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IFA consumer electronics fair opens its doors in Berlin

Europe's biggest trade fair for consumer gadgets and household appliances, IFA, has begun in Berlin, with a wealth of new treats on show for lovers of broadcast and communications technologies.

Thousands of guests arrived to view the displays of more than 1,400 exhibitors with their latest communications and entertainment devices on show until September 5. Members of the public will also be getting their first glimpe of a range of the latest household appliances.

To kick off the extravaganza, Chancellor Angela Merke, who is currently visiting China, sent a video message to stress the importance of consumer electronics to Germany. "The companies in this sector play an important role in the development of our economy and the labor market," Merkel said.

A major focus of the exhibition will be internet-equipped television and tablet computers, including hybrid devices that incorporate features of standard laptop computers into more compact tablet format.

The repercussions of Apple's recent billion-dollar patent victory over Samsung in a US court are a hot topic for discussion at IFA, where the South Korean firm launched a range of new products.

Energy-saving devices were also set to be a feature at Berlin's International Radio Exhibition site.

Coming just prior to the Christmas trading season countdown, IFA is an important platform for companies wishing to secure orders. Last year, contracts were negotiated at IFA for more the 3.7 billion euros ($4.6 million) in orders.

rc /ipj (dpa, dapd)