The What Hi-Fi awards, or What Hi-Fi Sound and Vision awards as we now have to call them, are always good fun with the industry’s finest flocking to Park Lane’s swanky Hilton hotel for an evening of entertainment and gossip.
This year’s event, presided over by new editor on the block Steve Fowler and comedian/writer Tony Hawks, was a slickly-enough run affair, even if the awards seemed to go on forever (there were over 20 awards, but it felt like nearly double that). Certainly some of the smaller names in the hi-fi business will have been given a much-needed shot in the arm by some of the decisions while many of the larger companies will have left feeling despondent and empty-handed.
However, there was a general feeling of bewilderment among some of the people we spoke to at some of the awards which were handed out – especially on the video front. Some felt that What Hi-Fi’s transition to a fully-fledged AV magazine is still not yet complete. Among them was Adrian Justins, editor of What Video and Widescreen TV, who told Tech Digest:
“What Hi-Fi does a fantastic job of promoting its brand and has an unmatched global penetration but does the reader get the best advice in all subjects covered by the mag? For example, recent test verdicts on plasma screens and DVD recorders show the magazine is unable to correctly judge the performance of these products. Even the winners of the awards in these categories admitted that their products are not worthy winners. Everyone in the industry knows what the good products are and I sense a lot of disquiet among manufacturers.”
What Hi-Fi Sound and Vision’s editor, Steve Fowler sees things a very different way.
“We were delighted by the response to this years Awards and, for once, the audience seemed to be pretty united on the winners. However, I’m disappointed that Tech Digest has published what is clearly just knocking comment from the editor of a publication in the same market. It is perhaps hardly surprising that the editor of a magazine with a monthly circulation of under 25,000 should make sweeping statements about the quality of our product reviews without putting forward one shred of evidence to substantiate them. Clearly the 75,000 buyers of What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision each month do not share his views.”
And the winners are…