Seen at IFA Berlin: A line of Elvis Presley small kitchen appliances, including this toaster:
On Friday morning here in Berlin, I headed to the IFA electronics show. My first stop was Samsung’ ginormous exhibition, where one of the biggest sections was devoted to the upcoming Galaxy Tab 7.7. I played with one, admired the amazingly vivid Super AMOLED Plus screen, and snapped the photo above. Then I left.
Turns out that I was lucky. Samsung later removed all the Tab 7.7s from the show, presumably for reasons relating to Apple’s ongoing patent case over the Galaxy Tab. Here’s FOSS Patents’ Florian Mueller with some details. (In Germany, Apple has an injunction against Samsung that prevents it from selling the Tab 10.1 here.)
Samsung apparently doesn’t plan to sell the 7.7 in the U.S., a move that Mueller speculates could be spurred by the Galaxy Tab line’s legal woes. I’m not a patent lawyer and am not taking a stance on the case, but I’ll be sorry if the 7.7 can’t make it into the market. From a hardware standpoint, at least, it’s the nicest 7″ (or thereabouts) tablet I’ve seen. I’d like to see consumers get the chance to embrace it or reject it as they see fit.
[Full disclosure: I spoke on a panel at IFA, and the conference organizers covered my travel costs.]
By Harry McCracken | Posted at 3:16 am on Saturday, September 3, 2011
Way back when, LG introduced a refrigerator that–for reasons which were unclear at the time–ran Windows 98. The company’s still at it. As I wandered around the numerous halls at the IFA electronics trade show here in Berlin, I stumbled on LG’s booth, where a demo of its Smart ThinQ appliances (which, I assume, are powered by something other than Windows 98) was in progress.
The line includes a refrigerator, a washing machine, a microwave oven, and a robotic vacuum cleaner; all use Wi-Fi to connect to the Net and work with smartphone apps. For instance, you can manage a shopping list on the fridge and zap it to your phone and back. (The fridge screen also runs Facebook and various entertainment apps.) You can download new wash cycles from your phone to the washing machine, as well as adjust the cycle on the fly. And you can use a smartphone app to download receipes to the oven.
If nothing else, I admire LG for showing patience with this concept. Wonder how many of the appliances they’re selling, and whether folks continue to use the techy features after the novelty wears off?
A couple more photos after the jump. (Full disclosure: I spoke at IFA on a panel, and the conference orgaziners covered my travel costs.)
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[At Panasonic's booth, IFA attendees use glasses to view 3D images of the women performing right there in front of them.]
Last year, I attended the IFA consumer-electronics megaconference in Berlin. The exhibitions of the big manufacturers were utterly dominated by 3D TVs. All that blurry 3D hurt my eyeballs, put me in a bad mood, and prompted this rant.
This year, I’m back in Berlin for IFA. There’s still scads of 3D, but it’s not quite as omnipresent as last year. Whether companies are losing interest or simply recalibrating their expectations to something more in line with consumers’ level of interest in this stuff, I’m not sure.
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By Harry McCracken | Posted at 3:10 pm on Saturday, August 30, 2008
I’m still playing catchup with all the photos I took on the IFA show floor…
A company called Vogel’s was showing neat remote-controlled mounts for flat-screen TVs. I hope that the Yellow Pages people don’t get wind of Vogel’s slogan, though:
If you told me that Toyota was exhibiting at CES in Las Vegas, I’d assume they were showing off something like a Prius with built-in Wi-Fi. The company was at IFA–but it was with their sewing machines (which, I just learned, are also available in the U.S.):
IFA had a “Room of Silence.” I didn’t visit it and am not positive what it was, but if it’s anything like what I’m thinking it might be, I think every gigantic tradeshow should have one:
By Harry McCracken | Posted at 2:54 pm on Saturday, August 30, 2008
In the United States, about the furthest Coke machines get away from their core purpose of selling you a Coke is selling you a Diet Mr. Pibb. In Berlin, where I’ve been visiting the IFA consumer electronics show, I ran across some Coke machines that sell you ringtones, music downloads, and games, and which double as Wi-Fi hotspots.
I didn’t make use of any of them myself–I was in a rush, and have forgotten nearly all of my two years of college German–but I did take a few snapshots of one of them…
Unlike most tradeshows in the U.S.–which are open only to grown-ups who are involved in the trade in question–the IFA show in Berlin is open to the general public, and some attendees bring their offspring. In fact, there’s an area called the Kids’ Playground, which is basically a couple of rooms equipped with electronic toys and kid-oriented gadgets.
