We are currently enjoying an incredible 126 per cent month-on-month growth with the NBG by connecting with the group members at their five annual events, and being involved in some of the best marketing strategies we are seeing in the UK currently. The results speak for themselves and we’re delighted.”

Not everyone looks as cool as this wearing 3D glasses....

ADDED VALUE DRIVES MARKET GfK has observed single figure yearon-year growth in key IT and consumer electronics markets, which the researcher attributes to value-based sales. “Much of the positive change is value based with many sectors showing higher value than volume growth,” noted GfK’s business group director, Nigel Catlow. “Although VAT and currency induced price increases have contributed, it is also clear that manufacturer and market innovations are helping. So smart phones, higher memory capacity on devices and the plethora of new high definition products are all helping this.” BT OFFERS UNLIMITED WI-FI BT Total Broadband customers will now gain unlimited access to the entire network of 1.5 million BT wifi hotspots across the UK. Previously, BT Total Broadband users had limits on wi-fi minutes available to use at BT FON and BT Openzone hotspots depending on their BT Total Broadband option. At a time when the focus is on restricted 3G access plans in the face of strong demand for mobile phones and tablets such as the iPad, the new BT strategy takes advantage of the telco’s massive wifi network to drive the retail broadband business in the face of stiff competition. BEST BUY TARGETS WOMEN Best Buy’s chief executive, Brian Dunn has stated he believes that emerging consumer electronics devices, such as e-readers and smart TVs will drive the market in future. Talking at the CEA Summit, he also said that women would be a key market category going forward. “Women are the number one growth area for us,” he stated in an on-stage interview. “Women now embrace technology. This used to be an industry based on the male consumers, but not anymore, and it is a statement about our society... with technology as a badge, a statement about connecting.”

Osbourne scraps the broadband tariff plans THE PREVIOUS Government’s plans to create a ‘super-fast’ broadband network, funded by a levy on phone lines, has been axed in George Osborne’s emergency budget. The Labour plans were described as ‘archaic’ by the Chancellor in his speech to Parliament. He went on to state that the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition will instead opt to stimulate broadband expansion through private investment, with Government sponsorship. The proposals formed a key part of the Digital Britain report, Labour’s

doctrine to “secure Britain’s place at the forefront of the digital economy.” Just before the election, a spokesman from the Department of Business, Skills and Innovation told PCR that it was also planning to drive education and job growth in the IT industry through an £8 million National Skills Academy (NSA) in IT over the course of three years. The Government has also ruled out “ill advised” tax breaks for the UK video games industry – designed to stimulate growth and competitiveness – another key point of the report.



Sony unveils its 3D TV vision for the future 3D television will be as big as 2D, vendor says  One device already on the market, two to follow  3D viewing without glasses ‘definitely on the horizon’ SONY HAS launched a major push into the 3D market, unveiling a slew of products featuring the technology it believes will soon become mass market. At a recent London preview of the new range, the message from Sony execs was “making 3D is easy, making good 3D is hard.” Among the new hardware to be unveiled were three Bravia 3D TVs, one of which hit shelves in time for the start of the World Cup on June 11th, with the other two due out this month. Also on show was a new line of Bluray players – of which all but one are 3D capable. Christian Brown, Sony’s senior category marketing manager for home entertainment, told PCR that the vendor will be making a “multi-million pound investment” in marketing 3D to home users. As well as TVs, a large part of the market is 3D PC monitors.

“3D technology is a huge priority for us, which is why Sony is spending the money to tell consumers all about it.”

“Sony believes it will hit mass market straight away and does not view 3D as a niche product. Consumers will want this technology in their homes in order to upgrade their home entertainment experience” Christian Brown, Sony “We are trying to get the message out that 3D is something you have to experience first hand to enjoy and have an opinion on.” This marketing drive has so far been spearheaded by Sony’s involvement in

filming World Cup matches in 3D, which have been broadcast to pubs around the country and will later be available as a Blu-ray release. When asked whether Sony sees the new format becoming as big as 2D, Brown said: “Yes, Sony believes it will hit mass market straight away and does not view 3D as a niche product. Consumers will want this technology in their homes in order to upgrade their home entertainment experience.” Despite this assertion, the company believes there is still a place for traditional television and will continue to make products that aren’t 3D capable. As for wearing special glasses, this could change but, Brown suggested, not for a while. “Viewing 3D technology without the use of glasses is currently in very early stages of development but it is definitely on the horizon,” he said.

Soaring Interactive Ideas looks for another 40 per cent growth this year “The companies we represent all offer cost saving alternatives to more mainstream brands and so the recession has driven demand.” Michael Breeze, Interactive Ideas


ENFIELD BASED distributor Interactive Ideas has its sights set on a 40 per cent expansion this year, following record revenues of £23.7 million logged for the last 12 months. The figures, for the year ending in April, represent a 45 per cent growth for the specialist distributor – its third consecutive year of growth of over forty per cent. The firm attributes its cruise through the recession to a lower priced range of lines under its belt, a dynamic that has helped generate growing volumes of business.

“The companies we represent all offer cost saving alternatives to more mainstream brands and so the recession has driven demand,” said marketing director Michael Breeze. “Companies can’t not implement an IT project, but they can now to do it for less, and so have been more willing to consider new technologies. “The past year has also seen Interactive move into a new £1 million office and training facility, providing room to double the existing workforce, an in-house training facility and create a dedicated 20,000 square foot

warehouse and logistics centre.” The firm is now planning on expanding its UK operation to support the increase in business. “We have grown at over 40 per cent year on year over the last three years and we’re looking to continue that this year. As mentioned earlier, we have expanded our office and warehousing in order to cope with the increasing scale of the business. The employee numbers expanded by 20 per cent last year and we anticipate increasing this by another 15 per cent this year to drive key growth areas.”

July PCR 13

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The new electricals department at The Co-Op in Keynsham, Bristol

Now BHS and Co-Op move on tech retail Homeware chain and supermarket start selling consumer electronics  Stores say trials are going well By Nicky Trup

TWO UNLIKELY new players have entered the tech retail arena, with BHS launching a website that lets customers order computers with their cardigans, and The Co-Op now stocking laptops alongside the lettuce. High Street clothing and homeware chain BHS unveiled the BHS Direct website in early June, offering a range of products from notebooks and desktops to televisions and cameras. The products are also available to order from the retailer’s main website. A BHS spokesperson told PCR that the Direct website was a ‘soft launch’, but would not confirm how long the

trial would last. “BHS Direct was launched as part of our strategy to be a one-stop shop for the family. This online initiative… is currently performing very well,” the spokesperson

been successful in offering electronics alongside their more traditional lines such as clothing. Supermarket chain The CoOperative, meanwhile, has built on its

“The reaction from customers has been very positive with excellent feedback, and sales have exceeded initial targets” James Holland, The Co-operative said, refusing to comment on whether the chain intends to offer electricals in its bricks and mortar stores. The move would suggest an attempt to emulate the likes of John Lewis and Marks & Spencer, which have both

online tech retail operation by offering products including laptops, TVs and audio equipment in three of its larger stores. “The move to an in-store proposition is part of a longer-term

strategy for business growth,” James Holland, managing director of The Co-operative Electrical, told PCR. “The reaction from customers has been very positive with excellent feedback, and sales have exceeded initial targets.” The stores where the business model is being trialled – in Bristol, Hove and Bridgend – use a combination of in-store display and ‘pods’ where customers can view over 2,000 products from The Co-op’s range of electronics. “The trial stores will be evaluated over the next three to six months with a view to rolling out the concept further,” Holland said.

IT tutoring service seeks new partners

A Helping Hand’s first ever student, Clare Bluston


A MOBILE IT tuition service for the elderly is looking to go national by teaming up with retailers and dedicated tutors across the country. A Helping Hand currently offers its services to wannabe silver surfers in London, Kent and Surrey, with another tutor lined up in Cambridgeshire. After expanding across the South East, founder Rob Richman hopes to find more partners further afield. “The idea would be the South East in the coming few months and then

certainly national. It’s just finding the right people to do it,” he told PCR. “It’s not the ICT qualifications that are important. They’ve got to have patience and be able to explain computing in a way that people will understand.” Having recently teamed up with PCR Award winners Geeks-on-Wheels to provide special offers to each other’s customers, Richman is keen to form similar partnerships with other service providers, as well as retailers. “I’d be very much open to working with retailers. If

you take your average retailer, they don’t provide lessons for older people – if they knew there was a service out there I would have thought one of them would snap it up,” he said. A Helping Hand, which is part funded by the Nominet Trust, has had around 60 clients over the age of 50 since it was established last year. Over the course of eight one-hour lessons, students are taught the basics of using a PC, including word processing and Skype.

July PCR 15


Skobbler’s Marcus Thielking claims there are few advantages to dedicated GPS devices

More free apps line up against sat nav makers App dev claims smartphones will take over  But GPS vendors remain bullish, claiming there is room for both By Nicky Trup

MOBILE APPLICATION developers are lining up to take on the GPS market, with German firm Skobbler unveiling its free app and Google Maps Navigation increasing its coverage. Skobbler’s app, which works in conjunction with OpenStreetMap to let users edit map data themselves, was launched in June. The firm is positioning its software in direct competition to the GPS hardware market, which it claims will be cannibalised by the growing app sector. Marcus Thielking, co-founder of Skobbler, told PCR that “at some point mobile phone apps will take over and the PND will become a fringe product”. “In a few years, smartphones will easily be on technological par in the key areas with today’s PNDs,” he

added. “There’s hardly any reason or advantage left for the PND in the near future; the larger screen size argument alone just doesn’t cut it.” Last month also saw the release of Google Maps Navigation in 11 European countries, after a successful UK launch earlier this year. A Google

has had more than 11 million downloads. Rupert Englander, head of services marketing at Nokia UK, said the idea behind providing the software for free was “to make navigation more democratic”, allowing customers to experience GPS on without having to buy an additional device.

“In a few years, smartphones will easily be on technological par in the key areas with today’s PNDs – the larger screen size argument alone just doesn’t cut it.” Marcus Thielking, Skobbler spokesperson told PCR that the app is “proving popular with consumers” and “increases the amount of competition in this space, which inevitably will be good for users”. Nokia, meanwhile, is still enjoying the success of its Ovi Maps app, which

Despite the growing number of rival players in the GPS sector, sat nav hardware vendors remain bullish. “We strongly believe there is room for both mobile applications and standalone dedicated personal navigational devices,” Anthony Chmarny, public

relations manager for Garmin Europe, said. “Battery life needs to be optimised and applications less power hungry for people to fully move to converged devices. Until then they will continue to use separate devices.”

Webroot pushes into Irish market HAVING recently established its international headquarters in Dublin, Webroot is looking to expand its partner programme to include ten Irish enterprise cloud security resellers. The country is a key expansion territory for Webroot, where it aims to become the region’s leading softwareas-a-service provider. It has already signed up Prologic Data Management and at the time of writing was in talks with a number of other potential reseller partners. “Our long-term plan is to expand across the whole of Europe,

16 PCR July

spearheading from Ireland,” Webroot’s EMEA channel director Ian Moyse told

“We’ve signed one partner so far and are in talks with several others, so expect to see a flow of positive announcements.” Ian Moyes, Webroot PCR. “We have an existing reputation as a 100 per cent channel company,

capable of delivering a competitive advantage to its partners. This good reputation has allowed us to establish ourselves in Ireland very quickly. We’ve signed one partner so far and are in talks with several others, so expect to see a flow of positive announcements.” Webroot is also growing its employee base to support the expansion, and is aiming to take on 50 people over the next 24 months. The firm’s Channel Edge partner programme recently earned a five-star rating from research group Everything Channel.


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Best Buy blows away competion in shopper survey American retailer receives record-breaking top marks for customer service and strong entertainment portfolio By Andrew Wooden

TECHNOLOGY RETAIL giant Best Buy has scored an unprecedented ten out of ten in PCR’s Mystery Shopper this month, after launching in the UK at the end of April. The survey is carried out monthly and judges PC and technology retailers on customer service, product knowledge and stock. Best Buy was praised for its range of PC-based entertainment systems, and especially with regards to the non-technical and friendly advice our

shopper received from staff. The retailer has claimed that a strong emphasis on customer service is one of its key differentiators, and has been a major aspect of its push into the UK, a market it has claimed is lacking in this area. “It was only Best Buy that shone, taking it away from the specs and price and focusing on the important bits – usage and quality. The key thing to take from this is that Best Buy has arrived and is as good at customer service and showing off technology as it claims to be,” said our Mystery Shopper. “Best Buy has

Best Buy’s flagship store in Thurrock

“Only Best Buy shone, taking it away from the specs and price and focusing on the important bits” Mystery Shopper

arrived and is as good at customer service and showing off technology as it claims to be.” The firm’s main UK rival, PC World was awarded just five out of ten in the survey, while fellow DSGi retailer Currys fared better with a score of eight.

Future PC blockbusters unveiled at E3 xxx

WHILE THE console market tends to steal the show at the global video games trade show E3, a slew of blockbuster PC games were detailed at this year’s event in Los Angeles.

One of the most anticipated will be Sid Meier’s Civilization 5 – a stalwart of the PC gaming world and consistent high sales performer. The turn-based strategy title has recently risen in

Sid Meier’s Civilization 5 headed up the flurry of new PC titles unveiled at the E3 event in Los Angeles last month

notoriety due to a foray onto portable devices and the Wii, and looks set to smash the PC retail charts when it launches in the UK on September 24th. 2K Games’ Xcom is expected to be another standard bearer for the platform, re-envisioning another longserving franchise – which has been banded about in a number of forms since it first broke onto the scene in 1994. Meanwhile Deus Ex: Human Revolution is also set to perform well on PC when it is launched early next year. New videos and screenshots were revealed from the title, which will take the form of a prequel to the highly regarded original Deus Ex.

MOST ANTICIPATED PC GAMES FROM E3  Sid Meier’s Civilization 5 – 2K Games  Xcom – 2K Games  FEAR3 – Warner Bros  Shogun 2: Total War – Sega  Crysis 2 – EA  Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Eidos  Star Wars: The Old Republic – LucasArts  Portal 2 – EA  Mafia II – 2K Games

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The giant awakes Having signed a significant deal with SoftWide last month, Tesco has been transformed from a bit-player in the software market to a serious contender, with a thousand lines under its belt. The deal looks set provide a powerful boost to its entertainment division, as well as the technology and electricals side of the business – both of which have seen significant rises in recent months anyway. Andrew Wooden finds out more from Rob Salter, category director for entertainment at Tesco… "SoftWide gives you the opportunity to open up a range where you’re only creating physical products at the point where you’ve got an actual order. There’s no real limitation on that." Rob Salter, Tesco


You’ve integrated the SoftWide system into your online operation, dramatically increasing how many lines of software you stock. Are there any plans to roll it out physically into stores? Not at the moment, but we haven’t discounted it. We want to see what happens with the online proposition to test it out from a technology standpoint. We have it set up in our distribution centre, so when we receive an order online, we’re sending them out from that facility. In this case we’ll make them to order with the SoftWide technology – we want to see it working as a business in that format before we would consider investing in it as a store proposition.

Now that’s not to say it won’t happen. I’ve talked to SoftWide about trialling it in a store at some point in the future, but we have no specific plans to do so at this point. How many titles do you now sell exactly, and how many can you increase that to now you have the SoftWide system? There are no real limiting factors to it, providing you’ve got the content itself and the meta-data to be able to show it to customers on the site; it really doesn’t matter too much whether it’s one thousand or ten thousand. As long as you can display the choice to the customer, the broader the choice, the better.

Do you think this gives you the required punching power to better compete with the likes of DSGi and Amazon in the market? Increasingly it is about range and breadth, and delivering the widest possible choice for customers, delivered in away that is economical. So if we were to physically stock thousands of titles there are quite significant costs in doing so. This technology obviously gives you the opportunity to open up a range where you’re only creating physical products at the point where you’ve got an actual order. There’s no real limitation on that. Is there a particular area of software you’ve

>>> July PCR 21



concentrated on, or is it totally across the board? We’ve pretty much taken the SoftWide offer as it stands. We’ve incorporated the products that they have managed to licence and launched them on the site. The next phase is to start looking more closely at the range, and also look at how we can broaden that range in terms of the delivery mechanism to a broader set of categories. So we could, for example, offer deeper catalogue on some movie content – i.e. things that we wouldn’t stock physically because demand wasn’t large enough to warrant it. But we could stock a range through SoftWide, provided we could get the content owners to a level of satisfaction with the physical SKU, whereby they would say ‘yes, we’d be more than happy for our brand to be represented

WHAT IS SOFTWIDE? THE SOFTWIDE system allows consumers to print software themselves via a kiosk style booth in-store, dramatically enhancing the number of lines available while simultaneously removing the need for physical stock. The system can also be used internally by a retailer to fulfil online orders. Retailers can claim to offer thousands of titles, while remaining unexposed to the risk that amount of physical stock would represent. Owner Tribeka has recently signed deals with Microsoft and Norton, and will be looking to snap up more big name publishers going forward.

in that way, and we’re happy for you to send that to customers in that format’. So we are going to talk to film studios, for example, about whether or not we can bring an extended offer for something we wouldn’t normally buy from them, provided we can create a satisfactory SKU that they would be happy with. How does this tie in with your overall technology category strategy? It seems to signify that you’re getting more serious in the area… It’s quite clear from our development in our electricals business and what we’ve done there, that we have been serious about this for quite some time. It’s increasingly big business for us. The criticisms of such a broad retailer like Tesco selling PCs and software is that it requires much more bespoke staff knowledge than other categories – almost a personal shopper experience. How would you respond to that? We’ve absolutely recognised that now, and increasingly in the future customers are going to want more help and more personal service in areas of technology. And that is getting quite tricky as things develop very fast with new technology coming on to the market, and customers require a good deal of help and support to make the most of those technologies. And that’s why Tesco has increased its tech team. So in our big stores where we have significant electricals and technology areas, there is a specialist in every one who can help customers in exactly that way. We’ve invested heavily in training and hiring staff who are able to give that type of support directly to customers, both in the stores and we also have technical support available to customers online and over the phone. Tesco does have a lot of brand trust with the mass market – do you think that helps with technology sales, in situations where customers may be intimidated by the ‘techy’ atmosphere of specialists and independents? I think so, and it’s our job to make sure the things we do and the things we support are worthy of that trust. So we’re very careful to make sure that the

22 PCR July



listening to customers. Tesco is very much a customer driven business and we listen to them and attempt to give them what they’re asking for. So it is our job to make sure the thing that customers want to buy are available. We want to bring it to them safely and in a way that they will enjoy. The market is moving at a pace now where the process of a technology going from a high price early adopter market to mass market is seriously narrowing and narrowing. You almost have to ignore that and think about mass market from day one, whereas there used to be a long gap. And the price of some of these new technologies is getting keener all the time. I saw a 3D TV set a couple of years ago which was £8,000. That same piece of equipment is probably around £1,000 now.

Tesco may roll out the software system to its stores

things that we sell are what we can associate our brand with and customers are able to trust in. Absolutely, I think a lot of customers are possibly intimidated by some of those environments, and it’s absolutely on pitch for us to provide that service if customers feel that way.

