November 1, 2014

LG, Sharp, Chunghwa to Plead Guilty to Price-Fixing

LG Display Co. Ltd., Sharp Corp. and Chunghwa Picture Tubes Ltd., three leading Asian electronics manufacturers, have agreed to plead guilty to price-fixing and pay a total of 585 million dollars in fines, the US Department of Justice announced Wednesday.

South Korea’s LG Display will pay the largest fine, 400 million dollars, the second-highest criminal fine ever imposed by the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, the department said in a statement.

From Yahoo Finance:

It said Japan’s Sharp would pay a fine of 120 million dollars while Chunghwa would pay a fine of 65 million dollars.

The Justice Department said the three companies had agreed to plead guilty for their roles in conspiracies to fix prices of liquid crystal display (LCD) panels used in computer monitors and notebooks, televisions, mobile phones and other electronic devices.

The price-fixing conspiracies had a direct impact on computer, television and cellular telephone manufacturers such as Apple, Dell and Motorola, the department noted.

Still Have a Landline? Me Too.

On a recent Sat- urday night while my hus- band and I sat watch- ing a movie, my home was invaded by two men looking for a quick steal. I surprised them in action and they ran off empty handed. The first thing I did as they ran away was grab the landline phone we keep in our home office and call 911. I was able to get help in under 30 seconds. My other phone was left lying around the house and it would have easily been a few minutes to find it. The police were able to respond and catch the men that night.

According to a recent Nielsen Company survey, more than 17 percent, or 20 million, of all U.S. households lack landline phones and use only a cellphone. The research suggested that 20 percent of U.S. households could be wireless-only by the end of the year, the company said.

Nielsen also determined that:

• smaller households with just one or two residents are more likely to cut the cord than larger households;

• moving or changing jobs contributes to the decision to drop landline service. Thirty-one percent of cord cutters moved before they dropped landline service, and 22 percent changed jobs; and

• although cord cutters tend to use their mobile phones more than landline households, they still save an average $33 per month in a household with only one subscriber, minus $6.69 for each additional wireless subscriber in the household.

Turning exclusively to wireless isn’t for everyone, however. Ten percent of landline customers have experimented with cellular-only communications in their household but returned to landline service, Nielsen said. The primary reason is the need to use a landline for such services as security systems, satellite TV, pay-per-view, fax machines and the like.

We have always felt that a landline was an investment in safety. Keeping the phone near the kitchen in case of a safety emergency was part of our plan, we never thought we would be using it to catch criminals, but being prepared was what the landline was all about.

Recall: Sony Notebook Computers Due to Burn Hazard

Name of Product: Certain VAIO TZ-series Notebook Computers

Units: About 73,000

Manufacturer: Sony Electronics Inc., of San Diego, Calif.

Hazard: Irregularly positioned wires near the computer’s hinge and/or a dislodged screw inside the hinge can cause a short circuit and overheating. This poses a burn hazard to consumers.

Incidents/Injuries: Sony has received 15 reports of overheating, including one consumer who suffered a minor burn.

Description: The recalled notebook computer models are the VAIO VGN-TZ100 series, VGN-TZ200 series, VGN-TZ300 series and VGN-TZ2000 series. The computers’ screen size is about 11.1” measured diagonally. Not all units are affected; consumers should contact Sony to determine if their unit is included in the recall.

Sold by: The SonyStyle stores and Web site, authorized electronics retailers, and authorized business-to-business dealers nationwide from July 2007 through August 2008 for between $1,700 and $4,000.

Manufactured in: Japan and United States

Remedy: Consumers should stop using the recalled notebook computers immediately and contact Sony to determine if their notebook is affected. The firm will arrange for an inspection and repair, if needed.

Consumer Contact: For additional information, contact Sony toll-free at (888) 526-6219 anytime, or visit the firm’s Web site at sony.com/support

LG Launches Recycling Program

Once you’ve picked out the perfect new DVD player or television, you need to plan for the disposal of your old ones.  If your outgoing model was made by LG, that task might just have gotten a bit easier. 

 “The LG Electronics Recycling Program provides consumers with a free and convenient way of recycling their used, unwanted, obsolete or damaged LG consumer electronic products by dropping them off at a designated Waste Management eCycling Center. Waste Management currently has 160 designated drop-off sites across the United States and plans to have at least one drop-off site in each State by September 2008; the number of sites will continue to be expanded over time.”

 

 “Products covered by the LG Electronics Recycling Program include LG, Zenith and GoldStar brands of televisions, monitors, audio equipment, video cassette players and recorders, DVD players and recorders, combination TV/VCR and TV/DVD units, set top boxes and accessories associated with those products. Consumers may drop off up to 5 LG-branded items at a time. There is no fee to consumers for the covered LG-brand products; other brands will be accepted, but a fee may be charged by Waste Management for non-LG brands.”

