2010 is set to be a record year for the 50th IFA show, the top trade event for consumer electronics and appliances. Deutsche Welle previews what's new in the world of TVs, speakers, and even washing machines.
3D television is this year's big trend at IFA
At first glance, the 2010 IFA trade fair doesn't seem any different than last year's event: visitors are greeted by a sea of television screens as Berlin's Messe convention venue is transformed into a glimmering electronic world for the show, which kicks off on September 3.
But upon closer inspection, it's apparent that there are plenty of new technologies on show at IFA's 50th incarnation.
Though the sight of so many people wearing odd sets of glasses to watch television might initially seem puzzling, there's a simple answer: 3D is the buzzword in this year's TV market.
Consumers will soon get the chance to bring home the magic of blockbuster movies like "Avatar," allowing them to enjoy the thrill of three-dimensional entertainment from the comfort of their own living rooms.
3D for a four-figure price
Almost all the top names in TV manufacturing are featuring dozens of new television sets with 3D capabilities for the IFA in Berlin – and along with them, several thousand pairs of glasses, without which the technology doesn't work.
But German firm Loewe has decided not to enter the 3D market just yet.
"It's certainly very fascinating to see 3D on a TV screen," said company spokesman Dr. Roland Raithel. "But we think that it won't be done all that often with the necessary glasses."
Nevertheless, Loewe knows that upscale clientele expect a 3D option – and the firm plans to equip its television sets with the technology in the future. "We don't want to be the first; rather, we want the best 3D solution," Raithel said.
3D TVs can cost around 2,000 euros
Perhaps the company is pinning its hopes on research from Germany's Fraunhofer Institute, which is presenting a future model for 3D TV that doesn't require glasses at this year's IFA.
But the price tag might be enough to put off prospective buyers. While Germans currently spend an average of 680 euros on flat screen televisions, models equipped with 3D capabilities cost much more – around 2,000 euros. Still, there's good news for consumers: Prices for 3D devices are expected to drop next year – giving TV fans the option of buying now or buying cheaper.
Web goes TV
The same goes for other new technologies on show at IFA. Two years ago, high-definition TVs weren't yet a must-have item. Now, thanks to World Cup football and a growing number of channels that support the technology, HDTV is in demand.
And it's not just HDTV and 3D that are in the spotlight this year, 2010 is all about the TV-Internet connection, a combination made possible by Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV, or HbbTV for short.
The newest TVs integrate Internet technology
The dual system allows viewers to switch between TV shows and online offerings using a single device and a remote control. Sascha Lange, a representative from Japanese manufacturer Toshiba, said users can find extra information about a program they are watching or view a program they have missed and forgotten to record.
"All of these things can come from the Internet, and of course they have to be easy to use," Lange said. "And that's precisely what HbbTV can do."
Read more: High-quality sound is also a key selling point ...