“We are keeping up to speed with everything that’s going on in the technology world, and we’re also listening to customers.” Rob Salter, Tesco

It’s an interesting time for the technology market, with new categories like tablets and 3D looking to inject new life into the industry. Do you have any plans for these emerging markets? Absolutely. We are keeping up to speed with everything that’s going on in the technology world, and we’re also

How are video game sales going? Are you looking to move into this area more in the future? Yes – interestingly, the last year was tough for the market in that we’ve reached a degree of format maturity with the Xbox and PS3. The current hardware formats are now into their third and fourth years, so we’ve seen the big growth in hardware purchasing happen. While it’s been a tougher environment to sell software, we have doubled our market share in the last 12 months in software and hardware. So while the market has been relatively flat, or slightly contacted, we’ve grown very well in that marketplace. In fact, we’ve doubled our market share in both hardware and games. And we’ve invested quite heavily in resources – we’ve got a new team together, we’ve got more space, and we are moving into preowned games this year. A lot of it is investment in people, and we are working that market this year.

HOW BIG IS BIG? A breakdown of the Tesco worldwide operation:    

Staff worldwide – 472,000 Staff in the UK – 287,669 Stores worldwide – 4,811 Total stores in the UK – 2,482

NUMBER OF REGIONAL MARKETS Rob Salter is category director for entertainment at Tesco


14: China, Czech Republic, Hungary, India, Japan, Malaysia, Poland, Republic of Ireland, Slovakia, South Korea, Thailand, Turkey, UK, and USA

July PCR 23


Happy to be geeks We’ve been catching up with winners from the PCR Awards 2010, to find out how business has been since picking up their prestigious prize. This month, co-founder and managing director of Geekson-Wheels Europe Jamie Shaw discusses winning the Service and Support Award… “Some customers ask for a specific ‘geek’ with whom they have built a relationship and who knows their PC and requirements.” Jame Shaw, Geeks-on-Wheels

24 PCR July

“THE FOUNDING principle of Geeks-on-Wheels was to provide excellent customer service through a fast, friendly, plain-speaking service. Winning the Service and Support category at the PCR Awards 2010 has been a fantastic endorsement of this principle and it gives me great personal satisfaction that we are still focused on what we set out to achieve. As a relatively small company, we are able to ensure that we really know the ‘geeks’ we employ – their strengths and interpersonal skills – and, where possible, match these to the needs of our customers. Some customers even ask for a specific ‘geek’ with whom they have built a relationship and who

knows their PC and requirements. Since our conception in 2003, we have built up a large customer base roughly split at 65 per cent home/SOHO users and 35 per cent SME. The majority of new customers come to us via recommendation. This is an extremely competitive industry, so we focus on the areas that can add value and differentiate us from our competitors. As a direct result of winning the Service and Support PCR Award, we have recently partnered with A Helping Hand, a company working to promote ‘digital inclusion for all’, whereby Geeks-on-Wheels Europe provides onsite technical support for ‘silver

surfers’. We are also looking close a 12month contract with a leading ISP to install wireless broadband in business premises throughout the UK starting at the beginning of July. 2010 looks set to be an exciting year for the Geeks-on-Wheel business; we have made some interesting partnerships with like-minded companies and I am positive we will be able to grow our turnover while continuing to have customer service as our key area of focus. The Service and Support Award can only enhance our position in the market and I would like to thank all those who voted for us.” www.geeks-on-wheels.com






















New clear

fusion After years of vicious competition with Intel over processor speeds, AMD is switching tactics and looking to grab the attention of non-techy consumers with its Vision programme. Meanwhile, the culmination of its merger with graphics specialist ATI looks to have finally come to fruition with the Fusion APU project. Andrew Wooden talks to head of EMEA product and field marketing Sasa Marinkovic... THE TECHNOLOGY arms race between AMD and Intel has been one of the defining aspects of the technology market for years. As the two biggest producers of the CPU – the ‘brain’ of every PC – their competition has ramifications far beyond their own companies. With stories ranging from game-changing platform alliances with vendors to accusations of anticompetitiveness, it has also been one of the most headline grabbing issues of the past couple of decades – while internet debate by fans of both camps sometimes rivals the Microsoft versus Apple rows in their ferocity. Both firms were constantly reaching for the next incrementally faster product, and it could be argued this rivalry is one of the biggest reasons PCs have up until recently been sold with the emphasis very much on specifications and incremental performance increases, rather than on style and user experience. However that is starting to change now. One of the biggest lessons to be learned from the rise of netbooks and Apple products is how simplifying technology and removing geek-speak can do wonders for sales. Tablets like the iPad aren’t particularly sold on specifications. They are sold on convenience, style, and something a bit cooler than clock speeds. AMD is looking to do a similar thing for other aspects of the PC

26 PCR July

industry with Vision. Essentially, the concept puts all the detailed specs of a computer into the background, and just labels a PC as Vision (basic), Premium, Ultimate, or Black, depending on the machine’s capabilities. It’s shedding the geekspeak which many see as a put-off to mainstream consumers. “If you look at what consumers care about today, it’s different to what they cared about 20 years ago,” says Sasa Marinkovic head of EMEA product and field marketing.

“How we marketed in the past was to talk about the technology and the performance, but if you look at how consumers are buying today, it’s more about experience and design.” Sasa Marinkovic, AMD “How we marketed in the past was to talk about the technology and the performance, but if you look at how consumers are buying today, it’s more about experience and design. So we sat down and we thought about how we could approach the consumer, and talk to them in a way they want the information delivered to them, in a way they understand, and make them



interested in what a technology company has to say to them. “We made Vision to enable OEMs to sell their products more easily. But also further down the chain to the retail store, it makes it easier for them to explain what our story is, and why Vision is a good solution for them. It’s easy to sell because it’s easily understood. Consumers buy a PC based on what they want to do with it, and not what frequency the processor is on their laptop.” SIMPLIFYING THE BRAND It certainly makes sense that if you’re trying to increase sales to those that may not be technically minded, you’re not going to win them over by listing motherboard bus speeds and frequency output of the central processing unit, which is how the industry is currently geared up to sell hardware. Marinkovic says the information given to customers is currently too complicated. “For anybody that is not immediately involved in this industry, I would say people would be hard pressed to say if a quad core with a certain level of graphics is better than a dual core with a different level of graphics. It has put an additional educational burden on the consumer. They shouldn’t have to go and learn to the point where they need a degree in order to make decision when they are buying a notebook. We are doing the legwork for them – keeping all the technical specifications in the background, and putting these different tiers to the forefront.” Meanwhile, AMD has also recently launched its Fusion programme, or ‘APUs’ (accelerated processing units). This next generation essentially

The Fusion processors will combine graphics and processing in one package to offer seamless experiences in the latest games

combines the functionality of the graphics processor unit and the central processing unit in to a single processor package with separate clocks. It’s a programme AMD are investing a lot in, and it’s an example of how the firm is trying to distance itself from a commoditised arms race with Intel.

“The CPU is a serial device and the GPU is parallel. Only when you pair the two do you get the best result in most applications.” Sasa Marinkovic, AMD “The first race in the industry was about the frequency,” adds Marinkovic. “If you remember ten years ago it was Intel and AMD fighting over who was going to get to 1GB first. We got to that point first, then it went on to who had the most cores. But I think everyone is realising now the limitation of those approaches. There’s really a lot of performance that can be squeezed out and utilised by the GPU. The CPU is a serial device, and the GPU is parallel. Only when you pair the two do you get the best result in most applications. That’s called

heterogeneous computing, and I firmly believe that is the way to go.” COLLABORATIVE DRIVE Ever since AMD bought graphics specialist ATI in October 2006, industry watchers have been speculating on the ultimate collaboration form the two. It’s Fusion that seems to be the ultimate culmination of this buyout, and with it AMD believes it’s in the best place to lead in the area of APUs. “This is the work of both companies coming together as one and collaborating on delivering this experience. It does go along with our strategy of how we deliver our experience to users,” claims Marinkovic. “If you look at Vision’s tiers – basic, premium and ultimate – and the capabilities that you’re going to see for the end users is again high definition videos, online gaming, emailing, media – all of that can be delivered in a very elegant way through the APUs. In their own ways, both programmes are looking at changing the way computers are sold and perceived. If they’re right, then the rest of the industry could look to changing in a similar way. Marinkovic concludes: “I think we have the right strategy in Vision and we are moving along in the right way – Vision and APUs are the way to go.”

BEST OF BOTH WORLDS AMD unveiled its Fusion concept at Computex, kickstarting what it calls the accelerated processing unit era. The firm says the new chips represent a ‘seismic shift’ for the computer industry, combining processing capabilities which were previously spread across the CPU and the GPU onto a single die. The first products


are planned for the first half of 2011. The firm will be pushing APU strategies to the wider industry with the launch of the AMD Fusion Fund – an operation which looks like will act like a specified venture capitalist firm, investing in and promoting companies that develop products which will support the APU platform.

July PCR 27

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The revolution will be

digitised Despite scepticism form the technical community, the OnLive gaming service has now launched, and is working. The system offers the latest games on a rental basis on even low-spec PCs, and as such has huge potential to shake up both the gaming software and hardware market. Andrew Wooden talks to OnLive founder, president and CEO Steve Perlman… BEFORE THIS generation of consoles, the gaming market was much more skewed in the PC’s favour. It might not seem it now, but competition between consoles and PCs for the contents of gamers’ wallets was fierce, and most of the development innovation came from the PC and flowed down to the consoles, not the other way around.

“With OnLive the money will go to the publishers rather than the retailers, which will mean more game development and more money funnelled into existing games. And it gives publishers the opportunity to lower the price.” Steve Perlman, OnLive The enthusiast PC market is still largely driven by games – there are very few other applications that require cutting edge processors and graphics hardware. And while many firms in the industry make a lot of money out of it, there’s no denying there are now many more people buying games for consoles rather than PCs. With the launch of the Wii, the Xbox 360 and the PS3, support in the games industry turned very much in favour of Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony – the reasons for which are still a

30 PCR July

subject of debate. As well as piracy (its always been much easier to illegally get your hands on a PC game than a console one), one of the main arguments against the PC as a gaming platform is the cost of maintaining it with up-to-date components. Consoles, which represent a single initial outlay for their entire lifecycle, are now around five years old in some cases, and still at the very forefront of the industry. Try playing the latest releases on a five-year-old PC, and you’ll find results to be less slick. Unless, of course, you take the processing away from the user’s computer. That’s what OnLive does in a nutshell – a series of ultra-high speed servers do the work, and then stream a game’s imagery through to the user via high-speed internet. Even low spec PCs can play some of the latest games. The concept is revolutionary in scope, throwing one of the most important sectors of the PC market on its head. So much so that prior to its launch, many questioned if it was even possible to do what they claimed, bearing in mind the huge latency issues that come with video compression. “I would like to say that there was some kind of silver bullet that solved all these issues, but it turns out there wasn’t one, or at least we couldn’t find one,” Steve Perlman, OnLive founder, president and CEO tells us. “We recognised just how significant and transformative this would be, if we


kEoin Matthews believes that in two to five years Buy.com will be competing with the UK’s top e-tailers


BIOGRAPHY: STEVE PERLMAN Steve Perlman is the founder, president and CEO of OnLive. With over 30 years of technology development experience, Perlman is best known for developing QuickTime, WebTV and Mova Contour facial capture technologies. In addition to founding and operating numerous start-up companies, Steve has been a Microsoft division president and a principal scientist at Apple. Perlman currently holds over 100 US patents, and has more than 100 more pending.

could get it to work. So we realised the only way to really solve this thing was to come up with a wide range of solutions. Dell has been making servers for us with custom silicon and custom hardware – we’ve secretly been working with them for a number of years, and they can crank these things out as fast as we want them. We have one of the largest server deployment of GPUs in the world; certainly it’s the largest Dell has ever done, and certainly by the end of this year it will be the biggest in the world.” TACTICAL ALLIANCES While the firm may have conquered the technical issues, a larger obstacle would be opposition from the games industry itself. Without backing from the major publishers, no system of its scale would have a chance. Luckily, then, big name firms like EA, Ubisoft and 2K Games flocked to OnLive in their droves, mainly attracted by the death blow it deals to piracy, and the fact more revenue will flow their way. “The publishers are subject to the same market forces that retailers are,” says Perlman. “The publishers are happy to lower their prices if the demand for a game drops off. The difference with OnLive is the money will be going to the publishers rather than the retailers, which will mean more game development and more money funnelled into existing games. And frankly it gives the publisher the opportunity to lower the price further. “They have to price their games expecting a large percentage of the revenue is being funnelled off into used games. So now if they don’t have to do that and also if they don't have money funnelled off from piracy, that


gives them the chance to lower the price of the games. “A number of publishers have said they’d not only like to do that but have also come up with new types of packaging to make them episodic. There’ll be a lot more packaging opportunities once we get away from the constraints of physical media."

"A lot of folks see this as a really nice adjunct to the PC gaming world. Some people will say the graphics aren’t as sharp, or that the latency is higher, but what can I say? I think they have a very narrow view of the world.” Steve Perlman, OnLive While the console world is still very reliant on that physical media, the PC market has been shifting away from it, with download services like Steam. Indeed, far from a threat to the PC gaming space, Perlman sees OnLive as providing a shot in the arm to what some see as a flagging market.

“A lot of people have said that people are dropping like flies in the PC gaming world, because they can’t keep up with the hardware costs. And a lot of gamers are disappointed at the limitations in the console world. Consoles are five-year-old platforms now, and there are no new ones on the horizon. So for a lot of folks, they see this as a really nice adjunct to the PC gaming world. They get to share their world with a lot of other people that perhaps wouldn’t have the time or resources to get into it. We are going to run into people who will say the graphics aren’t as sharp, or that the latency is higher, but what can I say? I think they have a very narrow view of the world,” Perlman comments. CONGLOMERATED POWER While the service currently runs at 720p resolution – lower than many high-end PC gaming rigs – there are plans to make the service higher quality. And there are benefits to using the network of ultra-power servers as the processing hub, which could outstrip anything a gamer can have in their house. “The games that are being developed now for OnLive, for when we do have a

large install base, have capabilities that you can’t achieve on any local rig,” continues Perlman. “We have something called Mova on the site to demonstrate that power – it’s a computer-generated face that most people would think was a live person. Imagine what games are going to be like when all the characters look that good. “We’ve tried to make it as easy as possible for people to go and give it a go. It’s the beginning of a new age, and we did the best we could for this first shot. But it’s only going to get better. The great thing about it is that even as it does, you won’t need to upgrade your machine to feel the benefits. We’ve made games digital media – but it’s just the beginning of this era.” OnLive has already launched in the US, and we understand the firm will be looking to roll out the service in the UK earlier than the 2011 date projected by BT, which is partnering with the firm in this country. OnLive insists it isn’t directly competing with the current stable of PC gaming – yet – but there’s no doubt the status quo will be shaken up to some extent by the launch. Just like the French revolution, the effects of this one probably won’t be clear for some time.

July PCR 31


Industry opinions With the launch of gaming streaming service OnLive (see page 30), and the recent expansion of in-store publishing system SoftWide (see page 21) into Tesco – both of which effectively negate traditional boxed software products – Andrew Wooden asks a panel of industry executives if this is just the start and whether the software distribution model be very different in five years...? Quentin Pain, Founder and Chairman, Accountz

“TRIBEKA OFFERS a different approach to distribution by installing a machine that creates software on demand. Retailers no longer need a warehouse to ensure stock is available. Even though Accountz is being asked more and more by e-tailers and other vendors for download and licensing options, the demand for boxed software remains as constant as ever. For the future, download options will increase most definitely, but this just adds more choice for the consumer. I believe that, like books, some people will always want a box.”

George Tennet, CCO, BullGuard “WE CAN see that a higher percentage of products in the IT channel business are now delivered by soft download, and that an increasing number of vendors are choosing to deliver services this way. The benefits are clear – the latest version of the product is available immediately and the environmental impact of producing box products and delivering is reduced. There are, however, benefits to both electronic software download and the retail sales model. Many customers still feel more comfortable buying a physical product from a specialist retailer that can aid and advise as well as offer unique support. Software in particular is still a relatively challenging purchasing decision for many, especially for those with very little IT knowledge and so the thought of an unaided purchase in the supermarket is daunting. I would expect that within the next five years 30 – 40 per cent of end users will be satisfied to have product delivered by soft licence, while the specialist retail model will continue to co-exist.”

32 PCR July

Scott Barnsley, Head of Sales for Retail/ SoHo, AVG “I PERSONALLY think that over the next five years more and more software will be purchased online. We are already seeing this trend with gaming and a number of larger e-shops have also launched their electronic software download sites, where you can download virtually all their titles in an instant. The trend in ever-increasing broadband speeds has also meant that downloading large files has become relatively speedy – downloading over 100mbs can be done in minutes and not hours. Ultimately in five years time, I would predict over 70 per cent of software sales to be made through online download, 20 per cent to be made through attached bundles, and 10 per cent through traditional boxed retail.”

Mark Lynch, Product Manager, VIP “WHILST I do agree that these new services, along with other cloud computing applications, will negate the need for ‘traditional’ boxed software products, I still believe they will have a place in the market, but potentially in an alternative format. I think boxed software will evolve to be more like ‘activation cards’ in a box, similar to that seen with Office 2010 product key cards or LiveDrive Online Backup activation cards. Software vendors want people to commit to their product at point of PC sale, rather than relying on the customer to remember to make their software purchase at a later date. A distributed product sold through resellers secures software sales at the point of PC purchase, committing the end-user early. To rely on the customer to go online is a much riskier strategy. Some customers might not want the hassle of waiting for the retailer to burn their software purchase to disc. An activation card removes such barriers to purchase and can be bought and taken away in an instant.”

































