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The official blog of Abt Electronics & Appliances

Archive for December, 2008

2008’s Innovative Electronics

Wednesday, December 31st, 2008

The early part of 2008 saw the victory of Blu-ray over HD-DVD in the high-definition video disc format war, and throughout the year Blu-ray disc players’ prices diminished as their features grew. The Samsung BDP2500 Blu-ray Disc Player is a good example of an innovative, feature-packed player at an affordable price. It is BD Live 2.0 ready and Netflix Instant Streaming ready, and it has Ethernet and USB connections for firmware upgrades. If, by chance, you wanted to view your Blu-ray discs on the new Mitsubishi LaserVue 65″ Black DLP HDTV, you’d be watching the first TV to utilize laser beams to produce rich, complex colors and an immersive depth of field. The LaserVue delivers two times the color of many of today’s HDTVs, and it’s also environmentally friendly, consuming much less power than LCD or plasma TVs.

Mitsubishi LaserVue HDTV

In the audio realm, Yamaha released the YSP-3050 Digital Sound Projector, also referred to as a Sound Bar. The YSP-3050 is a single component that delivers excellent sound along with great new features like 1080p-compatible HDMI, iPod compatibility, and several beam settings including My Surround, which produces realistic, multi-channel surround sound.

Yamaha YSP-3050 Digital Sound Projector

Digital cameras continued to push the megapixel boundaries, with Canon’s EOS 5D Mark II offering a stunning 21.1-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor with DIGIC 4 image processor. It also is the first digital EOS to offer recording of full HD video in Live View Mode, shooting clips almost half an hour long at full 1080p resolution.

As in most years, 2008 saw no advances in computer hardware or software (just kidding!). Apple released a new line of MacBooks, featuring precision unibody enclosures constructed from a single block of aluminum, making them thinner and more durable. Other new features include a large multi-touch trackpad made of smooth glass, with almost 40 percent more tracking area and support for more multi-touch gestures than previous versions. The entire surface is also a button, so users can track and click virtually anywhere on the trackpad.

New 13″ MacBook and 15″ MacBook Pro

These are just a few of the many innovative electronic gadgets released in 2008. To see the rest, just visit us in person or click through our website and see what you’ve been missing. What’s coming in 2009? Abt will be represented at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in about a week, and we’ll have full reports on all the new products you can expect to see while you’re having a Happy New Year!   —by Graham W.

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2008’s Innovative Appliances

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

Now that the end of the year is near, it’s the perfect time to look back at all the innovative products we’ve seen come along in 2008. One way to view these new things is that they bring the stuff we currently own closer to obsolescence. Another way to view them is to imagine how much easier or fun our lives are going to be when we finally own them. I suggest taking the positive approach in this case—and possibly as a New Year’s resolution. 

Today’s list will cover appliances (tomorrow’s will cover electronics), and will highlight just a few of the many innovative possibilities. In the small appliance category, the Breville Variable Temperature Electric Kettle heats water faster than a stovetop kettle and gives you five preset brewing temperatures for precision tea and coffee brewing and perfect drinks every time. It also features a Hold Temp feature to keep heated water at a selected temperature for 20 minutes.

LG Navy XL Capacity Gas Steam Dryer

Innovative larger appliances that were released this year included the GE Red Profile Series Colossal Capacity Frontload Washer. “The washer’s SmartDispense Technology is a great feature that lets you store a 6 month supply of detergent and fabric softener in the bottom section of the washer, and then it dispenses just the right amount as needed,” says Abt sales manager Joe Klett. Innovative dryers included LG’s XL Capacity Gas Steam Dryer, which uses TrueSteam Technology to reduce wrinkles and odors, while the SteamFresh cycle allows you to refresh and reduce wrinkles in up to 5 garments at one time. 

Moving back to the kitchen, the TurboChef 30″ Thermal Red Single Wall Speedcook Oven uses patented Airspeed Technology to perform amazing feats like cooking a turkey in 42 minutes (see our December 16 blog posting for more details). Sub-Zero redesigned its line of built-in refrigerators this year to incorporate a new process that purifies the entire volume of air in the refrigerator. The air gets “scrubbed” an average of once every 20 minutes to eliminate odors, viruses, and bacteria, in addition to ethylene gases that speed up food spoilage. 

Sub-Zero PROG 48 Built-In 48″ Side-By-Side Refrigerator

You can view these innovative appliances, and many others, in our store or on our website. Be sure to check back tomorrow for our end of the year list of innovative electronics.    —by Graham W. 

