The Berlin consumer electronics show is a huge affair, with hundreds of companies doing their best to attract businesspeople and customers to thousands of products. Here's a look at the show.
Grundig's Net-connected radio
This week marked the beginning of the IFA electronics show in Berlin. IFA, which stands for Internationale Funkausstellung, began its history with a much greater focus on radio than it has today. One German company, Grundig, is still showing its products off. Now, though, radios aren't analog devices. This model, the Cosmopolit 7, connects to home networks, streams music over it, and has a USB port.
Miss IFA began as a fictional character, but IFA organizers added a real-world version in 2005. She hops from one press conference to another touting products. Miss IFA is a "worldwide-known representative of IFA with high recognition value," said Dirk Koslowski, senior executive manager of the show.
Here, Miss IFA shows off Samsung's new NX200, the company's highest-end compact camera so far. The 20-megapixel camera has a large APS-C-sized sensor and costs $899.99 with an 18-55mm lens that supports the company's i-Function control system.
Elipson unveiled a new globular speaker, the Planet M, for the design-conscious customer. It's smaller than its predecessor, the Planet L, but like it comes in red, black, and white. Its coaxial speakers are a 100mm woofer and a 20mm treated-paper tweeter, with a frequency response of 90Hz to 22kHz. Elipson also relaunched a spherical design from 1953, the BS50. The bass-reflex design measures 50cm in diameter but has a reflector across the top to disperse the sound from the 200mm woofer and 25mm cloth-domed tweeter. Its frequency response ranges from 48Hz to 20kHz.
IFA isn't just about consumer electronics, though that's the hot area today. Home appliances are increasingly high-tech objects, and there's a lot of product development in the area as manufacturers strive to make washers use less power and water and to produce the ultimate lemon squeezer, coffee machine, and air purifier. Here, Siemens showed off a mammoth three-story washing machine by the south entrance to Messe Berlin.
Samsung, too, has washers to promote, as this bubble-producing washing-machine truck shows. One Samsung executive said in a speech that a new model was inspired by the idea of doing laundry the way his grandmother did; no grandmothers were in evidence to say whether they shared his nostalgia for the chore.
China's ascent in the manufacturing world was visible at IFA with high-tech products such as flat-panel displays, but it wasn't limited to tech. Here, Zhejiang Jindeli Electrical Appliances offered a bewildering array of curling irons in the China Pavilion.
The broad range of devices Philips sells includes electric toothbrushes. The new top-end DiamondClean brings a sleeker look and a case with a built-in USB charging station for those whose travel plans include more laptops than power adapters. At home, you plop it into a charging station that looks like an ordinary drinking glass--except for the cable that attaches to a base. Philips also announced its AirFloss, which uses a 45mph burst of air and water to blow out bacteria.
The biggest news from Sony was the arrival of the Sony Tablet S and Sony Tablet P. Here, Kazuo Hirai, president of Sony's consumer products and services group, shows them off. The $499 Tablet P folds in two with a dual-screen clamshell design, and the $599 Tablet S has an asymmetric design to try to give it a natural upright feel.
The Sony Tablet S is thicker at the top when held in a landscape orientation, and its screen is designed to be read easily at an angle when it's laid on a flat surface. The asymmetry is more noticeable when moving the tablet from one hand to the other in portrait orientation.
Sony debuted its first--but likely not last--Android-powered Walkman as a prototype at IFA. It brings many music-specific features, including a hardware button that immediately brings up music controls.
The Samsung 830 series of SSDs (solid-state disks that use flash memory rather than hard drives' spinning magnetic disks) transfer data at speeds of 6GB per second and are designed to perform much better than hard drives. They'll go on sale worldwide at the end of October, Samsung said, but like all SSDs, they're not cheap compared to conventional hard drives. The 64GB model costs about 100 euros, the 128GB model about 200 euros, the 256GB model about 400 euros, and the top-end 512GB model about 800 euros, Samsung said.
LG Electronics showed off how its 3D TV--which ordinarily shows separate right-eye and left-eye views needed for stereoscopic vision--can be used also for two-person 2D gaming with different glasses. With these 3D glasses, you can see how the left eye and right eye see different views, one for each player.
LG Electronics boasted that all its 3D displays can be viewed with the same glasses, and it had dozens of devices to show off. Here, a crowd looks at the company's Android smartphone that can shoot 3D video.
After a bruisingly unsuccessful earlier attempt, Toshiba is trying again with a new Android tablet, the AT200. One selling point: its profusion of ports. On the side here are a USB port (the tablet can be a host, meaning other devices such as cameras can plug into it), an HDMI port, and a microSD flash memory card slot.
Samsung handed out this tiny aluminum suitcase to promote its new SD flash memory cards that it plans to start selling in the United States. Two card samples were inside, accessible once the latches were released.