Jolly green giants With the environment playing a part in everything from politics to fashion, IT companies are falling over themselves to prove that they are as green, if not greener, than their competitors. Nicky Trup looks at what some leading manufacturers are doing to save the planet, and finds out how realistic it is for a tech company to be eco friendly at all… “IT companies just talking in abstraction about how IT can save the planet – that’s not good enough." Casey Harrell, GreenPeace


THE TECHNOLOGY industry is not renowned for eco friendliness. From the manufacturing and consumption of products to the growing amount of greenhouse gas emitted by data centres, tech inevitably creates a heavy carbon footprint. Every leading vendor, however, has some sort of environmental policy or initiative in place to cushion the environmental impact and score a few public relations points along the way. Greenpeace recently released the third version of its Cool IT Leaderboard – an assessment of how green certain leading manufacturers are. Cisco came top of the scoreboard of 15 firms, while Panasonic shuffled about at the

bottom. Companies were scored on their products, their operational emissions and their engagement in political advocacy regarding climate change. “IT companies just talking in abstraction about how IT can save the planet – that’s not good enough,” says Casey Harrell, electronics campaign coordinator for Greenpeace International. “While we care about providing IT solutions for climate change for the climate’s sake, these companies may not be altruistic, they can make a lot of money in a constrained economy, so it’s also a business opportunity.” John Swatton, marketing specialist at

Asus, agrees that companies can no longer get away with making vague statements about being green. “Rather than make promises, the proof is in the pudding – we demonstrate that via the independent accreditations and recognition we get for reducing power consumption and the impact on the environment,” he comments. WOOD YOU BELIEVE IT? One of Asus’ big green ventures has been the Bamboo notebook. Not entirely dissimilar in appearance to a wood-panelled station wagon, Asus’ device is clad in bamboo. According to Swatton, this means the product is made from


July PCR 35


Vic Smith, Dell

“We’ve made our notebooks and desktops 25 per cent more energy efficient since 2008.” Vic Smith, Dell

GREENPEACE COOL IT LEADERBOARD The five highest scoring firms     

Cisco – 62/100 Ericsson – 53/100 IBM – 42/100 HP – 41/100 Fujitsu – 36/100

36 PCR July

Casey Harrell, Greenpeace


around 20 per cent less plastic than a traditional notebook and the bamboo used is sustainably farmed and quick to grow. “It’s a type of bamboo that’s not eaten by pandas so we’re not endangering the panda population,” he adds. Dell, meanwhile, has taken a slightly more conventional approach to making its products eco friendly. “We’ve made our notebooks and desktops 25 per cent more energy efficient since 2008,” says Vic Smith, Dell’s senior strategic technologist for EMEA. “We’re transitioning our notebooks to LED displays, which are mercury-free, highly recyclable, use much less energy, offer longer battery life and allow thinner designs.” As Harrell implies, vendors do not necessarily make these changes simply out of the goodness of their hearts. There are legal obligations which mean that now, more than ever, tech firms have to clean up their acts. The Government’s CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme was introduced earlier this year; a mandatory programme aimed at improving energy efficiency and cutting carbon emissions. “With the UK’s carbon reduction

commitment legislation having kicked off in April, many of the larger companies are already focusing on reducing their carbon baselines and looking at technologies that can avoid heavy carbon processes. That could be things like video conferencing,

“From a UK perspective, most of our energy at HP is already from renewable sources. And we’re also set to broaden the renewable energy contracts that we’ve got.” Ian Brooks, HP

centralising printing, improving your data sensors or looking at power management on PCs,” observes Ian Brooks, European head of innovation and sustainable computing at HP. “From a UK perspective most of our energy at HP is already from renewable

sources. There are programmes that are going through as we speak to broaden the coverage of the renewable energy contracts that we’ve got.” According to US-based Harrell, companies operating in the UK and wider European Union are subject to many more environmental restrictions than his homeland. The EU’s RoHS Directive, for example, which came into force in this country in 2006, limits the levels of certain chemicals that can be used in the manufacture of electronic devices. Harrell says that while there was initially some resistance from the big vendors, many have changed their tune since the legislation was first introduced. WASTE NOT, WANT NOT “We’re coming up to revise the RoHS directive and instead of it being Greenpeace and a bunch of public health advocates and other environmentalists on one side and the IT industry the other side, we’re now going into Parliament hand in hand with many of the IT industry,” he comments. “They made the change in their supply chain, they invested the R&D costs for substitutes that are



John Swatton, Asus


Ian Brooks, HP

What the vendors are doing HP  Has tripled recycled materials used in inkjet printers since 2007  Plans to cut GHG emissions from its facilities by 20 per cent between 2005 and 2013  Aims to double voluntary purchases of renewable energy to eight per cent by 2012 Asus  Requires all manufacture sites to implement energy-saving projects  Super Hybrid Engine in new generation notebooks can boost battery life by up to 53 per cent  No longer ships products with printed manuals Dell  Sources around 26 per cent of its energy from green power  Plans to reduce its facilities’ GHG emissions by 40 per cent between 2007 and 2015  Aims to reduce packaging by ten per cent between 2008 and 2012

inherently safer, and they want to punish the rest of their competitors.” As every part of the channel is aware, the other major piece of EU legislation to come into effect in recent years is the WEEE Directive. Many vendors have taken their waste disposal obligations one step further and applied them on an international level. “We were the first major computer manufacturer to ban the export of nonworking electronics to developing countries as part of our global policy on responsible electronics disposal. We’re actively calling for the rest of the electronics industry to join us,” says Dell’s Vic Smith. However keen major tech vendors might seem to comply with legislation and promote their eco credentials, some have levelled the criticism that these schemes are just a marketing ploy, or simply ‘greenwashing’. “For years, when there wasn’t the pressure of

“No-one’s going to say that tech companies are carbon neutral, that’s unrealistic. What we can do is constantly review what we’re doing and try to reduce our impact on the environment.” John Swatton, Asus

legislation, there wasn’t the pressure of consumers demanding this [ecofriendliness], it was complete greenwash,” observes Harrell. “We have to stay vigilant and call it out when we do see it, because we still do – it’s not something that’s completely in the past.” ECO WORRIERS While the vendors are obviously aware of this perception, they believe it’s unjust. “If you’ve got facts and figures that are backing up the claims that you’re making, for me that’s the acid test. If industry watchers who have done extensive audits on HP’s policies have come into HP and reviewed us, if they think that HP’s in a good position then that helps enormously,” Brooks suggests. Smith, meanwhile, says that Dell never makes claims about sustainability without having the evidence to back it up.

Acer  Promotes ‘Trees for Green’ initiative, planting one tree for every product sold (up to a certain number)  Acer PowerSmart key on notebooks increase energy efficiency when activated, saving around 2,320 tons of CO2  Is working on detachable product designs to improve recyclability

The situation is something of a Catch 22; do nothing and you are polluting the environment, or make changes and be accused of ‘spin’. The solution for vendors, it seems, is to improve the eco friendliness of their products and operations without turning every green initiative into a PR opportunity. “No-one’s going to say that tech companies are carbon neutral, that’s unrealistic. What we can do is constantly review what we’re doing to try and reduce our impact on the environment,” concludes Asus’ John Swatton.



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PCR’s monthly look at the issues facing the retail sector

P 40

FRONTLINE Statistics and analysis on the month’s top selling products and wider retail trends P 43

INDIE PROFILE We talk to Vinny Johnson, of Mansfield-based Micro Help P 44

MYSTERY SHOPPER PCR heads to Thurrock in search of a PC-based entertainment system


July PCR 39


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... A TOUCH OF GOOD SALES THE ENTRY of the Packard Bell OneTwo into our desktop category represents the first time that we’ve seen a touch screen PC in our sales charts. The device is one of a slew of machines that were launched to take advantage of Windows 7’s touch support, and takes the form of an all-in-one with mouse and keyboard bundled in for those who dislike constantly raising their arms to use the internet. The device includes Acer’s TouchPortal software, which was designed to aid the touch support included in Windows 7, but according to reviews offers mixed results. Meanwhile, the Compaq Presario CQ5305 remains the top selling desktop device for the fourth month running. It’s an entry level device, with an appealing price point and a well recognised brand, so perhaps its strong sales should not be surprising. Another less-than-surprising inclusion in the desktop charts is the Apple iMac, which last made an appearance in April. The M950B/A is the cheapest of the iMacs featuring a 21.5-inch screen with 500GB of storage, as opposed to the terabyte of memory offered by other models. In the laptop charts, we see two products from Hewlett Packard – firstly the G61, which has been a fairly consistent top seller over the past few months, and the G62. The G62 is another noteworthy entry for these charts, being the first top selling machine to utilise one of Intel’s Core range of processors – namely the i3 – and can be found for less than £400. Elsewhere, Logitech’s policy of brand simplification appears to be working, as it now has no less than four product entries this month. matt.grainger@intentmedia.co.uk

40 PCR July


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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

Microsoft is launching free MS Office 2010 online apps to Facebook users. Will this affect store sales of Office 2010? The majority of respondents think that Microsoft’s plans to offer a ‘taster’ version of Office 2010 will not have an effect on retail sales. But of those people, it’s a fairly even split between those who are adamant and those who aren’t sure.  Yes 16%  No 41%  Don't Know 43%

NEWS BYTES BEST BUY SPONSORS THE O2 Best Buy has signed a deal to become the official consumer electronics retail sponsor of London music and events venue The O2. The five-year agreement sees Best Buy own the naming rights to the 750-capacity VIP Lounge and offer its customers opportunities for upgrades and VIP tickets to events at The O2 under the retailer’s reward programme. Kevin Styles, marketing director of Best Buy UK, said: "Best Buy has a long-standing heritage and commitment to supporting entertainment and so I’m delighted to confirm our partnership with The O2.”

SHOP RENTS FALL High Street shop rents dropped 1.5 per cent in the 12 months up to June and are expected to fall more than four per cent this year, according to research by Colliers International. This year’s decrease compares with an 11.5 per cent drop in the same period last year. Researchers saw huge variation across the country, with rent in Guildford rising an average of 16.7 per cent but slumping a huge 45 per cent in Dunstable.


KEY RETAILER COMMENTS “No problems with sales – I just wish we didn't have so many low priced products” “Interest in Macs has risen with the iPad launch” “More and more customers are buying the promotional laptops” “We are selling more laptops this month, but netbooks have not gone so well” “The Intel processor chipset is just getting better”


“Customer footfall is down slightly but sales are good” “Customers are increasingly looking at the aesthetic design of laptops”

Argos saw a 5.2 per cent sales drop in the last financial quarter, despite opening two new stores. Like-for-like sales declined by 8.1 per cent, which the retail chain blamed on the ‘weak’ video games market and poor TV sales. These two categories accounted for approximately two-thirds of the overall decline in total sales. PCs, however, saw strong growth. Terry Duddy, CEO of Argos owner the Home Retail Group, said: “Economic conditions remain both challenging and uncertain, with this quarter proving difficult in terms of consumers’ willingness to spend. The comparable period last year also contained some strong sales growth and share gains in certain product categories, particularly in consumer electronics at Argos.”

INDIE PROFILE CORRECTION Last month, we incorrectly stated that the Indie Profile coverage of A2Z Computing in Newport was written by Roger Humm of Brigantia Computer Experts. In fact the article was penned by the president of the Technology Channels Association, Keith Warburton.

July PCR 41

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MICRO HELP Roger Humm takes time out to talk with Brigantia Computer Expert member Vinny Johnson from Micro Help, based in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire...

Year established: 1987

AS A B2B IT support business, over the last 23 years Micro Help has had to evolve and adapt its business – sometimes very quickly. The early days saw Micro Help working with 8-bit Amstrad PCWs, with no hard drive, no network, no internet and only the very early stages of email. Recent years have seen Micro Help producing and working with custom Microsoft Access applications, often linking with Sage 50, to improve management information and workflow for their customers and clients. As a Sage Developer, Micro Help produces applications such as True Invoice Profit for Sage 50, which gives more accurate profit reports from Sage 50 Invoicing, as well as many other ‘bolt on’ apps. Micro Help has also been

Regular vendor lines: Cloudmark, Fujitsu, Microsoft, Panda, Sage


busy helping people get the best out of Windows Small Business Server, with the likes of Terminal Services, Outlook Anywhere and Push Mail. As Vinny Johnson said: “Remote access really is so useful, both for the customer and the support provider. It’s surprising how many SBS servers don’t have these goodies set up when they’re installed.” He added: “We’ve also been an ISP

for over a decade, which, combined with our web design and email system work, enables us to look after that side of customers’ needs too.” Micro Help’s small scale has always allowed it to have a personal relationship with each of its clients, and the P1 system, for support contract holding clients, allows the firm to give the best customer service and support for many more hours per week than most can offer. Humm asked Johnson what the future held for Micro Help… “…with emerging technologies such as virtualisation, cloud computing, handheld devices and robotics, I’m sure we’ll have to turn our hands to these areas soon, and we’ll upgrade our ageing ‘Hero’ robotic receptionist too!”

Number of outlets: 1

Contact name and address: Vinny Johnson, Unit 8 Bleak Hill Way, Hermitage Lane Industrial Estate, Mansfield, Nottinghamshire NG18 5EZ. Telephone: 01623 651 444 Email: vinnyj@microhelpuk.net Website: www.microhelpuk.net

Roger Humm is Head of Membership Relations at Brigantia Computer Experts – roger.humm@brigantia.com

July PCR 43


Lakeside/Thurrock This month, PCR’s man (or is it woman...?) of Mystery is looking for a PC-based entertainment system for the home. Groovy, baby!

PC WORLD ARRIVING AT the store early in the morning it was apparent that the place was operating on skeleton staff levels, with the few workers visible doing stock checks and ignoring my presence. After 15 minutes of being the only customer in the PC section, I was approached by someone. I told him I wanted to create a PC-based entertainment system and he asked if I was looking for an all-in-one or a tower PC, explaining that the tower benefits from being upgradeable, while the all-in-one will look a lot sleeker. I chose the latter and he told me to look around at the models ranged while he sent someone over. Another 15 minutes passed and still no-one had come to help.

44 PCR July

A Packard Bell rep arrived and showed me the Packard Bell D6020uk for £649, demonstrating Windows Media Centre, highlighting the built-in Freeview and informing me about the 640GB hard drive. He claimed that the model was the only one in-store with Freeview built in; however during my 30 minutes of browsing I knew that this wasn’t the case. He then asked if I had Sky at home, telling me about using Sky Player if I did. Finally he told me how the optimised Dolby Headphone technology used by Packard Bell will improve the sound quality when using headphones or connecting PC speakers. At this point there was still no sign of any PC World employees available


RETAIL FOCUS  MYSTERY SHOPPER Turn the page for more Mystery Shopper results



to help and, asking where the PC speakers were, he proceeded to take me to them and look at what they ranged. He recommended the JBL Creature II 2.1 unit, an opinion based on him happily owning the smaller version. Getting out his phone he then tried to demonstrate it. However, it had not been set up for demonstrations, as was the case with the majority of the other PC speakers on display in the store. I also said that I would need a router to create a network; he again showed me their range, recommending the Belkin N150 for £39.99, explaining the range benefits of Wireless N giving better range.


The Packard Bell member of staff had been friendly and helpful with a good knowledge of Packard Bell and a general understanding of speakers and networks. It was only on leaving the store that the member of staff assigned to welcoming customers asked if I had found what I was looking for – 45 minutes too late. I was disappointed that I was not served by a member of PC World staff. Despite visiting the store early I was one of SCORE the few customers in the store, none of which I saw being served.


LOCATED in the shadow of Best Buy is perhaps one of the smaller Comet stores in the group. My immediate impression was that the range was a lot smaller than that of PC World and Currys and that, despite it now being midday, there were still very few members of sales staff on the shop floor. Letting the sales assistant know what I was after, he confidently recommended the Packard Bell D6020uk, £699.99, quoting that it had good specs for multimedia usage and a built-in TV tuner – at a good price. Asking about the few higher end all-inone units they had, he replied that they would be better for games. The assistant then showed me the speakers ranged, demonstrating and highly praising the Bose Companion 3s, saying that the superior sound quality would really make the difference when watching films. He also pointed out that I could connect them to my phone/MP3 player, as well as my PC. We then moved onto the routers after I said I needed to set up a network, with him recommending the Belkin Wireless N router. “It has the greatest range so you could use it in your garden for a party,” he said. He also explained the ease of setup and the importance of setting up a wireless security key. The advice had felt rushed, and he showed me only one product in each section. But he always referred back to my needs and his advice and recommendations were sound. The assistant is a great salesman, but I got the impression that he was stressed, quite possibly due to pressure caused by the arrival of Best Buy, and it was this stress which affected my experience and would have made me take his recommendations and look SCORE elsewhere to get the best price rather than buy there and then.


July PCR 45

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.




IN THE PC section of this new store I was greeted by a chap who, in an American fashion, thanked me for coming to the store, introduced himself and then asked me my name. He then proceeded to ask questions: “What are you looking for, laptop or desktop and what size screen?” Mentioning the multimedia/entertainment system and possibly a larger screen, he recommended a Mac, leading me to the Mac area where he showed me the iMacs. He demonstrated the new features. I was thoroughly impressed and even if I hadn’t used a Mac before, I would have felt confident in buying and learning, especially when they told me that I could book an in-store training session if there was anything I wanted to learn. I said that I was impressed by the 21.5-inch iMac, £949, and would probably choose it as my centre piece to the system. Taking the hint that I wasn’t done the assitant then suggested speakers to improve the sound experience. The PC speaker section was instantly different to that of the other stores as all of them were demo-ready. Enquiring about routers, I was shown the full range. The assistant asked how big an area I needed the wireless to cover, using points in the store as examples of G and N ranges, as well as asking if there would be more than one active computer using the wireless internet at once. The Best Buy assistant was confident and able to help you to make a decision on a product without being pushy. He didn’t use technical jargon, instead explaining it in an easy to understand manor. The SCORE demonstrations in store made a huge difference to the visit and my experience.

EXPLAINING my desire for an entertainment set-up, the Apple sales assistant said, “I’d assume you’re looking for a large screen,” showing me the 21.5-inch iMac. Highlighting the two key different models, 21.5inch and 27-inch he said that although the 27-inch had the bigger screen I wouldn’t need the extra power so it may not justify the £400 price difference and that the base iMac would do me fine for £969. This came as a bit of a shock as the 27-inch dwarfed its younger sibling and I feel more could have been made of the value of having a larger screen. Moving on to speakers, he showed me the B&W range, however almost immediately added that they are “very expensive at around £400” before taking me to the small Bose Companion two speakers for £99.95. He advised that they would offer better sound and more bass than the iMac but admitted that for films it might be better to go for a 2.1 speaker setup, something they didn’t stock. I noticed the EyeTV USB sticks stocked and enquired about them. To my surprise he recommended using TVCatchup online for free, rather than selling me the many benefits of EyeTV such SCORE as being able to record. Whilst in store I was potentially undersold twice.

THIS store’s width, plus its second floor, makes it the largest Currys Megastore in the country. There are many manufacturer dedicated areas, including Blackberry, TomTom, Apple and HP. Looking at the all-in-ones, the assistant pointed out the same Packard Bell model recommended in PC World, D6020uk. I hinted at an interest in a larger screen, to which he highlighted an Acer, and then the Packard Bell X8020uk, pointing out that for the extra £150, over the D6020uk, I’d get a bigger screen, quad processor, bigger hard drive, extra 1GB of RAM and a dedicated graphics card. This had easily sold me on the step up between the two Packard Bells. Moving over to the PC speakers, there were very few speakers demo ready, despite a display which seemed to be designed as a control screen for the content playing on all the speakers. This surprised and frustrated the member of staff, who apologised that I couldn’t listen to the ones he recommended. The assistant was very friendly and instantly likeable. Throughout my time in store he willingly recommended products. However he let me know that he SCORE was there to help and that it was my money, so should ultimately be my decision and preference.


46 PCR July



[SUMMARY] I was disappointed by a number of things in most stores during my day. The first was that none of the stores really picked up on my home entertainment setup wish by suggesting products to go with the PC. Instead I had to ask about speakers, with the exception of Best Buy. The other issue was demonstrations. PC World and Currys performed the worst, while the demonstrations given in Comet and Apple were brief. It was only Best Buy that shone, taking it away from the specs and price and focusing on the important bits - usage and quality. The key thing to take from this is that Best Buy has arrived and is as good at customer service and showing off technology as it claims to be.


