EISA awards – it's that time again

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There’s nothing the consumer electronics industry likes more than an awards bash. Donning the penguin suit for the evening, blowing the company’s marketing spend for the year on champagne and, with a bit of luck, managing to stagger home in tact accompanied by a cheesy statuette and a certificate or two.
And quite possibly the most prestigious awards, certainly as far as much of Europe is concerned, are the EISAs which were announced at the end of last week.

Click below for our verdicts on both the awards and this year’s winners.

These pan-European annual awards bring together magazine editors from across the continent who get together to choose the year’s best TVs, cameras, video and home cinema products and much else.
The awards actually mean diddly squat in the UK, where marketing types would prefer to swap a kidney for a What Hi-Fi or a Home Cinema Choice award than an EISA. In fact the UK is only represented in the audio awards panel. In the rest of Europe however, they are highly coveted. Whack an EISA badge on a product, channel your marketing budget into promoting it and watch it fly out of the stores.

In the past some critics have accused the EISA judges of making some, how shall we put this, interesting choices. Certainly Japanese companies have expressed privately that in previous years EISAs judges have tended to give the benefit of the doubt to European giants like Philips and Thomson. Going back through the year’s previous winners – handily listed at www.eisa-awards.org/home.htm – this seems little harsh.
So what of this year? Well you can find the complete list of winners on www.eisa-awards.org/awards/2003-2004/index.htm . In the meantime here’s the Tech Digest verdict on selected winners.

Digital Camera – Canon EOS 10D – No quibbles here. It’s arguably the best consumer model on sale.

Digital Compact Camera – Sony DSC-V1 – Great five-mega pixel camera, but surely the Canon Powershot G5 has the edge in terms of features and performance. With Canon scooping best Digital Camera and Best Pro Digital Camera, maybe the judges felt they couldn’t give Canon all three awards.

Digital Mini Camera – Casio Exilim EX-Z3 – Like it! If the criterion is in terms of size/performance ratio the three-mega pixel Elixim is a clear winner. Wouldn’t have minded seeing something a little more controversial though like the SiPix StyleCam Ultra (two mega pixel snapper for under £100) or the Pentax Optio S.

Camcorder – Panasonic NVGS70 – A pretty fair choiuce although not sure that the judges have got to play with JVC’s high-def GR-HD1yet, but that surely would have taken the prize. The same company’s GR-DV4000 probably pushed the Panny to the limit.

DVD Recorder – Sony RDR-GX7 – Bet Philips were pleased with this choice! Sure, unlike the opposition it can record on to both DVD+RW and DVD-RW discs. But, 1 does anyone care about DVD-RW any more? 2 Isn’t everyone using record once discs now anyway. 3 Isn’t the GX7 a bit pricey? The judges should have gone for the budget options; either the Philips DVDR70 (or 75) or Panasonic’s DMRE50 would have fitted the bill.

Hard Disk Recorder – JVC HM-HDS4 – This S-VHS/hard disk recorder is a cracking product and fantastic for camcorders owners. As for best Hard Disk Recorder? Well the Sky Plus box would be a dead cert were it not only available in the UK. We’d have plumped for the Panasonic DMRHS2 hard disk/DVD recorder combi – which, in our opinion is the template for tomorrow’s video recorders.

LCD TV – Philips 30PF9975 -30incher that sports Philips superb picture processing technology Pixel Plus. Not really a great deal of opposition for it in that sector of the market.

Plasma TV – Philips 42PF9965 – Philips wins again probably thanks to adding Pixel Plus to this set. Bet Hitachi’s 42PMA400 ran it close though.

Television – Panasonic TX-36PD30 – This is a great set but 1 Why bother giving the award to a 36inch model? If you want a set that big (and have the cash to pay for it) you’ll probably go for Plasma. 2 Isn’t Philips 36PW9607 a better 36incher? I suppose it would look a bit odd giving Philips three TV awards though.

Audio Player – Denon DVD2900 – The 2800 was fantastic – this is even better. A worthy winner. Pioneer’s massively specified DV-656A probably came in second.

Internet Audio – Apple iPod – Well what else could they choose!?

DVD Player – Samsung DVD HD935 – Certainly won’t have impressed the UK judges, but apparently it is big in the rest of Europe. Personally we’d have taken the budget option and gone for the Toshiba DVD SD330 – a real steal at around £150.

Video Projector – Infocus Screnplay 5700 – Mmmm. Surely it has to be the Sharp XV-Z90 – the best budget DLP projector on sale.

Others – Congrats to Brit speaker company KEF for taking the Home Theater loudspeaker award with its superb KHT1005 system. Also flying the Union Jack was Mission whose Volare V63 took best speaker.

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