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Consumer electronics (abbreviated CE) are electronic equipment intended for everyday use, most often in entertainment, communications and office productivity. Radio broadcasting in the early 20th century brought the first major consumer product, the broadcast receiver. Later products include personal computers, telephones, MP3 players, audio equipment, televisions, calculators, GPS automotive electronics,digital sphygmomanometers, digital Glucose meters, digital cameras and players and recorders using video media such as DVDs, VCRs or camcorders. Increasingly these products have become based on digital technologies, and have largely merged with the computer industry in what is increasingly referred to as the consumerization of information technology such as those invented by Apple Inc. and MIT Media Lab. The largest electronics companies are mostly from Japan and to lesser extent South Korea and Taiwan. Some American companies do contract manufacturing done in East Asia.
One overriding characteristic of consumer electronic products is the trend of ever-falling prices. This is driven by gains in manufacturing efficiency and automation, lower labor costs as manufacturing has moved to lower-wage countries, and improvements in semiconductor design. Semiconductor components benefit from Moore's Law, an observed principle which states that, for a given price, semiconductor functionality doubles every two years.
While consumer electronics continues in its trend of convergence, combining elements of many products, consumers face different decisions when purchasing. There is an ever increasing need to keep product information updated and comparable, for the consumer to make an informed choice. Style, price, specification and performance are all relevant. There is a gradual shift towards e-commerce web-storefronts.
Many products include Internet connectivity using technologies such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or Ethernet. Products not traditionally associated with computer use (such as TVs or Hi-Fi equipment) now provide options to connect to the Internet or to a computer using a home network to provide access to digital content. The desire for High definition (HD) content has led the industry to develop a number of technologies, such as WirelessHD or ITU-T G.hn, which are optimized for distribution of HD content between CE devices in a home.
Standby power used by consumer electronics and appliance while they are turned off accounts for 5 to 10% of household energy consumption, adding an estimated $3 billion to annual energy costs in the USA. "In the average home, 75% of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off."
- Mike Deng (23 October 2012). "China Moves to Automate Electronics Manufacturing". Quality Digest. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
- EERE Energy Savers: Home Office and Home Electronics
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