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Hardware PCR’s monthly look at recent developments in the hardware market P 51

ERGONOMIC DESK SOLUTIONS Industry experts tell us about this boom sector; what products really work and who’s buying them

P 59

P 64



As Apple goes from strength to strength, we take a look at some of the products catering to the growing market of Mac fans

PCR talks to CEO John Rainger about how the distribution firm survived the financial crises and how it intends to continue this success in the future


July PCR 49

Hardware PCR’s monthly look at recent developments in the hardware market P 51

ERGONOMIC DESK SOLUTIONS Industry experts tell us about this booming sector; what products really work and who’s buying them

P 59

P 64



As Apple goes from strength to strength, we take a look at some of the products catering to the growing market of Mac fans

PCR talks to CEO John Rainger about how the distribution firm survived the financial crises and how it intends to continue this success in the future



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Are you sitting comfortably? As businesses and consumers become increasingly interested in ergonomic peripherals, the channel is noticing a boom in the sector. Nicky Trup takes a look at this exanding market… “Employee welfare is now a concern among many companies keen not only to improve comfort and productivity, but also to avoid compensation claims for damage caused by RSI.” Rene Batenburg, Trust


AS ANY computer user knows, long periods of time spent hunched over your keyboard or peering at your monitor can result in some serious aches and pains. Repetitive strain injury is one of the most commonly reported ailments related to heavy computer use and can cause severe pain. The Health and Safety Executive estimates that in 2008 to 2009, 9.3 million working days were lost due to work-related musculoskeletal disorders (such as RSI), representing a total of 538,000 sufferers. While these figures encompass all lines of work, the HSE also commissioned research specifically into the discomforts reported by display screen equipment (DSE) users. Over half reported headaches and eye discomfort,

while 47 per cent experienced neck pain, 39 per cent shoulder pain and 37 per cent back pain. “The results showed a significant influence of DSE work, with the occurrence of symptoms higher among those who spent more time at their computer at work, and those who worked for longer without a break,” says David Lewis of the Health and Safety Executive. According to Rene Batenburg, Trust’s UK country director, painful injuries can cost more than the worker’s health. “Employee welfare with regards to ergonomics is now a concern among many companies keen not only to improve comfort and productivity but also to avoid compensation claims for permanent

damage caused by RSI,” he observes. With the continuing popularity of portable computing – mobile PC shipments were up almost 40 per cent in the first quarter of the year – notebooks and netbooks can cause considerable pain if not complemented with the right accessories. “The problem with laptops is the way they are designed. Because you can’t move the keyboard and screen apart, users tend to stretch further forward than they should, leading to a hunching of the shoulders. As a result, neck, back and shoulder problems are all on the increase,” notes Ian FletcherPrice, CEO of Posturite, a company that provides ergonomic solutions direct to office and home workers.


July PCR 51






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“There are plenty of ways to make laptops safer and more comfortable to use. For example, by using a separate keyboard and mouse you can place the laptop on a stand so that your eyes are at the same level as the top of the screen. This will avoid the stretching and hunching that cause many of the problems.” Bruce Whiting, managing director of The Keyboard Company suggests that the right ergonomic keyboard can make a huge difference. “Many keyboards are available now which have an ‘A’ shape to the keys. These designs keep the wrist

52 PCR July


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angle more natural and comfortable. A keyboard with a good switch helps to reduce the amount of thumping we do on the keyboard. Mechanical switches don’t have to be pressed all the way down and they don’t get stiffer as they get older,” he explains. “The keyboard should be centred on the space bar. If the keyboard gets in the way a mini keyboard or left-handed keyboard will help. Everything should sit within the width of the shoulders.” Of course, ergonomic mice are equally big business. A traditional mouse usually means the user having

to twist their arm into an unnatural position – which can cause injuries to the wrist, elbow, shoulder or back. “If you use a computer mouse it’s a good idea to invest in an ergonomically correct mouse that minimises the strain on your wrist,” Batenburg says. Other industry experts suggest using alternative peripherals to control the cursor. “The market for pen tablets is ever increasing as the awareness grows on how a pen tablet has more ergonomic properties than most mouse variants,” claims Andrew Muscat, Wacom’s channel development

manager for retail and e-tail in the UK and Ireland. “Using a traditional computer mouse involves clicking continuously for a long length of time and having your hand and forearm twisted at an awkward, unnatural angle. This can lead to aching body parts which significantly increases the risk of RSI. The digital pen assumes all the functions of a traditional computer mouse like navigating, dragging and dropping, clicking, etc, and provides vital ergonomic advantages,” he continues.




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Life in 3D When you crave more excitement, more realism and more suspense from your digital entertainment, there’s only one way to experience the world: in 3D. Get ready to dive into the Acer Aspire 5738D the world’s first notebook with 3D technology and applications built in. When you’re ready for more, you’re ready for life in 3D.

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Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium Intel® Pentium® Processor T4400 15.6” 3D HD Acer CineCrystal™ LCD 4GB RAM, 320GB Hard Drive ATI Mobility Radeon™ HD 4570

Call for Pricing

Discover the Acer Aspire 5738D at acer.co.uk Acer and the Acer logo are registered trademarks of Acer Incorporated. Copyright 2010 Acer. All rights reserved. Microsoft, Windows and the Windows logo are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. Other trademarks, registered trademarks and/or service marks, indicated or otherwise, are the properties of their respective owners. Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others. Specifications subject to change without notice. Pictures are intended simply to illustrate the product.







SRP: £210.33 Distributor: The Keyboard Company

SRP: £440.63 Distributor: The Keyboard Company

They say: Wrist rest with an integrated central ‘bar’ pointing device; easy to use keyboard 'lifters' elevate your keyboard to the proper height

They say: The fully ergonomic fits the shape of hands and different lengths of fingers

ELLIPTA FLAT SCREEN ARM SRP: £189 (plus VAT) Distributor: BK Services



Specs: Adjustable positioning to reduce RSI risk, lateral movement for information sharing, four USB ports, space-saving design, also available as a multiscreen version


Whiting, meanwhile, suggests that ‘central pointing devices’ are becoming increasingly popular in regions such as Scandinavia. “The most popular ones are like a wrist rest but have a rolling bar mechanism placed so it sits adjacent to the space bar. They are very fast and intuitive to use, address all the risks, and some have added function like cut and paste buttons which also make for less strain,” he observes. Another growing product area in the sector is adjustable monitor arms. The Health and Safety Executive advises

54 PCR July



SRP: £99.99 Distributor: Gem Distribution

They say: Most flat screen arms can be ergonomically positioned but many require difficult manual adjustment. Ellipta’s unique weight tensioning spring adjusts to new positions with fingertip control and it has a unique four port USB hub


They say: The innovative shape of the keyboard and mouse encourage a more natural hand, wrist and forearm posture Includes: Mouse with ergonomic design, four-way scrolling, battery life indicator and customisable buttons; keyboard with ergonomic design, integrated palm rest, email and internet hot keys

“Conscientious employers want to make their place of work as comfortable as possible for their employees.” Nick Buckland, BK Services

LOGITECH NOTEBOOK KIT MK605 SRP: £69.99 Distributor: Ingram Micro


They say: Gives you options depending on what you’re doing – from watching movies in bed to sharing photos at the kitchen table

Specs: Split design, central number cluster, tilted keys and pads, vertical key columns, thumb keys for commands, in-built palm resting pads

Specs: Seven programmable buttons, elevate/angle the keyboard, 'bar' pointing device controls cursor



Includes: Pivoting riser which works with any laptop up to 15.6 inches and elevates to three angles; wireless laser mouse with responsive cursor control; compact, wireless keyboard with number pad and full-size layout


COMFORT CURVE KEYBOARD 2000 SRP: £19.99 Distributor: Gem Distribution


They say: Work with your hands in a more natural position with this compact ergonomic keyboard. Just plug it in and start typing – more comfortably Specs: Curved design for comfort, spill-resistant, ultra-thin profile keys, internet and multimedia keys, space-saving design

positioning a display so that the top of it is at eye level. In order for this to be achievable, offices and consumers often have to invest in solutions that can be moved according to their needs. “Top-end monitor arms are excellent in desk-sharing environments because the adjustment is touch sensitive and monitors do not need to be placed on top of telephone directories and other improvised ways of setting the monitor up for each individual user,” comments Nick Buckland, managing director of BK Services, a specialist in ergonomic office products.

According to Buckland, the market for ergonomic products is booming. “The largest market sector has always been in the office refurb sector or relocations, giving the perfect opportunity to include workstation upgrades. However, there is a growing trend towards retro-fitting,” he says. “Conscientious employers want to make their place of work as comfortable as possible for their employees; this increases productivity and efficiency, reduces mistakes and therefore increases profitability. All this for a relatively small investment.”



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life & soul

www.exspect.co.uk UK - 01782 74 87 32 Non UK - 0044 1782 74 87 21 Due to the company’s policy of constant improvement, the company reserves the right to alter specification. “Exspect” and the Exspect logos” are registered trademarks of GEM Distribution Ltd. All trademarks and copyrights are property of their respective owners. ‘iPad” is a registered trademark of Apple Inc. This product is not licensed or endorsed by Apple Inc.



Gem Distribution: 01279 822822 EntaTech: 0333 101 1000 Ingram Micro: 0871 973 3000 Apple: www.apple.com


XHARMAN KARDON SOUNDSTICKS II SRP: £129.95 Distributor: Apple Store


They say: This three piece, 40-watt speaker system is designed for easy plug-and-play audio from any Mac or iPod through a mini stereo jack connection. Enjoy high-quality stereo sound for music, movies and games with the SoundSticks II from Harman Kardon Specs: One six-inch woofer, four one-inch satellite speakers, 3.5mm analog jack, 65W maximum power output

Maccessories With a slew of new products and an enviable financial position, Apple is certainly riding high, with its products reaching a wider market than ever before. Matt Grainger takes a look at some of the peripherals and accessories designed to ride the popular wave by targeting the Mac market… “Last month it was revealed that Apple had overtaken Microsoft by market valuation, making it the world’s most valuable IT vendor.”


IT’S UNDENIABLE that Apple has seen some pretty strong sales so far this year. The iPad launched to worldwide acclaim and went on to sell two million devices in just a couple of months, with the company’s CEO Steve Jobs stating that there was an iPad sold every three seconds. Last month it was also revealed that Apple had overtaken Microsoft by market valuation, making it the world’s most valuable IT vendor, and the brand enjoys a hardcore of fans that would make a pop star jealous.

The vendor has managed to create itself a very high profile, with much of its marketing targeting the first-time Mac buyer, and has enjoyed popularity in the website creation and design fields, as well as the student market – where a Mac is as much a style icon as it is a useful a tool. Despite this apparent popularity, Apple products have a relatively low profile at retail, with most retailers and distributors choosing to stock a small number of lines. Part of this is Apple’s policy of selling directly through its

Turn the page for more Macintosh accessories


July PCR 59




LACIE 500GB RUGGED HARD DISK SRP: £149.95 Distributor: Apple Store


SPEAKER LAPDESK N700 SRP: £69.99 Distributor: Ingram Micro

They say: This external storage solution offers the supreme speed of FireWire 800 along with FireWire 400 and Hi-Speed USB 2.0 interfaces for true universal connectivity. Exchanging data between Macs and PCs is easy with LaCie's Triple Interface solution


Specs: Mac and Windows compatible, USB or firewire port, 5400rpm disk speed, transfer rates of 100MBps on FireWire 800, or 60MBps on USB 2.0, average seek time of less than 12 ms, three year warranty

They say: Integrated stereo speakers, a padded base, and an angled riser get you immersed in everything you enjoy on your laptop Specs: Stable surface with soft air-mesh fabric underside, integrated stereo speakers, ten-degree angle riser, virtually silent airflow, heat shielded design, low power consumption, plug and play USB connection


ANYWHERE MOUSE MX SRP: £69.99 Distributor: Ingram Micro



Specs: Darkfield laser tracking works on any surface, Logitech unified receiver, ergonomic design, hyper fast scrolling, integrated thumb buttons, Logitech advanced 2.4GHz wireless connection

own retail outlets. In an environment where most retailers might be competing with the vendor, it is understandable that some might choose to steer clear. However, as well as the ranges of Mac specific products, a large number of suppliers develop products that are cross compatible with both Mac PCs and Windows-based PCs. These products hold a broad appeal

60 PCR July


SRP: £81.00 Distributor: Apple Store

They say: Track virtually anywhere – even on a glass desk – with Logitech Darkfield Laser Tracking. Turn the world into your mouse pad






They say: AirPort Express now uses nextgeneration 802.11n wireless technology to deliver up to five times the performance and up to twice the range of 802.11g wireless networks

They say: Buffalo’s MiniStation Lite USB Hard Drive offers a compact, lightweight and portable storage solution. Store, back-up and transport digital images, music and other files without taking up space on your hard drive

Specs: Compatible with Mac or Windows, stream music from iTunes wirelessly to any device, send print jobs wirelessly, easy to use AirPort utility, works with any wi-fi enabled device

Specs: PC and Mac compatible, TurboUSB, play and play, Memeo AutoSync software, SecureLockMobile encryption, available with 250GB, 320GB and 500GB capacity

to the wider market, while also appealing to the growing number of Apple enthusiasts. There is a double benefit for the retailer who cautiously invests in some of these products, as they are often designed to appeal to a certain aesthetic sense as well as adding some high-end glamour to a portfolio. In addition, Apple’s marketing campaigns often highlight ease of use and

compatibility as a key benefit of Apple related products, which can’t hurt a retailers’ sales pitch. With Apple becoming a dominant force in the wider technology market, and a proven track record in shaking up the mobile phone industry, it is likely that we will be seeing more of these kind of products in the future. Love it or hate it, Apple stands to take a significant bite out of the IT market.

“Love it or hate it, Apple stands to take a signficant bite out of the IT market.”

Turn the page for more Macintosh accessories



Spire Bespoke Systems - Custom Desktop Solutions - Built around the AMD Vision Platform - Testing & Quality Control - 3 Year Warranty PC Build: 01202 810 316

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Spire Technology Ltd 5 Black Moor Road Ebblake Industrial Estate Verwood Dorset BH31 6AX

Tel: 01202 828444

Information correct at time of publication E&OE. All Trademarks acknowledged.






SRP: £89.99 Distributor: Gem They say: The Logitech QuickCam Vision Pro features Carl Zeiss optics for image-perfect detail and clarity, and premium autofocus that keeps images razor-sharp, even in close-ups Specs: Carl Zeiss optics, premium autofocus, two megapixel sensor, RightLight 2 contrast software, handsfree audio, two-year guarantee



] [

They say: Livescribe’s Pulse smartpen revolutionises the simple act of writing. Pulse gives consumers all the portability, flexibility and ease-of-use of a pen with the functionality and power of a computer Specs: Ideal for taking notes, records and syncs audio with whatever the user is writing. Users can tap directly on their notes to replay recorded audio, connects to a PC to transfer, search and share notes



SRP: £19.99 Distributor: EntaTech



They say: Made to feel good in your hands, the laser-etched design makes it easy to hold – perfect for surfing, emailing and gaming. Drop-proof your iPad with a layer of strong, flexible silicone. Shock-absorbent and durable, it gives your device complete protection on the go


SRP: £52.99 Distributor: EntaTech

Specs: Textured silicon, flexible and durable, form-fitting design, shock-absorbent

They say: Seizing the spirit of Mac, AVerMedia develops the all new DVB-T stick for Mac. Except the stylish mini shell, it also comes with AVerTV for Mac application, a ‘painless’ TV software making your Mac OS Tiger and Leopard a TV set and a PVR Specs: Supports HDTV MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 and MPEG-2, Enjoy TV on the Mac or Windows, Apple remote support, video optimiser, ultra light design, TimeShift allows users to pause, rewind and fast forward live TV, plug and play


LOGITECH M100 SRP: £9.99 Distributor: Gem


They say: Logitech Mouse M100 gives you just the basics for comfortable, reliable control of the computer and there’s no software to install Specs: Basic wired mouse, 1000 dpi, compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux, USB port

62 PCR July




SRP: £34.99 Distributor: Ingram Micro They say: With a lightweight, clip-on design and USB stereo sound, this smart speaker is as portable as your laptop – with better sound Specs: Lightweight clip-on design, plug and play USB connection, stereo sound, carrying case included, compatible with Mac and Windows



Outdoor Wireless Access Points from

LevelOne Connecting Devices through Channels in the Air

LevelOne bridges and access points create unique and flexible network architectures. These devices make it possible to transmit wireless signals, whatever your requirement. ■ High Output Power for Extended Coverage ■ Power Over Ethernet = Simple Installation ■ Weatherproof ■ Security ■ Indoor and Outdoor(IP66) options




The WAB-3001 is an outdoor PoE access point and bridge that comes with a built-in 9 dBi antenna, allowing installers to build wireless networks. ■ No additional external aerials and cables needed ■ Ideal for building to building bridge solution ■ Easy to set up

The WAB-3002 is an outdoor PoE access point that can be deployed in AP, client, bridge, and repeater modes, allowing installers to build wireless networks. ■ Allows users to choose an antenna that best fits their requirement

The WAB-7000 is an outdoor PoE access point that can be deployed in AP, client, bridge, and repeater modes. It is especially useful as it can operate in 11a or 11b/g modes. ■ Choose 2.4GHz or 5GHz to avoid interference ■ Allows users to choose an antenna that best fits their requirement

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Eyes on the 'Prise With a long successful career in the IT distribution market, Centerprise International is one of the oldest and biggest firms in the UK channel. Andrew Wooden talks to CEO John Rainger… CENTERPRISE was set up 27 years ago by engineer Rafi Razzak, and the firm started its corporate life selling printer paper around the UK. The current operation couldn’t be much further removed from those humble beginnings – the company is now one of the largest IT suppliers in the UK, with interests ranging from component and peripheral distribution to retail, to top level Government contracts at the NHS and the Ministry of Defence. The firm is now headquartered in Chineham, Basingstoke, with a production and warehouse facility based in Caerphilly, Wales, and other sites around West London. Chief executive officer John Rainger says that right from its early days, the firm was well placed to ride the wave of popular demand for PCs in the eighties. “Originally CI (Centerprise International) was set up as a reseller of IT peripherals. CI fast developed its core competency, which is the ability to clearly understand and define customer requirements, to design and deliver solutions against their requirements. “Through the various stages of its development CI supported the explosion in PC sales by building mass volumes for household names such as Dixons and the John Lewis partnership under our own label, as well as reselling other brands.

John Rainger says Centerprise’s key attribute is the ability to understand customers’ needs

64 PCR July

With the turn of the century, CI’s focus turned firmly to developing the services side of the business and this progressed very well against the company’s strategic plan. During CI’s almost entire history it has maintained a very strong distribution presence."

