By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Big-screen TV displays, and the comfortable home theater seating that makes wide-screen viewing additionally pleasurable, highlight the newest design direction in consumer electronics furniture.
Television settings range from high-end case goods to smaller support pieces — namely traditional wood installations to more modern metal and glass tables and stands.
Home theater seating, consisting mainly of plush leather-covered units that often include numerous bells and whistles — from cup holders to mechanical devices — gains further selling interest from its variety of sitting positions and comfort extras.
Among larger furniture products in this booming CE category is a new plasma lift console, from Commerce, Calif.-based Encore! Home Entertainment. The unit houses 42-inch to 50-inch plasma TVs and also features room for four components, surge protected power strip, media storage pullouts for 80 DVDs, large cable wiring ports, proper ventilation and cable and cord organizers.
A quiet lift mechanism, made possible by use of composite gears, is prompted by an infrared remote control and can be programmed with any IR universal remote. Shipping is scheduled for mid-November at a suggested $2,999 retail.
Other styles of this furniture concept will be introduced at the International Consumer Electronics Show in January, including expandable consoles for tabletop DLPs and LCDs, said the company.
The new Legacy collection from Laurier, includes an option from the Laurier-Station, Quebec-headquartered company's U-Turn System, a design that adds ease of access when hooking up audio/video components. The collection's Legacy 42L accommodates rear-projection TVs, and its five adjustable shelves fulfill A/V storage needs.
With two piers, an adjustable shelf and an all-new base that adjusts to fit a variety of TV sets, the 42L expands from a minimum 106 inches, to 125 inches by 22.5 inches by 66 inches. The expandable system can also handle various models of rear-projection tabletop TVs, namely DLP or LCD projectors. The system comes fully assembled for a suggested $2,799 retail.
The Bush Industries Bel Aire DLP Wall System gives the impression of a wall mount without all the hassles and permanence of an actual attachment, according to the Jamestown, N.Y.-based ready-to-assemble furniture maker.
The unit, which fits most DLP televisions up to 50 inches, and conventional CRT TVs up to 36 inches, offers an elevated center glass shelf ideal for placement of center channel speaker and keepsakes. There is left- and right-side concealed storage for DVDs and CDs, with adjustable glass shelves for components and auto turn-on halogen lights.
Other features of the Bush Bel Aire include open left- and right-side shelves for speakers, levelers on the front legs, and grommets for rear-wire access and concealment of speakers and components.
Made of harvest cherry veneer on the “wall” portions and black painted shelves, the unit comes in two cartons and requires some assembly. Suggested retail is $799.99 and availability will be during the Christmas season. Bush also promises a similar unit for flat-panel TVs.
The lineup of Furniture In Motion, from Passaic, N.J.-based Sharut Furniture, provides contemporary design innovation combined with fully integrated electronics and seating to make a complete home theater solution.
The company's new Lima model features seamless integration of a flat-screen TV and surround-sound home theater system, as well as universal remote control, cables and accessories. It is designed to satisfy a wider audience, with a somewhat less contemporary and more traditional look.
A basic configuration, similar to the Lima, includes a 42-inch LG Electronics plasma monitor, home theater surround sound audio system and a two-seat configuration of leather home theater seats in ivory, for about $9,000 suggested retail. Because these units are totally customizable, suggested retails range to meet almost any need or budget requirements, said Sharut.
Breaking down suggested retails for a typical Furniture In Motion piece, the furniture wall unit is $4,799, with 42-inch to 60-inch plasma monitors at $2,799. Some units can accommodate up to a 60-inch screen. Audio systems range from $199 to $3,999, and one to four leather seats range from $959 to $3,299. Total range is $8,756 to $23,096.
The depth and breadth of smaller stands and display units places these products at the heart of the home theater furniture business. Among these is the new 25 series of contemporary home theater furniture from Bell'O International, which consists of three models designed for the new generation of flat-panel and micro displays.
The Morganville, N.J.-based company's “elegant” new styles feature a gracefully curved two-tone black and silver frame constructed of heavy-duty powder-coated scratch-resistant steel with tempered safety glass shelves. Crafted in Italy, the units offer integrated cable management systems to hide wires and interconnect cables.
