The game changers
The future of television, photography and tablet computing is becoming clearer, writes Jennifer DudleyNicholson
IT’S the consumer electronics show that sets the agenda for the rest of the year and, if predictions are correct, 2012 is going to end in a technological rush. International Funkausstellung, or IFA as it is better known, attracted more than 140,000 visitors to its Berlin halls to peek at the future of technology, and manufacturers were keen to impress.
Beyond coconut fibre phone cases and new robot vacuum cleaners lay a host of emerging technological trends.
Television screens are poised to get significantly bigger and brighter this year, with two emerging technologies finally available for the loungeroom.
The next generation of screen technology — organic light-emitting diode or OLED TVs — are due to arrive late this year in 55-inch screens that are brighter, faster, more energy-efficient and much slimmer.
Not just one company has made the breakthrough: Samsung and LG are already fighting for OLED TV buyers with screens that both claim are ‘‘ the world’s biggest’’.
Samsung Europe audio visual marketing director Michael Zoller says OLED screens represent an evolution of television technology that users can immediately appreciate.
‘‘ OLED is not just an incremental improvement. It’s also a game-changing experi- ence,’’ Mr Zoller says. Samsung’s 55-inch screen, the ES9500, will be just 7mm thick, feature a tiny border, and will come with internet connectivity, a pop-up camera for interactive use and 3D viewing.
Samsung Australia audio visual head Paul Newton says the company is doing ‘‘ everything we can to have it on sale in Australia prior to Christmas’’ for a price less than $10,000.
LG’s rival screen, the 55EM9700, will be priced similarly when it arrives, though that is not likely to be until next year, spokesman Ken Hong says, due to worldwide demand.
The company’s 55-inch screen is thinner than Samsung’s offering, however, at just 4mm, and is being promoted as ‘‘ the world’s slimmest’’.
Another big screen technology from IFA, literally, is the ultra-definition screen that is the next step up from highdefinition TVs.
Boasting four times the resolution of their predecessor, its makers say viewers can sit twice as close to the screen, which is handy as the UD TVs are significantly larger.
Sony unveiled its 84-inch screen before the show, only to be followed by Toshiba and joined by LG. Samsung also quietly showed off a 70-inch UD TV.
Sony says its first UD TV will go on sale before the end of the year, but its price is likely to be higher than $25,000.
FUTURE OF WINDOWS
Microsoft did not attend IFA this year but its products were not hard to find.
Computer makers Dell, HP Sony, Samsung, Toshiba and ASUS all delivered Windows 8 computers, many of them hybrid tablets that could do double-duty as laptops.
Two of the new offerings delivered built-in keyboards that slide out from the tablet, for example. Both the Toshiba Satellite 925t and the Sony VAIO Duo 11 also feature larger and longer than usual screens at 12 and 11 inches, respectively, to make the most of Microsoft’s new horizontal Live Tile display.
HP, ASUS and Samsung took a different route, however, all releasing Windows 8 tablets that clip into keyboard docks for flexibility.
The HP Envy X2, ASUS Vivo Tab and Samsung ATIV Smart PC pair large touchscreens with full-size keyboards and more computing grunt.
The new breed of laptops will become available after Microsoft officially launches Windows 8 on October 26.
Sony and Panasonic both debuted cameras with built-in wi-fi connectivity for quick photo sharing, while Samsung took a step further and added a 4G connection and popular apps into its hybrid shooter.
Sony’s new compact system camera, the NEX 5R, features a new 16-megapixel sensor and hybrid autofocus mechanism for extra speed, but it also comes with built-in wi-fi and an app that lets users control the camera from an Apple or Google phone.
Similarly, Panasonic Lumix SZ5 can be connected to a phone or tablet to instantly see and share its 14-megapixel photos online. Jennifer Dudley-Nicholson travelled to Berlin as a guest of Samsung.
New OLED TV is unveiled at the latest technology show in Berlin.