What to expect in Berlin this year
IFA 2016 is nearly upon us, as the tech and audio/visual world’s curtain closer to the summer.The show is open to the public 2 – 7 September at the Messe, Berlin but we’ll be there in the days leading up, to cover the press events and previews of interest.
Such a lot has happened in the AV world, especially in regards to 4K TVs and the emergence of High Dynamic Range (HDR) video as the newest next big thing, that it would be naïve to expect anything of earth-shattering innovation, this year, but there’s always a few gems and a juicy product launch, or two, along the way.
We expect the prime focus of the show, given the mixture of AV, tech, and white goods to be very much the IoT (Internet of Things) to power the smart home. To be fair, Panasonic has been banging that drum for a number of years but Samsung is now involved in the market - with SmartThings – and other traditional big-boys are set to follow.
The convergence with mobile tech also gives the manufacturers the opportunity to present ‘all-round’ solutions. Samsung used last year’s show to launch the Gear S2 smartwatch and it probably wouldn’t be a bad bet to predict the Gear S3 this time around. LG is likely to have the G Flex 3 but their V20 launch gets its own event on September 6 in San Francisco.
We would certainly like for there to be further entrants to the Ultra HD Player market to supplement the efforts of Panasonic, Samsung, with LG and Sony being obvious candidates to join the party.
We don’t think it likely that Sony will have any further major TV release news, given they’ve already announced the flagship ZD9 and a few lesser models besides. It would be great to see more brands jumping aboard the OLED wagon to widen the options beyond LG’s effective stranglehold on the market. Thankfully we expect Philips to launch their new OLED TV at IFA after their plans were accidentally revealed to journalists at their product launch back in February.
Inevitably, the majority of TVs at IFA 2016 will be of the LCD/LED variety, with the flagship models boasting thousand(s) of nits peak light output to maximise the impact of HDR content. The ZD9 was rumoured, pre-announcement, to be capable of 4,000 nits, which is significantly greater than the capability of any of the HDR TVs we’ve reviewed so far. So if there are any LCD TV announcements of any import during the show we’d expect they will be iterations of the existing 2016 TVs with higher peak brightness and, hopefully, even wider colour gamuts but any real big news is likely going to be saved until CES 2017, given the tumultuous TV times we live in.
Of course all this innovation isn't restricted to the TV manufacturers and there are plenty of new projector models that will be announced at this year's IFA. JVC will be officially launching their new native 4K laser projector and we'll be getting a demonstration whilst we're at the show. Sony also have a history of launching their new 4K projector models at IFA, so we can expect to see more announcements from the Japanese giant. Although Epson have already announced a new range of projectors, their LS10000 laser projector is due an upgrade, so there might be some news there as well.
The audio side of things at IFA isn’t really a big consideration for the manufacturers; there are better events to demo audio products and the sound news would likely get swallowed up by the noise of all the rest. We’ll no doubt see the audio world's version of smart home tech - multiroom audio systems – gain a couple of new purveyors. Hi-res audio will continue to be ‘a thing,’ we could see a cheap turntable, or ten – and possibly expensive ones too. Bluetooth will be in everything. And so will Spotify. Likely the biggest push we’ll see from the companies is for soundbars and we don’t expect Yamaha and Samsung to remain the only mainstream brands to carry immersive audio capable speaker bars for too much longer, with Philips waiting in the wings.
In short we’re expecting IFA to be: Smarter, Brighter, Wider – it’s almost like the AV Olympics.
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