By Wares June 23, 2016 Home entertainment

Are panel TVs the place to be again?

The introduction of several new premium ranges and the demand shown last year for screens of 50+ inches may indicate that TV has become a remunerative category once more.

Still, GfK NZ (www.gfk.com/en-nz/) says that in Q1 2016, TV ASPs declined slightly, after increasing for several months. Are retailers trying to clear out old stock, with new models soon to be released, asks GfK?


Music: digital on top, streaming set to overtake downloads

IFPI, the global recording industry organisation, issued its latest Global Music Report in April.

Key points of the report were modest gains in global music revenues in the last year (+3.2%, the industry’s first significant year-on-year growth in nearly two decades!) and digital revenues overtaking physical for the first time.

Physical music still accounts for 39% of overall global income and remains the format of choice for consumers in a number of major markets worldwide including Japan (75%), Germany (60%), and France (42%).

But revenues from physical formats continue to decline, albeit at a slower rate than in previous years, falling by 4.5% compared to –8.5% in 2014 and –10.6% in 2013.

Along with digital decidedly taking the upper hand for the first time (now 45% of total revenues), other news was the massive growth in streaming revenues (+45%), which more than offset the decline in physical formats.

Between streaming and downloading there’s also a shift, with streaming now accounting for 43% of digital revenues and close to overtaking downloads (45% of digital revenues) to become the industry’s primary digital revenue stream.

Having said this, although income from downloads was down 10.5%, downloads were still significant, accounting for 20% of industry revenues.

Helped by the spread of smartphones, increased availability of high-quality subscription services and connected fans migrating onto licensed music services, streaming now represents 19% of global industry revenues.


AR and VR are not just all about video

The first Audio Engineering Society (www.aes.org) Conference on “Audio for Virtual & Augmented Reality”, takes place over 30 September and 1 October 2016, alongside the 141st AES Convention at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

“Film director George Lucas once stated that sound represents 50% of the motion-picture experience,” says AES co-chair, Andres Mayo. “This conference will demonstrate that convincing VR and AR productions, using a variety of playback devices, require audio that follows the motions of the subject, and produce a realistic immersive experience.”


Wireless the star in Australian audio market

Across the ditch, GfK is finding that wireless devices have not only helped shift the audio market towards higher prices, but that their growth has also more than offset the falls seen in sales of traditional audio products! (In which respect, 2015’s overall Aussie audio sales value was +11%.)

Top wireless product has, predictably, been the Bluetooth speaker, whose sales value was +58% last year, says GfK, making it the largest audio sub-segment in 2015 at AU$108 million.

Sticking with wireless, this has also been a big influence on the Australian headphones market and this, along with particularly sports models, helped more than double the value of sales, to the point where wireless headphones represented almost a quarter of the total headphone spend last year.

Multi-room audio systems, while still a relatively small segment, was another major growth area, with sales +53% in 2015. Unlike the Bluetooth speaker with its 500+ brands, says GfK, multi-room has room for more brands and looks set for further growth in 2016.


Premium, niche headphones where it’s at

Although warning of potential for a saturated market ahead, new research from Futuresource Consulting says that the worldwide headphones market enjoyed “another year of robust volume and price growth” in 2015.

Shipments were +7% (331.3 million units), while retail value surged by an impressive 19% to US$11.2 billion.

Key to our readers will be confirmation that the market for premium “cans” is doing well, with the news that the average price paid for a pair of headphones rose by 11% in 2015, to US$34 (NZ$50).

Sales of headphones in the US$25-49 category grew by 55%, while sales in the under-US$25 category fell slightly (–1%).

This rise says Futuresource is due mainly to consumers looking for additional features or designs for specific purposes – sports and fitness activities for example, a trend most evident in North America and Western Europe.

Wireless headphones are another major growth area, with volumes doubling in 2015 to 14% of the overall market.

Other features, such as in-line microphones, are becoming standard, whilst noise cancelling witnessed something of a revival in 2015 with its inclusion in premium wireless headphones. 

As a result of these additional features, the likes of Sony, Beats, JVC and Apple all enjoyed a strong 2015, with Beats and Bose particularly strong at the premium end, accounting for 40% of overall market revenues.

Panasonic 4K Smart Ultra HD TVs

Key features of this new range include: the first TV to feature a dedicated Netflix button; advanced smart features and easier access to on-demand content video; new Switch Design pedestals that can be adjusted into different styles; the use of high-grade materials; and a new Super Bright Plus LCD panel. The new range includes three flagship ranges – DX740, DX700 and DX600 – with screen sizes from 40- to 65-inches.

To enhance smooth operation and easy navigation, Panasonic has collaborated with Mozilla on a new Firefox operating system which allows for multiple apps and web pages without loss of performance and easy switching between services. TV Anytime lets users enjoy their favourite TV shows anywhere and anytime, Swipe & Share and Easy Mirroring enable sharing of content stored on a smart device to be displayed on the TV screen, and Voice Interaction lets users control their TVs without using a remote.


Epson G7000-Series Projectors

A range of six new business-orientated models ideal for any meeting space with up to 8,000 Lumens of colour brightness and 8,000 Lumens of white brightness. New features include increased brightness, and motorised lenses alongside uncompromising image quality, low total cost of ownership and low cost replacement lamps. Additional features: 9 optional interchangeable lenses; full range of inputs for easy integration with any system; continuous 24 hour use with guaranteed performance; emulates the control codes of other industry-leading projector brands; 4K enhancement technology; built-in edge blending, image warping and curved-surface correction technologies; collaboration features.


Braven BRV-XXL Bluetooth Loudspeaker

Ideal for tailgates and backyard entertaining, BRV-XXL brings with it a 14-hour playtime and a powerful built-in 15,600mAh battery for charging smartphones and tablets. IPX5 water resistant and built with a shock-resistant body, the BRV-XXL never stops a party!


Newfoldr Trim Bluetooth Speaker

Not claiming to be any more than an affordable, open source project, Trim Bluetooth Speakers have a light but strong natural coloured corrugated frame. Besides being light, cardboard has a great quality for being a speaker’s housing and although it may not be as loud as some other Bluetooth speakers it has a surprisingly clear sound for its size. That is because it prevents acoustic short circuits very effectively, resulting in better sound quality in lower register. All of Newfoldr’s products run on the same micro USB cables used to charge phones and tablets and the template for this and its other products is freely downloadable through an open source licence.


Sony 4K HDR TVs

Sony’s new 55-75” TV range sees the introduction of 4K HDR technology, unique backlighting technologies, and slim new designs. 4K HDR (High Dynamic Range) reproduces higher brightness, higher contrast and more vibrant colours, while new Slim Backlight Drive technology boosts peak brightness and black levels more precisely, and enhances contrast levels while maintaining a slim form factor.

The X9400D, X9300D, X8500D models feature 4K processing to improve clarity, colour accuracy and contrast of HD, 4K and 4K HDR videos, 4K X-Reality PRO for stunning detail across any content, vibrant, expanded colour with an enhanced TRILUMINOS Display, Android TV, Voice Search, Google Cast, access to Google Play and the Content Bar user interface.


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