TV and furniture in one – what do you think of Ikea’s ideas?

by , Conversation Editor Technology 20 April 2012
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Ikea is releasing a… smart TV. The Swedish furniture company has stretched its wings from flat-pack bookcases to the world of electronics. The ‘Uppleva’ combines a smart TV with Ikea-style furniture.

Ikea's Uppleva

Ikea’s all-in-one TV combines a 1080p HD LED flat screen TV, built-in Blu-ray, DVD and CD players, plus a 2.1 sound system with wireless sub woofer.

There’s no release date for the UK yet, but it’s scheduled for a June launch in other parts of Europe.

Patrick Steen’s keen on Ikea’s all-in-one TV

Is there anyone who doesn’t own a piece of Ikea furniture? A cheeky chair or chest of drawers? Swedish design has been having a full on flirt with Britain’s homes over the past few years. In fact, Ikea is apparently the UK’s favourite retailer after capturing our hearts with its flat-packed parts. Now Brits can continue the love affair by adding an Ikea TV to their pad.

I’m up for it. TV manufacturers have become set in their ways. Lounging around and coming up with nothing other than ever skinnier rectangular black tellies – the only real innovation they’ve added to their bow is 3D. Like we’re interested?

What we need is a new player to challenge these struggling manufacturers (Sony’s TV business has been losing money for the past eight years). Enter Ikea. Its answer is a return to the 1950s aesthetic of ‘television set as furniture’, but what’s wrong with that?

The Uppleva (‘experience’ in Swedish) looks functional and stylish, and would immediately become the central hub for your home’s entertainment. All that’s missing is a built-in games console and then I’d be as happy as Larry.

I don’t think I’d be up to building the telly myself, so fingers crossed it doesn’t come flat-packed like the rest of Ikea’s range (just imagine the assembly instructions!). There’s also the obvious question of whether the TV itself is any good, but we’ll leave that up to the Which? test labs.

Ikea’s innovation tackles my biggest bugbear; all of the cable mess that clutter up your chic living room. Now you can just slide your HDMIs into Uppleva’s sleek body.

And how it looks is up to you – like a giant Lego set, the arrangement and colour of all its components are up to you, so you can make it fit your aesthetic, rather than allowing your TV to dominate your home and, ultimately, your life. I’m a believer in Uppleva – are you?

Nikki Whiteman’s not up for the Uppleva

I’ve bought my fair share of furniture and one or two TVs in my time, yet curiously I’ve never once said to myself, ‘wouldn’t it be great if these two things were seamlessly integrated?’

Why? Well, because a TV does something completely different to my furniture. When I’m choosing a telly I care about specs – size, resolution. But when I’m choosing furniture I want something beautiful, that’s built to last and, most importantly, that will fit in my lounge.

By integrating a TV with what looks like a 70s version of a TV cabinet, Ikea is telling me that the only thing that matters is functionality.

Yes, it’s nice to have everything together so there aren’t trailing wires everywhere, but I think having a few wires cluttering things up is a small price to pay for having the freedom to choose my furniture by other criteria than just what colour MDF it’s built from.

Ikea’s also asking me to design my living room based on its furniture specs. If I buy the Uppleva but I also want a bookcase, a side table and extra cabinets, I’ll probably need to stick to Ikea’s own products if I want it to match.

Some might point to Uppleva’s five year guarantee, which is a great thing for a telly. But it’s not that great for a piece of furniture. Call me ‘Little Miss Tightwad’ but I don’t expect to have to replace items of furniture every five years. I buy my cabinets, bookcases and tables to last.

There are some products that I think would do genuinely well together (come to my Dragon’s Den with a hovercraft and skateboard mashup and you’ll have my undivided attention). But combining furniture (beautiful, long-lasting, homely) with a television (practical, functional, short-lived) seems like a complete misunderstanding of what either product is actually for.

What do you think of Ikea's all-in-one TV and furniture solution ('Uppleva')?

I agree with Nikki - it's a terrible idea (62%, 142 Votes)

I agree with Patrick - it's a great idea (38%, 87 Votes)

Total Voters: 229

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25 comments

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Phil

A case of back to the future, here is the 1950′s equivalent:-

http://okhistory.org/community/fic/files/2009/08/tv2.jpg

and it wasn’t a new idea even then.

It failed most probably because either the technology failed before the furniture or vice-versa. I think Nikki has a point, people regard buying furniture and home entertainment as separate activities. Both seem to have become disposable fashion items but by investing in an all in one “solution” (yuch) such as this you’re relying on both becoming out of date at about the same time.

