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IFA 2006: HDTV, Blu-ray vs HD DVD and all the new gadgets

With over 1,000 exhibitors spread over 160,000 square metres, IFA is the biggest consumer electronics trade show in Europe. Crave checked out the latest trends and coolest gear.

Crave has just come back from IFA 2006, the Internationale Funkausstellung in Berlin, Germany. 'Funkausstellung' means 'radio show', but IFA has moved on since the first event in 1924, when 180,000 visitors examined the first valve radio receivers. Today IFA is a consumer electronics show covering six main areas: television and entertainment, personal computer and games, sound and car media, digital imaging and digital music, personal communication, and satellite, networks and cable. It claims to be the world's largest consumer electronics trade show, although the International CES in Las Vegas might dispute that claim (CES wins on exhibitors, hosting 2,700 to IFA's 1,200, but IFA gets 245,000 visitors to CES's 150,000).

The biggest story at this year's IFA was the continuing evolution of hi-def television (HDTV). With 70 per cent of LCD televisions sold in Europe now carrying the HD Ready logo, and the total number of HD Ready sets in Europe expected to reach 9 million by the end of 2006, manufacturers are now promoting bigger screens, televisions capable of 'Full HD' (ie, with a panel resolution of 1,920x1,080 pixels) and sets that support 1080p. Competition between Blu-ray and HD DVD has also moved to the next phase, with players for both formats due to go on sale in Europe before Christmas.

Crave also saw lots of cool new gadgets, ranging from widescreen digital cameras and multifunction MP3 players to photonic fabrics and 3D displays, so check back over the next couple of days for all the best stories from IFA. -ML