| William N. Hulsey

Consumer electronics or home electronics are electronic or digital equipment intended for everyday use, typically in private homes. Consumer electronics include devices used for entertainment (flatscreen TVs, DVD players, DVD movies, iPods, 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” such as washing machines and refrigerators. In the 2010s, this distinction is not always present in large big box consumer electronics stores, such as Best Buy, which sell both entertainment, communications, and home office devices and kitchen appliances such as refrigerators. Consumer electronics stores differ from professional audio stores in that the former sells consumer-grade electronics for private use, whereas the latter sells professional-grade electronics designed for use by audio engineers and audio technicians.

Small appliances are typically small household electrical machines, easily carried and installed. Some are classified with white goods, and relate to heating and cooling such as: fans and window mounted air conditioners, and heaters such as space heaters, ceramic heaters, gas heaters, kerosene heaters, and fan heaters. Yet another category is used in the kitchen, including: juicers, electric mixers, meat grinders, coffee grinders, deep fryers, herb grinders, food processors, electric kettles, waffle irons, coffee makers, blenders and dough blenders, rice cookers, toasters and exhaust hoods.

Entertainment and information appliances such as: home electronics, TV sets, CD, VCRs and DVD players, camcorders, still cameras, clocks, alarm clocks, video game consoles, HiFi and home cinema, telephones and answering machines are classified as “brown goods”. Some such appliances were traditionally finished with genuine or imitation wood. This has become rare but the name has stuck, even for goods that are unlikely ever to have had a wooden case (e.g. camcorders).