Ultra high, smart and green

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Ultra-HD television, connected experiences – not only in the living room but also around the kitchen – and super green technologies were the leading themes of this year’s IFA show. Anna Ryland reports.

This year IFA show once again proved its importance for the consumer electronics and the electrical industry. Over six days at the beginning of September 1,439 exhibitors occupying 142,200 square meters (an increase of 1.4 % on 2011) showcased their product innovations to 240,000 visitors (+1%), including 142,300 (+7%) trade visitors. “We witnessed full display halls, enthusiastic audiences and visitors, very satisfied exhibitors and an impressive worldwide media response“, said Dr. Rainer Hecker, chairman of the supervisory board of IFA organisers.

Judging by the investment made in the huge stands and sleek product displays, IFA is definitely not a poor relation of the Las Vegas’ CES. To the contrary, it developed its distinct European profile and unique features, such as powerful presence of domestic appliances which were first introduced to the show in 2007.

New generation of HD electronics

On the CE side, most attention and interest was directed at the arrival of the next-generation of Ultra HD televisions. Kazuo Hirai, Sony Corporation’s new president and chief executive officer, speaking at Sony’s press conference at IFA unveiled Sony’s first 4K television, the KD-84X9005. Featuring four times the resolution of Full HD, the 84in LCD BRAVIA panel incorporates Sony’s ‘4K X-Reality PRO’ super-resolution high picture quality engine. The model – at a premium price – is expected to enter the market by the end of the year.

Meanwhile Samsung, which has been holding the number one position in TV sales worldwide for the last six years, and a 35% market share in Europe, announced its intention to become the world’s number one producer of all digital appliances by 2015. Reflecting its industry leadership the manufacturer unveiled for the first time in Europe its 55in ES9500 OLED TV and a 75in LED ES9000 Smart TV.

Samsung’s OLED TV offers response times that are a thousand times faster than LCD TVs and it comes equipped with Multi View, a feature that allows two people to watch two different shows simultaneously on one screen, with the ability to hear each programme separately, using Samsung Multi View 3D glasses with integrated headphones.

The 75in ES9000 Smart TV has a super thin 7.9 millimetre bezel with an usual rose-gold finish. At the show the manufacturer for the first time demoed the popular game Angry Birds on its Smart TV using Gesture Control which proved more fun than the mobile version of the game and it’s hoped to bring more sales of Samsung Smart TV during the Christmas season.

Ultra HD television and the next generation of OLED displays were also the focus of LG’s consumer electronics proposition in Berlin this year. LG’s first Ultra Definition 84-inch 3D TV offers a high picture quality on a 8 million pixels screen with four times the resolution of Full HD TV, thanks to LG’s advanced Triple XD Engine and the Resolution Upscaler Plus. The 2.2 Speaker System complements on-screen action.

LG’s 55in OLED TVs’ 4mm-paper slim panel is made of strong Carbon Fibre-Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) and combines the company’s CINEMA 3D technology with Smart TV capabilities.

On display was also the full line-up of LG CINEMA 3D Smart TVs, which have received a number of industry awards including the European Smart TV Award at EISA 2012 Awards and Which? Best Buy award. LG’s Smart TVs offer a number of customer-friendly features such as the Magic Remote which gives four different control options: point, wheel, voice recognition and pattern gesture control. Additionally, Smart Share Plus features a range of connectivity options. For example, devices on the same home Wi-Fi network can connect wirelessly to an LG Smart TV.

Panasonic which, in the words of its CEO and chairman, Laurent Abadie, came back to black in 2012 and is currently commanding a 10.2% share of the global CE market, is aiming to become the word’s number one green innovation company by 2018. At the show the manufacturer confirmed its involvement in the Skolkovo Smart City project near Moscow, due to open in 2014-2015, where eco technologies will be used to for everyday living. This will follow the opening of ‘eco-town’ of Fujisawa, near Tokyo, where Panasonic will apply its smart solutions for the entire town.

The focus of the Panasonic CE stand was the 60in LED model, the SmartVIERA TX-L60ET5 – the biggest Panasonic has ever produced – and a top of the range 50in plasma TV, the VT50. The manufacturer was also keen to demonstrate the smart interactions capabilities of its VIERA Connect platform that offers the ability to communicate with the user’s tablet, smartphone or camera using the latest apps, gaming and browsing. Fabien Roth, Panasonic director, has also demonstrated  Smart VIERA’s ‘swipe and share’ functionality via its VIERA Remote App, as well as the ability to share photographs directly with the TV from the new LUMIX SZ5.

At the Berlin show, Sony also unveiled three new Xperia smartphones – one featured in the forthcoming James Bond movie ‘Skyfall’ – a new splash proof Tablet, a new hybrid slate/laptop VAIO PC, a NEX camera with built in Wi-Fi enabling feature-adds post purchase. 