The Bell'O AVS-2552 accommodates most plasma, DLP, LCOS or LCD television up to 52 inches, and up to four or more audio/video components, plus a center channel speaker. Suggested retail for the available unit is $599.
The AVS-2563 accommodates most plasma, DLP, LCOS or LCD televisions up to 70 inches, and up to eight or more A/V components, plus a center channel speaker. Suggested retail is $749.
Bell'O's AVS-2572 holds most of the largest plasma, DLP, LCOS or LCD televisions up to 70 inches, and up to eight or more A/V components and a center channel speaker. Suggested retail is $899.
The Vista flat-panel TV stand from Becker Designed (BDI) has been re-engineered and re-introduced as a brand-new unit, featuring numerous modifications and improvements over the original.
The new Vista from the Chantilly, Va.-based BDI includes a universal mounting system so that virtually any flat-panel TV can be mounted to the stand without the use of an additional third-party bracket. The Vista now features an oval base and curved adjustable shelves, softening the overall look.
Both the screen and the shelves can be adjusted to any Vista variable height, while a steel column provides a strong base for a large flat-panel TV up to 60 inches. The adjustable tempered glass shelves handle a small home theater system or center channel speaker. Inside the steel column is a wire management system and room to mount a power strip.
Scheduled for fall availability, the Vista can accommodate televisions up to 225 pounds and 60 inches. Suggested retail is $950 with two shelves, $725 without, and the unit comes in a powder-coated steel finish.
Studio RTA E-Series furniture includes both the 3000 TV Stand and 5000 Entertainment Tower. The 3000 stand, black crinkle/clear glass model 60331 from the Pico Rivera, Calif.-based company, holds most 36-inch TVs and comes with two shelves for components. The unit includes cut-outs on the rear panel for cord management, steel-frame construction, tempered glass and floor levelers. Suggested retail is $249.99.
The 5000 tower, black crinkle/clear glass model 60329, includes three glass shelves between a top and bottom shelf. It includes cut-outs on the rear panel for cord management, tempered glass, steel frame and floor levelers. Suggested retail is $299.99.
For the plasma TV consumer who lacks the space or does not want to mount a flat-panel unit to the wall, Sanus Systems is offering model PFFP Platinum Furniture plasma TV stand, a contemporary designed unit that opens up possibilities to mount a flat-panel TV anywhere.
The extruded aluminum column of the PFFP extends rigid strength from the steel-framed base to handle a flat-panel TV up to 130 pounds and 50 inches. The company's Virtual Axis tilting system provides smooth motion with the touch of a fingertip, while the stand holds up to three components.
Other features of the unit made by St. Paul, Minn.-based Sanus include hidden cable channel, adjustable glass shelf that holds up to 50 pounds and a custom-blended silver finish. The available PFFP is the newest addition to the company's Platinum Furniture line, and has a suggested $399 retail.
An “innovative” glass and steel component stand, called R-22, is new from Irvine, Calif.-based StudioTech. The unit accommodates plasma, DLP and LCD screens up to 50 inches, as well as five additional components. It offers a metal frame that is finished with durable, textured powder coat paint and high-strength tempered glass shelves.
The three-shelf total unit, which is 22.75 inches high, has a suggested $599 retail and October availability.
Z-Line Designs, based in San Ramon, Calif., is offering its Manhattan Entertainment Collection, part of the company's Maxim Magazine home furnishings collection. Both a stand and tower feature frosted tempered glass shelves and wire management.
The complete unit includes a TV stand that reaches nearly 24 inches high and accommodates two components mounted on the same bracket as the television. Suggested retail is $259.99.
Two audio towers stand guard on either side of the television stand, with each tower a bit over 47 inches high. The towers have four shelves, including the top shelf, and a suggested $249.99 retail each.
No home entertainment center is complete without an easy chair, or two, to bring all the comfort of commercial theater stadium seating into the home.
New from Lovan are Matinee home theater seats that are said to be “so affordable, so classy and so comfortable that it will change the way you look at building a home theater forever,” according to the Paramount, Calif.-based company.
The stand-alone home theater chairs come equipped with convenient oversized cup holders, flip-up seats and varnished solid wood armrests. Upholstered in selected black, royal blue or burgundy fabric, the Matinee home theater seats recline in any position with one button. These also are available in black leather with matching ottoman. Suggested retail starts at $529.99.