When some of us American journalists dropped by, we saw four kids deeply engaged in using Asus’s eee PCs–and ignoring a One Laptop Per Child XO laptop that was sitting off to one side. That may or may not be a commentary on the relative appeal of the two low-cost notebooks, but it makes for an interesting photo:
By Harry McCracken | Posted at 5:48 am on Saturday, August 30, 2008
My trip to Berlin for the IFA electronics show is winding down, but I still have stuff to talk about. And it’s a slow news day. So here’s a T-List about my visit–be thankful it’s not in German!
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My time at the IFA electronics show is winding down, but I’m still catching up on reporting back here on everything I’ve seen on the show floor. Herewith, a few more items…
Beko had a booth full of pretty generic looking TVs and other products, but in a world chock-full of electronics companies with pompous taglines, liked its slogan: “Buy It Before It Becomes Famous”:
American domestic robot manufacturer Ugobe wasn’t just at the show with its Pleo dinosaur–it brought along a cool giant-sized Pleo:
IFA isn’t as thick with booth entertainment as an American show like U.S., but it wasn’t entirely devoid of it, either. I never quite figured out what a company called 2DF did, but its giant walkaround mascot was downright adorable:
Becker had an in-dash navigation system called the Indianapolis Pro–and while I assume it refers to the Indy 500, it was still startling and entertaining to see a German product named after a midwestern American city:
In the U.S., we have both Monster the cable company and Monster the job-hunting service. That’s confusing enough–the San Francisco 49ers play at Monster Park (née Candlestick Park), and I can never remember which Monster it’s named after.
Here at IFA, there’s yet another Monster on the show floor. This one makes…$1200 ironing board/iron combos that blast your laundry with more steam than I’ve ever seen in my life. As far as I know, this one doesn’t sell its products in the U.S., at least under the Monster name–which is probably just as well. Even though the product looked kind of nifty. At least for those who’d spend $1200 to keep their clothes looking sharp.
Here’s a Monster employee demoing the company’s wares by pressing the jacket of CBS News’s Larry Magid:
IFA has been doing consumer electronics for far longer than anyone’s called them consumer electronics. (The show dates back to 1924; in 1930, the keynote was given by Albert Einstein, who talked about a newfangled device know as television.) This is the first year that the show’s focus has broadened to include appliances as well as consumer electronics; at first blush, that sounds like it makes a lot of sense. After all, the two worlds are converging, right?
Well, maybe a little bit, but as I strolled the appliance halls at the show today, I was mostly struck by how separate the worlds of electronics and traditional appliances remain. Yes, virtually everything from microwave ovens to irons are packed with sophisticated ciruitry these days. But I had visions of new-wave kitchen and laundry gadgets that sit on a home network and do double-duty as entertainment devices, and I saw almost nothing at the show that even hinted at such a merger of devices in the home.
I said almost nothing. Vestel, the Turkish company whose Yoda laptop I already covered, also had a large booth full of kitchen equipment. And it was demoing some concept kitchen/entertainment products which it doesn’t intend to actually sell to anyone.
One was a dishwasher with a built-in TV…
Another was a refrigerator with a TV…
And the third was another fridge with built-in, touch-sensitive MP3 playback. (It was also the shiniest appliance I’ve seen, so it serves a third purpose as a mirror–that’s USA Today’s Ed Baig snapping a photo in the reflection.)
I can kind of see why Vestel isn’t planning to turn these into real products, since none of them look particularly practical. (Especially the dishwasher, unless you’re a midget for whom the TV is at eyelevel.) All the technology exists to make appliances that have consumer electronics-style functionality. But designing ones that make sense is still a challenge. Come to think of it, I can’t think of any examples of anyone succeeding at doing so, unless you cound iRobot’s Roomba.
I’m still convinced we’ll see more examples of smart appliances, including ones that have consumer appeal. Just not at IFA 2008, and maybe not anywhere for a while…
By Harry McCracken | Posted at 7:33 am on Friday, August 29, 2008
The Empire Strikes Back’s Yoda has appeared on notebooks–of the spiral-bound kind. PC manufacturer has been synonymous with cow spots for more than two decades–but if they’ve ever made a cow-spotted PC, I’ve forgotten about it.
