Christmas specials

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A number of consumer electronics products and small appliances are predicted to become Christmas bestsellers regardless of the recessionary pressures on family budgets. In fact, the competitive situation in the market was responsible for a great spate of new product developments with which manufacturers are trying to tempt the retrenching consumer back into the marketplace.

Those planning to buy their first or a replacement flat panel TV may find themselves confused with the choice available, as the majority of models launched in 2009 are now sporting 1080p Full HD, with some also featuring 200Hz and built-in Freesat. Blu-ray players, which are becoming more accessible, offer excellent sales opportunities at Christmas. Many of them not only offer unprecedented quality of the image and sound but also are able to improve the quality of users’ existing DVD collections.

The choice of DAB radios, offering vast functionality, has never been greater. There are also several new categories of electronic products, such as e-books, that will make excellent seasonal gifts but which the customer has to be encouraged to test to see their potential.

And of course, demonstration will be key in the case of small kitchen appliances, many of which will carry special Christmas promotions.

TV special

New BRAVIA televisions from Sony, the W5810 and Z5800, will not only enable customers to enjoy free HD channels in high definition but will also give them all the advantages of built-in Freesat. Users will be able to access more than 140 television and radio channels without subscription costs. The DVB-S2 tuner also eliminates the need for a set-top box or cables around the room.

Sony will also be promoting the new BRAVIA S57 series, with a 19in LCD screen in a choice of colours such as Pale Emerald and Satin Silver, which are designed for the bedroom or kitchen. Their integrated digital clock and built-in digital tuners reduce the clutter in the home even further. With two HDMI connections and its USB 2.0 port, customers can plug in their Cyber-shot or USB key and share their favourite memories with the S57 automatically optimising the screen to the best image settings for viewing.

Built-in Freesat will be a great attraction in its own right: James Atkins, trade marketing manager at Freesat, comments: “HD continues to be a priority for us and viewers will be able to access a great range of HD programming this Christmas. When coupled with the ability to pause, rewind and record with Freesat+, our proposition becomes even more compelling. Additionally, our range of IDTVs is also growing, with Sony launching a new range to add to the models already available from LG and Panasonic.

“There are currently over 70 hours of HD programming available per week on Freesat including shows like Strictly Come Dancing and Top Gear, which begins in November. With the FA Cup, England home games and the Champions League to look forward to in the lead up to the World Cup, it’s also a great time for consumers to invest in HD Freesat now rather than waiting until the summer.”

For the 2009 Christmas period, Philips will launch a new range of high-end TVs all featuring the latest LED backlighting technology. The new range will include the super slim 40PFL8864 Ambilight set, the latest version of the Aurea model and the new 9704 TVs, including the 46in version recently awarded EISA LCD TV of the Year 2009-2010.

Blu-ray will also have a starring role this Christmas as more consumers begin to realise that they need a good video source if they are to watch their Full HD TV at its best. Philips has a new range of players including; the BDP3000 with its super fast start-up time, Full HD images, HD sound and sub-£200 price point.

Sony’s BDP-S760 Blu-ray deck incorporates the most cutting edge technology Sony has included in its Bluray players – HD Reality Enhancer that smoothes the image tone and reduces picture noise. BD Live is also available on both the BDP-S560 and BDP-S760. This allows users to enjoy bonus content from the internet, such as additional scenes and trailers.

Christmas 2009, will be the first festive trading period for Videocon in the UK. The company’s spokesman commented: “At Videocon we are offering great value on our small screen Digital TV and DVD integrated models which are ideal for retailers to give a value option on small screen combi product. We are also promoting our 32in 5 Series full HD IDTV as this is a great product for gamers as it has a Full HD 1080P display and 3 HDMI inputs perfect for high definition game enthusiasts. In January 2010 Videocon will be launching the Frameless glass range of LCD televisions delivering fantastic designer product, both with Full HD and HD Ready options.” The company will also be launching its UK website www.videoconworld.co.uk in time for the festive season.

DAB special

Since Wi-Fi connectivity and a convergence of technology are the leading trends in the DAB market at the moment, both Pure and Roberts Radio have been addressing this demand in their latest product developments which will be promoted with seasonal campaigns.

This Christmas Roberts will have a product for every need and pocket. For those in the forefront of technology the company will have the STREAMTime Wi-Fi internet clock radio that enables users to tune in to stations worldwide from the comfort of their bed. The company has also updated its STREAM 202 Wi-Fi/DAB/FM radio making the radio even simpler to navigate, whilst also letting the user set up to four Wi-Fi connection profiles. Further new Wi-Fi models, including the COLOURstream; Roberts’ first DAB/FM/Wi-Fi internet radio with a colour touch display, will be launching in the next few months. The SOUND 80 introduces exceptional sound reproduction into the portable DAB/FM radio category with a three-way speaker system with Bass woofer housed in a acoustically tuned wooden cabinet.