Salamander Designs is delivering a theater seating line consisting of three chair styles and accessories to enhance them. Seating options extend the company's modular philosophy and can be used alone or placed, cinema style, in ordered rows.
The Matteo is a contemporary version of a movie-house original, from the Hartford, Conn.-based company, with retractable footrest and adjustable headrest. With leather in any of five colors and wood base trim in a silver base or option unfinished base, the Matteo has a suggested retail to $1,899.
Salamander also has extended its Synergy Series of CE furniture with Triples, which are triple-width modules for shelving, storage and display. Two related Synergy entries, the Twin Riser and Twin Enclosure, make adding height to the company's double-width Twin modules a simple matter, according to Salamander.
Synergy Triples are designed for consumers who want their furniture arrangements to extend at least 5.5 feet along a wall. The Triple Riser adds a new upper shelf that serves as a perfect platform for televisions with screen sizes up to 60 inches. The 8.5-inch-high opening under it permits a center-channel speaker to be positioned just below the screen.
The new Performance VIP family of home theater chairs from Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Irwin Seating consists of a Recliner model, Club chair and Theatre-Rocker model. The Recliner is designed for front-row theater seating, the Club for second row and the Rocker for the rear. A standardized design theme has been created to appeal to audiophiles, with the integrated low seat backs and optional telescoping and articulating headrest maximizing surround sound effects.
Irwin's Performance VIP Recliner is available in a variety of design and comfort options, including furniture-finish wood tabletops and accents; manual or power recline; and heat, massage and adjustable lumbar support.
Chair arms can be ordered with either hidden storage for accessories or modified for easy power and data connectivity. The unit is ideal for use with electronic gadgets, and video enthusiasts will appreciate the special recline feature that enables full footrest extension in both movie-watching and fully reclined positions. Optional bass shakers, installed in the underside of the chair, ensure every thump, thrust and shake of action movies. This Performance VIP leather-covered chair, with manual recline, is a suggested $4,290 retail.
A new luxury recliner from Agoura Hills, Calif.-based Premiere Home Theatre Surroundings offers an elevated seat height design that displays a solution for many difficult seating applications. Called The Tower, and ready for both traditional home theaters and multifunctional entertainment rooms, the seating presents a 53-inch total height, and seat-cushion height of 30 inches, ideal for rear-row viewing, said Premiere.
Because the user is positioned substantially higher off the floor than traditional home theater seating, the need for risers and platforms, until now, necessary for obtaining an unobstructed view of the projection screen from the rear row, has been eliminated. The Tower also offers a space-saving wall-hugger design that provides even greater flexibility, since it can be positioned close to the back wall, saving a significant amount of space in smaller rooms.
The Tower, at a suggested $2,595 retail, can be designed in either hand-selected European leathers or fabrics customized in a two-tone design, along with a choice of three cup holder finishes to best complement room décor. Shipping began in September.
High-quality audio and tactile sound technology is embedded in the new Gamepod interactive chair, made by High Point, N.C.-based Loftgoods. This UltraSuede lounge chair, designed to satisfy the consumer's desire for an evermore realistic experience, “enfolds users into a hyper-real environment that makes games, movies and music come alive.”
Two coaxial speakers and a tactile transducer embedded in the frame are driven by a 300-watt amplifier secured to the base. Users can control audio volume and balance the tactile and audio sound to get the level of immersion in the action that suits them. With plug-and-play simplicity, Gamepod works with all major gaming and home theater systems, Macs, PCs, Game Boys, DVDs and VCRs. The chair is scheduled for October availability at $799 suggested retail.
Pullman Furniture is introducing a new theater chair called the Malibu, which offers a contemporary style chair with sleek lines and single-needle top stitching. This style is available in a manual or motorized recliner and optional cup holders. Suggested retail for a single Malibu begins at $1,480.
In addition, the Malibu is showcasing new options through Paramount, Calif.-based Pullman. One is an adjustable headrest for $110 per seat. This gives the user two forward-locking positions for additional comfort. A second is a center arm storage console for such things as remote controls at $90 per arm. Modular seating comes in a choice of materials, including microfiber pinnacle suede, three grades of premium leather or the customer's own material.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.