Australian retailers are optimistic that consumers will fork out thousands for the latest high-end televisions launched at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, which wrapped up in Las Vegas at the end of last week.
The expo is the largest of its kind in the world and this year was the first time in 13 years that Microsoft did not have a starring role. Despite that, retailers are describing this year’s event as a “stand-out” and the “best ever”, with screen resolution and connectivity the winning themes.
Justin Pinner, merchandise planning manager for Winning Group, which owns Appliances Online, says other exhibitors took larger stands to fill the gap left by Microsoft and the consumer electronics hall had a “real buzz to it”.
“In my view it was a bit of a stand-out year,” he says.
Pinner says the highlight of the show for Winning Group was the range of ultra high-definition televisions, also known as 4K TVs, from a number of manufacturers.
“The biggest potential is television resolution – that’s the most exciting and the most practically applicable fit to the Australian market,” Pinner says. “The resolution is so clear and accurate it’s almost as if it’s a 3D image.”
Pinner says 3D televisions with special glasses would still have a niche in the video games market but for general TV viewing, 3D was being superseded by the 4K resolution.
He also praises the growing prevalence of NFC (near-field connectivity) technology that makes it much easier to connect two devices.
Consumer electronics chain Harvey Norman sent a group of 12 product managers, general managers and franchisees. While he did not attend this year himself, group executive director David Ackery says the feedback from his team was that this year’s CES was “the best ever”.
Like Winning Group, Harvey Norman nominated televisions as the highlight in terms of sales potential for the local market, particularly the ultra high-definition 4K TVs from Sony, LG and Samsung as well as OLED sets.
Ackery says the 4K sets should hit the Australian market some time between April and July this year and would retail in the $15,000-$20,000 range.
“There’s a move to 100-plus-inch TVs so it’s a combination of high resolution and big screens,” Ackery says. “TVs also have more effective motion control and voice control and improvement in sound quality.”
Meanwhile, 55-inch OLED televisions, which have a very thin LED screen and an emphasis on design, should be available in Australia in about March or April, with prices around the $10,000 mark.
Ackery also notes that convertible IT products such as laptops that become tablets, the integration of touchscreen and voice-control technology and a focus on design were major trends at the show.
“There was an emphasis on fashion and design in combination with functionality, and wherever you get these two features in any product – whether television, technology or refrigerators even – it’s always going to be a big win,” he says. “It’s all very promising.”
But Ackery described products such the Hapifork, an internet-connected fork to help people eat more slowly, as the “gimmicky” side of the show and says Harvey Norman wouldn’t “waste its time”.