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Panel TV sales soar in SA

Black Friday saw sales of flat screen TVs grow by 66% over the same day last year.

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Panel television sales soared in South Africa during Black Friday week, climbing by 66% to just over 93,000 units when compared to the same week in 2017, according to point of sale tracking data from GfK South Africa’s Weekly Monitor. This builds on the 47% growth over 2016 recorded during the week of Black Friday in 2017.

Retailers sold around 29,000 panel televisions in the week of Cyber Monday (the week after Black Friday), indicating that Black Friday deals are rapidly taking over more of the month of November. On average, retailers sold around 16,000 units per week in the weeks preceding the week of Black Friday.

Over the week of Black Friday, smartphone unit sales grew by around 3.9% compared to the same week last year to just over 350,000 units. This represents a sharp drop in growth from 2017, when smartphone unit sales for the Black Friday week leapt 63% over the same week of 2016. Around 308,000 smartphone units were sold the week after Black Friday 2018. During the weeks preceding Black Friday, South African retailers sold an average of 220,000 smartphone units a week.

“Hype about panel television sales has definitively shifted from December to November as consumers look out for the best Black Friday deals before committing their money,” says Kali Moahloli, Head of Sales & Retail, at GfK South Africa. “Compared to two Black Fridays ago, 2018 Black Friday panel TV sales have grown by 151% in units.”

Other highlights from GfK’s point of sale data for Black Friday week include:

  • Entry-level smartphones (less than R1000) accounted for 36.5% of units sold, but only 8.4% of the value of smartphone sales during Black Friday week.
  • Premium phones (R7000 and above) accounted for a mere 8.5% of unit sales, but comprised 43.6% of the value of sales rung up during Black Friday week.
  • Intermediate and mid-tier units (R1000 to R6999) made up 55% of unit sales and around 48% of the value of smartphone sales recorded during Black Friday week.
  • Entry-level models (less than R3000) had a 42.8% share of panel TV unit sales, but accounted for only 19.7% of revenues for Black Friday week.
  • Premium models (R6500 and above) made up a quarter of panel TV unit sales during Black Friday week 2018 and more than half (52.7%) of panel TV revenues for the week.
  • Mid-tier and intermediate models (R3000-R6499) made up around a third of panel TV unit sales for the week and around 27.6% of revenues.

“Slower smartphone sales growth can be attributed to consumers taking strain from a weak economy and from the gradual saturation of the market,” says Moahloli. “December is traditionally a stronger month for smartphone sales than November, which is unlike the panel TV market where sales trend downwards after Black Friday. We could see good data deals from the operators help boost growth ahead of the festive season.”

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The myths of microwaves

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We all know microwaves make cooking a breeze and it helps save those minutes, we rarely have enough of these days. However, some people do have those lingering doubts about whether microwaving food destroys nutrients or that it emits harmful radiation. However, the truth is a lot more comforting and positive.

“The microwave makes life so much easier,” says Tracy Gordon, Head of Product – Home Appliances at Samsung South Africa. “It’s human-centred technology at its most helpful. The Samsung Hotblast for example, has revolutionary functions, which are tailor-made to create fast, tasty and healthy meals in minutes.”

A recent article by Harvard Health Publishingclaims stated that “microwave ovens cook food using waves of energy that are remarkably selective, primarily affecting water and other molecules that are electrically asymmetrical. Microwaves cause these molecules to vibrate and quickly build up thermal (heat) energy.” The article debunks two common myths about microwaving food.

Myth 1: Microwaving kills nutrients

Whether in a microwave or a regular oven, some nutrients, including vitamin C, do break down when exposed to heat. However, the fact is, cooking with a microwave might be better when it comes to preserving nutrients because it takes a shorter time to cook. Additionally, as far as vegetables go, cooking them in water robs them of some of their nutritional value because the nutrients seep out into the cooking water,” states the report by Harvard Health Publishing. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), food cooked in a microwave oven is as safe and has the same nutrient value, as food cooked in a conventional oven.

Myth 2: Microwaving food can give you cancer

The American Cancer Society (ACS) says that microwaves do not make food radioactive. Microwaves heat food but they do not change the chemical or molecular structure of it. In fact, there is absolutely no evidence that microwaves pose a health risk to people when used appropriately, the organisation added.

With those myths well busted, it’s comforting to know one can make full use of the convenient kitchen appliance. And when the time comes to use a microwave to heat up a tasty meal in no time, one can trust the Samsung Hotblast to do the job. The HotBlast has multiple air holes blowing out powerful hot air, which reduces cooking time. Samsung claims the Slim Fry technology ensures that food is perfectly crisp on the outside and delicious and juicy on the inside. Additionally, this versatile microwave has a wider grill, making it easier to brown food fast and evenly. The turntable is wider, measuring 345mm, making it possible to prepare bigger portions of food. And with its Eco Mode power, it significantly reduces energy consumption with its low standby power. Its intelligent features and stylish design makes it very useful and as we now know – a safe, healthy way to enjoy a meal.

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New BMW 3-series ushers in autonomous future

The new BMW 3-series is not meant to be an autonomous car, but it is so close, ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK discovers.

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It was not meant to be a test-drive of an autonomous vehicle. But the Driving Assist button on the steering wheel of the new BMW 330i was just too tempting. And there I found myself, on Sir Lowry’s Pass near Cape Town, “driving” with my arms folded while the vehicle negotiated curves on its own.

Every 10 seconds or so, yellow or red lights flashed to alert me to put my hands back on the wheel. The yellow lights meant the car wanted me to put my hands on the wheel, just to show that I was in control. The red lights meant that I had to take over control from the artificial intelligence built into the vehicle.

With co-driver Ernest Page, we negotiated a major highway, the bends of Sir Lowry’s pass, and the passes of Hell’s Heights (Hel se Hoogte) above the Cape Winelands.

As the above video of the experience reveals, it can be nerve-racking for someone who hasn’t experienced autonomous driving, or hasn’t been dreaming of testing it for many years. For this driver, it was exhilarating. Not because the car performed so magnificently, but because it tells us just how close true autonomous driving really is.

There was one nervous moment when the autonomous – or rather, Driving Assist – mode disengaged on Hell’s Heights, but fear not. A powerful sense of responsibility prevailed, and my hands hovered over the steering wheel as it took the curve. Assist disengaged, and the car began to veer towards the other side of the road. I quickly took over, and also sobered up from the giddiness of thinking I was already in the future.

In reality, Driving Assist is part of level 2 of driving autonomy, as defined by the Society of Automotive Engineers. A presentation on the evening of the test drive, by Edward Makwana, manager of group product communications at BMW Group in South Africa, summed up the five stages as the driver having Feet Off, Hands Off, Eyes Off, Mind off, and finally, only being a Passenger.

However, the extent to which the hands-off mode of Driving Assist mimics self-driving, and easily shows the way to eyes-off and mind-off, is astonishing.

Click here to read about the components that make the Driving Assist work.

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