By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
As popularity of larger-screen televisions keeps growing, and the number of related video and audio components continues to increase, demand for more space in the home to accommodate these items is exploding.
The result — an increase in the variety and change in design of home entertainment furniture devised to creatively and practically display an array of consumer electronics as well as to enhance room décor.
Among the pluses in new products are space-saving, high-capacity furniture systems that feature all the necessary CE equipment without taking the space of traditional wall units.
Typical is the AVSC-3000 from Bell'O International, an Italian-made foundation for any home theater. Made from heavy-duty black metal, enhanced with cherry finished wood panels and safety glass, the system is designed to hold a 40-inch Sony Wega television and up to six or more audio/video components. In addition, a center-channel speaker, features a large wooden cherry finished cabinet with 2-drawer storage.
The Morganville, N.J.-based company's A/V system measures 50.2 inches wide by 76 inches high by 31.3 inches deep. Suggested retail is $1,800, and the unit was scheduled for shipping in March.
The Advanced Video Armoire (AVA) from Yorba Linda, Calif.-based Diamond Case Designs has the ability to conceal televisions as large as the Sony 36-inch Wega, and to offer a sophisticated complement of features for housing complex home theater systems.
Available in birch material with blonde, fruit wood and mocha finishes, the unit can hide six to seven components and store a center channel speaker on an adjustable shelf above the television. Remotes can operate through its closed doors.
The AVA is equipped with an 8-outlet surge protector that features spaced outlets for power adapters, EMI/RFI noise filtration, coax cable protection, surge protection and ground fault indicators and an 8-foot power cord.
The unit, which has a suggested $3,499 retail, includes two high-capacity media storage drawers with adjustable row dividers to fit any size media. It can store 240 CDs, 120 DVDs or 30 VHS tapes, and is expandable for more.
Ready-to-assemble (RTA) furniture maker Gusdorf is offering two entertainment furniture pieces. Model 60509 freestanding Audio Tower comes in a cherry finish, and features dedicated open-storage glass shelves that house a variety of A/V components. Suggested retail is $199.
Model 12009 TV Credenza from the Laval, Quebec-based Gusdorf also comes in a cherry finish. The unit, which can accommodate a 36-inch television, is designed to complement the 60509 Audio Tower. Suggested retail is $149.
Design is the key in the Milano collection made by Laurier Furniture. Manufactured of premium selected maple veneers and solids, the furnitures' top bridge has halogen lighting to enhance the front of the unit. The top bridge is adjustable from 40 inches wide to 70 inches wide.
The collection, from the Laurier Station, Quebec-based maker, offers speaker storage on top of the unit for a better sound. All shelves for audio components have a solid maple molding at the front.
At the rear, Laurier has engineered a ventilation system to evacuate warm air in order to protect components from overheating. Also, the rear panel can be easily removed to make components' wiring easier. A 6-outlet power bar is included in the cabinet. Suggested retail is $2,999.
The Millennium Audio Video Rack is described as "elegant," according to its maker, Placentia, Calif.-based Lovan. The A/V rack is composed of 2-inch steel tubing which can be filed with sand or lead shot, and is available in finishes of champagne silver or black.
The steel posts, which are available in heights of 4, 7, 10 and 14 inches, make it possible for home users to custom design their own A/V rack. The 14-inch post allows plenty of room to accommodate any of the larger center channel speakers in today's marketplace. The tempered glass shelves will handle up to 350 pounds per shelf.
Suggested retail for a 3-shelf Millennium AVR is $2,089 and the product will be available this May.
Silver "V" stands from Bush Industries are being called "the entertainment center of the future" by the Jamestown, N.Y.-based company, because of the modularity in the way it works with the latest flat-screen components.
Called the Universal Collection, the video base, VS47440, and audio tower, AD47741, feature an exclusive silver finish and a futuristic V-based design that reflects the contemporary styling of today's flat-screen TVs and audio components.
The video base accommodates up to a 40-inch TV, and a column-shaped back panel allows for ease of cord access and wire management. Component shelves include ¼-inch-thick tempered glass, and the unit is 21.5 inches high by 41.75 inches wide by 22.5 inches deep. Suggested retail for the stand is $229.99.
The V-based audio tower features the same ¼-inch-thick tempered glass shelves, back panel for cord access and wire management as the video base. The unit, which is 50 inches high by 27 inches wide by 23 inches deep, has a suggested $229.99 retail.