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Win a $500 Abt Gift Card

Monday, December 29th, 2008

Didn’t get the gifts you wanted this holiday season? Just sign up for the Abt e-mail newsletter, and you’ll have a chance to win a $500 Abt Gift Card, which you can use to purchase anything in our store or on our website.

Our newsletters are filled with everything you need to know about new products and special savings available at Abt. Signing up for the Abt e-mail newsletter is the easiest way to make sure you don’t miss out on great deals as soon as they become available. To see a sample newsletter, click here

One $500 Abt Gift Card winner is drawn at random each month. Our drawing for the December winner will be held on January 2, 2009, so hurry up and sign up for the Abt e-mail newsletter.   —by Graham W.

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What Do Abt Employees Want For Holiday Gifts?

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

When you work in a store like Abt, you get to see all the latest electronics and appliances right when they’re launched. This makes it great for those of us who always want to have the newest gadgets as soon as they hit the marketplace. It’s even better if someone else buys these things for you, so we’ve asked some Abt employees what they’d like to receive as gifts this holiday season. We hope their wish lists help all of you last-minute types who still haven’t finished your holiday shopping. 

A female in the art department, who prefers to remain anonymous (any guesses, other Abt employees?), would love to receive the Cuisinart TOB-175 Chrome Convection Toaster Oven Broiler and the Sony PRS505 Portable Reader System in Dark Blue. “I love toasting things!” says Anonymous. “This toaster oven would be great for my grilled cheese sandwiches. With the Sony reader, you get Jane Austen on the go. You can carry around lots of stories without all the books.”

Cuisinart Chrome Convection Toaster Oven Broiler

A non-anonymous female in the marketing department would love to receive the Cuisinart Red EasyPop Popcorn Maker. “I eat a lot of popcorn, especially for lunch almost every day, so this would be a perfect gift for me,” says Jennifer Arocena. “I like to keep it simple, but my dogs like cheese popcorn so this would be perfect for all of us when we watch a movie near the fireplace – especially in this weather!”

Web merchandiser Evan Bowden says, “I’d love to get the 32GB iPod Touch because of its large capacity and fun touchscreen maneuverability. I would be able to use it as a mobile photo album, MP3 player, and portable TV screen.” Another web merchandiser, Bill Therapos, wants the Logitech Cordless Desktop MX 5500 Revolution Keyboard and Mouse Combination. “It would be great to not have to worry about those annoying wired keyboard and mouse connections,” says Bill. 

“A product I would love to receive for Christmas is the Avanti 5 Liter Mini Beer Keg,” says Jayson Odjimer, also a web merchandiser (I’m detecting a pattern here). “What would be better than watching the NFL Playoffs and having an ice cold mug of your favorite beer straight from the tap? I guess the only thing that would be better than that is for my team to be actually in the playoffs. I’m not going to name what “professional” NFL team that is, but all I can tell you is that they are one game away from the unsought record of being the first team in NFL history to go 0-16 in a season. With that said, the feeling of envy while watching the other teams in their journey to get to the big game will be greatly reduced once I get a glass of brew in my system.”

Avanti 5 Liter Mini Beer Keg

Still not sure what to buy for everyone on your holiday list? Just click here for even more great gift ideas. —by Graham W.

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Abt Outreach Program Brings Holiday Cheer

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

For the seventh straight year, the Abt Outreach program brought a little more joy into the holiday season for several children from less-advantaged backgrounds. Abt employees worked hard to raise several thousand dollars—an amount matched by the Abt family—and the funds were used to purchase items such as clothing, shoes, and toys for students from four Chicago elementary schools. Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White selected the schools, and the individual students were then invited based on need.

Abt’s Shirley Hood conducts the dance-off.

On Friday morning, about 25 Abt employees, under the no-nonsense leadership of Shirley Hood, Cari Boyk, and Karen “KC” Carr (wait, they just told me some nonsense was allowed), loaded a large truck with gift-wrapped presents and headed off to the event at the Seward Park recreation building in Chicago.

Maral Abrahamian added some holiday cheer to the smiling faces.

The 72 children, who attended with their parents, were first greeted with holiday stockings full of treats, and then took part in activities such as musical chairs, a dance-off, and face painting. “It was great to see all the kids having fun with all the different games we played,” said KC. These activities were followed by pizza for lunch, with cookies, brownies, cupcakes, and other treats for dessert.  

Jennifer Guzman watches as the kids open their presents.

The kids were then led into a room filled with presents labeled with their names and purchased based on holiday letters they had written to Santa. “When the kids saw their gifts, their eyes lit up like Christmas trees,” said Cari.

Martha Harpling (right): “Their smiling faces were the best gift of all.”

As you can see from the photos, the kids had a great time, as did all of the Abt elves.     —by Graham W.

