Roundup: IFA 2011
The 2011 edition of the massive Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin (that's "Berlin International Radio Show," or just "IFA" for those of us who don't speak German) comes to a close tomorrow, with an overwhelming number of products from some 1,400 exhibitors on display, from super-automatic espresso machines to soundbars. Our own Corinne Iozzio was there, and managed to get a look at some of the latest (and just plain weirdest) stuff on offer from the world of consumer electronics.
Tablets and smartphones were on display in abundance, with ever-faster processors and midsize devices like Samsung's 5.3" Galaxy Note blurring the line between the two. Convergence devices, anyone? Samsung made waves by showing - and then pulling under pressure from Apple - the 7.7" versio of the Galaxy Tab, evidence of the patent war taking place outside the trade show's perimeter.
Mobile music retains its appeal this year as well, with a ton of high- and low-end docks from just about everyone. There were some interesting moves from Philips, who were showing off the Android-compatible device docks in their Fidelio range - a surprising oddity in the iOS-dominated market, given Android's relatively big slice of the smartphone pie - as well as an Android powered personal media player. Sony even had an Android Walkman on hand. Creative wasn't showing any Android stuff, but they did have their Zen X-Fi3 media player on display; the little box is making a play for audiophiles with FLAC support and the surprisingly good-sounding apt-X Bluetooth audio codec, which is gaining wider acceptance (look for more from us on this to come).
3D's obviously here to stay, with variant takes from Sony and Vuzix (who were both showing wearable personal 3D viewing devices) and Philips (who figure - probably correctly - that in the absence of sufficient 3D content it's worth making use of the technology to do things like present multiple views for gamers).
Gadgets aside, one of the more interesting announcements was the alliance of LG, Sharp, and Philips behind the development of a Smart TV standard. The notion of an open standard for TV apps would be a welcome one given the increasing diversity of that market, but we'll have to see if the other major manufacturers (who, along with Google and Apple, all have dogs in this fight).
Looking for convenience? Voomote want to make your iPhone into a universal remote (and seem to be doing it with some success); Haier and partner NeuroSky, on the other hand, don't think you need a "remote" at all - why not use your brain to control your TV? Netgear are extending their wireless HDMI technology (which previously required an Intel Wireless Display-equipped laptop as a media source) to everyone, via a Push2TV univeral adapter. Ford have packed everything and the kitchen sink into their cloud-connected Evos concept vehicle (which was on preview at IFA ahead of its official debut at next month's Frankfurt Auto Show), which goes beyond simply playing back media from your smartphone - it'll do things like adjust engine performance to optimize fuel efficiency based on chosen route, weather conditions, and the like.
Now that's convergence.