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The WA Factor

WAF is a psychological warfare and its success is unmatched in consumer electronics' history, writes Rajiv Makhni.

india Updated: Nov 03, 2006 15:52 IST

It may be the world's best-kept secret and it may also be the world's most well executed marketing manoeuvre. For years, companies have known of it and utilised it well, but only very recently has it become a force to reckon with. From audio systems to computers, home theatres to flat panels and DVD players to digital cameras - each of these have some form of this new technology built right in. This is the 'WA Factor' and it is a feature and phenomenon that is sweeping across the world.

The definition

The WAF is not a tangible feature or a specification - this is pure psychological warfare and its success is now unparalleled in the history of consumer electronics. It works in mysterious ways, it influences our decisions, it makes us buy things we can ill afford, it turns every objection into a resounding yes, it has made millions of buyers happy and has made companies sing all the way to the bank. This is the Wife Acceptance Factor.

The battle

We all want our 10-foot tall over- sized speakers, our booming rib- thumping sub woofers, our surround sound, our giant projectors, our amplifiers that weigh a tonne and we specially want all this sound to be avail- able to us all over the house. Cables and wires be damned, we just want it and we want it now. Unfortunately, the wife/girlfriend/mother/sister have ideas that strangely differ from all this tech heaven that we want to create. They want it small, neat, clean, pretty, no clutter, no wires - as simple and as minimal as possible. They don't want a computer to look like one, they want the speakers invisible, they want all the receivers and amplifiers to be un- detectable and the sign of a monster cable sends them off into a flying tizzy. Till now there was no meeting ground and thus most of the times we lost out not only on the equipment but also on other fringe benefits associated with the relationship. Enter the WA Factor.

The predicament

Companies have woken up to the fact that while the seemingly predominant buyer may be the Man, he holds no chance of taking a buying decision if the Woman involved does not concur. Thus super thin Flat Panel TV displays that are embedded into a wall will sell fast while the big box HD projectors will not; speakers that look like a picture frame are acceptable but those beautiful giant towers are not and even that pitiful looking zero feature slim phone can be bought, but a fully featured solid Smartphone is relegated to the 'don't buy' zone. Moving in line with these WAF-approved products meant getting a crippled version of the gadget you wanted to buy.

The solution

The good thing is that technology finally caught up with the WAF. Imagine a single bar speaker that uses all kinds of sound processing and noise cancellation and gives a true 5.1 channel surround sound experience. These are already available from Yamaha and Polk Audio and just that one sleek bar form factor and without a single cable in sight gives you all the surround sound imagery you want. There are speaker companies today that specialise in open baffle, super thin, wall embed, unobtrusive, invisible speakers. The good thing - they still sound good. Companies like Sonos have come up with systems that can give you un- compromised wireless music in every room of your house with no set up, no cables and absolutely no mess up. The supremely clean cut and very sleek look of this equipment is an added WAF bonus.

Next week I am going to give you my top list of zero compromise WAF products with reviews. If you have a particular category that you have WAF problem with - email me and together lets blow this WA factor out of the water forever.

(Do you think WAF-enabled devices are a compromise? Email me

First Published: Nov 03, 2006 15:52 IST