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Podcast #755: IFA 2016

Each year in Germany consumer electronics manufacturers come together to display their wares at IFA. The IFA or Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin (International radio exhibition Berlin, aka 'Berlin Radio Show') is one of the oldest industrial exhibitions in Germany. Kind of like a mini-CES, manufacturers announce new products and services. We haven’t covered the show for a few years, but this year we thought it would be pertinent to run down some of the announcements as they pertain (mostly) to Home Theater.

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IFA 2016

Each year in Germany consumer electronics manufacturers come together to display their wares at IFA. The IFA or Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin (International radio exhibition Berlin, aka 'Berlin Radio Show') is one of the oldest industrial exhibitions in Germany. Kind of like a mini-CES, manufacturers announce new products and services. We haven’t covered the show for a few years, but this year we thought it would be pertinent to run down some of the announcements as they pertain (mostly) to Home Theater.


Worldwide revenues from consumer electronics are projected to drop 5 percent this year to $906.55 billion, according to market research firm GfK and reported by Hans-Joachim Kamp, chairman of gfu Consumer & Home Electronics, during the inaugural IFA 2016 keynote presentation.

However, many product segments will show significant growth this year. According to Kamp and GfK, global sales of UHD TVs will hockey stick 75 percent this year to 54 million units UHD sets, while OLED set sales will spike an even more vertical 120 percent to 600,000 units. Even unit sales of smart TVs in general are expected to rise a modest 1 percent to 96 million units.

Other growing products markets include wearables, forecast to rise 58 percent to 122 million units; Bluetooth speakers, projected to grow 23 percent to 41 million units; and, worldwide sales of smartphones, still the 800-pound gorilla of consumer technology, will expand by 5 percent to 1.4 billion units.

While revenue from gadgets are expected to be down this year, the IFA show in general will celebrate its 10th straight year of growth. According to Dr. Christian Göke, CEO of the Messe Berlin fairgrounds and convention space, the number of exhibitors will rise to 1,800, a 5 percent rise, occupying 158,000 square meters, also a 5 percent rise. Whether or not the show attracts more than last year's 40,000 visitors – both trade and consumer – remains to be seen.

Source: IFA 2016: Global CE Revenues Projected To Fall 5% in 2016


Samsung reinforced its commitment to Quantum dot display technology at IFA 2016.

Samsung revealed a new Quantum dot TV, the 88-inch KS9800, offering the ultimate in picture quality, brilliance and, as with all of Samsung’s SUHD TVs, a display capable of producing up to one billion colors. Samsung now offers the largest range of SUHD TVs in Europe, with 19 available sizes from 43” up to 88”, capitalizing on the limitless flexibility of Quantum dot in terms of screen size and definition.

Samsung also announced the world’s first curved Quantum dot PC Monitors – the new CF791, with a 34” Ultra Wide QHD screen and the stunning new CFG70, the first curved monitor with a one millisecond moving picture response time and 144 hertz refresh rate for smooth, flawless gaming. As the first curved quantum dot gaming monitors, Samsung’s CFG70 and CF791 express brilliant colors across a 125-percent sRGB spectrum, while employing an environmentally-safe cadmium-free design. This luminance emphasizes a range of otherwise-hidden game details in both light and dark settings, offering unprecedented visual realism designed to capture the attention of even the most hardcore gamers.

Ever mindful that great television is about amazing content as well as outstanding picture quality, Samsung said it was strengthening its collaborative relationships with global partners, such as Amazon and Netflix. Netflix in particular is expanding its range of HDR content for European customers, with film titles such as Marco Polo, The Do-Over and The Ridiculous Six. European partners including RTVE and Insight TV will also begin to offer HDR content in the second half of 2016.

Samsung also showcased the capabilities of the Samsung Smart Remote, which allows users to easily navigate all of their connected devices with one single remote control. The Smart remote is designed to auto-detect any and all external devices connected to the TV, making it simple for consumers to switch between and use them – without having to hunt around for multiple remotes.

Lastly, Samsung underlined its position as the leader in European home audio and the number one soundbar manufacturer in the region. On display were products including Samsung’s Wireless Audio 360 line-up and HW-K950 Soundbar featuring Dolby Atmos® audio technology for cinematic, multi-dimensional sound. Combined with its SUHD TV, UHD Blu-ray Player, and HDR content ecosystem, Samsung believes this makes them the only company capable of providing the complete 4K home entertainment experience.

Source: Samsung Redefines the Consumer Experience at IFA 2016


The Sony ‘Signature Series’ goes one step further than any audio product they’ve made before. Comprised of the MDR-Z1R headphones, NW-WM1Z Walkman and TA-ZH1ES headphone amplifier, it’s a formidable trio of products, intended for those who have no budget and will only accept the very best sound quality. The Z1R headphones combine unbelievable sound quality and luxurious design for something truly special. Each part and component is made to the very highest quality – from the huge, crystal 70mm driver unit to the comfortable, ergonomic earpads – and High-Resolution Audio support guarantees a stunning music experience.

