The future of TV

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This year’s IFA consumer electronics fair in Berlin saw a record attendance, managing to draw 1,245 exhibitors from 63 countries, as well as trade visitors from 126 countries.
High Definition was once again top of the agenda, with televisions stealing the limelight, although this time there was particular emphasis on slimline TVs, OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) panels, and the introduction of 200Hz processing, along with some innovative upscaling technology.
TV technology
One of the most interesting announcements at this year’s show was the introduction of the first TVs to use 200Hz processing, which increases the number of still images per second to produce a smoother image. Sony claims that its Z4500 offers the smoothest motion reproduction achieved by an LCD. Meanwhile, Samsung also announced a collection of LCDs with 200Hz processing, including 40, 46 and 52in models.
Sony unveiled several other exciting products, including the world’s thinnest LCD TV – the BRAVIA ZX1 – measuring just 9.9mm deep. The manufacturer has also introduced the first OLED TV for the European market. Expected in shops next year, the compact 10.6in XEL-1 sports a svelte profile measuring just 3.3mm deep.
Samsung also previewed OLED panels with much more usable screen sizes – 14.1 and 31in – which are scheduled to go into production in 2010. The manufacturer also previewed its new Series 7, 8 and 9 panels, which are equipped with InfoLive. This enables users to stream news and weather direct from the Internet.
The Berlin show was also home to the launch of Philips latest generation of Aurea TVs, along with its slender Essence 42in panel which measures just 38mm deep and features a 30W soundbar speaker which is designed to be hung flush on a wall.
The Dutch manufacturer also introduced the first LCD to include local dimming backlight technology for optimum black levels and showcased a collection of 3D TVs, which are still at the concept stage.
In keeping with the slimline theme, JVC introduced two thin panels, measuring just 39mm across most of their width and 74mm at the thickest point in the centre. The maker also expanded its True Black projector range with the introduction of the DLA-HD350 and the DLA-HD750.
Sharp has announced a new flagship range – the XS1 AQUOS Series – of super-thin TVs, measuring just 23mm thick, and available in 52 and 65 screen sizes. Not only do the new panels have a more efficient LED backlight than previous models, but they also include technology to adjust the backlight to complement ambient lighting.
LG introduced a series of Bluetooth-enabled full HD LCDs – the LG7000 series.
Upscaling innovations
With HD comes the inevitable problem of how standard-definition content, such as DVDs and Freeview broadcasts, will look on a high-definition screen. Toshiba has addressed this problem with its new REGZA ZF Series which incorporates its new Resolution+ technology, designed to upscale images. The ZF Series panels support full HD and are available in 40 and 46in screen sizes.
Sascha Lange, Toshiba’s head of marketing for consumer products, explains the benefits, commenting: “The majority of broadcast television consumed today is still watched in standard definition, most of which is quite significantly compressed. With Resolution+ technology, we’re able to offer consumers the ability to upgrade whatever it is they might choose to watch – broadcast, standard DVD or otherwise – to near high-definition quality”.
The manufacturer also showcased its XDE upscaling DVD player which it recently launched, along with its competitively priced full HD REGZA RV Series and a revamped entry level XV Series.
Toshiba also demoed a TV which can be controlled using basic hand gestures – a technology which the maker hopes to bring to the home in the future.
Blu-ray
Blu-ray was big news again at this year’s show, as it begins to “move into the mainstream”, with several manufacturers introducing new products, almost all of which were Profile 2.0 compliant.
Panasonic unveiled Europe’s first Blu-ray recorder, which for the time-being this is only available in France, although it does suggest that a similar product could make its way to the UK at some point.
The manufacturer also launched two slimline Blu-ray decks, which boast the “world’s slimmest height” for a BD deck (49mm), according to Panasonic. Both decks are Profile 2.0 and also feature Ethernet ports.
JVC showcased its very first Blu-ray product – the NX-BD3 Blu-ray 2.1 home cinema system, and what’s more, buyers will get a free copy of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull on Blu-ray Disc.
Samsung introduced its most advanced Blu-ray deck – the BD-P2500 – which supports the new HD audio formats with 7.1 channel output, and can be easily upgraded to the latest Blu-ray profile, via an Ethernet port.
Sharp also introduced its new Profile 1.1 Blu-ray player – the BD-HP21H – which sports a Quick-start mode designed to reduce power consumption.
Next year’s IFA will take place 4-9 September 2009.

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