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The entertainment furniture market saw $4.57 billion in retail sales in 2005, according to data from Furniture Today, a TWICE sister publication that covers the furniture industry. Furniture Today also projected that the category will have seen an 11 percent growth rate in 2006, as it was expected to bring in an estimated $5.08 billion at retail last year.
"It's safe to say entertainment is one of the fastest-growing categories in home furniture," Furniture Today's business editor, Larry Thomas told TWICE. He explained that the entertainment furniture category, which consists primarily of wood entertainment center units, is one of the few categories where a double-digit increase was expected.
Thomas said the furniture manufacturers and retailers he has spoken to often say that they think the increasing demand for flat panel TVs will have a lot to do with this category's growth in the future. He points out that as more and more consumers adapt to the new technology, they will soon realize that their existing entertainment furniture units are, in many cases, not equipped to accommodate the newer formats and they will then have to upgrade their furniture as well.
According to Thomas, many traditional furniture retailers are in his opinion "missing the boat" by not getting more involved with this relatively new category on the ground floor. However, of those retailers who do successfully focus on this category, Thomas said many of them tend to display their products with electronic components.
When asked if he thinks there's an opportunity for CE retailers to benefit from the category's expected growth, he said, "It's a question of if they want to devote the floor space to it. Historically that's the problem [for CE dealers thinking about pushing furniture]."
This aversion to dedicating floor space to furniture may be fading, however, as more and more CE dealers, both specialty and big box, are expanding their business models to offer custom installation services and are in-turn dedicating valuable floor space to showcase home theater rooms and vignettes in their stores.
Thomas said that he thinks there is potential for growth in this category for years to come, particularly in the next couple of years leading up to the 2009 analog broadcasting cutoff date.
If the amount of flat-panel focused entertainment units hitting retail this year is any indication, it appears that many furniture manufacturers would echo Thomas' predictions. Following are some of the latest home entertainment furniture offerings to hit the market, many of which are expected to launch at International CES, here.
Vantage Point's latest A/V component shelf system is a wall-mounted system featuring two tempered glass shelves that is said to be an all-in-one, space-saving solution to organize and support electronic components. It features two main columns which are to be attached to a stud and which feature slots to adjust shelf height and offer wire management options. According to Vantage Point, the system can hold components weighing up to 100 pounds per shelf. The product is available in black and silver at a suggested retail price of $299.
Bell'O International is bowing a new line of flat-panel furniture pieces called the FP series.
The FP-4224 will be available in a silver and black finish and its powder-coated steel frame is said to be able to accommodate flat-panel screens measuring up to 43 inches and a variety of other A/V components and speakers. The unit comes equipped with a cable management system. It measures 42-inches wide by 24-inches high and 205/8-inches deep at a suggested retail of $249. A smaller version, model FP-3230, measures 32-inches wide by 30-inches high and 17.5-inches deep and retails for a suggested $199.
Bell'O's FP-4850HG was designed to support larger screens measuring up to 50 inches or weighing up to 125 pounds. The unit has a metallic finish and a powder-coated, high-gloss black stem frame that comes with two black tempered glass shelves. The product has a cable management system and measures 48-inches wide by 53-inches high and 17.75-inches deep. The FP-4850HG has a suggested retail of $299.
Encore! Home Entertainment is introducing two home theater lines that are both expected to be available in February.
Encore's Raleigh line is a collection of espresso-finished consoles and back panels designed to support 37-inch to 56-inch flat panel or micro-display televisions. The line's two consoles, at 44-inches and 54-inches wide, have large center channel speaker compartments and surge-protected power strips. The line's media storage end units feature pullouts for CDs or DVDs and additional components storage with interchangeable speaker cloth and glass panels for the doors. There are also 0.5-inch thick glass shelves that cantilever out from the back panels of both pieces. Suggested retail begins at $499 for the console, $799 for the back panels and the entire six-piece complete wall system starts at $1,799.
Encore is also introducing its GT Theater Seating line which consists of individual pieces that can be combined to create a variety of arrangements to suit a specific consumer's needs. Pieces include seats with left or right arms, armless seats, storage wedges, cup holders and more. The products can be adjusted for height and with headrests. Pricing on the line varies depending on the components selected. For information, contact Encore!
Lovan USA recently introduced its Harmony Plasma Lift Cabinet which can hold a screen measuring up to 42 inches. The cabinet's main feature is that it can hide the screen when it is not in use and can lift the screen in to view in less than 15 seconds.
The product also features a black mesh-covered compartment to house a DVD player or cable box and an additional two-door area where a user can organize and store media. The product comes in a dark walnut finish and includes a lift column, screen mount, top and base plate, one IR remote control unit and a control box for a suggested retail of $3,259.