And then there’s Turkish electronics and appliance manufacturer Vesta. Here at IFA, they’re showing a notebook that A) has a “Yoda” label (though no imagery of the little guy–it may have nothing to do with Mr. Lucas’s creation) and B) is covered in cow spots:
Maybe this makes sense if you’re Turkish…
By Harry McCracken | Posted at 7:08 am on Friday, August 29, 2008
The IFA show floor (floors, actually–the event takes place in multiple halls spread over numerous buildings) is full of flat-scren TVs we probably won’t be seeing in the U.S., from companies I’ve never heard of. Some of ‘em look pretty nice, such as those from Loewe, a German company that specializes in stylish sets at high-end prices.
Then there are the ones that we can probably live without. A company called Galactic was showing off flat screens wrapped in interchangable cases made out of leather, a material you don’t see much in consumer electronics of any sort, and which I’ve never seen on a TV:
It’s a weird effect. And apparently, Galactic wants it to come off as, well, kinky. Witness the signage it had up with its leather set:
I’ve been spending the day at IFA, the giant consumer electronics show in Berlin that’s Europe’s equivalent of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. I’m having a good time, but one conclusion I’ve drawn so far is that CES has the edge when it comes to major announcements about flashy new technologies and jaw-dropping specs. CES isn’t CES without stuff like the world’s first OLED TV or world’s thinnest LCD or the world’s largest plasma. IFA, however, seems to be dominated by more mainstream products and technologies that are cool, but not cutting-edge. You could argue that that’s a good thing, since very few of us will buy the first OLED TV or biggest LCD or thinnest plasma. But it does make for a somewhat more subdued show.
One exception: There’s plenty of hoopla about the first 200-Hz LCD TVs, which run at a faster frame rate to provide smoother action with less motion blur. The company that’s first to market with this breakthrough is justly proud about it. Here’s a snapshot I took in Sony’s booth:
..and here’s one from Samsung’s booth:
Yup–both companies are claiming credit for being the first. (Sony and Samsung share some LCD production, which might explain the synchronicity here.) The dualing firsts kind of point out the silliness of specsmanship in general: Ultimately, it doesn’t matter much which company was first and which one was second. Unless, of course, you’re talking about marketing campaigns. (“The World’s Second 200-Hz TV” just doesn’t have the same ring.)
Is 200-Hz worth getting excited about? The jury’s still out. Samsung has a demo that showed 50-Hz vs. 200-Hz, but it was so obviously rigged that it wasn’t a useful data point: The 50-Hz video was more flickery than a Charlie Chaplin film. I didn’t see any similar comparison at Sony’s both. Both 50-Hz TVs did, indeed, display extremely smooth imagery, but I learned a long time ago not to pay much attention to TV demos at trade shows, since they almost always look gorgeous. What will matter is how much better 200-Hz looks with real-world data sources like cable and satellite TV and standard-def DVDs and Blu-Ray discs almost nobody ever uses those sources when showing off sexy new technologies.
More IFA tidbits to come, and full disclosure: I’m attending the show as a paid speaker at several panels.
By Harry McCracken | Posted at 11:59 pm on Thursday, August 28, 2008
I’m in Berlin to attend IFA, the giant consumer electronics tradeshow; besides roaming the floors to find stuff to cover here, I’m participating on two panels at the show today. One’s on smart home appliances; the other is on “Guessing Apple’s Next Moves.” Good topics, both–I’ll report back here on where each of the conversations go.
Unlike any other tradeshow I’ve been to, IFA kicked off with a gala dinner last night. The highlight was a speech by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. But there was entertainment, too–including the Human Slinky:
I’ve attended hundreds of trade shows, but I’ve never been been to one whose spirit is represented by a human spokesmascot. Until now, that is.
I’m in Berlin to attend this week’s IFA, a giant event that’s the European equivalent of the U.S.’s Consumer Electronics Show. And IFA has Miss IFA, who “represents the dynamic and cosmopolitan image of the IFA and the city of Berlin,” according to the show’s organizers, Messe Berlin. “She invites visitors to explore industry highlights, find out the latest information, and discover the vast range of products at one of the world’s leading trade fairs for consumer electronics, and starting in 2008, for Home Appliances.”
Miss IFA has extremely red hair, an extremely red dress, and extremely red shoes–she’s “the young lady with the fiery ginger looks,” according to Messe Berlin. She didn’t have all that much to say when she attended a press conference this afternoon, but she apparently never met a piece of consumer electronics she didn’t like. Here she is in a bunch of stock shots produced for this year’s show, some of which were taken at Berlin landmarks such as the Brandenburg Gate. (More pix after the jump.)