IFA 2015: What to expect
Ultra HD, HDR, Quantum Dot, 4K Blu-ray - what else have you got?
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Over recent years, IFA has become a trade show where some really significant announcements have been made, away from the noise of CES.
- 4K UHD (Ultra HD)
- IFA Show
- Content Streaming
- Dolby Atmos
- DTS: X
- High Dynamic Range (HDR)
- Dolby Vision (HDR)
We saw HDMI 2.0 break cover in 2013 and last year, even more excitingly, we got the news that 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray was to become a reality. We can’t promise there will be news of such importance at IFA 2015, when the press conferences begin on the 2nd September at the Messe, Berlin, but we still should see some exciting new product with, perhaps, just the odd surprise along the way.
TVs and ProjectorsFor many of us, it’s the televisions and surrounding technologies that present the main focus but bearing in mind that all the major manufacturers are already producing TVs with Ultra HD resolutions, High Dynamic Range capability plus wider colour gamuts, we’re not expecting anything revolutionary here; there will be refinements to the first or second generation technologies, for sure, and maybe we’ll see a TV that can actually achieve 100% of the DCI spec for colour but we’re not expecting 8K, or anything outrageous like that. We are under the impression that Panasonic might have some interesting television news to impart so stay tuned on the 2nd of September to see if it materialises; perhaps they’re bringing back plasma TVs – we jest!
We do expect there will be more curved TVs and even those that can morph between curved and flat but what we can bank on is that UHD TVs will dominate the product line-ups from the major manufacturers, even more than they already were. What we really want to see, however, is more news on Ultra HD content and delivery. To be specific, we’d like – and fully expect – there to be actual Ultra HD Blu-ray players with firm release details and we’d really love to see some content news with actual UHD titles announced; and if we don’t, poor old Steve Withers might just have a breakdown.
It will be interesting to see if LG has any new OLED TV news for us and, bearing in mind the opening keynote of IFA 2015 will be delivered by LG Display CEO and President Sang-Beom Han, it’s a fair bet there will be. LG is way ahead of the rest in its development of what we hope will be the dominant TV technology in the years to come. Doctor Han will pose the question, what comes next after 4K and curved screens? And we’re sure you can see where that one is going – give me an “O,” give me an “L”…
Update (26.08.15): Since publishing this article LG has confirmed it will have four brand new OLED TVs at the Show, including 4K, HDR and both flat and curved offerings.
Whilst IFA isn’t the traditional launching ground for new projectors, things might be a little different this time around. We know that Sony will have some announcements and, rumour has it, one of those will be the reveal of a successor to the excellent HW55ES. Sony is currently in total domination of the home 4K projector market but surely that can’t last and what we’d really love to see is JVC come in to rival them; it’s possible they might just do that at IFA but it could be that they wait until CEDIA later in the year. More rumours but we’ve also read that LG will launch two projectors for the European market; both are said to be LED DLP - with one short throw – and if the gossip is to be believed, there will be built-in apps such as Netflix, which would certainly make sense given LGs track record in Smart TV platforms.
AudioArguably, the audio side of the equation is currently even busier than the video. Chief amongst the reasons for that come with the emergence of the ‘immersive audio’ formats. It’s still very early days for Dolby Atmos and DTS:X but you can be 100% certain that IFA 2015 will play home to a plethora of new AV Receivers and amps that support these new formats. It won’t just be AVRs, however, there will be Atmos soundbars and headphones, too, so it will be interesting to see how those work out. In a more general sense, there will be dozens of regular soundbars to look at/listen to as well. Additionally, expect to see Atmos/DTS:X speakers and speaker packages announced.
According to our audio expert, Ed Selley, there will be approximately 10, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000 sets of headphones amongst the ranks in Berlin so that should keep him busy. The dominance of mobile devices as music players hasn’t just impacted the headphone market, though, Digital Audio Converters (DACs) that act to improve the output of your devices’ audio socket, are also seeing a big boost in sales. We think it’s entirely possible that more 'phone booster' DACs like the Oppo HA-2 will appear as well as a rival to dedicated audio players. Hi-Fi sound quality is becoming an ever more important requirement, too, with an increasing number of devices now supporting high definition sound formats. Ed also says to expect the unexpected from French innovators, Elipson, but would not be drawn in to revealing any further details.
After our having to keep it quiet for so long, it would be great to get a full showing of Yamaha’s MusicCast system but there’s won’t be the only multi-room/integrated music system at the Show. Sonos has had pretty much had a free run in this sector but things have changed, with the big boys like LG and Samsung getting in on the action. Denon, no doubt, will be taking the opportunity to show-off their Heos multiroom products, Panasonic will have their take on it, too, and there will be others joining the party besides. Another growth area for the audio manufacturers is with wireless speakers, whether that be they operate over Bluetooth or Wi-Fi so expect more of those too.
TechIncreasingly, IFA has become a platform for mobile, wearables and tech announcements and that trend is only set to increase this time around. Samsung, for example, will be showing off their Gear S2 smartwatch which, rumour has it, will be running off Tizen which is their own operating system and is already used in the company’s latest Smart TVs. The likes of Tizen and LG’s webOS have a significance outside of televisions, however, as they are specially designed to be inter-operable with other operating systems, making them the ideal basis on which to run the ‘Smart Home’ – a concept that so many of the manufacturers are keen to push.
Consumer electronics devices that can communicate with the likes of appliances, lighting and heating systems are the future, although the reality of many folks living in the fully connected home are still some way off. Nonetheless this idea is something we’ll hear plenty of out in Berlin. Speaking of operating systems, whilst Microsoft will not have a direct presence at IFA 2015, you can expect there will be lots of devices running their new one, Windows 10. Likewise, Google doesn’t do tradeshows but Android will make its presence felt through more Smart TVs, app connected appliances, and even drones.
Whilst not really of core interest to AVForums readers, the 3D printer sector is nonetheless a very interesting one to keep an eye on, with its almost limitless potential to shape – no pun intended – our futures. Even the smaller models can produce impressive results and with the growth in 3D printers that can now use metal, rather than just plastic, they promise to be ever more useful, too. Heck, you can even print your food nowadays!
Of course we’re only scratching the surface of the possibilities of what might transpire out in the halls in Berlin, the show is vast and encompassing almost all of the consumer electronics industry. We’d love to hear your hopes and expectations for IFA 2015 too...
AVForums will be fully covering the show from the 2nd of September with all the press conference reactions on the Wednesday and Thursday. Phil Hinton and Steve Withers will be reporting on the new TV and Ultra HD news from the show floor with videos, interviews, hands-on reports and more. Plus, Ed Selley will be stalking the white goods halls looking for free food and reporting on new innovations in the HiFi World. So stay tuned!
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