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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.



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



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 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.  



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



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



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 bottle.

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 you posted.

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 cloth grilles.

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 distribution systems.



Ó R. Maybury 1997 1701



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