IFA 2017: lat­est trends from Eu­rope’s big­gest tech show

The lat­est trends from Eu­rope’s big­gest tech­nol­ogy show “The two tech trends emerg­ing at the show were clearer than Sharp’s 8K telly on dis­play: voice-ac­ti­vated speak­ers and OLED tele­vi­sions”

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Contents -

Another year, another IFA. And at Eu­rope’s big­gest tech­nol­ogy show, held in Ber­lin, there were more OLED TVS and voice-con­trolled smart speak­ers in­side the ex­hi­bi­tion than bratwursts con­sumed out­side of it.

The two tech trends emerg­ing at the show were clearer than Sharp’s 8K telly on dis­play, but do­ing their best to be heard above the voice-ac­ti­vated speak­ers and grab­bing the spot­light from those lights-off blacks, were a range of ex­cit­ing prod­ucts, from Dali’s up­com­ing mul­ti­room speaker sys­tem to the first glob­ally avail­able Mqa-en­abled smart­phone. But OLED TVS had an em­phatic pres­ence at IFA 2017. And some screens in par­tic­u­lar were hard to ig­nore.

Rid­ing the lat­est trend for ‘big­ger is bet­ter’ were Sony, Pana­sonic and LG. All three showed off 77in 4K OLED TVS – all sup­port­ing HDR and car­ry­ing their own wow fac­tor, as you might ex­pect from TVS with five-fig­ure price tags. While Pana­sonic hasn’t re­vealed the price of its EZ1002, we ex­pect it will be more or less as bank-break­ing as Sony’s £20,000 A1 and LG’S £25,000 W7.

So 77in may be the new 65in, but there were plenty of TVS in the tra­di­tional big screen size. Philips un­veiled its flag­ship 65in OLED 9 se­ries 4K OLED with three-sided Am­bi­light, sup­port for HDR 10 (though not Dolby Vi­sion HDR), and a new P5 pic­ture-pro­cess­ing en­gine that aims to make the most of the OLED panel. UHD Pre­mium cer­ti­fi­ca­tion is another tick in the box, and it comes with a 60W sound­base.

OLED olé

Thanks to a part­ner­ship with LG, B&O has en­tered the 4K OLED mar­ket with its Beo­vi­sion Eclipse TVS – avail­able in 55in (£8300) and 65in (£11,600). We can see why the Dan­ish com­pany was keen to show them off, with their own three­chan­nel sound­bar-like speaker, HDR10 and Dolby Vi­sion HDR sup­port, and LG’S WEBOS smart plat­form on­board – not to men­tion that iconic mo­torised stand.

Mark­ing the an­niver­sary of the an­nounce­ment that it was re-en­ter­ing the Euro­pean mar­ket with Ves­tel,

Toshiba aimed its sights at the ‘bud­get’ 4K OLED mar­ket, with two new mod­els: a 55in (€1700) and 65in (€3500), both com­plete with HDR 10, Dolby Vi­sion and Hy­brid Log Gamma (HLG).

Per­haps the most in­trigu­ing OLED set on dis­play, how­ever, was the lat­est pro­to­type of Pana­sonic’s trans­par­ent model, which uses ‘in­tel­li­gent glass’. It’s cer­tainly one to keep an eye on in the com­ing months.

LCD TVS got a look in too, of course. Philips an­nounced its first quan­tum dot 4K TV, while Sharp showed off its first con­sumer-ready 8K TV, which will be sold in Ja­pan and China next March for what we guess will be a huge amount. A shout-out to Sharp for its 120in 4K telly and ‘world’s first’ roll-up LCD, too.

Also fea­tur­ing in Toshiba’s line-up was a new 77in 4K model and an af­ford­able Alexa-en­abled TV range with screens rang­ing from 43in to 75in. The less we say about Toshiba’s 24in HD Ready Star Wars-themed TV the bet­ter.

Smart talk­ing

Ap­ple’s Siri, Samsung’s Bixby, Mi­crosoft’s Cor­tana, Google’s As­sis­tant and Ama­zon’s Alexa are all com­pet­ing to be on the re­ceiv­ing end of your voice com­mands, but it’s the last two that stood out on the trade show floor.

Sony, Pana­sonic and JBL all an­nounced wire­less speak­ers with Google As­sis­tant built-in, while Pi­o­neer, Li­bra­tone and Me­dion will have speak­ers pow­ered by Ama­zon Alexa. Rather demo­crat­i­cally, both Onkyo and Har­mon Kar­don launched a wire­less speaker with both.

Most will cost around the £150 250 mark and are ex­pected to hit shelves at the end of the year – Ap­ple’s Home­pod ri­val has a De­cem­ber re­lease – so they should be fight­ing it out for that top spot on your Christ­mas list.

Hard­core hi-fi

True wire­less ear buds con­tinue to gain mo­men­tum – B&O and Philips an­nounced in-ears with­out wires – while Mas­ter Qual­ity Au­then­ti­cated (MQA) con­firmed yet more hard­ware sup­port for loss­less hi-res stream­ing.

IFA saw the line-up of Mqa-sup­ported por­ta­ble mu­sic play­ers ex­pand to Sony’s two new Walk­mans – the WM ZX300 and WM A40 – and LG’S V30 flag­ship was an­nounced as the first glob­ally avail­able smart­phone with MQA com­pat­i­bil­ity. That’s cer­tainly good news for the syn­ergy of sound qual­ity and porta­bil­ity.

Hard­core hi-fi isn’t ex­actly IFA’S strong­est hand, but two prod­ucts in par­tic­u­lar stood out above the gath­ered OLED TVS and smart speak­ers.

Fol­low­ing Tech­nics’ re­cent reimag­in­ing of its iconic SL 1200 turntable, the com­pany has delved even fur­ther back into its his­tory and an­nounced the Ref­er­ence Class SP 10R – the brand’s most pre­mium deck yet.

Tech­nics claims the SP 10R has the world’s-best sig­nal-to-noise ra­tio and ro­ta­tional sta­bil­ity, cour­tesy of the 7kg brass, rub­ber and alu­minium plat­ter. Else­where, there’s a brand new core­less di­rect-drive mo­tor (up­graded from that used in the re­cent SL 1200GR) and an ul­tra low-noise power sup­ply, which is sep­a­rated from the plat­ter to fur­ther re­duce noise and vi­bra­tion.

Dali’s Cal­listo multi-room speaker sys­tem was teased just be­fore mak­ing a de­but at IFA in pre-pro­duc­tion form. The Cal­listo 2 stand­mounts and Cal­listo 6 floor­standers use Len­brook’s BLUOS hi-res multi-room plat­form.

The speak­ers con­nect to a desk­top­sized Sound Hub over a 24-bit/96khz con­nec­tion, and can ac­cept sources over Blue­tooth or di­rectly through the Sound Hub’s twin op­ti­cal, ana­logue, USB and coax­ial in­puts. From our first sight­ing at IFA, the Dalis seem promis­ing. But it could be a while be­fore we get to see the fin­ished prod­uct. As for ev­ery­thing else, we hope to get our hands on them soon.

Tech­nics an­nounced the Ref­er­ence Class SP-10R at IFA 2017 – the com­pany’s most pre­mium deck yet

Philips un­veiled a flag­ship 65in OLED 9 se­ries 4K TV at the show, with Am­bi­light and a 60W sound­base

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