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Last-Minute Shopping? Get 50% Off Shipping

Friday, December 19th, 2008

Sometimes you can’t help rushing out at the last minute to buy holiday gifts. With some people, this happens every year, not just sometimes. After all, people are creatures of habit. Either way, we’re here to help.

For all of you last-minute shoppers, Abt is offering 50% off next-day air shipping, starting today at 3 p.m. and ending Monday, December 22 at 11:59 p.m. To see all of our holiday shipping guidelines, click here. To see some great holiday gift ideas for everyone on your list, click here.   —by Graham W.

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Santa Claus Is Coming To Abt

Friday, December 19th, 2008

As you’ve probably heard, Santa really knows how to get around to a lot of places at this time of year, and this weekend he’s visiting Abt from noon until 4 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. He’ll pose for pictures, hand out candy canes, and just be his regular jolly old self as he finds out what you want for Christmas and who’s been naughty or nice. In addition, there will be face-painters who will apply seasonal decorations such as Christmas trees, candy canes, and ornaments on any smiling face that asks.

Also, on Saturday from 9-11:30 a.m., there will be a special “Breakfast With Santa” held at Jolane’s Café, located just a block south of our main building in the Abt Design Center. Breakfast for kids will cost $6 and includes their choice of pancakes, French toast, or scrambled eggs, a choice of toast or a chocolate croissant, a choice of bacon or sausage, and a choice of milk or hot chocolate. The adult menu ($8) includes a choice of pancakes, French toast, or mascarpone crepes, a choice of yogurt parfait, bacon, or sausage, and a choice of coffee or tea. 

If you attend the breakfast, you might want to do Santa a favor and tell him to cut down a bit on the chocolate croissants. The reindeer have been complaining.    —by Graham W.

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Kef Speakers Now Available Online At Abt

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

Getting a new HDTV is great way to improve the image quality of the TV shows and movies you watch, but what about the sound? Have you considered that? I’m waiting…….Okay, you probably have, but now you have a chance to pick up some excellent new speakers that have just become available online at Abt. Our audio buyer/ guru Jim Kozicki knows a lot about them, and here’s a little bit of what he has to say: 

“Abt Electronics is proud to now offer Kef products on our website,” says Jim. “Kef has been Britain’s top speaker manufacturer for decades and currently has some of the best reviewed products in the industry. From $199 satellites to the $20,000 Reference Series, Kef has speakers that will perform great and match any budget. Abt is now your online Kef connection.” 

KEF Reference Series High Gloss Cherry Floorstanding Loudspeakers 

You can also visit our showroom if you’d like to hear these amazing speakers in person (click here for store hours and directions). To view the entire selection of speakers available at Abt, click here.    —by Graham W.

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A Kickoff That Paid Off With a TD and a TV

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

Chicago Bears defensive back/ kick returner Danieal Manning might have become Abt customer Cindy Vorac-Jones’s best friend last week without even knowing it. When Manning took the opening kickoff of the Bears game against the New Orleans Saints and returned it 83-yards for a touchdown, Cindy became the lucky winner of a 52” Sharp AQUOS LCD 1080p HDTV.

For the past few years, Abt has been holding a weekly drawing during the NFL season in conjunction with Sharp Electronics, WGN Radio, and the Chicago Bears. This season’s weekly winners receive a 19” Sharp LCD TV and also have a chance to win the Kickoff Return Grand Prize—which is just what Cindy did, with a little help from Mr. Manning. When the Bears score a touchdown during the opening kickoff return in either the first or second half of their game, the weekly winner receives the Grand Prize. 

This is the first time someone has won the Grand Prize since the Bears’ 2006 Super Bowl season. No purchase is necessary if you’d like to enter the contest, and all you have to do is visit our store to fill out an entry form. Click here for more contest details.  —by Graham W.

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Relax With Our New Massage Chairs Buying Guide

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

The holidays can bring on a lot of stress, so what better way to relieve it than by sitting back and reading about the kind of chair you should be sitting in? Our new Massage Chairs Buying Guide tells you everything you need to know before going out and purchasing one of these technological marvels, which can take the place of a masseuse or regular spa trips or living somewhere that doesn’t have any stress (Neptune perhaps?).

As you read our guide, you’ll feel the relaxation washing over you as you learn about acupoint detection systems, compression massage technique, percussion massage technique, ergonomic contours, the difference between Hawaiian and Swedish massage techniques, and other features you might like to have in your very own massage chair.

Once you’ve finished reading the Massage Chairs Buying Guide, you’ll probably be completely invigorated, and you can use some of that newfound energy to click here and check out the great selection of massage chairs available at Abt.   by Graham W. 

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