Home entertainment: How VCRs blazed a trail for continuing tech progress

In honour of National VCR Day, we celebrate this cutting-edge technology of old and look at home entertainment tech that will further transform the home of the future

Home entertainment tech may have come a long way since the heyday of the videocassette recorder (VCR) in the 1980s and 90s, but in its time the VCR was a piece of truly innovative technology that revolutionised home entertainment. Not only that, it ushered in a new era that allowed consumers to make their own home entertainment choices.

The VCR, an electronic device that could record and play back video and audio content stored on cassette tapes, was a ground-breaking invention at the time that transformed the way people consumed entertainment. Instead of being conditioned by television programming, viewers suddenly had more choices about how they could be entertained at home.

With a VCR, consumers had the possibility to record their favourite television shows and movies and watch them whenever they wanted, or rent the videos they selected and view them at their convenience. This greater level of flexibility ushered in a new era of home entertainment and the on-demand culture that then became the norm.

Home entertainment:  VCRs blazed a trail
VCRs blazed a tech trail | Credit: Unsplash

Continuing evolution

While VCRs have long been forgotten by most, but not all, hence the National VCR Day that celebrates them every year, home entertainment technology has not stopped evolving as consumers continue to seek greater personalisation, speed and convenience, as well as richer quality entertainment experiences.

According to the market research firm GfK, the search for convenience has powered the growth in popularity of smart and voice-activated devices with sales already demonstrating an increase of over 61% in 2020.

As a result, a number of home entertainment companies have partnered with leading smart home platforms to build virtual assistants directly into their devices and other brands are integrating their own voice recognition tech.

Consumers’ desire for better quality entertainment has led to the prominence of smart TVs and large screen TVs with better image quality, as well as an increase in demand for soundbars and smart speakers.

The global Large Screen TVs market is expected to grow at a CAGR of around 5% during the period of 2019-2024, says MarkWide Research. While OLED TVs have experienced exponential annual value growth and sales of soundbars with superior surround sound functionalities have doubled, according to GfK.

Moreover, projector technology has advanced, bringing cinematic picture quality and flexibility to consumers’ living rooms at more affordable prices and virtual reality tech has also become more and more widespread. No longer limited to gaming, the virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) market is booming, with the industry forecast to more than double to over USD 12 billion by 2024.

What’s next?

While the pandemic accelerated consumer trust in technology as users became increasingly dependent on their devices during lockdowns, home tech users have also become progressively more aware and concerned about sustainability, which has emerged as a top priority as 35% of consumers cite environmental pollution as their most pressing concern, according to GfK.

Many predict that this concern will reinforce the desire to invest in smarter, higher-quality products that are compatible with users’ current setups or devices and cause home entertainment tech makers to move steadily towards enhanced compatibility and premium quality.

Ground-breaking home tech at IFA 2023

IFA presents the perfect opportunity for home entertainment companies to launch their latest breakthroughs and innovations. At last year’s event Bang & Olufsen’s announced its superior sound-delivering soundbar, Beosound Theatre, while Lenovo launched its smartphone-connectable AR glasses, Glasses T1.

Other examples from IFA 2022 include LG’s 97-inch G2 Evo OLED TV and its OLED Flex, the world’s first bendable OLED TV, and Sennheiser’s addition of a more affordable option to its soundbar range, the Ambeo Soundbar. What new advances are in store at IFA 2023? You will have to find out for yourself and attend this year’s event!

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