StudioTech has expanded it Ultra line to include new furniture designed exclusively for use with plasma TVs. The Ultra-Plasma cabinet, which is just 15 inches deep, can accommodate nearly all plasma types and allows consumers to position plasma TVs for ideal viewing when wall mounting is not feasible.
The company's U-22/Plasma offers ease of installation and comes in Rosewood, Natural Cherry, American Cherry and Black Ash genuine hardwood veneer finishes. Suggested retail is $799.
A new generation of wall mounts with all new design for 40- and 50-inch plasma screens is available with or without tilt from Peerless Industries. Both configurations feature the same mechanism with visual guides to help ensure safe installation of the screen on the wall mount.
For overall practicality for the mounts, screens can be installed horizontally or vertically, while the screen can also be rotated from landscape to portrait after installation. To ensure the integrity and security of the equipment, the Melrose Park, Ill.-based company offers theft-resistant fasteners to secure the plasma screen in the mount. The mount is made to support specific screen makes and models.
Suggested retails are $172 for the flat models with no tilt and $210 for the models with adjustable tilt.
A Universal Plasma Mount from Chicago-based Vogel's enables a homeowner to change the plasma screen's angle with one fingertip. The system, which has an "infinitely" tilt and swivels, comes in a silver color at a suggested $695 retail. The unit weighs 29 pounds, but can carry a weight of 132 pounds and a 40- to 50-inch screen. Availability is the first week in April.
Premiere Home Theatre Surroundings claims its is breaking new ground with its top-of-the-line Sequel home theater seating. All Sequel models include a storage compartment in each chair arm that can hold remotes or game controls, viewing guides or other small items. The compartment door is hinged in the back, padded on top for comfort and covered in the same luxury leather or fabric upholstery as the rest of the chair.
Another industry first for the Sequel, claims the Agoura Hills, Calif.-based company, is an adjustable back cushion which ensures a perfect viewing angle no matter how the chair is positioned.
"You keep asking yourself why no one had done this before," said Bill Johnson, vice president of marketing. "In a low-light environment, like home theater, it makes sense to store items right in the chair, rather than on the arm or side table where they could be accidentally knocked over."
The new Sequel also offers a removable, swiveling food tray, while an aluminum cup holder with chrome trim is standard equipment.
A single, manual-recline Sequel chair, with one seat and two arms, has a starting suggested retail of $1,995 in fabric, and $2,495 in leather. Motorization is a $400 upgrade.
An addition to the CinemaChair line of Theater in the Home seating from Acoustic Innovations, called Contempo, extends the line-up to five recliner designs. The chair reflects a current trend in home theater seating toward more amorphous shapes and flowing lines, and allows the CinemaChair line of performance seating to be installed in a wider range of interiors, said the company.
Contempo, available in a variety of leather grades and colors, offers a higher back for neck support, exposed dual cup holders and saddle-stitched leather aesthetics.
Suggested retail for two Contempo seats and three arms in leather starts at $5,025. Upgrade options from the Boca Raton, Fla.-based Acoustic Innovations include heat and massage, a motorized recliner, pillows and transducers.
A solutions-oriented, stylish and functional Executive System Rack from Phoenix-based Omnimount, called the ES1, features a uniquely angled design with frosted tempered glass shelves and integrated CD storage.
The ES1 allows users freedom of space for placement of an Executive System is both home and office environments. It also accommodates uneven flooring with manually adjustable metal feet and is available in Black satin or Platinum Grey finish.
In addition to the frame and glass features, the unit offers a subwoofer slot and built-in CD storage for a suggested $89.95 retail. It is 31 inches high by 14 inches wide by 15.5 inches deep, and weighs 23 pounds.
When it comes to small office/home office (SO/HO) furniture introductions, makers are working to combine style and functionality as well as to maximize workspace.
A good example is the Destiny SO/HO desk from Nova Solutions, which utilizes modular components and optional accessories to give consumers a variety of organizational tools. These include space-saving recessed-computer technology, an organizer rail and a hidden rotating pencil tray.
Inherent in the design from the Effingham, Ill.-based Nova is its recessed-computer technology, which allows the work surface to be clean and clear of clutter. Destiny can accommodate flat panel displays, standard monitors and is also offered in non-recessed technology configurations.
L- or U-shaped layouts, combined with several pedestal and file storage options, provide Destiny users with a choice of ways to manage their individual workspace.
Suggested retails range from $418 for Nova's smallest unit, without recessed technology, to $991 with the technology and about $5,000 for a fully loaded version.