Then there’s the flagship WM1Z Walkmans, which has been re-imagined from the ground-up. It utilises all of Sony’s sound technologies including High-Resolution Audio for beautiful audio quality, and it maintains the stunningly simplistic design for which the Walkman range is renowned. With up to 256gb of storage there’s plenty of room for your High-Resolution Audio collection, and it has that elusive premium feel when you hold it in your hand. This just so happens to be a $3,200 Walkman that’s plated in gold.

This is a super-high-end revision of the already-high-end Walkman that Sony introduced for playing lossless audio files last year. It basically takes that and modifies the hardware to prevent subtle interference that could harm sound quality. To be clear, these are likely to be minor sound quality improvements that only serious audiophiles with equally high-end headphones will notice. But for that niche audience, this may be a solution.

The new Walkman has a copper body that’s been plated in gold, which is meant to reduce contact resistance and magnetic interference. Internally, the Walkman’s analog circuitry is supposed to be separated from its primarily digital circuitry to reduce noise even further. It also has a “dual clock circuit with low phase noise quartz oscillator,” which is an obscure part of the digital-to-analog conversion chain that's probably important to get right and difficult to measure the results of, but will theoretically lead to improvements in sound quality.

One of the biggest problems with wearing headphones is losing awareness of the sounds around you, especially if you’re using noise cancellation. Sony is trying to solve that problem with its latest pair of headphones, the elegantly named MDR-1000X. The headphones have several noise-cancellation modes, which give you the option to block out as much sound as possible, or to filter in voices or ambient noise. The intention is to let you listen to music in a quiet environment, but make sure you can still hear enough to be aware of your surroundings.

Source(s): Sony: New IFA products, Sony's new headphones cancel noise, but not people's voices, Sony made a $3,200 gold-plated Walkman


LG Electronics welcomed visitors to its IFA 2016 exhibition booth with an awe-inspiring and immersive OLED Tunnel measuring a record-breaking 5m tall, 7.4m wide and 15m in length. A total of 216 separate 55-inch curved OLED signage displays were assembled to create the unique structure comprising 447,897,600 – nearly half a billion – pixels to display a collection of breathtaking scenes including Iceland’s Aurora Borealis, underwater ecosystems and deep space footage.

A video titled “From Black to Black” was produced by LG to include footage that accentuate the lifelike colors and the ability to recreate the miniscule details of life which LG’s OLED technology delivers. The footage includes the black ocean with effervescent jellyfish and the gentle movement of whales, as well as scenes from deep black space and the brilliant northern lights on a black sky. LG captured footage of Iceland’s Northern Lights using 14 separate 8K cameras to record every detail and movement as accurately as possible.

Other video clips such as underwater scenes and shots taken from space will create a fully immersive environment for visitors, making them feel as if they are swimming in the ocean or floating in the Milky Way. At IFA, attendees will have the chance to see how closely the advanced technology of OLED can recreate the great outdoors inside an exhibition hall.

The impressive scale of the display tunnel is made possible by OLED’s ultra-thin, highly flexible lightweight panels. OLED displays can be custom bent to concave or convex formations without any picture quality distortion, allowing for spectacular digital installations such as immersive tunnel-like environments. Each OLED pixel can switch itself on and off, eliminating the need for backlighting. OLED TVs have the ability to render true black and infinite contrast ratio that delivers vibrant, eye-popping color and wide viewing angles.

Source: World's Largest OLED Tunnel Welcomes Visitors to IFA with 450 Million Brilliant Pixels


JVC was geared up to unveil its first consumer D-ILA projector with native 4K resolution at the IFA trade show. Until now, the Japanese manufacturer has been making do with its e-Shift pseudo-4K technology on the company’s lineup of projectors for residential installations. Details on JVC’s newest projector remain scant, even after the show has opened, but here’s a teaser video for you..

The new high-end JVC projector will carry a “BLU-Escent” branding, a technology that’s first introduced on the company’s commercial projectors. It consists of a laser diode array that emits blue light and excites a yellow phosphor which is later separated into red and green components through a high-speed, reflective wheel. The red, green and blue elements constitute the illumination that’s fed through D-ILA LCOS imaging panels (most renowned for their deep blacks and high contrast) to produce projected pictures.

Source: JVC to Unveil True 4K HDR Laser Projector at IFA 2016


Acer got IFA 2016 off to a wondrous start with the launch of the incredibly thin Swift 7 laptop. This Windows 10 machine, powered by Intel’s brand new 7th-generation Core i5 processor, measures a scant 9.98mm, making it the first to limbo under the 1cm bar (0.39 inches). Despite beating Apple’s MacBook and HP’s Spectre 13 for the braggadocious title of being the world’s thinnest laptop, the Swift 7 doesn’t sacrifice much in the way of either ports or battery. It offers two USB-C 3.1 ports and a headphone jack, plus Acer promises a 9-hour endurance thanks to Intel’s newly updated and more efficient Y series of chips.

The Swift 7 launches in China in September for ¥6,999, followed by Europe and the United States in October, at prices of €1,299 and $999, respectively. This pricing isn’t actually too bad for those who prioritize style and flair over everyday practicality.

Source: Acer's Swift 7 is the first laptop thinner than a centimeter


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