Fast evolution of consumer electronics can leave consumers confused with the choice of new products on the market and manufacturers’ claims about their superiority and unique benefits. In addition to this, the ongoing digital switchover process confronts consumers with a wide choice of TV equipment and accessories and expects them to understand the industry’s jargon. In this situation impartial advice is essential for both consumers and retailers who are confronted with their queries.
Ricability is the independent government-appointed research organisation that can assist retailers who are looking for impartial reviews on the latest consumer electronics equipment and accessories.
Ricability has tested more than 300 products over the past five years and has helped more than a million consumers who are uncertain of what equipment to choose. The test programme is ongoing and the organisation’s website is continuously updated.
Ricability tests everything from indoor aerials to set-top boxes, digital televisions, digital television recorders and various TV accessories – assessing ease of use and a range of criteria, such as features, performance and how well it works with other equipment.
All products go through a rigorous and tightly controlled test procedure which is undertaken by Intertek RPT (Research and Performance Testing) at Milton Keynes, one of Europe’s foremost consumer product testing centres.
Features are systematically noted and checked with manufacturers and Ricability provides detailed feedback to the industry on its products, as well as running workshops on usability at its testing laboratory.
Ricability development manager Caroline Jacobs said: “Ricability uses top experts in their field to ensure that we can give retailers and consumers the best possible advice on the latest products to hit the market.
“We’ve recently tested a number of the new Freeview high-definition TVs and set-top boxes and are running user trials to test the usability of the new regional preference retuning features. We look to cater for all potential consumer groups, from the tech-savvy 18-30 year olds who want the latest technology for switchover to older or disabled groups for whom ease of use is as important as performance.
“Retailers have such an important role in helping these latter groups to choose the equipment that will suit them best, and with so many new products hitting the market every month, Ricability can help to ensure that the retailers speak with knowledge and authority.”
Ricability’s website (www.ricability-digitaltv.org.uk) is a good source of impartial information for retailers as it provides: over 300 product test reports, easy comparison of products features and scores, full details of accessibility features for older and disabled customers, connection diagrams and instructions to help customers, typical consumer questions and answers, key industry and manufacturer contacts and websites.
Electrical retailers can also email their customers’ questions to Ricability (digitalTV@ricability.org.uk) and its experts will attempt to answer them.