A mini-system stand from St. Paul, Minn.-based Sanus Systems is said to be perfect for the SO/HO market. The new AFMini II stand features integrated CD storage, and comes in a convenient tabletop height that eases operation and provides optimum sound quality by placing speakers at ear level. The unit is designed to complement the décor of a variety of office settings.
With demand high for a stylish and functional way to add a mini system to an office setting without consuming valuable desk space, Sanus said it is leading the way in both form and function. Modern mini systems are nothing like the cheap old boom boxes of yesterday, said Sanus, but, today, quality mini systems are becoming an essential element of every executive office. Suggested retail for the AFMini II is $89.99. Carina Furniture Industries, a Brampton, Ontario-based RTA manufacturer, is introducing what it says is a new concept in RTA goods. Called the Classic Series, it is a traditionally styled product line that features case-goods-quality wood details. This creates a high-value appearance and feel, which Carina said is absent from many RTA products.
The Classic Series is made to compete directly with low-cost RTA products in the home entertainment and SO/HO categories, among others. The company said retailers should be able to offer high-end looks and quality, without sacrificing the important suggested retail price points, from $99 to $199. Sauder Woodworking employs a "unique" space-saving design with its Cottage Home Computer Armoire with Chair. Called its 8979-150, the piece, from the Archbold, Ohio-based company, features a space-saving cabinet that holds a computer monitor, CPU, printer and speakers, as well as a slide-out keyboard/mouse shelf.
Adding extra convenience is a full-size office chair on casters that folds up and completely stores within the armoire when not in use, making the item especially suited for individuals with living rooms and bedrooms that double as home offices.
The knotty Bishop Pine finish, along with a rustic-inspired design and iron door/drawer handles, adds a touch of old-world charm to a piece designed to accommodate modern lifestyles.
The RTA 8979-150 will be available in April for a suggested $600 retail. Office Star is showing new product at the International Home Furnishings Mart in High Point, N.C., this week, including two chairs, Model EL4521 and Model OAK 930.
EL4521 is a smartly styled executive chair upholstered in a combination of glove-soft leather and breathable nylon mesh. It offers a tilt mechanism and seat height control for a suggested $350 retail.
OAK 930 is a task chair specifically designed for home office use that embodies a sculpted look and feel of turn-of-the-century office chairs. It features chenille fabric and oak-finished accents for a suggested $230 retail.
Office Star also is showing Scooter, a rugged and versatile chair featuring powder-coated aluminum frames, ventilated mesh back and padded seats in four different colors. Model 306 offers arms, while Model 304 comes without the arms. This brand new futuristic chair has a suggested $125 retail.
The company is showing an array of synthetic fabrics that look and feel like suede, and is introducing a line of executive chairs with these fabrics.
Called the first recliner of its kind, the Quatro from Taunton, Mass.-based ImageCrafters is a customizable seating system specifically tailored for home theaters. It is unique, said the company, in that the 10-position headrest can be set to the ideal height of any person, while infinitely adjustable tilt in the headrest is designed for comfort.
Quatro comes with a choice of single-arm, double-arm and pre-shaped, plus an arm with a storage compartment. It can be ordered as a single chair or as multiple chairs, connected to create as wide a row of seats as needed for any home theater. It comes in a choice of colors and materials, including eight NovaSuedes.
Suggested retail for the Quatro NovaSuede 3-seater is $6,700; the single-tone NovaSuede or Leather is $6,100. Bestar is launching a new product line-up called Signature, with all collections carrying both home office and A/V furniture.
The Saint-Hubert, Quebec-based company's Home Entertainment Furniture Wall Unit, 11300/11200/11301, is designed to hold most 36-inch televisions, and has two shelves below the television for storage of electronic components. Two audio towers, to both sides of the TV stand, offer four adjustable shelves behind a glass door that accommodate electronic components. There are three drawers for closed storage in each tower. Suggested retail for the home theater furniture is $699.
A Computer Desk and Hutch, 11400/11500, comes in the same maple and carbon colors as the Home Entertainment Furniture. The desk has a melamine finish work surface that resists scratches, stains and burns. Three catchall drawers and one file drawer store letter, legal and European documents. A shelf under the desktop offers storage and mobile CPU platform.
More storage can be added to the desk with Bestar's Hutch. This includes one door for closed storage and one shelf for open storage. Suggested retail for the combined Computer Desk and Hutch is $439.
A "rethinking of user interface," called "computer furniture redux," characterizes new SO/HO products from O'Sullivan Furniture, debuting at High Point this market. Highlighted by O'Sullivan's Digital Dock feature, several new office products relocate the CPU from the floor
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.