April 17, 2012 at 5:58 PM ET
As our TVs have become bigger and more powerful, their setup and maintenance have become increasingly demanding. Between set-top box, game console, DVD and Blu-ray players, USB ports and spare cables for camcorders and the like, it's a veritable maze of cables, connectors, menus and remotes.
IKEA is hoping to capitalize on this confusion with a new line of electronics, including the UPPLEVA, which they are billing as an all-in-one solution to this home media melee. It's a TV, sure, but it also has speakers built into its base, a wireless subwoofer, integrated cable storage, a Blu-ray player and more, all controlled with one remote.
For the young urbanite looking to fill an apartment with as little fuss as possible, it might be a life saver. For the uninitiated, selecting and buying a TV is a task fraught with risk, and even tech-savvy people find setting up the various players and services a chore. The UPPLEVA is a bit like an iMac, in that its focus is strictly on ease of setup and access. You can customize it if you want, but in the end you take home one box and that's it.
And from the looks of it, they seem to have succeeded. It's simple, straightforward and attractive in that straightforward IKEA fashion (you can change the size, color and look). The remote is reminiscent of Nintendo's Wii Remote and lacks outdated features like a number grid and arcane acronyms. The built-in DVD and Blu-ray player is slot-loading and looks easy to use.
HDTV enthusiasts will have questions that might not have occurred to the average customer: who makes the LCD panel itself, for instance? How much space is there for home videos? Is it DLNA-compatible?
That information will be available later, once the UPPLEVA actually goes on sale. It will debut at a few IKEA flagship stores, so if you're in Stockholm, Milan, Paris, Gdansk or Berlin this June, you can sneak a peek. It will spread to other countries later in 2012 and possibly the U.S. in 2013.
As for pricing: according to IKEA Sweden's sales chief Tolga Oncu, the base unit will start at around 6,500 Swedish crowns, or around $960. That could easily change quite a bit once the system is localized elsewhere, but it's a good ballpark.