The sales Games be­gin

It wouldn’t be an Olympic year with­out a dash for new TVS, writes Jen­nifer Dud­leyNi­chol­son

Herald Sun - Switched On - - On The Couch -

WITH one un­til open­ing emony, Olympic race is on. That’s not a race to a fin­ish line, how­ever, but a race to an elec­tron­ics store.

The Olympic Games tra­di­tion­ally ig­nite a rush for new TVs as liv­ing room ath­letes dash to up­grade ex­ist­ing screens to bet­ter de­liver the sport­ing spec­ta­cle.

Aus­tralian re­tail­ers say they are al­ready see­ing height­ened in­ter­est in screen up­grades, though not nec­es­sar­ily for the ad­vanced mod­els man­u­fac­tur­ers are pro­mot­ing.

While the 2012 Olympics will be the first broad­cast in 3D, re­tail­ers say con­sumers are not specif­i­cally ask­ing for the new tech­nol­ogy, in­stead choos­ing tele­vi­sions based on pic­ture qual­ity and size.

But re­tail­ers, man­u­fac­tur­ers and re­searchers all agree that con­sumers are poised to make se­ri­ous sav­ings in the 2012 Olympics TV rush, with prices lower than ever.

When it comes to buy­ing TVs, Aus­tralians are goldmedal con­tenders. De­spite chal­leng­ing eco­nomic con­di­tions, re­search firm GfK re­ports con­sumers spent more than $1.3 bil­lion on TVs in the last half of 2011.

Har­vey Nor­man tech­nol­ogy ex­actly month the certhe and en­ter­tain­ment gen­eral man­ager Ben McIn­tosh says 2012 could prove to be a big­ger year for TVs thanks to the Olympics, but he says the tra­di­tional 40-inch TV is no longer enough for to­day’s buy­ers: they want some­thing a lot big­ger.

‘‘ There has been a lot of in­ter­est in re­ally big screens over the past cou­ple of weeks,’’ he says.

‘‘ We’re talk­ing about 60-inch, 65-inch and 70-inch screens, so re­ally big TVs.

‘‘ We’ve seen a very big spike for the 70-inch screen in par­tic­u­lar be­cause four or five years ago those sorts of TVs were well out of any con­sumers’ price ranges.’’

McIn­tosh says that while the rush has al­ready be­gun, he ex­pects con­sumers to de­scend on elec­tron­ics stores in greater num­bers from this week on, with re­in­force­ments join­ing in if Aus­tralian ath­letes start to win medals.

With the Lon­don Olympics the first to be filmed in 3D, many man­u­fac­tur­ers ex­pected a boost in 3D TV in­ter­est.

Chan­nel 9 will broad­cast 3D footage of the Open­ing Cer­e­mony on July 27 as well as events in­clud­ing the swim­ming fi­nals, gym­nas­tics, ath­let­ics and div­ing to view­ers in Syd­ney, Mel­bourne, Bris­bane, Ade­laide, Perth and on the Gold Coast.

But Video­pro op­er­at­ing man­ager Mas­simo Rosazza says con­sumers are not ask­ing specif­i­cally for 3D screens.

‘‘ About two years ago there was a big push on for 3D but the con­tent hasn’t been there so it has suf­fered,’’ he says.

Toshiba prod­uct mar­ket­ing man­ager Justin White says con­sumers are cur­rently more fo­cused on two-di­men­sional images and the colour and qual­ity of mov­ing images.

While view­ers might be buy­ing big screens, they may not have to spend big dol­lars. GfK re­search shows av­er­age LCD TV prices fell 23 per cent be­tween 2010 and 2011, and plasma screens fell 19 per cent.

Com­pare cur­rent TV price tags to those in early 2003 and the gap is even more star­tling. Av­er­age prices for plasma TVs have plum­meted a whop­ping 90 per cent and LCD TVs 73 per cent.

NOKIA’S new flag­ship hand­set has a dis­tinc­tive look that can’t be mis­taken for any other phone. The freshly re­leased Lu­mia 900 is a modern, min­i­mal­ist beauty. Like the N9, this phone is made from a sin­gle poly­car­bon­ate block, mak­ing it er­gonomic and at­trac­tive.

The most ob­vi­ous dif­fer­ence in the Lu­mia 900 is its size. This phone comes with a 4.3-inch screen that makes the most of its Win­dows Live Tiles, as well as maps, pho­tos and other me­dia.

Its screen is an AMOLED dis­play that uses ClearBlack tech­nol­ogy, like its pre­de­ces­sor, to de­liver crisp colours and bet­ter per­for­mance out­doors.

The dis­play has a big down­side. Though Nokia has in­creased the size of this screen, its resolution is the same (480x800) and sig­nif­i­cantly less than its main phone ri­vals.

This com­par­a­tively low resolution is most ev­i­dent when surf­ing the web, where text looks muddy and re­quires a close look.

The Lu­mia 900 uses Win­dows 7.5 soft­ware that or­gan­ises apps into large tiles on its screen. Nokia sneaks in its own soft­ware ad­di­tions, how­ever, and they’re pleas­ingly use­ful. Nokia Mu­sic lets you stream songs from the hand­set and Nokia Drive of­fers turn-by-turn nav­i­ga­tion af­ter you down­load the maps for your coun­try.

The phone also fea­tures an 8-megapixel cam­era with Carl Zeiss op­tics, dual-LED flash and the abil­ity to record 720p high­def­i­ni­tion video.

This Lu­mia may be too heavy for some, at 160g, and doesn’t of­fer a 4G con­nec­tion like its US coun­ter­part. Nokia’s new­est flag­ship phone is the best Win­dows hand­set it has pro­duced to date, how­ever.

JEN­NIFER DUD­LEY-NICHOLSON

Cap­ture all the Olympic ac­tion with the new Pana­sonic Viera plasma TV.

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