On a personal note I think it looks awful but then I despise Ikea with a vengeance and won’t have it in the house.

Well Phil, I think I’ll let the video do the talking then:

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Phil

Are Ikea paying you to screen their ad? Should Which? be doing this at all?

Of course not Phil. This is why we’ve written a for and against Conversation where Which? itself has not given a conclusive opinion. The video is for your information only so you can see what the product’s about and make your own mind up. Not until Which? has taken Uppleva in for full testing will we be able to give a Which? verdict. This is just a bit of fun.

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wavechange

I reckon that what looks clever now could be very inflexible in future. Not so long ago, most TVs were large boxes with relatively small screens and half-decent speakers. Now TVs are thin, some have enormous screens and you now need to have some form of external audio equipment to get reasonable sound quality.

The Uppleva might be useful for landlords renting furnished flats, where furniture is often not looked after properly, short-lived, and there is no point in spending much money.

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M.

Perfect for landlords, especially with that 5 yr guarantee.
Great for your teenagers bedrooms, although with the computer and catch up TV, they would probably use it just as a monitor.
But for the main TV in the house I doubt it, but Ikea have surprised us before with tat that has become iconic, so they just might do it again.
it might just be worth buying one of the first ones, storing it for the grandchildren, who can than sell it as a highley collectable item.

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William

I’d be more worried about whether there’s sufficient ventilation and what make the techie bits are. If they only use Which Best buys then fine, but cheap rubbish, then not so. And how many plugs will it take, I for one need to unplug to Sky box several times over the year to reset it, will that be easy without having to switch everything off?

Even the thought of buying a TV built in to a unit makes me feel nervous. My dad always told me to avoid buying technology that had more than one complicated component to it (eg TVs with built in DVD players) as it simply means there are more parts to go wrong.

That might sound a bit pessimistic but I’m inclined to agree with Dad on this one. Upgrading your TV would be basically impossible and, as Nikki points out, I generally expect my furniture to last me for more than 5 years. I’m definitely not convinced!

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Matt M

I think it’s quite a clean, elegant way to have an entertainment set up. The hardcore entertainment setup junkies would probably not even think of buying this but the regular consumer may find this convenient.
I disagree that this design is totally function over form. I mean it looks like a pretty clean and neat setup. I sometimes hate how a television takes over of the room. This makes it part of the room instead.
Some of Nikki’s points I disagree with. She states that in order to have her living room to match the tv setup, she’d have to buy it all from Ikea. Yes Ikea design whole rooms and furniture that matches, but the consumer doesn’t necessarily purchase this way. They pick and choose what they feel looks best for their own setup. I’ve always felt Ikea products are simple and plain enough to bring out your own style and not take over it, but thats just me I guess.
Also remember where this product is coming from. If idea of furniture is that it should be ‘something beautiful and built to last’, you probably wouldn’t be going to Ikea anyway. Only Ikea could pull off something like this too. People have custom entertainment setups made all the time, this is just an easier way to have one.

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Gary O

The number of TV cabinets (big furniture) I had to convert in the early 60′s and again in the 80′s for customers when they got a new style TV as they could not find a TV cabinet that was to the style of the rest of the room and did not want to get rid of the matching “chunk of firewood” that the old TV had become.
Jennifer Davis has given the best of all reasons A combined multi-function device might cost less at the start but if anything fails you can loose the lot until it’s fixed or replaced and TV’s can be the most problematic of all electronic home devices.
I note that the Audio is only 2.1 not 7.1 or even 5.1 and no Sat or Cable tuners either so more cables and the rest. That is if you can plug then in !

Just in case you’re wondering – prices for Uppleva are rumoured to be starting at around 6,500 Swedish Krona in the Swedish Ikea stores, equating to about £600. Not bad for all the kit included BUT exactly how good this kit is remains to be seen…

Also, I’m with Nikki on this one.

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Phil

Although of course that might be nothing like the actual price charged when they do go on sale in the UK.

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M.

Landlords thinking hat on now.
£600 outlay per unit [hopefully], up goes the rent by £10 per month, thats £600 over 5 years.
So if the thing lasts for 5 years, Its been paid for by the tenant, if it breaks down in under 5 years it’s replaced under guarantee.
If it goes on sale @ £1200, then up goes the rent by £20 per month.
It looks good, enhances the room and pays for itself !!!!!
I see a big market in the rental sector for these.