In addition to its latest televisions, Samsung stirred the audience before and during the show with its Galaxy Note II which was “the first smartphone for truly personal, artistic and creative expression”.  Featuring a 5.5in HD Super AMOLED screen, the Galaxy Note II provides visuals in crystal clear detail. Its Air View capability allows users to hover with the S Pen over an email, S Planner, image gallery or video to preview the content without having to open it. The manufacturer also showcased its Galaxy cameras with 21x optical zoom, Wi-Fi connectivity and Smart Pro mode for making pictures more professional. Samsung’s cross-category convergence efforts were evident in the form of its new ATIV family. From Notebook PCs to tablets and smartphones, Samsung’s products with Windows 8 functionality will offer seamless user experiences.

Smart domestic appliances

Intelligent technologies with eco credentials were the main focus of product developments from the leading domestic appliance brands.

For the BSH Group, who prides itself in being the world’s leading manufacturer of super efficient appliances, IFA was an opportunity to showcase its leading edge green technologies. The Siemens brand unveiled its latest innovations on a stunning 3,100 square meters stand, and they included its full-surface induction and the new Topline series of built-in refrigeration.

Siemens full-surface induction hobs are equipped with 48 micro-inductors so the entire ceramic surface can be used: when the user moves the pan across the surface, the hot plate ‘wanders’ with it and its new position is displayed on the control panel. This flexibility is a result of the honeycomb arrangement of the induction coils, which use an alternating electromagnetic field to transmit energy to the base and sides of the cookware.

The new Topline built-in refrigeration from Siemens use sensorControl, a system with two separate circuits for the refrigerator and freezer areas. Sensors within the appliance constantly monitor the ambient temperature and maintain it at a constant level for optimum food storage. In addition, the freshSense feature maintains the moisture content of fruit and vegetables, prolonging the shelf life of food. Siemens has also equipped its dishwashers with the varioSpeed Plus feature that can increase the speed of wash cycle by up to three times, reducing the washing time by 66%.

New from Bosch was the SmartCool line of built-in refrigeration, already popular as a freestanding line. With energy efficiency class of A+++ it uses less energy than an energy-saving bulb. Further sustainability milestones were the Bosch HomeProfessional washing machine with great water, detergent and electricity efficiencies, and i-Dos, the intelligent automatic dosing system. Besides automatic dosing, the newest laundry model is also equipped with VarioSpeed programme that can reduce washing time by as much as 66%. Bosch has also showcased its latest models of coffee machines and its food preparation collection.

A fridge of the future was also demonstrated by Haier. The tactile door of Haier’s interactive fridge freezer becomes transparent when touched, revealing its content without opening the door. With an identification function the refrigerator can keep a record of food items stored inside and their expiry dates. The manufacturer also previewed its 26 laundry series which is A+++ rated and is operated by its 4DS technology that includes a quiet Smart Drive Motor, automatic detergent dosing, automatic detection of hard or soft water for precise dosing and Smart Dual Spray which is activated between rinses to remove residue and textile fibres in the door gasket. At IFA Haier also unveiled its new collection of combis, American SBS and built-in refrigeration products.

At this year’s show Panasonic previewed a collection of induction hobs, dishwashers, ovens and hoods, as well as a very energy saving tumble dryer first introduced to the European market.  Panasonic’s new induction hob uses infrared temperature sensor technology, allowing users to cook with absolute accuracy. For example, whether the user is making their first or tenth pancake, they will be able to easily achieve the same desired browning every time. New in Panasonic’s portfolio were also such personal care products as its Milano shavers, but also kettles, toasters, coffee makers and the powerful steam irons.

On the Gorenje stand, the flagship product was the IQcook induction hob featuring unique steaming technology. The Gorenje IQcook continually monitors the cooking process, perceiving all changes and adjusting the hob operation to avoid boiling over, burning or overcooking. Meanwhile, pre-set cooking modes IQsteam, IQboil, IQpro, IQfry and IQgrill simplify the preparation of dishes even further. In the laundry sector, Gorenje unveiled the first IonTech dryer with anti-allergic action. The IonTech technology also has a unique fibre smoothing action that makes laundry softer as the wrinkles are straightened by controlling the static charge.

On the domestic appliances front, Samsung efforts were focused on the newly introduced Space Max refrigeration and the extended collection  of the ecobubble washing machines which now ranges from 7kg to 12kg. The new Space Max technology offers more capacity within the interior of an appliance while maintaining the same exterior dimensions. It can be found in Samsung’s flagship 615-litre SbS refrigerator, which is responsible for the company’s number one position in the category for six years running.

“Samsung’s new French door refrigeration models are also equipped with digital inverter compressor that senses when the optimum temperature in the appliance has changed and automatically kicks in – which results in up to 40% energy saving and lowers the noise of the appliance,” explained to IER Russell Owens, Samsung’s head of sales, digital appliances. “Multi-door, and particularly French door refrigeration, is a huge growth market for us, a premium step to where SbS used to be before they were affected by price erosion,” added Russell Owens. He also went to demonstrate the new Samsung’s Any Place Induction hob and Samsung’s freestanding 16-setting dishwasher which will be introduced to the UK in October.

IFA 2013 will be held between 6 and 11 September 2013.

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