Video and Audio Center Flagship Store Opening, Jan. 25, 2018

Video and Audio Center held a gala opening party Jan. 25 for its new flagship showcase store in the Westfield Century City mall. Video and Audio Center has been introducing new technologies for more than 34 years, and its new store is a new retail concept focused on the customer experience, with towering wall displays and interactive product exhibits.

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Video and Audio Center Opens New Flagship Store

Video and Audio Center held a gala opening party Jan. 25 for its new flagship showcase store in the Westfield Century City mall, which recently underwent a $1.4 billion makeover. Video and Audio Center has been introducing new technologies for more than 34 years, and its new store — tucked in a wing of the mall that also includes an Apple Store, a Rolex store and a Tesla dealership — is a new retail concept focused on the customer experience, with towering wall displays and interactive product exhibits. “This new technology showcase is the most advanced yet consumer friendly store we have introduced. The design of our innovative interactive space allows people to reach out and touch, feel and experience all the latest advancements in consumer technology,” said co-owner Joseph Akhtarzad.

The advanced displays and store layout are so unique that Video and Audio Center has applied for a federal copyright on its design. “This marks a totally new direction in consumer technology retailing, in a store front environment,” said Tom Campbell, Video and Audio Center corporate director and chief technologist.

A visit to the store on opening night was not unlike a visit to the main hall of CES less than a month earlier, just on a smaller scale.

Accordingly, the guest list included top technology, consumer electronics and entertainment industry executives, engineers and experts from companies such as 20th Century Fox, LG Electronics, Samsung North America and Sony Electronics of America, including Mike Dunn,  product strategy and consumer business development president at 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment; Mike Fidler, president of the UHD Alliance;  and Mike Fasulo, Sony Electronics of America president and COO.

The new store is Video and Audio Center’s fifth. The regional consumer electronics chain previously had a smaller store in the Westfield Century City mall before the shopping center’s big renovation.

PHOTO GALLERY: Video and Audio Center Flagship Store Opening, Jan. 25, 2018

UHD Alliance Ramping Up Marketing Efforts

LAS VEGAS — With a new president, the UHD Alliance came to CES 2018 with a new directive.

Industry veteran Mike Fidler started in July 2017 with a mission to move the organization beyond technical efforts and grow its marketing activities.

For an organization of companies with disparate interests, the key, Fidler said, is “how do we come up with some consistency in messaging?”

The UHD Alliance aims to come to some industry consensus to give the press and consumers a clearinghouse for information and “to give some confidence to the marketplace as well,” he said.

To gauge consumer pain points, the UHD Alliance looked at negative experiences on the popular AVS Forum website. The Alliance found that 31% of such experiences involved picture quality, 21% peripherals and 18% the content itself.

“We want to make sure we are proactive, instead of reactive,” Fidler said.

To that end, the Alliance in late July formed a new Interoperability Working Group, headed up by Sony’s Don Eklund. The group looks at how the different manufacturers’ products work with each other in part by literally plugging them together, via “plug fests.” The aim is to make sure that when consumers set up their systems, they work and provide the best quality possible.

“For consumers, their expectation is plug and play,” Fidler said. “We want to make sure consumers get the full experience.”

Manufacturers can remedy pain points with flyers in boxes or firmware upgrades.

On the educational and informational front, the Alliance has a new brochure and in October launched a website, experienceUHD.com. Also on tap are five educational videos due in the coming weeks.

In talking to consumers the key is to avoid intimidating terms such as “nits” and “specs,” but to focus on the experience, Fidler said.

“Consumers have to understand what the values are, what the benefits are,” he said.

Fidler is also looking to work with the other trade organizations, such as the Blu-ray Disc Association and DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group, to “make sure we talk the same language” and share resources, he said.

Meanwhile, the UHD Alliance continues to expand. The group added five new members in the last three months: ASUS, Chroma ATE, Google, Synaptics and Arcadian Technologies.

The new members indicate “a broadening of the ecosystem,” he noted.

“That’s always a good sign,” he said.

The Alliance also continues to certify products and software with its Premium logo via independent labs.