Already the one-stop shop for smart and compact home furnishing, IKEA is venturing into the world of technology -- with the IKEA TV.
The new furniture range, named UPPLEVA, the Swedish word for experience, integrates an LED TV, a sound system with wireless bass speakers, an internet connection and CD, DVD and Blu-ray players -- all in one self-assembly piece.
Although the TV and the other electronics are made by Chinese manufacturer TCL, IKEA has built everything around them, hiding the masses of cables that can be a nuisance and make a living room look shabby.
To further simplify things, IKEA and TCL have combined all the controls into a single remote. The furniture surface is especially designed to allow the remote's signals through, so the devices can remain hidden from view.
The TV screens are available in four different sizes, from 24 inches to 46 inches, and in a range of colors including gray, black and blue. Users are also able to plug in their iPods or other mp3 music players.
Like most IKEA furniture, the UPPLEVA is purchased in a flat-pack and is ready for assembly at home for those handy with screwdrivers and other tools.
The furniture comes in three designs and will be sold first in Sweden, France, Poland, Germany and Italy in June, with a few more markets due to launch in the second half of the year. By the first half of next year, it will be available worldwide, with the cheapest costing about 6,500 Swedish kronor ($955).
To test market appetite for its latest innovation, IKEA had a survey conducted by pollster YouGov. The poll showed that three out of four people want less visible cables in their living rooms and 50 percent wanted to reduce the amount of electronics lying about.
The study, done in five countries with more than 5,200 respondents between Feb. 29 and March 15 this year, also showed that 60 percent of the people asked have between three to four remote controls at home.
"We've realized that people are watching more TV and are using electronics in their living rooms more and more," IKEA spokeswoman Ylva Magnusson said. "We came up with this because we found that people want to get rid of the cables and they don't want those mountains of remote controls either."
Martin Rask, a 38-year old from Stockholm, said the all-in-one concept sounded interesting but wondered how it could keep up with new technologies.
"The furniture is a tempting idea -- I'm wrestling with a bundle of cables at home myself at the moment -- but the problem is that so many new things are released all the time," he said. "I've had three different Internet suppliers in the past year for example, and imagine if you had an old VHS player built into your furniture that no one is watching."
Magnusson at IKEA said that although the electronic devices are physically attached to the furniture, there is plenty of room for customers to put in IKEA-designed add-ons.
IKEA employs more than 130,000 people and has 280 stores in 25 countries. Last year it drew 655 million customers.
Malin Rising in Stockholm contributed to this report.
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