You can find out more here:

 http://www.lgusa.com/green/locationlist.xls or http://www.wm.com/lg

 Waste Management Customer Service: toll free 1-877-439-2795

LG Customer Service: toll free 1-866-372-2928

Haier Moves Higher

Never heard of Haier? We think you’ll be hearing from them a lot in the next few years.

Save Energy and Save Money or Not?

Energy costs are going up and we’re surrounded by warnings of global warming.  What’s a conscien-tious consumer to do?  Buy an energy efficient appliance of course.

From washing machines that use steam instead of hot water, to refrigerators that use low-energy compressors, to low-power computer screens, electronics companies are furiously developing energy-efficient products and heavily promoting lines already on the market that use less electricity than competitors’ brands.

Homemakers are increasingly buying front-load washing machines, which use gravity to move water instead of agitators as in top loaders.

And now, new washers from LG Electronics and Whirlpool offer an option to use steam instead of hot water, cutting water and power use by more than 70 percent compared with some top-load models.

LG expects 4 out of 10 front-load washers it sells in North America to use steam technology by the end of this year, compared with 2 out of 10  currently.

Their biggest appliance plant in South Korea makes mostly front loaders, while recently built plants like one in Russia have stopped manufacturing top loaders altogether.

Among refrigerators, which consume 30 percent of overall power in a typical home, traditional compressors are giving way to linear compressors that use up to 40 percent less power and make less noise.

In the computing industry, power-saving has long been a key priority as bigger and hungrier gadgets challenge battery life.  PC makers from Apple to the Lenovo Group are replacing screens lit by conventional cold cathode fluorescent lamps with light emitting diode (LED) displays.  “LED saves up to 40 percent of the power used in traditional backlights,” said Jeff Kim, an analyst at Hyundai Securities. “Next year they will be commonly found in notebook screens, and will be increasingly used in TV panels from 2010.”

But too often, these energy-efficient products carry a hefty price premium to reflect the cost of developing new technologies, which in turn hampers faster adoption.  For instance, Whirlpool’s washing machines with steam are sold at $1,300 to $1,500, compared with a traditional machine priced at $700.  Still, makers argue that the lifetime savings from green products could amount to the price of the appliance itself.

Sometimes a little incentive helps.

The Japanese electronics retailer Bic Camera is running a campaign in which buyers of eco-friendly products get extra credit points that can be used for future purchases. “That’s a little nudge to help people buy products that are more efficient, even if they are slightly more expensive,” said Naoko Ito, a Bic Camera spokeswoman. “Consumer interest is high.”

Recycle Your Old Monitor and Other Electronics

Best Buy will take and recycle your unwanted appliances free of charge.  One hundred seventeen stores in the Baltimore, San Francisco, and Minnesota areas are welcoming customers to bring in no more than two units per day, per household, for recycling at no charge. Customers can bring in items such as televisions and monitors up to 32-inches, computers, phones, cameras, and other electronics devices and peripherals.

Best Buy said it would work with its stores, recycling partners, and manufacturers to evaluate the success of the test and determine options for scaling it across the United States.

Pioneer’s High Definition TV

Pioneer Electronics announces a new line of KURO plasma displays featuring black levels five times deeper than the previous award-winning KURO.

“The introduction of this year’s KURO televisions is another step toward our ultimate goal of pure, absolute black that will fulfill the true potential and all the promise of high-definition entertainment,” said Paul Meyhoefer, vice president of display marketing and product planning, home entertainment business solutions group, Pioneer Electronics. This year, Pioneer pushes ever closer to their goal of absolute black by further reducing the idle luminance and improving black levels five times over the previous 2007 KURO models. This has enabled Pioneer to accurately reproduce deeper colors within the high-definition color spectrum.

Pioneer has incorporated six unique sound settings associated with each of the KURO video settings – standard, movie, sports, performance, game, dynamic – to ensure a customized listening experience that is specifically in tune with the type of programming on-screen.

The television employs an auto volume stabilization feature that further controls the television’s volume level when switching between different types of programming; including network shows and commercials, broadcast channels or different input types to insure each experience remains true and distinct from one another.

Pioneer has included the most advanced SRS WOW HD technology in the new KURO models by incorporating SRS Definition, a high frequency enhancement that provides finer control and adjustment to manage low, mid and high audio frequencies. The result adds to the virtual surround sound effect and produces clearer, more precise audio in mid to high frequency levels.

The KURO employs a unique automatic adjustment feature called Optimum Mode that simultaneously monitors video and room light conditions. The KURO then adjusts the picture and sound settings to provide an experience specially tailored to each type of programming.

While many consumers will rely on this unique feature, the 2008 KURO models still have the ability to switch between six finely tuned pre-set modes including: standard, movie, sports, performance, game, dynamic for consumers who prefer the ability to manually adjust their KURO television according to their particular taste.

Retail price starts at $4000.