Consumer electronics or home electronics are electronic (analog or digital) equipment intended for everyday use, typically in private homes. Consumer electronics include devices used for entertainment (flatscreen TVs, DVD players, video games, remote control cars, etc.), communications (telephones, cell phones, e-mail-capable laptops, etc.), and home-office activities (e.g., desktop computers, printers, paper shredders, etc.). In British English, they are often called brown goods by producers and sellers, to distinguish them from 'white goods' which are meant for housekeeping tasks, such as washing machines and refrigerators, although nowadays, these would be considered brown goods, some of these being connected to the Internet.[n 1] In the 2010s, this distinction is not always present in large big box consumer electronics stores, which sell both entertainment, communication, and home office devices and kitchen appliances such as refrigerators.
Radio broadcasting in the early 20th century brought the first major consumer product, the broadcast receiver. Later products included telephones, televisions and calculators, then audio and video recorders and players, game consoles, personal computers and MP3 players. In the 2010s, consumer electronics stores often sell GPS, automotive electronics (car stereos), video game consoles, electronic musical instruments (e.g., synthesizer keyboards), karaoke machines, digital cameras, and video players (VCRs in the 1980s and 1990s, followed by DVD players and Blu-ray players). Stores also sell smart appliances, digital cameras, camcorders, cell phones, and smartphones. Some of the newer products sold include virtual reality head-mounted display goggles, smart home devices that connect home devices to the Internet and wearable technology.
In the 2010s, most consumer electronics 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. Some consumer electronics stores, have also begun selling office and baby furniture. Consumer electronics stores may be 'brick and mortar' physical retail stores, online stores, or combinations of both.
Annual consumer electronics sales are expected to reach $2.9 trillion by 2020. It is part of the wider electronics industry. In turn, the driving force behind the electronics industry is the semiconductor industry. The basic building block of modern electronics is the MOSFET (metal-oxide-silicon field-effect transistor, or MOS transistor), the scaling and miniaturization of which has been the primary factor behind the rapid exponential growth of electronic technology since the 1960s.
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