In the personal radio category, Roberts’ new Sports DAB II is a DAB/FM digital personal radio with loudspeaker and a full screen or rolling text display. Lightweight, compact and easy to use, the Sports DAB II also comes with an integrated rechargeable battery for convenience and complete portability.

The Ecologic Range now includes the ecologic 4, unologic and duologic. The ecologic 4 DAB / FM radio offers 150 hours of battery life, six times more than most other digital radios on the market, whilst the unologic and duologic come with built-in battery chargers.

Roberts Radio will be running Christmas on-air campaigns with broadcasters such as Heart, Classic FM, Absolute and Smooth FM, as well as placing online product promotions and advertising in key trade media. It will also be running an offer on its iPod docking products giving away 50 free downloads with e-music.

Meanwhile Pure will be promoting its six new products for the Christmas season including Sensia, the radio for the Facebook generation. Five other products are: Siesta Flow, Siesta iDock, Elan II, Chronos iDock II and Chronos CD II.

Sensia, which provides a new way of interacting with radio, has been designed to attract a new generation of radio listeners and this is a real opportunity for retailers who should consider getting a good Wi-Fi connection instore to demonstrate Sensia’s full capability. Sensia has a unique, large colour touchscreen which delivers an intuitive user-interface and incorporating PURE’s ‘Flow’ technology gives users a unique way of interacting with internet and radio content including podcasts and listen again services. Meanwhile Siesta Flow is PURE’s most affordable internetconnected radio to date.

Elan II is a portable stereo DAB and FM radio which is also feature-rich, including ReVu, which allows users to pause and rewind DAB radio, intellitext and textSCAN, enabling users to pause and control scro
lling text and store certain broadcasts. There is also an input for an iPod/ MP3 player, an alarm and kitchen timer and 30 presets. Chronos iDock Series II is a stereo DAB/FM clock radio with iPod and iPhone dock, and is part of Apple’s ‘Made for iPod’ and ‘Works with iPhone’ programmes. Meanwhile Chronos CD Series II is a stereo DAB/FM clock radio with CD player and is the second generation of the best selling Chronos CD. Siesta iDock is a stereo DAB and FM clock radio with iPod & iPhone dock, which is also part of Apple’s ‘Made for iPod’ and ‘Works with iPhone’ programmes. Siesta iDock is a strategic extension of the successful Siesta bedside radio, creating along with Siesta Flow a family of affordable bedside radios with distinct features.

PURE has a ‘One to Show, One to Go’ offer for independent dealers for the six new products in the run up to Christmas (Sensia, Siesta Flow, Siesta iDock, Elan II, Chronos CD II and Chronos iDock II). An additional saving will be available on Sensia if all four colours are ranged.

In the frame

Cameras will again be flying off the shelves in the weeks leading to Christmas as people start thinking about these special moments which they wish to capture for ever.

Sony’s recently launched Cyber-shot cameras, the TX1 and WX1 models would be perfect for this purpose as they have the optional Party-shot accessory. This shooting concept automatically takes happy and smiling photos of the family, friends… and the user. By simply placing the TX1 or WX1 in a docking base it becomes programmed to swivel to automatically take pictures, at varying intervals, of the party happening around it.

Another feature of the T and W Series Cyber-shot series is the Sweep Panorama mode. By just pressing the shutter button once and moving the TX1 or WX1 from side to side horizontally or vertically the user can capture tall or wide panoramic shots with one click.

Another perfect Christmas present could be the Reader, Sony’s electronic ebook. The manufacturer has recently announced two new models. The Reader Pocket Edition sports a 5in electronic paper display packaged in a stylish chassis and is available in rose pink and silver finishes. It is simple to navigate with one hand and easily fits into a handbag or jacket pocket. It can store approximately 350 standard e-books and provides up to two weeks of reading on a single battery charge.

The Reader Touch Edition features a responsive, menu-driven six-inch touchscreen panel that enables quick, intuitive navigation, page turning, highlighting and note taking with the swipe of a finger or by using the included stylus. Users can type with the virtual keyboard and make handwritten notes with the stylus. The Reader Touch Edition includes an onboard Oxford English Dictionary and offers five adjustable font sizes, as well as expansion slots for both Memory Stick PRO Duo and SD cards.