“One of our key focuses for the future will be to exploit our expertise and knowledge in the provision of information securityrelated services, supporting business continuity and high availability data care.” John Rainger, Centerprise As well as its core distribution business, Centerprise has a strong public sector operation. While very different types of customer, one key area the firm is moving into across the board is information security. “We continue to serve many areas within the public sector with heavy involvement within defence, education and local authority,” comments Rainger. “With private sector clients we offer a full range of solutions to meet the customer needs. This can be as simple as a computer component or peripheral, or at the other end of the extreme we build bespoke systems, offering full maintenance and support to multi-million pound contracts. One of our key focuses for the future will be to exploit our expertise and knowledge in the provision of information security-related services, supporting business continuity and high availability data care.” The economic recession hit most businesses in some way or another, and



Centerprise stocks a range of products from components and peripherals to film scanners

For the longer term future, Centerprise plans to become more service-led over the next five years – an area it sees as increasingly key to the market.

it could be argued that the bigger the corporation, the harder it is to nimbly manouvre through such hard times. However, Centerprise says one of its mission statements is to remain adaptable enough to weather such storms – a strategy that is says has paid off over the last couple of years. ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT “It is true to say that the dire economic conditions have taken their toll on many in the industry. CI has bucked this trend, and we have seen the group growing strongly in both revenue and profitability in the last two years. This has been achieved through the prevailing entrepreneurial spirit that drives CI and its ability to react quickly to new conditions. Key competencies to CI include our agility and ability to deliver high quality and cost-effective solutions on time,” Rainger claims. While already of a significant size, the firm is looking to expand its higher value parts of the business, and continue its long-term approach to customer relationships. “The next year will be the second year of the three-year plan that we are currently working through. It is our intension to grow the higher value parts of our portfolio and to maintain our tight grip on running costs. We see CI as offering a ‘cradle-to-grave’ service to our clients by providing hardware, software and services, protecting their data, managing and supporting them during operation, offering business continuity when necessary and refurbishment or disposal at end of life. We will be taking steps to position the company accordingly and executing against that vision.”


“We see offer a ‘cradle-to-grave’ service to our clients by providing hardware, software and services, protecting their data, managing and supporting them during operation.” John Rainger, Centerprise

DELIVERING SOLUTIONS “We will have transformed CI from a product-led business model to a services-led organisation, using the hardware element as a facilitator and not the centrepiece of our offerings. We will round out our capability at each point of the vision, by organic growth or acquisition, so that we can provide the solutions and services that clients want, in the way that they would like to consume them – be that on their premises or in a hosted environment,” comments Rainger “Understanding customer needs, and delivering a solution that satisfies that need, has been and will continue to be the best business model to pursue and it is our intention to be at the forefront of this.”

OVERVIEW OF THE BUSINESS Over its 27 years in business, Centerprise International has grown to become one of the UK’s largest 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 also offers software and value-added services such as hard drive encryption from leading technology brands. With facilities in Basingstoke, Caerphilly and West London, the firm has built up key strategic partnerships with some of the world’s biggest manufacturers and claims to have new vendors and products on the horizon.

July PCR 65

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+44 (0)870 7709536 www.entaonline.com

+44 (0)1279 822822 www.gem.co.uk

+44 (0)870 1660160 www.ingrammicro.co.uk

+44 (0)870 0270985 www.kochmedia.com

+44 (0)1202 828444 www.spire.co.uk

Software PCR’s monthly look at recent developments in the software market

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We talk to the experts about the products that can do wonders for a company’s efficiency


PCR’s monthly round-up of the top selling PC titles, along with a look at some of the major upcoming releases

July PCR 67

Norton Internet Security 2010 Performance Pack TM

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Contact your preferred distributor today



SoThin: 0845 299 4199 Gem: 01279 822822 SJ Software: 01282 865500


Koch: 0870 027 8700 Computers Unlimited: 020 8200 8282

SoThin Thin Package SRP: By quote Distributor: Direct


They say: A download is all that’s required for any remote user to access their corporate network or stand alone PC, quickly, securely and without having to make an installation.

Interactive Ideas: 020 8805 1000

Features: 128 bit encryption and Windows authentication, compatible with all Microsoft versions, download from web with no restart required, prevents unauthorised access

Down to business Business software can provide a real boost to productivity for enterprises at all levels, reducing the amount of time, money and effort spent on a project. Matt Grainger takes a look at the market and discusses its importance and where there is money to be made, with some key players… “Wherever there’s an opportunity to streamline or improve efficiency, the right business software can do just that.” Bryan Richter, Mamut


THE RECESSION created an unexpected boon for the business software market. While many other industries anticipated a decline in consumer spending and shrinking margins, the IT sector was able to stand in a slightly more secure position. The main reason for this is the fact that prudent investment in technology and software can actually improve margins and efficiency. “Business software can cover a range of functions,” says Mamut’s UK country manager Bryan Richter. “This includes accounting, CRM, inventory, logistics, timesheets, project management, payroll, e-commerce, personnel register and management reporting. Wherever there’s an opportunity to streamline or improve efficiency, the right software can do just that.”

In the current market, efficiency is the goal to aim for. Although the previous Government claimed that we are in a post-recession economy, declining consumer spending and footfall tells a different story. With the current Government implementing austerity cuts, smart businesses are looking to technology to reduce their operational costs. MAXIMISING RESOURCES “We’ve gone through a recession and if it hasn’t taught businesses to prepare for a rainy day, then the business doesn’t deserve to be there,” states SoThin’s MD James Dempsey. “I liken it to the end of the Second World War. At the end of the war, gluttony didn’t take over because people still had that wartime attitude –

they’d been through the hard times, they knew how to prepare and what to do. And what organisation doesn’t want to save money, save time and better use their resources? “So even after the recession – if we can be so bold as to put it that way – companies still need to maximise their resources, whether it’s people, time or money.” It’s worth noting that even for a company that has held rock steady during the recession, efficiency savings can afford a streamlined company the chance to grow its business, creating jobs in the process. “The latest trends in business software show increasing use of tools to both track prospects and create sales funnels that give businesses the ability to


July PCR 69



Mamut AccountEdge SRP: £301.98 Ditstributor: Gem, Softline


They say: If you are looking for easy-to-use accounting software that offers rich functionality at a competitive price, you have come to the right place. Mamut AccountEdge automates, organises, and processes all business tasks and financial information Features: Basic accounting package, processes sales and purchases, tracks debts, creditors and VAT, sends quotes and invoices via email, business insights, profit calculations, three versions available


Sage ACT! SRP: £183.91 Distributor: Gem, SJ Software



Sage Instant Business Package SRP: £252.62 Distributor: Gem, SJ Software


They say: A simple but powerful contact management system. Act! by Sage 2010 centralises your contact information, organises your diary, tracks sales leads and can organise marketing campaigns. You will also learn how to keep your current customers on your side, and ensure that you’ll never miss a new opportunity

They say: Sage Instant Accounts is designed to make managing your money, including VAT and end of year accounts as quick and easy as possible. Sage Instant Payroll helps ensure the people you work with get paid correctly and on time. And the world’s best-selling contact management software, ACT! by Sage helps you build relationships with your customers and target sales opportunities

Features: SMB productivity tool, manage customer relationships, target sales, track marketing performance, track, manage and identify good customers, track and create sales opportunities

Specs: Comprehensive accounting package, manage customers and suppliers, instant quotes and invoices, audit preparations, processes card payments, records till takings, prepare and submit VAT returns, create P&L sheets, manage payroll and employee records


push their sales even higher,” notes Accountz’ founder and chairman Quentin Pain. This a view shared by the general manager of Sage’s business partner and retail business Steve Attwell: “In a recession, businesses absolutely need to manage their costs and the efficiency of their operations. But this software can also be used to create a loyal customer base through features like automated reminders, order tracking and customer recommendation management. All these tools can not only help a business stay competitive, but also help create a core of satisfied customers.” As well as this, the benefits of the right software infrastructure can be brought to all levels of enterprise,

70 PCR July

enhancing the productivity of businesses of all sizes, as in many cases a minimum of staff training is required. SIMPLE SOLUTIONS “Software is becoming increasingly user friendly and much easier to operate, which users, especially SMBs who have limited IT resources, can really benefit from,” notes Acronis’ general manager for Northern Europe, David Blackman. “As technology continues to evolve, many new software solutions come with additional functionality which is becoming easier to use at an affordable price that enables a business of any size to run more smoothly and efficiently.” As well as providing simple and effective solutions, many suppliers and resellers are able to offer additional

options for their customers. Technical support and management can be handled remotely, allowing a company to reduce its overheads, or supplementary hardware can be offered epecially where a cost saving has been generated elsewhere. “VARs and channel partners can charge for consultancy and training,” suggests Richter. “Many of our VARs make extra revenue by selling additional licences as their clients grow. If their client’s hardware is out of date, there may be opportunities to sell in hardware systems.” Blackman also feels that software sales can create a relationship from which other sales opportunities can arise: “As software helps complement hardware, hardware can also

complement software. When selling software solutions such as backup and recovery, there is an opportunity for add-on sales for retailers that also stock hardware in the form of portable hard drives devices and DVDs that go hand in hand with this type of software. “Software vendors often offer add-on functionality for an extra cost that enhances the core product and provides resellers with the opportunity to cross-sell.” At this point in time, there are very few companies that still insist on working in the old-fashioned pen and paper format – the vast majority of businesses out there have all switched to digital format in one way or another. In many ways, this has not only helped to improve the



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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

Mamut One – ERP software + online services Mamut One is a complete solution for your business consisting of two main elements; an award-winning ERP system and online services. This combination gives you a functionality rich solution and the flexibility to work the way you want. With the addition of online services, you have the ability to work from anywhere at any time. For example with the feature Mamut Online Desktop, you are able to access up-to-date business critical information via mobile phone, laptop or web browser, regardless of where you are. Three versions are available to cover all size businesses.

Mamut Enterprise – small business software Mamut Enterprise for small businesses that think big Mamut Enterprise is a business software solution that has been designed specifically for the needs of small and mid-sized businesses in the UK. It is a fully integrated and award-winning business management application that combines powerful features, ease of use, and outstanding value for money. Making it affordable for even the smallest business.

Mamut One Office A single user solution Mamut One Office is a single-user solution which has been designed especially for small businesses and sole traders. The system is perfect for those who require a userfriendly solution to perform accounting and invoicing tasks, to keep an overview of customers and products as well as develop an integrated website. Prices start from *£340

Mamut Enterprise Includes  CRM and Sales Management  Accounting and financials  Purchasing and order processing  Inventory and logistics  E-commerce including website with web shop  Project management & timesheets  HR records (with payroll option)  Extensive management reports

Mamut One Enterprise For small and mid-sized businesses with several users Mamut One Enterprise is an award-winning management solution that connects and manages all areas of a business with one seamless system. It is designed to be easy to use and helps SMEs run more efficiently by reducing administration tasks, giving staff collaborative work tools, and at the same time drive sales through the CRM and e-commerce modules. Mamut One Enterprise is designed for businesses across all industries, trading locally or internationally, and with up to 25 users. Prices start from *£811

In today’s business climate, most business owners and managers need to focus on ROI and carefully consider new investments. However, a smart investment in the right business tools can help businesses operate more productively and position themselves for growth in the future. Mamut Enterprise helps small businesses run even more effectively by:

Mamut One Platinum For mid-sized business or those with advanced requirements Mamut One Platinum covers the advanced requirements of businesses with over five users. The system includes a range of extended software solutions which are seamlessly integrated within one solution. Mamut One Platinum includes personal guidance, implementation and/or programming help, by a local IT partner if desired. Prices start from *£9283 (inc 5 users)

 Giving greater control of the business through a complete and up-tothe minute overview of all operational areas, not just the accounts  Saving time and money by reducing administration, paperwork and the unnecessary duplication of processes and tasks  Increasing revenue by improving customer service, and through improved management of sales opportunities and marketing campaigns  Avoiding the costs associated with purchasing and maintaining several, unrelated business management systems. Mamut Enterprise covers all operational areas with one truly integrated solution. Prices start from *£693.00.

*The licence price is a one-off cost, and the price for the Mamut One Service Agreement (Bronze, Silver, Gold) is * per user per month.

*A mandatory Support Agreement is payable annually in addition

NEW! Introducing the Mamut AccountEdge range for Mac The new Mamut AccountEdge range is designed specifically for small businesses using Mac, from one to 15 users. The software builds on the success of MYOB’s award-winning Mac products, plus with useful new features. Mamut AccountEdge manages all areas of the business with one seamlessly integrated software system, including:  Accounting and invoicing incl. VAT returns  Sales, marketing and contact management (CRM)  Stock control  Time billing (AccountEdge Plus & AccountEdge Plus Network Edition)  Payroll (AccountEdge Plus & AccountEdge Plus Network Edition) The software is easy to use and install, with useful new features incl. Business Insights, Card File Action Menu, new form customisation tools and Contact List searching improvements. Mamut AccountEdge Integrates with iCal, Mobile Me and has Apple Address Book synchronization.

With prices starting from just £299* give your business the software it deserves at a price to fit even the smallest budget.

For more detailed product information please visit www. mamut.co.uk or contact Su Simmons on 07715 994796 or e-mail suzannes@mamut.co.uk



Business Accountz Enterprise SRP: £469.99 Distributor: Computers Unlimited, Koch


They say: Ideal for companies selling services, this is the easiest small business package on any platform. Business Accountz deals perfectly with VAT registered businesses. At the end of the year, the software will produce Profit and Loss and Balance Sheet reports. Users needing to exchange data with an accountant won’t be disappointed, as transactions can be exported as a CSV file Features: Manage suppliers, design and print purchase orders, track bills, automatic transactions, send quotes and estimates, track unpaid invoices, pronominal ledger, platform independent, hardware independent


Sage Instant Accounts Plus v16 SRP: £199.75 Distributor: Gem, SJ Software


They say: All the functionality of Sage Instant Accounts, plus tools to help you manage stock and see sales performance summaries – helping you to spot opportunities to take your business forward Features: Manage supplier and customer contacts, instant quotes and invoices, flexible discounts, tracks debts, record till takings, electronically share information with an accountant, prepare and submit VAT returns, create P&L sheets, export files to Microsoft Office


“Anything that can reduce power, reduce resource and travelling time can score some green credentials.” James Demsey, SoThin



Mamut Accounting Standard SRP: £301.98 Distributor: Gem, Softline



Business Accountz Basic SRP: £99.99 Distributor: Computers Unlimited, Koch


They say: Mamut Accounting Standard gives your business a professional solution for journal entry, a user-friendly nominal ledger with drill-down facilities and wellarranged ledger management. It also includes effective solutions for factoring, reminders/debt collection, remittance and budgeting

They say: Business Accountz Basic is a multi platform software offering a solution for all customers. You can move files from one platform to another and the software is also compatible with netbooks. The software offers free lifetime email and forum support, plus optional telephone support

Features: User-friendly journal, simplified book keeping, nominal ledger with optional analysis, customer and supplier ledgers, VAT wizard, efficient ledger management, advanced budgeting, reporting and analysis

Features: Fast bookkeeping, fully editable, instant VAT returns, exports to spreadsheets, accountant ready reports, lifetime forum support, optional licence add-ons

efficiency of the business, but has also indirectly improved their green credentials. “Something that’s quite fashionable at the moment is green computing,” observes Dempsey. “So anything that can reduce power, reduce resource, travelling time, hardware refresh can score some green credentials. Certainly with local authorities, Government and public sector, they must have these credentials. “The public sector will be big on green computing; for commercial there’s going to be a wish list. There’s going to be a lot of noise made about this in future.” The business world has also been

further revolutionised by the arrival of cloud-based computing and energy efficiency. CLOUD CONTROL “There is much talk about Software as a Service (SaaS) and the cloud in recent years,” says Pain. “Many software houses have jumped on this as the next big thing. Current research shows about one new service starting a month, and that’s just in the UK. There are some great advantages of SaaS and the cloud. The main one being the ability to access data from anywhere, provided there is internet access.” In such an environment, one employee need not be tied to one desk

and computer; in fact that employee might not need to go in to the office at all. This can create further savings in terms of hardware, space, time and business continuity. In addition to this, where a business might once have needed a team of IT staff to implement software updates or security measures, the whole process can be managed by one person. “Companies will start to make big moves towards virtualisation and cloud computing,” continues Dempsey. “Microsoft with their current and future systems, Citrix and VMware releasing even more modern and functional products. I think this whole back-end


July PCR 73



Business Accountz Professional SRP: £279.99 Distributor: Koch, Computers Unlimited


They say: Business Accountz Professional has all the features of the Basic edition plus full customer tracking. It includes the designer so you can create invoices, estimates, quotations, credit notes and delivery notes using your own logo and other graphics Features: Manage customers, design and print invoices, send quotes and estimates, fast bookkeeping, fully editable, instant VAT returns, accountant ready reports


Acronis Backup and Recovery Advanced Workstation SRP: From £41 per licence Distributor: Interactive Ideas


They say: Acronis Backup & Recovery 10 simplifies and automates backup and disaster recovery processes of workstations and servers in Windows and Linux environments, across physical and virtual platforms. They provide medium to large organisations a simple solution to centrally manage all backup Features: Fast and easy recovery, centralized management, advanced reporting, enhanced support for virtual environments, data deduplication, fully scalable, monitoring, advanced scheduling capabilities, secure encryption and transmission


centralised computing model is going to continue to be pushed. Certainly in our experience, the majority of our clients have either moved to it or are asking how they can move to it. “They’re the two big things to watch out for. I don’t think anything big will be happening with hardware, I think it’s more about the whole centralised computing model, whether it’s our Thin Client, virtualisation, cloudbased; they’re all the same thing, it’s just a different name for a different back-end.” The feeling that enterprise IT is moving towards a more centralised model is one shared by Blackman. “Organisations are increasingly looking for solutions that will help maintain optimum employee productivity,” he says. “UK firms want tools that keep their business operations up and running at all times, across both physical and virtual environments. “Adoption of new technologies such as data de-duplication, virtualisation and cloud services is rising as the amount of digital data stored continues to grow. SMBs are becoming quick to recognise their ability to reduce storage space requirements and costs as well as improve storage systems

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OUR PANEL OF EXPERTS Bryan Richter, Mamut

David Blackman, Acronis

James Dempsey, SoThin

Steve Attwell, Sage

Quentin Pain, Accountz

performance. “Expect to see organisations implementing backup strategies that ensure business continuity while meeting increasingly strict recovery time objectives.”







Game On PCR looks at the best-selling PC games and those due for release over the coming months...

GAME OF THE MONTH STARCRAFT II: WINGS OF LIBERTY  Publisher: Activision Blizzard  Distributor: Centresoft  Released: July 27th  Price: £44.99 STARCRAFT II is one of the most anticipated PC games of the last decade, since the first title practically redefined the RTS genre back in 1998. Wings of Liberty is the first of three releases currently in development. The game will again feature three warring races – humans, the highly advanced

Protoss and the insect-like Zerg. New characters have been introduced to keep things fresh, while old favourites like the Zerg Hydralisk and Protoss Carrier return. Story-driven single player missions will again be prominent, though the main draw for most users will be multiplayer. The graphics have had a makeover, and while this won’t be the prettiest game on the market, any PC gamer with a long enough memory is sure to be interested by this.









