IFA Berlin 2013 tech fair: The installer's viewpoint

posted on Wednesday, 18th September 2013 by David Slater

projectors  Events  IFA 

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The annual IFA tech fair is Europe's largest digital innovations showcase. Now it might not be a dedicated installer show like CEDIA Expo, but it is massive and fascinating, and rewards intrepid visitors, both trade and public alike, with a unique opportunity to get up close with what appear to be all the tech toys in the entire world. So just what was out and about to tickle the tech bones of CI installers? To find out, I set off to Berlin, notepad in hand, to see the latest from the likes of Samsung, Panasonic, Epson et al.

Samsung IFA extravaganza
Samsung was pushing the boundaries once again with some ground breaking new products. The brand's first curved 4K Ultra High definition panel looked really sexy on its stand, but I suspect it might look a little peculiar hanging on the wall. One of my favorite screens from the brand is the 55-inch UE55F8500 Series 8 LED. With great definition and vibrant colours, it's the perfect size for the average lounge. With Samsung now the king in mobile tech, I was interested in getting a closer look at the New Galaxy Note 3 phablet. With a full HD Super AMOLED 5.7 inch screen, I reckon it looks like the perfect device to receive emails and browse the web; and with a 2.3GHZ quad core processor and 3GB of RAM running apps on Android 4.3 (Jelly Bean) is going to be lightning fast.

Also impressive was the Galaxy Gear smartwatch, which works in perfect harmony with the new Note. Thanks to a piece of magic called Smart Relay, the Gear allows you to get the benefits of the Note without ever having to take it out of your pocket. The Samsung smartwatch appears to have divided opinion since its unveiling, but I found it to be really innovative, making you re-think the way you connect with the outside world. You can make calls without using your hands, via S Voice, and capture photos or video with the onboard camera built into the strap. I love it -  it might even sway me away from Apple!

It was hard to escape the Samsung hall without taking a look at the company's HomeSync Cloud Service. HomeSync brings Android gaming, movies, TV shows and streaming content direct into the living room. It allows you to stream content from your Galaxy device wirelessly to the TV - letting you watch, see and use all your home videos, photos and apps, and all at a full HD 1080p. HomeSync's 1TB drive can help you sync to multiple devices, providing shared or private storage for all your content. It supports eight separate accounts to cover a whole family, and allows everyone to upload and download content from multiple accounts. Not only that, you can enjoy the full familiar Android experience with HomeSync's Jelly Bean media player. All very interesting, but no news yet on a release date.

Epson projectors updated
As expected, Epson used IFA to unveil its latest line of impressive consumer projectors; the new home cinema projectors offer almost twice the contrast ratio of last year's offerings. The incoming EH-TW9200 boasts a contrast ratio of 600,000:1, while the cheaper EH-TW7200 is rated at 120,000:1.  New to the range is the gaming EH-TW5200. Featuring a 'fast mode' for low lag time, along with high 15,000:1 contrast ratio and a light output rated at 2,000lm, it looks bright enough to enable gaming in ambient light. I think they're going to be very popular with installers.

Moving on through IFA's numerous halls, there was all sorts of madness going on. On Panasonic's Lumix camera stand were two people climbing the walls in a display of gymnastics staged for attendees to try out Panasonic's latest cameras and camcorders. It proved an entertaining diversion. On my hit list for my flying visit to the show (you could spend a week here, but I only had a day) were two more of the big players, Sony and Philips.

New Sony 4K projector
Sony has been working really hard over the last couple of years to get back on top and I was truly excited to see its new 4K projector the VPL-VW500ES. At £8500, it's half the price of last year's 4K model. After reading the specification I couldn't wait to see what it looked like, and I wasn't disappointed. The picture was truly 4K UHD, I was pleasantly surprised that Sony hasn't cut quality to bring the price down. The optics are now plastic rather than glass, but that hasn't impacted performance. The quoted contrast ratio of the VPL-VW500ES is 200,000:1 from a 1,700 ANSI-lumens output. The up scaling of non 4K material is also very impressive, making a noticeable difference over standard HD.

Yet more dramatic looking screens were displayed on the Philips stand, with the launch of its DesignLine models. This panel has a revolutionary floating glass design which will no doubt appeal to the interior design community. The TV is also equipped with Ambilight 3-sided XL LED lights which create the feeling that the screen is floating. It's Wi-Fi-enabled, with streaming Internet TV services and a Simply Share function to stream content from your phone or tablet. The remote is a sleek brushed aluminum effort with a handy pointer for navigating around the screen and a full Qwerty keyboard on the flip side. It's not cheap: the 55-inch model I was looking at retails for £2800, but if you want the look of a B&O TV with the excellent picture quality of the Philips, then it's a steal!

Also read:
Record trade visitors for IFA 2013, market looking frothy

ISE 2013: The installer's viewpoint

2013 International CES: The Installer's viewpoint
 

David Slater

David Slater started his writing career with SVI writing a popular column, he has also guested on publications like Home Cinema Choice and
Living North

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