Sparkle in the kitchen

Christmas is a very important season for the manufacturers of small kitchen appliances and many of them bring out new collections before the kitchen heats up with Christmas preparations. Philips’s Robust Range includes a blender, food processor, hand blender, juicer and mixer. Manufactured using a combination of steel and aluminium die cast housing the range is scratch-proof, corrosion resistant and heat-protected. Philips’ confidence in its durability and performance is demonstrated by a five year warranty on the blender, juicer and food processor and 15 years on their motors, and three years on the hand blender and mixer.

Belling has two special products for Christmas – the Media Chef and the Belling Butler. Steve Dickson, commercial manager for Belling explains: “The Media Chef is an interactive new digital cookery guide based on digital photo frame technology. It comes pre-loaded with 48 cook-along demonstration recipes including exclusive content from top chef, Brian Turner and allows the user to watch, follow and master recipes from its very own 8in screen. It comes with a compact remote control, giving users the freedom to play, pause and rewind the demonstrations so that they can cook at their own pace. When not in use as an interactive cooking tool, the Media Chef can be used as a digital photo frame, calendar and MP3 music player.

“The Belling Butler offers exactly what people need at Christmas – an extra pair of hands in the kitchen! The 700mm wide portable serving station is a fresh take on the hostess trolley and features a heated hotplate and two heated internal shelves. With an impressive 84 litre capacity, the Belling Butler stores food for up to 5 hours and advanced technology makes it capable of maintaining the food’s temperature at well over 63 degrees Celsius.”

Meanwhile Russell Hobbs will be offering the next generation of the Glass Touch kettle and toaster. This contemporary range features the latest touch control technology and has a fashionable high gloss, ice white finish with cool blue LED displays.

The 1.7 litre rapid boil kettle has been developed to meet the growing demand for speciality and herbal teas. Its unique, touch control glass base has six illuminated temperature settings – from 60°c for fine green tea to 100°c for black tea. Touch control is a key feature of the two-slice long slot toaster, allowing consumers to easily adjust the browning levels for the perfect slice of toast.

Russell Hobbs has also launched a limited edition crystal glass Swarovski toaster. The frosted glass and stainless steel long slot 2-slice toaster has 237 crystallised Swarovski elements.

Russell Hobbs will also be promoting the Marco Pierre White range of small appliances. Designed to appeal to consumers who want cooking equipment with a professional edge the range includes: a turbo hand mixer, hand blender, electric carving knife, citrus juicer and one-touch salt and pepper set.

A good gift for a tea lover would be the recently launched Swan electric automatic Teasmade model STM100, a 21st century version of the classic dating back to 1932. Totally redesigned and updated with the latest technology, it features a tea maker, a clock and alarm multi-functions all in one. It has a 600ml water capacity, an integral reading light, illuminated LCD clock and a ceramic tea pot.

Post-Christmas clean up

Floorcare appliances may not be mainstream Christmas gifting ideas but for those who will be entertaining guests and family during the festive season, vacuum and deep carpet cleaners may prove essential tools.

Charles Gordon, BISSELL’s international markets director advises:

“Independent electrical retailers should look to exploit floorcare sales opportunities during the festive season. It’s an ideal time to encourage customers to buy a deep cleaner for those post Christmas/New Year party aftermath clear-ups – and of course getting the home shipshape ready for when the mother-in-law arrives. BISSELL’s ReadyDry, launched this spring, is a prime example – it cleans and dries carpets in just 30 minutes – the time it takes to normally vacuum – so there’s now no waiting hours for carpets to dry.”

Also Sebo will be promoting its Felix Fun vacuum cleaner with a flat-to-floor design that enables it to scoot under furniture and its telescopic handle is perfect for compact storage.

Seasonal glamour

Personal grooming has always been very important during the Christmas season. However, during the recession many women are cutting back on the visits to the hairdresser. They are therefore demanding more from their styling appliances so they can easily recreate a salon-style look at home.

A good Christmas gift idea would therefore be Carmen’s Hair Straight and Hydrate ionic LED straightener which releases negative ions to counter the positive ions in the hair – sealing moisture and preventing static, giving an overall sleeker look. This straightener has five settings reaching a top temperature of 230°c.

The Andrew Collinge Digital Dryer, which is one of the most versati
le dryers on the market, could also make a welcome present. The LCD digital display function offers a choice of five heat and speed settings, including cold shot. Its ionic technology prevents damage and reduces frizz, while the ceramic grill ensures an even temperature when drying.

Andrew Collinge has also developed a handy rechargeable cordless salon straightener which can used anywhere in the world and powers up to a top temperature of 230°c in just 30 seconds. The tourmaline ceramic plates stabilize the temperature for instant, smooth and sleek styling.

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