0121 625 3388


July 2 2010

Pro Cycling Tour Manager: Tour De France 2010



01279 822800


July 2 2010

Sniper: Ghost Warrior


City Interactive

0845 234 4242


July 2 2010

Chris Sawyer's Locomotion (Sold Out)



0845 234 4242


July 9 2010

Colin McRae Dirt (Sold Out)



0845 234 4242


July 9 2010

Fahrenheit (Sold Out)



0845 234 4242


July 9 2010

Neverwinter Nights Deluxe (Sold Out)



0845 234 4242


July 9 2010

Overlord (Sold Out)



0845 234 4242


July 9 2010

Tomb Raider Anniversary (Sold Out)



0845 234 4242


July 9 2010

Tycoon City New York (Sold Out)



0845 234 4242


July 9 2010

Toy Story 3: The Video Game


Disney Interactive

0121 625 3388


July 16 2010

Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty


Activision Blizzard

0121 625 3388


July 27 2010

Ascension to the Throne


Funbox Media

0114 241 2250


August 6 2010



Funbox Media

0114 241 2250


August 6 2010

Fly To Africa


Funbox Media

0114 241 2250


August 6 2010

Fly To France


Funbox Media

0114 241 2250


August 6 2010

Fly To New York


Funbox Media

0114 241 2250


August 6 2010

Lego Harry Potter: Years 1-4 Publisher: Warner Games Distributor: Centresoft

Tomb Raider Anniversary Publisher: Mastertronic Distributor: Mastertronic























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&#x20AC;&#x2122;s monthly look at recent developments in the consumer electronic market

p 80

INTERACTIVE IDEAS Marketing director Michael Breeze tells us about the firmâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s plans to make 2010 its fourth consecutive year of growth

P 83

GFK Account Executive Chris KennedySloane takes a look at recent sales figures and products to keep an eye on over the coming year


July PCR 79


The big Idea Enfield based distributor Interactive Ideas achieved a staggering 45 per cent revenue growth in its last financial year – it’s third consecutive year of significant growth. With plans for more growth this year, and an expansions of the business, Andrew Wooden talks to marketing director Michael Breeze…

“We have grown at over 40 per cent year-onyear over the last three years and we’re looking to continue that this year.” Michael Breeze

80 PCR July

Interactive Ideas has just recorded some impressive financial results for the last year – can you run us through them? We achieved record revenues of £23.7 million in our last financial year, which ended in April. This was a growth of 45 per cent year-on-year, and the third year in a row of over 40 per cent growth in revenue. The past year has also seen Interactive move into a new £1 million office and training facility, providing room to double the existing 50 employee workforce, an inhouse training facility and create a dedicated 20,000 square foot warehouse and logistics centre. In

April we were awarded the Investor in People Standard with Silver recognition, joining only two per cent of the 40,000 plus organisations in the UK that have demonstrated a commitment to their people above the standard criteria. What do you believe has driven the growth? Is there any reason you seem to have been immune from the recession? We have two sales divisions within Interactive Ideas. In the software solutions area we represent companies such as Red Hat, Novell, Solarwinds and Acronis to provide their products

and solutions to a network of resellers. The companies we represent all offer cost saving alternatives to more mainstream brands and so the recession has driven demand. In many cases companies can’t not implement an IT project, but they can now to do it for less, and so have been far more willing to consider new technologies. Within our retail area we have built a strong team focused on supporting online retailers with value added services they wouldn’t normally expect or get from traditional distributors/ suppliers. Our range includes many market-leading, unique and exclusive software and peripherals and, with the



Interactive Ideas won the Specialist Distributor category at this year’s PCR Awards

about range than any one product. As the popularity of products changes so quickly, today’s hero is quickly tomorrow’s overstock, so we aim to provide the products and service to our customers to provide good ongoing revenue and profit. Are you able to continue the momentum of growth, or will the next year be about consolidation? We have grown at over 40 per cent year-on-year over the last three years and we’re looking to continue that this year. As mentioned earlier we have expanded our office and warehousing

“Our goal has always been to be the best at what we do and to be a great place to work. Success has followed and we see no reason for this to change.” Michael Breeze

majority of our products at a sub-£100 price point, the recession so far hasn’t seemed to have made a great impact. And in some ways it has driven demand as consumers look for cheaper forms of entertainment and consider alternative brands to save money. Has there been a product area that’s performed particularly well? For the software solutions area then Linux and Open Source Software continues to be adopted by an increasing number of companies and resellers, with many large VARs now embracing open source. Within our retail area, then our service is more


in order to cope with the increasing scale of the business. The employee numbers expanded by 20 per cent last year and we anticipate increasing this by another 15 per cent this year to drive key growth areas. Over 40 per cent of the company have been with us for over five years and an increasing number have now been with us over ten years. Our people are the key to our ongoing success and the quality of our service, the loyalty we have, delivers great

consistency for our customers and suppliers who know we have skilled, motivated people who are here to help them achieve their objectives. We are committed to training and developing our people. Our goal has always been to be the best at what we do and to be a great place to work. Success has followed and we see no reason for this to change. Any plans for an expansion into Europe? Our main focus will be on the UK market but we have expanded into Europe with selected vendors. We have a multilingual workforce, trading relationships and so can offer a low cost way for companies to expand their presence across Europe. How has the business changed over the years? From a product mix and the type of customers we now have, then this seems to consistently evolve over time and new companies emerge and some disappear. We do still have customers and vendors that we have been dealing with pretty much since the start of the company. As a company we have always placed great emphasis on partnering for the longer term rather than just short-term gain and so it is always very rewarding when a relationship can grow over time for both companies’ benefit.

NEED TO KNOW INTERACTIVE Ideas is structured into two separate sales divisions – Consumer Retail and Enterprise Reseller. The Consumer Retail team specialises in software and peripherals for the PC, home entertainment systems and mobile devices. It supplies specialists, non-traditional and major retailers, e-tailers and mail order companies. The Enterprise Reseller team work with resellers, VARs and systems integrators with a focus on network infrastructure software solutions that deliver increased performance and cost savings.

internally for the next three to five years, but our main focus currently is on the next year. Things change so quickly in our industry and it’s best to take one step at a time. We see our future in the value-added services we provide, whether they be logistical, technical, marketing or account management. The nature of these will continue to evolve to meet our customers’ present and future needs.

Where do you expect the firm to be in five years time? We have ambitious objectives

Interactive Ideas moved into a new £1 million office and training facility late last year

July PCR 81


A sunny April puts shine on IT The IT channel enjoyed a great month in April, with the majority of categories – even notebooks and desktop computers – seeing an increase in sales. GfK account executive Christopher Kennedy-Sloane investigates... “The tip to watch for this year is the media gateways category. They allow streaming of TV shows, music and photos to your television from other sources.” Chris Kennedy-Sloane, GfK


MARCH HERALDED the return to growth for much of the IT Channel, and April continued that trend. With the retail channel for total IT showing a 7.6 per cent value growth year-on-year for April and even a 1.1 per cent volume growth as well, some categories are really in the sun. Key performers are desktop computers, growing 18.7 per cent in value (16.7 per cent in volume), as well as the indomitable netbooks growing 47.7 per cent in value over the same period (44.3 per cent in volume). Even notebooks,

long expected to be cannibalized by netbooks, outperformed the prescribed trend with a 5.2 per cent value growth in April. Despite this, all is not as it seems within the notebook-netbook shift due to a general price increase in notebooks. Despite the value increase, with the average selling price (ASP) of notebooks increasing significantly, we’ve seen a 5.2 per cent volume decline month-on-month. There is a slew of new tablet devices coming to bear in mind here, however, as this may be affecting consumer’s willingness to purchase currently. There are some categories not performing quite up to scratch, of course. One of the biggest is digital photo frames which has seen a decline in units, value and ASP – 15 per cent, 30 per cent and 50 per cent respectively. With trade brands now making up such a large section of this market it will be interesting to see over the next 12 months how the rest of the sector responds. Desktop computers were perhaps the most unexpected winner in April, with many considering the move towards the more mobile form factors inevitable. This was due to the move towards newer, more exciting units

such as all-in-one (AIO) Computers and Micro Computers. In fact, Micro as a whole grew an extraordinary 737 per cent in value vs April 2009 and AIO computers showed a good increase in value also, though only 35.5 per cent growth in value vs 2009 due to a growth from a larger sales base already established. What’s most interesting is that despite the growth of the lower priced micro form factors, the AIO is counterbalancing this trend towards a lower average selling price – meaning the category grows in value and volume almost equally. The tip to watch for this year, though, is the media gateways category – items designed to allow the streaming of your favourite TV shows, music or photos to your television from your PC or storage. From a not insubstantial base we are seeing value growth of over 100 per cent this month, as well as a price decline of over 50 per cent as they move into the mainstream. There are some positives this month, as well as some negatives. With the sunshine uncertain, how will IT weather the storm? For further information please contact Christopher Kennedy-Sloane in the UK on +44 870 603 8136 or email christopher.kennedysloane@gfk.com, www.gfkrt.com/uk

July PCR 83


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Ideal Software 01767 689720


Interactive Ideas 0208 805 1000


Keyboard Co 0845 205 5555


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SJ Software 01282 865 500




TADL 0845 370 8668


VIP 0871 622 7500


To advertise on these pages please call

Carlo Inzalaco 01992 535647 carlo.inzalaco@intentmedia.co.uk


July PCR 85


NewsBytes IRIVER AND LG FORM JOINT VENTURE Iriver and LG Display have set up a new e-reader OEM, which the firms believe could become the market leader in the sector. The new firm, L&I Electronic Technology (Dongguan), is 49 per cent owned by Iriver and 51 per cent by LG, and will focus on original equipment manufacturing and original development manufacturing systems to develop e-books and provide production services. Iriver is responsible for product design and technical assistance, while LG will provide e-reader displays. INGRAM BUYS SPANISH DISTIE Ingram Micro EMEA has acquired Spanish distributor Albora Soluciones in a move designed to strengthen Ingram’s position in the virtualisation, security and middleware solutions markets. Albora was established in 2001 and is headquartered in Barcelona, with offices in Madrid and Portugal. According to Ingram Micro, the firms have enjoyed a close relationship for years, with Albora providing support to Ingram’s vendors. Albora will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Ingram Micro EMEA. The terms of the transaction have not yet been disclosed. ESET JOINS SOFTWIDE ESET has signed up to Tribeka’s SoftWide system, bolstering a growing list of big name publishers including Microsoft and Norton. SoftWide allows consumers to print software themselves via a kiosk style booth in-store, dramatically enhancing the number of lines available on a shop floor, since all stock is digital. Retailers can also take online orders, negating the need for a warehouse full of stock. ESET Smart Security and ESET NOD32 Antivirus is now available through all retailers signed up to SoftWide – the largest of which is Tesco. MIDWICH MAKES MOVE INTO FRENCH MARKET Midwich has acquired the trade of French audio-visual distributor Sidev through a newly formed subsidiary, Midwich France SAS. Sidev, which was founded in 1990, has offices in Lyon and Paris and counts AV dealers, IT resellers and custom installers among its customers. Following financial difficulties, the

86 PCR July

French firm has operated under the court supervision for over a year, achieving sales of around €9m in 2009 despite this. Sidev, which is run by director Marc Piegay, has a portfolio of brands including Hitachi, NEC, Panasonic, Samsung and Sanyo. BLUEPOINT SNAPS UP EDIMAX Milton Keynes-based Bluepoint has signed a distribution agreement with networking vendor Edimax. The deal sees the distributor stocking products from the vendor including bluetooth adaptors, ethernet adaptors and wireless cards. Founded in Taiwan in 1986, Edimax is now one of Asia’s leading manufacturers of advanced network communication products. Last year, the company’s group revenue reached around $110m worldwide. C2000 REVAMPS LICENCE PORTAL Computer 2000 has upgraded its Licence Online software order configurator to create a one-stop shop for its reseller partners. The online portal features a single interface and brings improved functionality to areas such as pricing support, special bids, product coding, software renewal management and vendor romotions. James Reed, C2000’s general manager of software, said: “It makes for a more efficient and transparent order process and enables IT resellers to quickly identify new, best-price-tocustomer opportunities as part of a structured renewal process.”

VIP GETS PATRIOTIC VIP Computers has added Patriot to its vendor line-up, in a move that will allow the memory vendor to boost its presence in the UK market. Under the terms of the agreement, VIP will distribute Patriot Memory’s full range of DRAM, flash memory and peripherals across the UK. Johnny Van Esch, Patriot’s European general manager, said: “Patriot has been focused on expanding its presence in Europe. By partnering with VIP Computers we build upon our momentum and reinforce our commitment to build our channel presence. VIP Computers’ targeted channel solutions and a large customer network will allow Patriot to grow the brand in the UK.”

Gem snaps up casual games publisher GEM HAS signed an exclusive distribution deal with software publisher Funbox Media that will see the distie stocking new titles such as North American Hunting Extravaganza. The partnership means Gem will be providing the publisher’s PC, Wii and Nintendo DS titles via both primary and secondary distribution. WordJong and popular casual gaming titles such as Family Gameshow and Chicken Blaster, are also included in the line-up. Tracey Tennison, Gem’s head of purchasing, said: “We are thrilled to be

working with the Funbox Media team, and I am confident that, together, we can deliver great results for retail.” Barry Hatch, MD of Funbox, added: “Having successfully worked with Gem for many years, for us it was an easy decision to want to partner with the firm again and to utilise its substantial industry experience and knowledge.”



KMS snaps up deals with Asus, HKC Deals will bolster to distributor’s range of motherboards and monitors By Nicky Trup

KMS COMPONENTS has signed distribution agreements with Asus and HKC – partnerships that will broaden the distie’s offerings across two very different sectors. The distributor will be stocking the full range of motherboards from Asus, which KMS sales manager Steve Bland described as “a perfect fit for our business”. “All of us at KMS are excited about our new partnership with Asus. We have been waiting for the right partner on motherboards to join our already successful line-up of other products that we offer. We will work together with Asus to grow its market share in the UK as well as create some special bundle combinations that will provide

“All of us at KMS are excited about our partnership with Asus. We will work together with Asus to grow its market share in the UK as well as create some special bundle combinations that will provide savings for everyone” Steve Bland, KMS

savings for everyone,” Bland said. Jonathan Parmar, UK component business development manager at Asus, added: “Asus is incredibly excited about the new partnership it has formed. KMS is one of the best strategic partners to expand the Asus brand in the retail channel and through the synergy of this relationship, Asus hopes to greatly increase the breadth of its resale partners.” In another new partnership, KMS has also been appointed to distribute HKC’s entire line of monitors. According to Kie Cooper, product manager at KMS, the deal is a move to

counter the entry-level monitors that he claims have saturated the UK market. “It is about time a brand has

supported customers with a product that does not reflect bad quality with a low price point. HKC offers most of the features that you would expect to get with a mid to highend branded monitor. However it is able to support the channel at a low price point as well.”

EntaTech expands ‘lifestyle’ portfolio Distributor forms partnerships with two new vendors

Jon Atherton, commercial group vice president at EntaTech


ENTATECH has added a new category to its product portfolio by signing up AC Ryan, a manufacturer of digital lifestyle products. The distributor will be stocking AC Ryan’s Playon range, which includes the Playon!HD media player, launched last year. The device operates as network attached storage when connected to a local network and has a Bittorent client for downloading directly to the internal HDD. Other products in the range include an HD media streamer and an HD digital video recorder. “EntaTech has an outstanding position in the UK market when it comes to distribution of brands and we are pleased to start a partnership with

“The addition of AC Ryan and Innergie to our product offering allows our customers to cater for more end user needs. EntaTech is always looking for new brands and products that offer customers further sales opportunities” Jon Atherton, EntaTech the firm to fulfill the increasing demand of our products in the region,” said Tobias Brinkmann, commercial director of AC Ryan.

In a separate agreement, EntaTech has also formed a partnership with power supply vendor Innergie. Jon Atherton, EntaTech’s commercial group vice president, said: “The addition of AC Ryan and Innergie to our already strong product offering allows our customers to cater for even more end user needs. AC Ryan meets the increasing demand for home media solutions while Innergie provides consumers with unique power solutions. EntaTech is always looking for new brands and products than can offer customers further sales opportunities and these products are able to do just that.”

July PCR 87


AVG hires Furby to boost value business AMD appoints Neil Spicer as new EMEA lead  John Woodward joins graphics vendor Zotac as regional manager AVG: NEIL FURBY has joined AVG as UK SMB channel manager. He will be responsible for building value business and leveraging channel relationships. With 20 years’ experience in the IT industry, Furby’s career began working in storage and security for independent reseller Trysis. He later moved to Seagate Software and, after a series of acquisitions, ended up at SAP, where he developed the channel for Crystal Reports. There he became Northern European channel sales manager, responsible for the UK, Nordics and Benelux market’s sales teams. “I’m thrilled to be a part of AVG, it’s such a dynamic company with a distinctive unique route to market,” said Furby. “I’m eager to develop the business sales of the company and work closely with the sales guys, helping position AVG as the best for resellers. I’m going to be heavily involved in

handling our partners sales and marketing activities, implementing resellers training and helping strengthen AVG’s already strong presence in the UK reseller market. Exciting times lay ahead!”

AMD NEIL SPICER has been appointed by AMD as its new EMEA lead for its GPU and chipset business. Spicer has been in the graphics business since 2002, following a career at ATI and more recently working for Sapphire in Northern Europe. He joins the EMEA team to take the lead in working with the AMD board partners, motherboard manufacturers and regional EMEA sales teams. “I am excited to be part of such a fantastic company that is consistently raising the technology bar and delivering top-to-bottom graphics processors that provide outstanding 3D gaming performance and the ultimate

Neil Furby

Neil Spicer

immersive visual experience,” Spicer told PCR.

ZOTAC Graphics card vendor Zotac has hired JOHN WOODWARD as regional manager for northern Europe. He has been in the industry since January 2001, serving for many years as UK sales director at Leadtek. “I’m delighted to be joining the Zotac team,” said Woodward. “We have some

John Woodward

excellent distributors behind us and with Nvidia’s support, I can see Zotac taking a market lead within the UK and Northern Europe over a relatively short period of time. Volumes and margins are shrinking in the VGA business, but by adopting the entire Zotac product portfolio, our partners will see some fantastic margin and revenue in the channel. Consumers want choice, quality, value and availability, and that’s what Zotac excels at.”

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 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.

SEPTEMBER RETAIL CONFERENCE 2010 SEPTEMBER 22ND AMERICA SQUARE CONFERENCE CENTRE, LONDON Now in its fourth year, the Retail Conference offers free attendance to retailers. The event, organised by Retail Acumen, includes seminars, workshops and networking opportunities for senior figures in the retail industry. The flexible agenda allows guests to plan their own time.

