GRUNDIG GO IT ALONE
The historic relationship that has existed between Philips
and Grundig since 1979 is no more. Grundig have announced that they’ll now be
operating independently, following Philips decision to become a ‘passive’
minority shareholder, though they will continue to hold more than 30% of
Grundig’s ordinary share capital. This move is unlikely to have any immediate
effect on either company’s product range in the UK, though it is still unclear
how this will affect the launch of the recently announced flat-screen plasma
screen TV, which was a joint development. In recent years there’s been fewer product
crossovers, Philips have told us they will continue to market Grundig satellite
receivers under their own name, though there’s a possibility they will produce
their own range, later this year.
Talking of which. Grundig have just launched a new budget
Astra system, selling for £99.99. The GSR1 Mk II is housed in a slimline case
and features a 200-channel memory, Panda-Wegner stereo noise reduction, a
2-event/28-day VCR timer, on-screen displays and a user-friendly remote
control. The receiver will be supplied with a 60cm dish and the price will
normally be conditional on the purchaser taking out a year’s subscription to
the BSKYB premium movie package.
LATE ARRIVALS FROM PHILIPS
Better late than never! Philips have just started shipping
three new VCRs, that we told you about last year, and were due to reach the
shops in the Autumn. This includes the elusive VR969. This is the
eye-catching S-VHS machine with a large
analogue clock set into the front panel. The anticipated launch date for the UK
is now early April, the price is expected to be £800. The other two are top-end
NICAM machines, and we’ve news of some welcome price reductions. The VR668 was supposed to reach the UK last
August; it’s a well featured home cinema machine, originally priced at £430 but
now it’s going to be selling for just under £400. The VR768 was also expected
last August, this one is aimed at camcorder owners, it has a range of editing facilities,
and a LANC N control terminal; the price has been reduced from £550 to £500.
Philips Consumer Electronics, telephone 0181-689 4444
BASF HONOUR SCOTCH GUARANTEE
Following the world-wide withdrawal of Scotch from the blank
video and audio cassette market at the beginning of this year, BASF have
announced that they will undertake a phased take-over of the company’s famous
‘Lifetime’ guarantees, in the UK and Ireland. BASF will honour Scotch’s promise
to purchasers, that picture quality will never deteriorate within the user’s
lifetime, and pledges to replace faulty tapes without question. There’s a brief
rider to the warranty, that the format should still be in ‘normal use’, which should
protect BASF from being liable in perpetuity...
MITSUBISHI ON THE WEB
Mitsubishi have joined the long list of consumer electronics
companies with Web sites on the Internet. Theirs will contain information --
including pictures, prices and technical data
-- covering their product range, plus promotions and reviews. There will
also be details of future products and innovations, a search facility to help
customers find their nearest dealer or stockist, technical help,
troubleshooting guides and basic technology information. Links to their Dealer
Club pages will give browsers access to on-line ordering and e-mail help. You
start surfing right away at: www.meuk.mee.com/consumer
And it’s up to date. Full details of their latest 32-inch
widescreen, CT-32CW1BD, launched just a few days ago, is already included in
the product selector. This is an upgrade of the CT-32BW1B, with a list price of
£1800. It has a 100Hz display for a flicker-free picture, Dolby Pro Logic
sound, computer-style on-screen graphics, multi-brand handset, freeze frame and
zoom. The range of display options has been increased and now includes two
Panorama modes, 14:9, and 4:3 semi wide, as well as normal 4:3 and 16:9. This
model also features a twin tuner with advanced two-channel picture in picture (PIP)
display, three or nine PIP channel scan and megatext, with a 512 page memory.
If you’re not yet on the net you can still communicate with Mitsubishi by
telephoning them on: (01707) 276100.
SURFING THE AUDIO HIGHWAY
Supermarket and lift music supremos, the Muzak Corporation,
have become key software providers for the recently established Audio Highway.
Audio Highway allows PC owners to download music and audio information from
specially configured web sites on the Internet. The data is then loaded into a
small hand-held digital recorder, called a ‘Listen Up’ player. This can be used
with headphones, like a personal stereo, or plugged into a car stereo docking
station, for sound on the move. Audio Highway subscribers can put together
their own personal audio programmes, that can include a wide range of different
kinds of music, news, financial data, magazine reviews, features, background
information and selective advertising, all individually tailored to the users
own requirements and tastes.
Muzak are just one of a number of companies providing
material and information to the Audio Highway. Others notable contributors
include Associated Press, Newsweek, Time Warner, Investors Business Daily, PR
Newswire, MCA and CMP Media. For a free demonstration check out the Audio
Highway web site at: http://www.audiohwy.com
BUDGET RDS RECEIVER FROM DENON
Although not quite a full-blown AV amp the new DRA-275RD
tuner amp from Denon does have video inputs and output, which should simplify
connections to a stereo VCR or laserdisc player. The AM/FM tuner has 40 station
presets and features an RDS (radio data
system) decoder for displaying station information and traffic reports. The
amplifier has a 40 watt (RMS) output; there are five line-audio inputs, remote
control and two speaker outputs. It’s not bad value either, with a suggested
selling price of £199.99.
Hayden Laboratories, telephone (01753) 888447
FLAT AND CLEAN
American audio specialists Nordost have two new products, to
help you get the most from your hi-fi or home cinema system. The first is a
high-performance flat speaker cable, called Octava. Priced at £2.99 per metre
it is has a PVC outer jacket, 23mm wide, surrounding 8 solid core, oxygen-free
copper conductors that are claimed to be 99.9999% oxygen free.