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Doug

For their target market (someone who would choose an Ikea unit to put their TV on, and there are a few of them) I think this a great idea. Not everyone can afford afford the luxury of expensive solid wood furniture, (which generally doesn’t come with much warranty).. Ikeas furniture generally comes with an industry leading 10 year warranty, so I expect the 5 year warranty only applies to the electrical elements (again, that’s a good warranty!).
Of course you can expect the furniture to last more than 5 years. I would hope to keep a TV for longer than that too, but I may be in the minority there.
I expect that the system is in fact MODULAR like many things from Ikea, so you will be able to choose options, add to the system, or replace electrical elements if you are seceptable to passing fads.
It remains to be seen how well the TV performs against objective measures, but as a design professional I expect the system as a whole to be a slickly designed product that will work well and simplify its surroundings – more than can be said for the majority of products at any price point.

Ikea produce appropriate design and great value; most of the negativity about them is pure snobbishness, or from people who lack the creativity to get the most out of their products.

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Lazza

The idea of tidy cables is very appealling, however there is the problem of how you upgrade or arrange repairs for individual components.
I think the way ahead is developement of wireless connectivity that might allow us to put things where we want and not worry about cable routes or aesthetics.
This product will appeal to people who are not obsessed with keeping up with the latest technology.
Good luck with this one IKEA.

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Janet

I think it might be an age related thing.
My daughter would love it! Her children wouldn’t fiddle with the leads and its a case of “Telly goes over there – not expensive – job done!”.
Me, well, I like my solid oak and very long lasting furniture that doesn’t get moved, or used as a drawing table, or a handy place for sticky snacks and a wobbly glass of milk!
Horses for courses I reckon.

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Nick

I think in principle it is a good idea. I have been looking and looking for a TV until for our room and have not found something suitable yet. I am also in the market for a new TV. I can’t say I am in love with the looks of this one but I do think the response from TV manufacturers may be interesting, and if there is a move towards this type of setup, with the potential to add and upgrade the TV or music system, then they may get my interest. Let’s face it most TV stands/ units etc are pretty uninspiring, and to find something slightly out of the ordinary is very difficult and eventually you end up looking at bespoke and the increased price. Until something great comes along, the TV will sit on the old coffee table. Sadly Uppleva is not the one for me. Moving in my direction though. I think!
PS is anyone knows any extra long L shaped contemporary tv units feel free to let me know. And not made of MDF please.
Nick

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tpoots

Now I am one for simplicity and I do like the idea of an all-in-one TV/furniture piece. My only worry is the type of TV being included – I’d feel more comfortable if it was a well known, branded TV, rather than a relatively new the UK marketplace electronic from China.

Oh well, we’ll see what the Which? test lab makes of it soon I’m sure!

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Sophie Gilbert

I’m not for or against, I can see the possibilities. Not for me right now, but maybe for me in future.

You can hear me defending my Ikea TV views on this week’s Which? Tech podcast: http://www.which.co.uk/podcasts/technology/

Looks like I’ve lost the battle though!

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kermit

This reminds me of other examples of a solution in search of a problem. Remember the Internet screen built in to the front of a microwave or fridge?

We should all try to come up with combinations of items that have no logical reason to be together.

How about an espresso machine with a built-in electric toothbrush charger?

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Max

I think it is a well designed piece of kit making full use of Wireless Technology. I have had my eye on the market for a “smart” TV but the cables and additional ‘sound bars’ that you have to allow for has put me off changing my functional but not quite up to date telly.

I currently have an LCD TV integrated DVD player with an old PC linked in to the back of the monitor and an Ethernet cable running back to the internet hub – so cables are a real big issue for me. I haven’t seen anything on the market that would replace my albeit Heath Robinson style technology, with a slicker option.

Well done IKEA – I must say I’m impressed!

Of course, this isn’t a new concept…

Arkay Fantasia

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tpoots

If they re-released that with a flatscreen built in, it’d probably take off all over again!

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John Smith

by the way, IKEA’s “10-year” warranty isn’t worth a damn thing. we bought a super-kingsize bed which after a few years started to develop a gap in the middle. turns out it is actually two ordinary bed units side by side in a big bag. After much phone calls and chasing a guy did come out and take lots of pictures. eventually we got a phone call and was told this was fair wear and tear.

So, now you know – something IKEA bills as lasting for 10 years will only last for 3 and they will call it fair wear and tear.

I don’t think this problem is unique to ikea though, once they’ve got your money, nobody on the planet wants to know about your issues.

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