If you would like to promote your event, please contact: andrew.wooden@intentmedia.co.uk NBG SUMMER FUN EVENT 88 PCR July

This information is believed to be correct, but potential visitors should confirm details with show organisers before making arrangements to attend





Strength in numbers Buying groups have long been a way for smaller independent retailers or resellers to increase their buying power as a conglomerate, allowing them to command bulk prices closer to that which large chains and supermarkets can demand. One such group looking to boost its ranks in the UK is NBG – though it is particular about the type of business it takes on. Andrew Wooden talks to managing director Phylip Morgan…

To those unfamiliar with NBG, how would you sum up what it is you do? We market ourselves as the UK’s premier IT buying group. Although we were established as a buying group we now offer additional services to our member companies that are based in key geographical locations in the UK. Those are sales services, marketing services, procurement services and things like that. So you are primarily a buying group? Purchasing is a big focus of our group, yes. But I would say negotiating together is more of a phrase that we would use rather than buying together. We don’t just buy, we market together, we network together, we innovate and exchange ideas together, so the group is probably more important than the buying.

CONTACT Phone: 0844 880 3170 Web: www.nbg.co.uk

So, one half is the conglomerated buying power of your members, the other half is networking – what tangible benefits are there to the latter? We have an acronym called CIA, which defines us. It stands for collaborate, innovate and accelerate. We get together with companies from various parts of the UK, a mixture of B2B and B2C businesses, and we learn from each other, and think about the ways we can grow. We also have joint marketing initiatives – we have three different publications we put together, and we meet together five times a year. We have our gala, which has just taken place, and an exhibition for vendors on the afternoon before. On the day after we have a meeting as to where we see the market going and how we think it will affect our resellers. You started in 1996 as a smaller operation – who initially formed the group? I think the group was together as an ad hoc type of group, more relationally than anything else. In 1996 it was formalised into a limited company. Then we started charging things like membership fees to be able to run the

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group, and from there it’s progressed to where it is today – a group with over £160 million of purchasing power. How many members do you have? We’ve just crossed 50 members. As you know I was taken on from February 1st to bring the group forward. At the time I joined, there were 43 members, and we will have 60 members by the end of this year. Additionally, by the end of next year we will have 100 members. What’s your typical type of member? It varies really. The B2B resellers tend to have a larger model than the retailers, but we also have some sizeable retailers in the group that have three or four stores. The smallest member we have does about £1 million in annual turnover. Our largest is probably Xenex in Birmingham, which is approximately £26 million strong.



Symantec won Product of the Year for Norton 360 at NBG’s exhibition and awards dinner in May

Lee Reed of Ingram Micros was awarded Distribution Account Manager of the Year

Phylip Morgan, Managing Director at NBG

“In five years time, NBG is going to be something vendors will associate with quality dealers” Phylip Morgan, NBG


What would happen when you join the group is that you would have geographical exclusivity in your area. Therefore, if you were in Eastbourne, you would have exclusivity for a 25-mile radius. So in our recruitment, we are looking for key dealers, around the CIA acronym again. We want a dealer that is willing to share, rather than just take all the ideas from the group. We also want a dealer that’s looking to innovate, rather than do what was done last year. If we do what was done last year, we only get last year’s results. So we’re looking to grow the group, and lastly we’re looking for somebody to accelerate and grow their business. So, somebody who has maybe paid the mortgage, got the Bentley, and seen it out because he has got his golf club membership, that type of dealer is unlikely to join our group based on our criteria.

There are a few buying groups out there – what differentiates you from the other active groups in the UK? Other groups tend to have a message, which is ‘join us, join us, join us’. We haven’t got that same message. Ours is, come and talk to us, because we’re very exclusive in the type and nature of the dealer that we want to take on board. And that’s because of the niche where we position ourselves in the market in terms of size, scale, geography, and then we focus with the vendors. So you’d say you’re much more selective on whom you take on board than other buying groups? That’s right. I’ve had 40 enquiries since I’ve been on board, of which only six have been taken on. So that would have been because there’s a dealer nearby, maybe they’re not large enough yet, or they haven’t been established long enough. We want people that

have been around a while and have got a good reputation in their area. Where do you want to be in five years time? It’s good to have a long-term plan. We’re already a force within the industry, but we’d like to be the biggest customer of Ingram Micro, which is the biggest IT distributor in the UK. So that’s the kind of volumes and goals we are heading for. But at the same time, we don’t want to lose part of what is a culture in this group, which is good local businesses in key geographical areas providing great service to businesses that need help and support from the industry. I would like to think we have a part in cleaning up the industry as well, and get rid of its reputation for being close to car salesman and double glazing salesman in the past. In five years time, NBG is going to be something vendors will associate with quality dealers.

July PCR 91

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All about the

training Brigantia’s Iain Shaw responds to feedback from his June PCR column and outlines details of new training courses to be offered in the autumn… “It seems that Brigantia members and nonaligned indies are looking for selfaccreditation schemes and for a wider range of training courses and certifications.”

MY COLUMN last month concerning the way ahead for the indie channel seems to have struck a chord with a great many independents. It seems that both Brigantia members and non aligned indies are not only looking for a meaningful umbrella self-accreditation badge such as our Brigantia Computer Experts scheme, but for a wider range of meaningful training courses and certifications to give it teeth. It looks like the NEF University scheme that Brigantia is promoting covering courses such as Cisco CCNA, Microsoft MCSE, CompTIA A+, Net+, Security +, IT Security (CISSP), Web Master and Project Management Professional (PMP) have all been well received, but that the general consensus is that this is only part of the answer. IT’S TRAINING MEN Lee Collins is known to many Brigantia members as someone who started off as a standard computer solution provider member but then expanded his local laptop repair business to offer support to other Brigantia members. Collins built up Cambridge Laptop Repair into a thriving business which he recently sold to Brett Matthews from PC Call. Matthews is now expanding the business further and helping even more Brigantia members. Collins, not resting on his laurels, has started a new business called Parts For My Laptop, which – as the name suggests – is specialising in distributing spare parts for laptops and provides training courses to assist computer solution providers to do basic laptop repairs locally. Brigantia will be working closely with both Collins and Matthews to develop this ever expanding area of the independent marketplace.

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Members are also looking for an alternative to handing their existing customers with VOIP requirements to those offering hosted solutions or local telecoms resellers. Many already successfully resell the comprehensive range of broadband and VOIP products on offer from Brigantia Associate Service Provider Entanet. Substantial ongoing revenue streams have been built up by members that are reselling Entanet services. Members also have the option of working with Brigantia Associate Service Provider 123VISP which offers a tremendous brokerage service for broadband, and VOIP services and again provide an excellent ongoing recurrent revenue stream for members. On the printer repair side Brigantia Associate Distributor member Express Group is intending to offer training courses to members that are interested in developing this side of their businesses. Express already provides an excellent spare parts service on the printer side and can often locate obsolete or hard-to-find parts and components. Next month I will further expand on the wider training that is available.

CONTACT IAIN SHAW  info@brigantia.com  0870 160 3215  www.brigantia.com Iain invites opinions from PCR readers and will respond though this column


Spire Technology 5 Black Moor Road Ebblake Industrial Estate Verwood, Dorset, BH31 6AX Tel: 01202 828 444 Fax: 01202 813 966

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Keith Warburton is the president of The Technology Channels Association. email: keith.warburton@tcauk.org

Banging the drum Keith Warburton reminds the market about the benefits of belonging to the Trade Channels Association, on top of the basic issues of representation, information, advice, Code of Practice and, of course, the great networking opportunities... NORMALLY in this column I cover a variety of quite cleverly crafted topics. Well, I think they are cleverly crafted. I seldom beat the TCA drum too loudly, preferring to cover industry issues. But this month, instead of taking the high ground and talking about issues, I’m going to get right down to talking about some of the things I have been doing over the last few days. So insert your earplugs, because I’m going to give the TCA drum a right good banging! We’ve just finished updating the member benefits list on our website. It’s only when you get down to listing them that you see what great benefits we provide on top of the basic trade association benefits of representation, information, networking, advice and Code of Practice. We have fantastic member benefits and even a couple of additional Revenue Streams for members. A HELPING HAND Professional indemnity insurance is something that independent resellers have been requesting a long time. Ours includes a free check/preparation of proper Terms and Conditions – an absolute necessity for anyone trading. Our free finance helpline covers issues such as debt collection, legal services, fraud prevention and investigation, asset recovery, lender services, business turnaround and recovery, as well as personal debt solutions.

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We also offer a healthcare package from just £1 per employee per week. The potential benefits to the employer by providing this to their staff include reduced absenteeism, improved staff morale and it also helps to recruit and retain staff. For the employer there is even a 24 hour counselling and advice line, an HR helpline, and a health report. We are an increasingly litigious society, so don’t leave your business or its directors exposed. Our IT legal advice comes from one of the leading IT legal advisors and gives free discussion of any IT contractual/legal issues, free legal audit of your terms and conditions and discounted IT/ecommerce template agreements Our channel sales reports for both retail and B2B sales allow you to benchmark your business’ performance. One of our Added Revenue Streams is online debt management solutions for you to sell to your clients, to help them improve their business cash flow and help them reduce the risk of bad debt. Another Added Revenue Stream is for you to sell insured warranties to your customers. These warranties bring you added income at time of sale, you will get paid for doing your own warranty work (no more worries about being caught in the middle between the vendor/distie’s terms and consumer legislation). This means you can now

If working with John Harris, Robert Peckham and Keith Warburton wasn’t enough to encourage PCR readers to join the TCA, Wartburton has highlighted some other benefits of membership

“The benefits of belonging to your channel trade association, for a membership fee of just £10 a month, are too great to fully detail here”

sell outside of your normal comfort zone, knowing that whatever happens to you, your customers will be covered. We also offer business information, including credit checking new clients and evaluating suppliers. The benefits of belonging to your channel trade association, for a membership fee of just £10 per month, are too great for us to fully detail here. But I hope I’ve given you a flavour of some of the things we have been doing. We are really, really busy. And that’s why, dear editor, this column is a bit later than usual! PS, we are just finalising plans for a series of regional meetings in the autumn, so watch this space – and don’t worry, I’ll be banging the drum about them pretty soon!




Robert Peckham is a director of The Technology Channels Association. email: robert.peckham@tcauk.org

It’s here and everyone wants one, as the millions of iPad sales underlines

Apple mania No surprises as to what Robert Peckham is discussing this month – the launch of iPad and the announcement of the Apple iPhone 4G. But he also bids a sad farewell to AM Micro Distribution...

WHAT A month Apple has had. By the time you read this column, Apple’s WWDC 2010 event will have finished, the long-awaited iPhone OS4, and iPhone 4G itself will be here, but right now it makes quite remarkable reading. Firstly, the iPad finally shipped in the UK and most of Europe at the end of May; I was there to see the queue of people outside the Apple Store in Regent Street, and heard all the reports about Apple stores and dealers selling their entire stock in just a few hours on the day of launch. Apple is selling millions of iPads, which is great news for them and has cemented their position as market leader in another category. The day before the iPad UK launch, Apple’s market value actually exceeded that of Microsoft. Various financial experts said this would be a short-term event

caused by an unexpectedly large jump in Apple’s share value, coinciding with a temporary drop in Microsoft’s, but the difference in their values has stuck.

“I was there to see the queue of people outside the Apple Store in Regent Street waiting to pick up the iPad.”

As I write this, Apple is still worth $6 billion more than Microsoft, almost two weeks after this monumental event, even though Microsoft is obviously the much larger company. And the rumour mill is hard at work over talks of Apple

taking over AMD, after many months of disagreement with Intel over availability of the new I-Core processors. Apple can certainly afford this, and it appears to makes sense as an Apple-badged processor is already in the iPad (and will be in the iPhone 4G also) after the company’s takeover of PA Semiconductor over a year ago. On a sadder note, I wanted to express my surprise and sadness at the closure of AM Micro Distribution, one of the great names in the Mac reseller channel. For many years Steve and Trish Hawkins, and their excellent team, brought a unique and very personal service to the Mac channel, offering products from many of the best vendors. I very much enjoyed visiting them on many occasions, as it meant a trip down to the lovely Devon countryside.

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

July PCR 97





Power to the




Consumers are the biggest purchasers of IT products, but we need to be able to service them, says ITACS’ Matthew Woolley.....

We offer a great service to customers, says NASCR’s Geoff Carr. But sometimes we need a little more support from publishers...

“We need to convince the powers that be that we are legitimate businesses that look after consumers – now the biggest purchasers of computer goods.”

LAST MONTH came the news that Apple is a bigger company than Microsoft. I found this surprising until I got to thinking about the consumer market. Microsoft is dominant in the business market, but Apple has a bigger slice of the consumer market. The interesting thing is that the consumer market is overtaking the business sector. If I could offer some advice, look after the consumer. Look after the people who look after the consumer We sell to consumers, we support consumers and get very little support if not a little hindrance from the channel above. It can be hard to explain to a customer why this must be done in certain way and a quick fix, whilst possible, is not correct. This can pass work to people who don’t care about the rights and wrongs – the pirates and cowboys of this world. This does not make a level playing field. We have already lost the price fight with the supermarkets. Losing the support fight due to rules from above forces consumers into the world of less than legitimate services. We need to convince the powers that be that we are legitimate businesses that look after consumers, – now the biggest purchaser of computer goods. As Apple extends its Apple Consultants Network other vendors might want to take a look and see if they can better the model.


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IMAGINE GOING out and buying a The main problem is customers car. Five minutes later you ring the can easily take it home, copy it, and showroom demanding that they call then bring it back for a refund. They out to put it in your garage and to have to make sure that what they are show you how to drive it (as there buying is compatible with the system was no ‘how to drive’ manual). that they have, and that’s the first The next day, you report a fault (“it excuse to deal with. Of course, if just doesn’t work”), which they they are genuine and they really patiently diagnose as a need for fuel. want to legally own the software, you After that is resolved, you drive it into might get a chance to upgrade their a lamp post and expect to get it PC for this one. They also have to repaired for free as it is still under make sure it does what they want it warranty. Months to do and that they later you insist agree to the terms of that they replace “The thing that really the licence (otherwise the engine. It has causes problems is they can get a refund). seized up due to a But the thing that when customers lack of oil. This is really causes problems expect levels of definitely the is when they expect support that only salesman’s fault levels of support from because you told the retailer that only the publisher can him in the first the publisher can give. give.” place that you Software is different as knew nothing a product to other about cars, so he should have sold you goods. It requires quite a lot from the a car that needed no maintenance. A user and they must be prepared to do year later, you don’t see why you their part. If they need help, then tech should have to pay out any more support is available from the software money as you already bought tax and house. I still wonder though, whether MOT in the first place. software companies realise just how This all sounds ridiculous, yet much support retailers are expected to these are the sort of situations PC give simply because good retailers Mike Scott retailers find themselves in regularly. want to be seen as helpful. Last month I discussed selling If it all goes horribly wrong parts for DIY, but more problems are though, the resources available to faced when selling software. Never retailers with awkward customer mind the OEM licence small print; problems are obviously arbitration by I’m talking about straightforward their Trade Association, as well as over-the-counter sales. Trading Standards Office.




Apple launches revamped Mac Mini Miniature computer is boosted by improved graphics and memory expansion options “The sleek, aluminium Mac Mini packs great features, versatility and value into an elegant, compact design”

APPLE has launched an updated version of the Mac Mini – a small form factor desktop machine measuring just 7.7-inches square and 1.4-inches thin. According to the vendor, the new and improved Mac Mini packs double the graphical power than the last model, thanks to an Nvidia GeForce 320M graphics processor. It comes as standard with a 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2

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Duo processor, 320GB hard drive and 2GB of RAM. The aluminium chassis features a removable panel underneath, providing easy access for memory expansion. The addition of an SD card slot allows users to access memory cards from devices such as digital cameras. “The sleek, aluminium Mac Mini packs great features, versatility and

value into an elegant, compact design,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of worldwide product marketing. “With twice the graphics performance, HDMI support and industry-leading energy efficiency, customers will love the new Mac Mini.” The machine also features an HDMI output, an SD card slot and comes with Mac OS X Snow Leopard.



Panasonic unveils ultra-rugged notebook CF-F9 undamaged after being dropped over 70cm or having 200ml of liquid spilt on it, claims vendor “The CF-F9 claims to be the lightest notebook of its size on the market and has been tested to withstand a fall of 76cm without suffering any damage.”

PANASONIC has launched a new rugged laptop for mobile office professionals, designed to be durable and resilient against damage. The Toughbook CF-F9 replaces the CF-F8, having been fitted with a higher resolution display, increased computing power and improved connectivity. The CF-F9 claims to be the lightest notebook of its size on the market and has been tested to withstand a fall of 76cm without suffering any damage. It also features a drainage system that protects the keyboard, touchpad and other components from splashes – 200ml of liquid spilt directly over the machine flows out through the drainage channels. Panasonic claims the notebook can withstand pressure of up to 100 kg/f and the hard drive is surrounded with

shock-absorbing pads to protect against vibrations and shock. Featuring a 14.1-inch TFT widescreen display with a 1440 x 900 resolution, the CF-F9 has a 320GB HDD and runs on the Intel Core i5-520M. An embedded antenna offers optimal radio performance, while Qualcomm’s Gobi 2000 mobile broadband technology simplifies multi-carrier wireless deployments for IT departments. The laptop features power saving technology that allows the battery to last for up to seven hours.

Sony launches new HD hardware All-in-one features multi-touch technology, while Bravia TV can stream content from the net “The Vaio J Series features an optional Blu-ray drive, wi-fi and built-in webcam.”


SONY has unveiled its new multi-touch HD all-in-one PC, the Vaio J Series. The slim machine features a 21.5-inch display, full HD resolution and ‘multiple lamp technology’ which creates a more detailed and colour rich view of movies, games and photos. The Vaio J Series also features an optional Blu-ray drive, 802.11b/g/n wi-fi and a built-in webcam. With its multi-touch interface, users can scroll, zoom and rotate images with finger movements. The PC boasts Nvidia GeForce graphics, Intel Core i3 processor and 500GB of hard disk space. The ‘loop’ design at the bottom allows users to stow away the keyboard if they wish. Three hardware buttons allow direct access to key features, such as display off, the media library and DIY maintenance procedures.

Meanwhile, the vendor has also launched a new 32-inch Bravia HDTV, the KDL-32EX703. The latest TV in Sony’s line-up features a full HD resolution and LED backlighting for enhanced colour intensity. The TV is wi-fi ready, and with the aid of a dongle can connect to the internet and stream full-screen videos from the web or other devices on the network. According to Sony, Motionflow 100Hz with Image Blur Reduction provides a smooth, sharp image, while Bravia Engine 3 creates greater contrast, detail and lifelike colour tones in the picture. A presence sensor detects motion in front of the TV, turning off the picture or going into standby mode after a set period of time.

July PCR 101


Sweex reveals speaker set duo Portable system targets laptop users, while more powerful model offers sub-woofer control

102 PCR July

PERIPHERALS vendor Sweex has unveiled two new speaker sets for PC and Mac, which each come in three different colour options. The Sweex 2.0 Speaker Set Purephonic 20 Watt’s compact and portable design is aimed at notebook users. A USB connection carries both sound and power to the speaker, meaning the set only needs one cable, keeping additional ports free. Users can balance out the sound level with the Dynamic Range Control feature. Meanwhile, the Sweex 2.1 Speaker System 60 Watt is designed for users who want a bigger sound that can carry across a room. Magnetically shielded with a built-in amplifier, the system gives users sub-woofer control in order to get lower, bass-rich tones. It is powered by a mains plug and connects to the computer via USB. Both speaker sets are available in three colour combinations: black/silver, black/red and white/orange.