Martin Furniture's Kathy Ireland Home-branded product line will include new designs that house full-sized audio components with HDMI cables, as well as flat-screen television configurations that provide easy access to electronic components. The products will feature power centers with overload protection and naturally reduce heat buildup. In addition, Martin plans to unveil product built with gamers in mind that features multi-height pull-out shelves, storage compartments for CPUs or game consoles, a multi-angle back for mounting several monitors and a power center with voice-activated lights.
Plateau launched its SR series in mid-2006. The line of enclosed cabinets are available in espresso and cherry finishes in either 65-inch or 75-inch models. The cabinets feature an extra-wide center space to accommodate a range of A/V products of all sizes that is flanked by closed storage areas on each side and feature touch-sliding aluminum doors and glass shelves. According to the company, the SR models provide ample ventilation and are equipped with cable management features. The 65-inch model has a suggested retail of $999.
Sanus Systems' Platinum furniture line includes four mid-priced models designed to fit varying-sized flat-panel TVs, set to be available at retail in February. All of the products in the line feature black tempered glass and a black finish with wire management channels. Some also feature adjustable shelves to better-accommodate A/V components.
Model PFV36b is an is a 36-inch wide four-shelf, flat-panel stand which is said to support up to 100 pounds and carries a suggested retail of $299. Another four-shelf model, the PFPLb, is 47-inches wide, supports up to 150 pounds and comes with an MDF top curved to fit most TV bases with a suggested retail of $329.
At the same price, the 47-inch wide, three-shelf model, PFV47b, supports up to 150 pounds. Also featuring three shelves is the 59-inch wide model PFV59b, which supports 150 pounds and retails for a suggested $429.
StudioTech recently launched two units capable of supporting plasma screens measuring up to 70 inches.
The E-1 features floating glass tempered shelves on an exposed cantilever steel framework with a background wood veneer panel that can be removed to provide access to wiring and components. A center steel tray can either be mounted flush with the surrounding glass shelves or hanging below them to provide additional space for taller central channel speakers. The product also features rolling casters. It is available in a black ash or rosewood finish and consumers can choose metal frames in white or silver. The unit comes with a limited lifetime warranty and is available now for a suggested $1,499.
The Ultra U-22T component cabinet features a hardwood veneer with cabinet enclosures for components and media. The unit measures 67 inches wide and features mesh screens to allow for infrared remote controls to work through the doors. The screens, in combination with cutouts in the interior of the cabinet, provide ventilation for A/V components. There are also cutouts that allow for cable management and for center channel placement of extra wide center channel speakers. Heavy-duty rolling casters are included in the design for mobility and a rack rail system allows users to adapt their cabinet's interior to customize the cabinet to meet their needs, allowing them to easily add a variety of accessories like media drawers or sliding shelves. The unit is also available now and it carries a suggested retail of $1,099.
Techcraft has available five new furniture solutions designed to accommodate flat-panel displays of varying size. The SWP48 is a 48-inch wide credenza that comes in a dark walnut finish. It is said to accommodate most 50-inch flat-panel displays and features framed doors to conceal components for a suggested retail of $299.
At the same price point, Techcraft is also offering its WSW37 and TRK50B. The WSW37 fits displays measuring up to 32 inches and features a swivel base to allow users to adjust their viewing angle. In addition to component storage, the product also comes with a "J" bracket that is said to fit most 37-inch screens and under flat-panel TVs. The TRK50B is intended to allow users to give their display a "suspended look" without having to actually mount on a wall; the company says the mounting bracket is included.
Techcraft's ABS32 has a suggested retail of $249 and features an antique black distressed finish, moldings and framed doors. It is designed to fit a 32-inch screen and offers component storage and wire management.
Salamander Designs is unveiling its Chameleon series of entertainment cabinets which are available in four different styles: Geneva, Hampton, Sonoma and Berlin. Despite the cabinets' differing exteriors, each features the same extruded aluminum skeleton that is intended to hide and hold a variety of technical components. All of the cabinets feature solid wood doors with soft-close dampeners and ventilation lovers built in to the bottoms. A variety of accessories are available for the cabinets including a plasma-proof IR repeater system, active cooling kits, accessory power conditioners and more. Compatible universal flat-panel TV mounts are also available directly from the company in the form of media storage trays that can fit behind Chameleon doors. Pricing for the Chameleon units, which are available in a variety of sizes, begins at a suggested $1,299.
Finally, The IcOn Furniture Collection has launched its Bronson Swivel Entertainment wall and room divider which is intended for custom installation. The product functions as a room divider and an entertainment center that holds a plasma display. Users can swivel the plasma mount portion to face either side and a cable management system allows the wires to move freely to avoid kinks that might break the display. Other features include drawers at the base and top of the unit as well as vertical storage on the sides. The unit is available immediately for a suggested retail price of $5,999.