Watch out, Best Buy — Ikea is getting into the home entertainment business. The furniture giant, known for its affordable, build-it-yourself merchandise, has unveiled a new line of televisions designed to simplify and streamline consumers' chaotic entertainment systems. (Watch the charming YouTube demo below.) The product, dubbed Uppleva ("Experience"), is an all-in-one solution that includes a high-definition TV set (manufactured by Chinese company TCL), a built-in Blu-ray player, a cordless subwoofer, and a variety of storage options to conceal messy cables and wires. The HDTV supports WiFi connectivity, has ports for HDMI and USB, and comes with a universal remote. Uppleva will arrive in Europe this year, and in the U.S. in 2013. Considering Ikea's reputation for affordable and innovative furnishing solutions, is home entertainment a logical next step?
Uppleva could be a big deal: This move has "the potential to shake up the industry," says David Carnoy at CNET. Prices will start at $950 for an entry-level unit, with TV sizes ranging from 26 to 46 inches. "Ikea has long sold affordable and attractively styled stands for TVs and home-theater components," but this endeavor takes things "up a notch." If the price is right — and affordable prices have always been Ikea's strength — consumers will come knocking.
"Is Ikea's Uppleva all-in-one HDTV entertainment system a game changer?"
Eh, the TV doesn't work very well: "The limited time I've spent with TCL's smart TV software wasn't encouraging," says John Herrman at Buzzfeed. But that's not a knock on Ikea or TCL — "all TV software is pretty bad compared to what you get from a good set-top box." If consumers want a manageable experience, they'll still want "to hook up an Xbox or an Apple TV or something." Otherwise be prepared for a "horrendous" time.
"The Ikea TV: Gadgets are furniture"
The Uppleva is the Apple product Apple hasn't thought of: "The dawn of a new television era is here," says Deborah Netburn at the Los Angeles Times. Our "collective television problem" is that we're constantly "juggling too many remote controls, shoving unsightly tangles of electric cords behind bookshelves, and precariously stacking" Blu-ray players and cable boxes. Ikea is doing away with the clutter by doing what it does best: Making things "pretty," "convenient," and "easy." Just like Apple has done with personal gadgets.
"Did Ikea just beat Apple to the all-in-one television?"