“The Sweex 2.1 Speaker System 60 Watt is designed for users who want a bigger sound that can carry across a room.”



Seagate expands the FreeAgent storage range New GoFlex family includes network media devices that can be accessed from anywhere STORAGE specialist Seagate has launched the latest additions to its FreeAgent hard drive range. The GoFlex family of external storage devices range in size from 320GB to 1TB and are compatible with both PC and Mac. Interchangeable cables allow the GoFlex and GoFlex Pro USB 2.0 drives to be upgraded to USB 3.0, eSATA or FireWire 800 connections. The GoFlex TV HD media player allows users to enjoy digital media on their television screen by inserting a GoFlex external hard drive directly into the device’s dock, or by connecting another storage device or camera via the media player’s two USB ports. Using the special remote, consumers can access music, photos and movies in high-definition and surround sound. The media player can stream content from the internet, connecting via an ethernet cable or optional wi-fi adaptor. The GoFlex Net media sharing device allows users to turn any USB mass storage into a media sharing device that can be accessed from anywhere using a PC or device such as a smartphone or an iPod Touch. Content can also be streamed to other devices on the home network, such as the HD media player.


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Universally Speaking Tel: +44 1 480 210621 www.usspeaking.com

Orange Studio Tel: +39 051 588 04 50 www.orangestudio.it

U-TRAX Tel: +31 30 293 2098 www.utrax.com

ChaYoWo Games Tel: +1 917.650.0010 www.chayowogames.com Crytek UK Tel: +44 115 949 0808 www.crytek.com Data Design Interactive Tel: +44 0 1384 44 79 00 www.datadesign.uk.com xaitment GmbH Tel: +49 (0) 6897-600 80-0 www.xaitment.com

manufacturing services Arvato digital services Tel: 0121 502 7800 www.arvatodigitalservices.com

OK Media Tel: +44 (0) 20 7688 6789 www.okmedia.com

DISCHROMATICS LTD Tel: 01495 243222 www.dischromatics.co.uk

Technicolor Tel: 0208 987 7829 www.technicolor.com

MPO UK Tel: +44 (0) 20 8956 2727 www.mpo-international.com

The Producers Limited Tel: 0845 234 2444 www.theproducers.co.uk

Multi Media Replication Ltd Tel: +44(0) 1264 336330 www.replication.com

Total Console Repair Ltd Tel: 08719 181 721 www.totalconsolerepair.co.uk

gaming accessorieS AntiGrav Media Ltd Tel: 01932 454929 www.antigrav-media.co.uk Hubb Accessories Tel: 01642 204343 www.playwithhubb.com I-Globe Accessories Ltd Tel: 01332 756610 www.i-ga.co.uk Logic3 plc Tel: 01923 471000 www.logic3.com

recruitment Aardvark Swift Tel: 01709 876877 www.aswift.com

Game Options Ltd Tel: +44 (0)1382 731909 www.gameops.co.uk

Pebble Entertainment GmbH Tel: +49 (231) â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 477 927 0 www.pebble-entertainment.com/en

Amiqus Tel: 01925 252588 www.amiqus.com/games

Specialmove Consultancy Ltd Tel: +44 (0) 141 585 6491 www.specialmove.com

Pinpoint Consumer Elec. Tel: +44 (0) 1606 558 428 www.pinpointce.co.uk


WD TV Live Plus HD unveiled New device lets users stream content from their PC or the net

STORAGE VENDOR WD has unveiled its new HD digital media player, which can stream content from the internet to a HDTV. The WD TV Live Plus HD also lets consumers enjoy films, music and photos they already own by connecting to a PC, Mac or USB storage device. When used with Windows 7, the operating system’s ‘Play To’ feature allows users to initiate and control the streaming of video, music or photos from any Windows 7 PC on the network. The device can also be used for watching content from websites including YouTube and Flickr. Dale Pistilli, vice president of marketing for WD’s branded products group, said: “The WD TV Live Plus media player is unique as it allows digital media buffs to access and play all of their own personal HD media stored anywhere on their network or USB

“The WD TV Live Plus is unique as it allows digital media buffs to access and play all of their own personal HD media stored anywhere on their network or USB drives” Dale Pistilli, WD

drives. At the same time they can easily stream Netflix, Pandora, YouTube and other internet favorites to their HDTV.” The device has an HDMI port, an ethernet port and is wi-fi ready, but needs a separate USB adaptor to work wirelessly. It supports a variety of file formats and works with any digital imaging device that supports Picture Transfer Protocol.

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106 PCR July

Web: www.SJstartup.co.uk



HannsG introduces its new HL LED monitor range HL231DPB is the first model in the firm’s new line-up of energy efficient LED computer displays HANNSG has begun the roll-out of its latest line of LED computer displays, starting with a 23-inch model. The first monitor from the new HL series, the HL231DPB, features a widescreen anti-glare display with full HD resolution, which the vendor claims makes it ideal for multimedia consumption. The 23-inch HL231DPB includes DVI-D with HDCP


support, a 170-degree viewing angle and a dynamic ‘X-Contrast’ ratio of 8,000,000:1. Thanks to its LED backlighting, the monitor has a slim form and is apparently longer lasting and 20 per cent more energy efficient than equivalent LCD devices. According to HannsG, the HL231DPB is also much more recycling friendly as it doesn’t contain hazardous or poisonous substances, such as mercury.

July PCR 107


New digital signage device from StarTech DS series lets users control up to 80 displays from one location STARTECH.COM, a manufacturer of hard-to-find connectivity and technology parts, has launched a number of products including digital signage devices. The new DS128 Digital Signage Broadcaster and DSRXL Digital Signage Receiver can be used to extend high resolution VGA video and stereo audio up to 300m via an ethernet cable. The broadcaster and receiver also provide centralised operation of connected devices such as AV receivers and display panels.

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“The DS Series offers a Java software utility that allows users to take control of signal distribution, display panels and

“Used together, the digital signage broadcaster and receiver also offer a very scalable method of distributing audio and video signals” John Mardinly, StarTech

other connected devices over a serial or LAN connection from any platform. Plus, you can fine-tune the image or control audio volume over the RS-232 connection, making it easier to consolidate device control,” said StarTech.com’s product manager, John Mardinly. “Used together, the digital signage broadcaster and receiver also offer a very scaleable method of distributing audio and video signals. Each DSRXL receiver can be daisy-chained with up to four additional receivers and provides two VGA ports for additional remote displays. In total, this allows users to

connect and control up to 80 monitors from a single location,” added Mardinly. The SP123DP2DVI DisplayPort to 3-port DVI Graphics Expansion Module expands the DisplayPort image output across three monitors or, alternatively, clones the primary output image onto the displays. According to StarTech this can be used in applications including viewing and editing panoramic videos or graphics, digital signage video walls and playing simulation-based games.



ASRock home theatre PCs arrive in the UK Core 100 series features the latest in high-end audio and can be controlled by remote ASROCK has launched what it claims are the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first USB 3.0 home theatre PCs. The Core 100 series, which was showcased at this yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Computex in Taiwan, runs on the latest generation Intel Core processors and features Intel HD graphics. The machines come with THX TruStudio Pro, which is designed to provide a high-end audio experience. It can upgrade stereo content into surround sound and restore compressed sound sources so every detail is audible in surround sound. As well as claiming to be the first USB 3.0 onboard system on the market, the Core 100 range features HDMI input, dual-channel DDR3 memory, two


SO-DIMM slots and a 2.5-inch HDD up to 500GB (with support for a second HDD). All the models are wi-fi enabled and come with a remote control. While all the devices can play full HD DVDs, the Core 100HTBD features a Blu-ray drive. The mini PCs are compact in size, boasting dimensions of just 19.5cm x 7cm x 18.6cm.

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Kinect and slimmed down Xbox 360 hit E3 Motion sensing tech makes entertainment “more natural and engaging” says Microsoft exec MICROSOFT used this year’s E3 to show off its new slim Xbox 360 and the eagerly anticipated Kinect technology (previously known as Project Natal). The thinner console includes a 250GB hard drive and built-in 802.11N wireless internet support. The ‘whisper-quiet’ machine has an HDMI input as well as USB flash drive storage capabilities. Kinect, meanwhile, was the vendor’s big announcement at the Los Angeles games show, though it won’t be available in the UK until later this year. It lets players control games without the need for a controller – the user simply steps in front of the sensor, which

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responds to gestures and recognises voices, too. The device works with any Xbox 360 and its gesture recognition can also be used to access movies, television shows and music. “Kinect is about making that entertainment experience more natural and engaging than ever before,” said Marc Whitten, Microsoft’s corporate vice president of Xbox Live. “Once you experience your movies, music, sports and games with Xbox Live and Kinect, you won’t ever want to go back.” The vendor also unveiled a number of new games, including racing game Kinect Joy Ride and Kinect Sports. The latter features football, volleyball, bowling, table tennis, boxing and a variety of other sports.



APPLE MACBOOK PRO 15 THE ALLURE of the MacBook Pro is simple. With power enough to please performance die-hards, and the poise to please fashionistas, Apple’s flagship laptop was always destined to impress. But, with previous models still chugging along in Core 2 processors, many will have been holding off for this inevitable Core i7 upgrade. The major news is that the slick aluminium chassis is now joined by some up-to-date intervals – but, although it’s definitely fast, it isn’t quite as fast as you might expect. In a first for Apple, graphical duties are handled by dual GPUs comprising the on-CPU Intel HD graphics and Nvidia’s discrete GeForce GT 330M chipset. The burlier chipset of the pair, the GeForce GT 330M, fired through Crysis at 1,280 x 1,024 and Medium detail with a borderline playable average of 26fps. Intel’s HD graphics, meanwhile, proved man enough for HD video playback. The duo works wonders in Apple’s OS X Snow Leopard, with Intel’s HD

graphics taking the reins most of the time and the Nvidia chipset stepping in when more graphical muscle is required. Unfortunately, it’s a great trick that you’ll only appreciate in OS X. It’s painfully absent when running Windows. From afar it’s the usual lovely thing, with power and aluminium-framed panache in equal measures. However the specification is stingy, the keyboard

“We’re long past the days when Apple did style better than no other and we’ve seen far better laptops in recent months.” mediocre, the lack of graphics switching in Windows is a killer blow, and the cooling system borders on the unworkable. We’re long past the days when Apple did style better than no other, and we’ve seen far better laptops in recent months – such as the VAIO Z11.


URL: www.apple.com SRP: £1,799


EASE THE IPAD from its box and it hits you: it really does look like an expanded iPhone, right down to the solitary Home button beneath the 9.7inch display. The back is all curved aluminium, complete with large Apple logo, and the blemishes are the power

“It’s constrained by Apple’s controlling influence, but what the iPad has that no laptop can match is a sense of fun.”


URL: www.apple.com SRP: £429-699



button, volume controls, a 3.5mm headphone jack and the familiar 30-pin dock connector. There’s no polite way of putting it: the iPad is a bit of a porker. Not in a chubby sense – it’s incredibly thin – but it weighs 680g, more than twice as much as a Kindle. There’s a good reason why Steve Jobs demonstrated it resting on his knee in an armchair.

Comfort aside, if you’ve used an iPhone, the experience will be instantly familiar. Nothing else comes close. The learning curve is non-existent and it’s all helped by the iPad’s sheer speed. There’s one monumental caveat, though, and that is Apple’s continuing disdain for Flash. You soon realise just how many websites rely on it, and while its absence isn’t quite a killer blow, it puts a good few sticks of dynamite under Apple’s claims that the iPad is “the best way to experience the web”. Another criticism is that third-party apps can’t yet multitask – at least until the OS 4 update introduces the feature in the summer. How much of an issue this is will depend on how you use it. The iPad is the first in a series of products that could transform the industry, with Dell and others producing their own rivals. It can’t match a laptop with a full-blown OS, but there’s an argument for the iPad as a secondary device to go with a desktop PC. Yes it’s constrained by Apple’s controlling influence, but what the iPad has that no laptop can match is a sense of fun.

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THIS MONTH: Racing cars, Race for Life and competition winners...


Right and below: In the Ferrari pit during the race Below right: Eugene Kaspersky discusses the similarities between Kaspersky and Ferrari

Having become a key sponsor of racing giant Ferrari, Kaspersky Lab flew PCR editor Andrew Wooden out to Le Mans, France, to join the firm for the 24-hour racing extravaganza. During a short speech on the similarities between the two businesses, the security software vendor’s founder and CEO Eugene Kaspersky said that he “recognised the smell of Ferrari’s team spirit” and that “both firms like speed and success”.


Above: The crowd takes a breather during the race Right: A Ferrari driver Far right: The 24 Hours of Le Mans in action

This tweet coming via iPad. It probably sounds quite smug as a result.

Journalist/TV presenter Charlie Brooker @charltonbrooker

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Yet another day in a Best Buy white shirt. Based on today’s weather forecast, I should be campaigning for Best Buy beachwear!

Best Buy UK’s Rene Wright @ReneWright



Send your pictures to: andrew.wooden@intentmedia.co.uk

A day in the life

COOL RUNNING Members of EntaTech’s marketing and purchasing teams joined over 2,000 other women in the Race for Life at West Park in Wolverhampton last month. Lindsey Fish, Claire Reynolds, Dragita Price and Zoe Broadhurst donned pink vests for the five kilometre run, raising £950 for Cancer Research UK.

Craig Gore, Product Manager for Graphics Cards, Processors and Microsoft at KMS Components

Left to right: Reynolds, Broadhurst, Fish and Price

"Sales promotions and training days create a massive buzz in the office, especially when the free pizza is flowing"

WINNING SMILES The owners of Alban IT Supplies in Hertfordshire have won a trip to Copenhagen as part of a competition run by BullGuard. Maria and Jonathan Field, owners of the St Albans-based online retailer and IT repair firm, won the all inclusive weekend away after signing up as a BullGuard reseller at this year’s Channel Expo. Maria Field with BullGuard’s Jennifer Kingwill

Happy First Day of Summer! Have fun out there, but be careful. And, please wear sunscreen!

Cisco Systems @CiscoSystems


I spend far too much time at the genius bar asking Apple employees to fix my computer.

Technology journalist Aleks Krotoski @aleksk

THINGS change so quickly in this industry that it is difficult to quantify a typical day, but here is an insight into what might happen. My role requires me to do a lot of preparation before the working day starts. Unfortunately, family commitments mean I’m usually in work about a minute before our sales meeting. Fortunately, Google is a wonderful tool and I’m able to pass on all the information I have gleaned in that spare minute about what’s happening in the market for my product sectors. I also answer questions regarding stock from my categories and customer feedback. The moment the sales meeting finishes I’ll make countless phone calls to our suppliers to understand what the market is doing. One of the hardest tasks is keeping an eye on currency fluctuations in the financial markets. The next plan of attack is working with our in-house marketing team to discuss upcoming marketing activities, promotions and events. As we have such a vibrant office with a great atmosphere, vendors always want to be in our office to run sales promotions and training days. These usually create a massive buzz in the office, especially when free pizza is flowing or new polo shirts are handed out. During lunch I try and get out of the office, to clear my head. I find that the longer the lunch break that I can get away with, the faster the day goes! In the afternoon I will usually run sales promotions and by the end of the day I’m exhausted. If possible, I try to beat the rush by sneaking off five or ten minutes early. I’m so influential to the company, I’m surprised that nobody has noticed yet. Ah well, another day over with, can’t wait until tomorrow!

July PCR 113


PCR Editorial Planner

In the

HOT SEAT Emma Loveless, Business Unit Operations Director, Centerprise

AUGUST 2010 Advertising deadline: July 21st BACK TO SCHOOL ISSUE  Back to School Hardware and software 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

SEPTEMBER 2010 Advertising deadline: August 18th Gaming issue  Graphics cards  Peripherals  Displays  Gaming hardware Describe yourself in three words Small, stubborn and shy How do you relax away from work? White wine and chocolate What’s your favourite book? From my childhood, Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume What’s your favourite film? The Green Mile What’s your favourite album? Oasis – (What's the Story) Morning Glory? What was your first computer? No idea, I didn’t get one till very late!

OCTOBER 2010 Advertising deadline: September 15th Security special  Security software  Digital storage  Photography

NOVEMBER 2010 Advertising deadline: October 20th Christmas special  Novelty Gadgets  Notebooks  Laptop bags and accessories


What’s your best memory of working in the industry? Plenty from the various award ceremonies (which are best left unsaid!)

Advertising deadline: November 17th  MP3 players and accessories  External hard drives  Distributor opening times

Who’s the funniest person you’ve ever met? My other half – Simon Riley


What did you want to do when you were younger? Nurse

Advertising deadline: TBC  Printers  Smartphones  ISPs  Speakers and headphones

LATEST NEWS STRAIGHT TO YOUR MOBILE bookmark us in your phone:

mobile.pcretailmag.com 114 PCR July


Windows®. Life without Walls™. Acer recommends Windows 7.

want one?

A computer that’s small enough and light enough to carry with you all day, yet so easy to use and so powerful that you can instantly connect to your friends and the web and also enjoy HD entertainment every time you use it. What kind of netbook can do that?


One of a kind.

Discover Acer Aspire One range at acer.co.uk Acer and the Acer logo are registered trademarks of Acer Incorporated. Copyright 2010 Acer. All rights reserved. Other trademarks, registered trademarks and/or service marks, indicated or otherwise, are the properties of their respective owners. Microsoft, Windows and the Windows logo are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others. Specifications subject to change without notice. Pictures are intended simply to illustrate the product.

Windows®. Life without Walls™. Acer recommends Windows 7.

Acer Touch Technology

Forget the mouse

Acer Aspire Z5610 Genuine Windows® 7 Home Premium Intel® Core™ 2 Quad Processor Q8200 23” Full HD LCD with integrated Windows 7 compliant multi-touch capable optical solution and Speakers 4GB RAM, 1TB Hard Disk Drive ATI HD 4530 MXM with 512MB DDR2 dedicated VRAM DVD - Rewriter, Wireless Keyboard & Mouse Integrated TV Tuner (Freeview Channels can be viewed)

Part Number: 99.68F9P.UPN


Call for Pricing

Discover the Acer Aspire Z5610 at acer.co.uk Acer and the Acer logo are registered trademarks of Acer Incorporated. Copyright 2010 Acer. All rights reserved. Microsoft, Windows and the Windows logo are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. Other trademarks, registered trademarks and/or service marks, indicated or otherwise, are the properties of their respective owners. Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others. Specifications subject to change without notice. Pictures are intended simply to illustrate the product.

Profile for Intent Media (now Newbay Media Europe)

PCR July - Issue 82  

Computer. IT resellers. Retailers. System Builders. Distibutors. Vendors

PCR July - Issue 82  

Computer. IT resellers. Retailers. System Builders. Distibutors. Vendors