To keep your cables in prime condition Nordost have
developed the ECO 3 treatment spray. The solution is applied to all the cables
in a system with a cloth or paper tissue. The manufacturers say it will remove stray
static charges. Nordost reckon these charges can induce noise, and once
removed, the system’s dynamics will be improved, and musical detail enhanced.
They also say it works well on CDs. A tad pricey though, at £29.99 for a 236ml
QLN Ltd., telephone (01352) 730251.
The price of infra-red cordless headphones has been steadily
drifting downwards, but the Infraphonics from Willow Vale Electronics just fell
through the floor! Priced at only £19.95, they have to be the cheapest cordless
cans so far. Features include automatic level control, white noise suppression
and a claimed seven metre range. Strangely there’s no word about sound quality
in the publicity blurb... Maybe we’ll try and get hold of a pair, we’ll keep
Willow Vale, telephone (01734) 860158
Wharfdale have added five new speakers to their Modus Music
range, (they’re the ones with the twisting tweeter on the top...). Modus 2, 4
and 6 are compact stand mounted designs; the first two are 2-way, with front or
rear ports. Modus 6 is a 3-way, rear ported configuration. Prices are £170,
£200 and £280 a pair respectively. Modus 8 and Modus 1-6 are 3-way, floor
standing models, costing £360 and £460. All five feature rigid cabinets with
front panels incorporating mouldings made from Wharfdale’s ‘Audio Stealth’
mineral rock polymer, to ensure minimal cabinet colouration. They’re available
now in a choice of black ash or rosewood colour finishes, with removable black
Wharfdale International Ltd., telephone (01480) 43137
Alba have just unveiled what may be the cheapest video
recorder, ever! The VCR7300 is expected to sell for just £149.99, but the
feature list wouldn’t look out of place on models selling for up to £100 more.
This midi-sized 2-head, twin-speed mono VCR looks like incredible value for
money. It has a centre-load deck mechanism, remote control, 8-event timer,
picture search and a full set of auto features. The only up to date facilities
that are missing are a Video Plus+ timer and auto set-up, otherwise it stacks
up well alongside most other entry-level machines.
Low price and an attractive specification are the headline
features on three new Alba mini hi-fi systems. The SYS2600CD has a top-loading
CD deck with 20 track memory, twin cassette deck, high-speed dubbing, bass
boost, 3-band AM/FM tuner, headphone and microphone mixing facilities, piped
through compact bookshelf speakers driven by a 2 x 2.5 watt (RMS) amplifier.
The retail price is just £90. The SYS2730CD is the step up model, it has the
same basic specification, but with the addition of a motorised draw-loading CD
player; this model will be selling for £100. The third mini is the SYS2853CD,
additional features include 15 station presets, LCD display and a remote
control, the retail price is £130.
Alba plc., telephone 0181 594 5533.
We’re getting reports from the USA, of shortages of Dolby
Digital THX equipment. One shipment of the Onkyo TX-DS939 THX AV receiver sold
out weeks ahead of its delivery date. Demand for other ‘budget’ components,
including the Denon AVR-5600 (the AVC-A1 in Europe) has been outstripping
supply. Both receivers are currently priced at less than $3000.
American home theatre equipment manufacturers Altec Lansing
have started delivering their new Powercube three-piece speaker system to audio
dealers and specialist AV retailers. Designed primarily for portable audio and
games systems, it comprises two magnetically shielded satellite speakers, each
with a built-in 6-watt amplifier. The third speaker is a 20-watt sub-woofer.
The US price is expected to be equivalent to around £90. No details yet on the
UK launch, but you can find out more from their web site at: www.altecmm.com
Worried about someone breaking in and pinching your expensive
AV equipment? Several video surveillance companies now specialise in ‘covert’
miniature video spy cameras, fitted inside everyday objects. They can be connected
to a monitor, or a hidden VCR, to keep a round the clock watch on your home and
valuables. TRC, one of the leaders in this area, have a range of tiny black and
white and colour cameras, built-inside clocks, smoke detectors and door-chimes.
They even have one fitted inside a Panasonic transistor radio, and one model
with it’s own radio transmitter, that sends pictures to a receiver up to 100
metres away. TRC can be contacted on 0181 763 1801.
Rechargeable batteries in mobile phones, camcorders and
notebook PCs are notorious for running out at the worst possible moment,
usually miles from the nearest mains socket. Merlin Equipment have just
announced details of their new NOTEpower 75i mains inverter, which generates a
230 volt AC output from a 12 volt DC source, such as a car battery, it is expected
to sell for around £92. The matchbox sized unit is supplied with a cigar
lighter plug and can safely drive small chargers and power supplies. More
details about the 75i, their range of inverters and uninterruptible power supplies, are available from
Merlin Equipment, telephone (01491) 824333.
Futurist, purveyors of custom lighting and sound systems to
a wide range of commercial and business customers, have just moved to a new
London Location, and published their new 1997 Products and Services catalogue.
You can now find them, and the new catalogue, at 294 Earls Court Road,
Kensington, London SW5 9BB, or telephone 0171 370 4012.
Behind the scenes activity at Samsung have resulted in a new
central sales marketing and customer services departments, that now covers
their whole product range. This should result in improved delivery and
R. Maybury 1997 1701