IFA 2010 - Press Day Highlights (+ IFA 2010 Summary & Galaxy Tab media Q&A videos!)

IFA 2010 - Highlights from Press Day

The annual IFA consumer electronics trade fair kick-starts with two full days of press conferences for journalists only. Known as Press Days, the idea is to give journalists a hands-on experience with new products to be unveiled at IFA as well as ask questions, prepare stories and get a first-hand peek at the latest before everyone else. The IFA show, now into its 50th show, takes place on the Messe Berlin fairgrounds in Berlin, Germany and officially opens on 3 September and ends on 8 September. 

When Dr. Christian Goke, the Chief Operating Officer of show organizer Messe Berlin, went on stage during the official launch conference, he presented a quote that left a strong impression on journalists and attendees. The quote, spoken by Albert Einstein at the IFA show in 1930, represented what the IFA show has been all about throughout these years (the first IFA was held in 1924 but only became an annual show in 2007).

"When you listen to the radio, think also about how people have come to possess such a wonderful tool of communication...Remember too that it is the engineers who make true democracy possible. They make works available to us all and awake the nations from their stupor. Radio in particular has a unique function to fulfill, in terms of international reconciliation. Radio shows nations to each other in their most vivid form. It will contribute towards ending mutual feelings of alienness which so easily turn into mistrust and hostility."

For its 50th show, the IFA consumer electronics show continues the tradition first pointed by Einstein 80 years ago -- bringing a large number of people, countries, politicians and lobbyists together with the hope to solve real issues that plague the world, be it the ecology, our search for inspiration, to stay connected and to preserve our memories.

UPDATE 05/09/2010: Here's a summary video of what we saw at IFA 2010. At a glance, it summarizes some key announcements made by a few technology brands.

Here are some photo highlights of what went down over the Press Days:

 The annual IFA consumer electronics trade fair celebrates its 50th show this year. Even the iconic Berlin Radio Tower, which greets all visitors to the IFA show, isn't spared from being part of the celebration.

Miss IFA, the symbolic icon of the IFA consumer electronics show with her trademark red theme, greets journalists to the 50th edition of the show.

Dr. Christian Goke, the Chief Operating Officer of Messe Berlin, one of the IFA organizers, enthuses the fact that this year's show will see 1,800 international journalists from more than 80 countries.

Panasonic's Press Day conference had journalists grouped into teams to experience 3D content during various parts of the conference.

Continuing the company's move into creating a 3D content generation ecosystem, Panasonic showed the audience its two 3D-capable Full HD camcorders, announced some time back.

Of course, the new VT20 series of 3D Full HD TVs was unveiled. The VT20 comes in four sizes - 42, 46, 50, 65". Another series announced is the 42" Full HD GT20 series 3D-TV. While the GT20 series has a 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio, the VT20 series 3D-TVs have a 5,000,000:1 contrast ratio. The 3D-TVs operate on a 600Hz Sub-Field Drive that effectively minimizes cross talk that happens when the left and right eye images synchronize.

Similar to the Samsung initiative of bundling DreamWorks' Monsters vs Aliens Blu-ray 3D movie with their 3D TVs, Panasonic's 3D TV bundle includes Ice Age 3 and Coraline. You'd probably have to wonder why there's an AVATAR image on the right of the slide. Hmm...

With the launch of its 3D-capable Full HD camcorders for both consumers and broadcast, Panasonic is now embarking on a four-pillar 3D content creation strategy -- user generated 3D content via its camcorders, 3D movies, broadcast (it showed the Roland Garros tennis tournament live in 3D and will be showing the US Open 2010 live in 3D), as well as gaming (it is collaborating with NVIDIA to further optimize 3D gaming).

Samsung unveiled its 7" 'smart media device' called the Galaxy Tab. The Tab is 380g, has a 1024 x 600 WSVGA TFT screen, a 3-megapixel camera and a 2nd cam for video conferencing, comes with an 8-hour battery life and supports the Android operating system (currently Android 2.2/codenamed Froyo and later, will be updated to the next Android version codenamed Gingerbread). It runs on the Cortex A8 1GHz processor and comes in 16GB-32GB versions with microSD expansion up to 32GB. Oh it supports Flash 10.1 as well.

Here's how the Tab looks from the rear with the 3-megapixel camera. Oh, did we mention it's white at the back?

Here's a close-up right side view of the Galaxy Tab. You'll see a slot for the SIM card, micro SD, volume control and Power. The earphone jack sits on the top.

Here's an image comparing the Tab with the Apple iPad (left). The Tab uses a Super TFT screen and comes with a 30-pin charging connector that supports HDMI  as well. So far, Samsung will only distribute the Galaxy Tab via telecom operators (no retail version).

UPDATE 02/09/2010: As promised, here's a video of the media Q&A with Samsung executives right after the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Tab, at the IFA 2010 Press Day conference on 2 September. This video was made on 3 September 2010.

New Samsung notebooks with curved designs. The NF series (NF210/310) come in two varieties -- a single-core and dual-core Atom netbook-based setup -- while the larger SF series (SF310, SF410 and SF510, in 13.3, 14 and 15.6" respectively) will boast Core i3 and i5 processors. Both notebook series features the new wave design that departs from the boxy looks we've been seeing among notebooks.

LG Electronics has on display the world's slimmest Full HD 3D OLED TV with a 31" screen size. While the unit is a prototype, it has a thickness of only 0.29cm and has virtually no cross talk issues currently plaguing 3D-TVs using LED LCD or plasma technology, due to its use of fluorescent technology, not backlighting. The OLED TV impressed many journalists with its stunning color quality and design, and many expect it to cost an arm and a leg when plans are made to release it sometime next year.

Here's how it looks from the rear. We also spotted 3 HDMI ports at the rear and a PCMCIA slot on the side.

While the 3D tech used on the LG 3D OLED TVs is passive (not active), we particularly liked the cool-looking 3D glasses that were stylish and light.

This 3D Blu-ray Disc Player from LG (BX580) plays not just 3D Blu-ray Discs but MKV video formatted content as well. It also utilizes DLNA network technology so you can stream content to and fro other 3D devices via Home Link.

Sharp demonstrated its Quattron 3D TVs that utilizes a fourth yellow color beyond the standard three primary RGB colors.

We also saw this solar-powered race car by Sharp. The car was used as a pace marathon car at a recent marathon held in Nairobi.

Sharp showcased a concept prototype of a device that can capture 3D images on a portable device here. The screen module is a 3.8" with a 400 x RGB x 480 dot resolution in 3D and doubles to an 800 x RGB x 480 dot resolution in 2D. When viewed, users do not need 3D glasses but should stand about 30 cm away from the screen for optimal viewing. Besides the 3.8", another concept was a 10.6" version with a 640 x RGB x 768 3D resolution (50 cm viewing distance).

Maestro Lang Lang was invited to perform at the Sony press conference. The entire press conference was broadcast in Full HD on the big screen. This included an appearance by CEO of Sony, Sir Howard Stringer himself, who was also game enough to come on stage and do his presentation live in Full HD and 3D for the audience.

An interesting motion-sensing 3D image device concept called a 'ray modeler' developed by Sony engineers. Images of Princess Leia begging for help from Obi-wan Kenobi came rushing back to us when we saw this of course.

Fancy watching 3D content on your VAIO notebook? Visitors to the Sony booth get to see firsthand a 3D prototype inside a VAIO F series model notebook chassis.

The 5" e-reader from Sony (PRS-650/350) now features touch-screen functionality, 12-language dictionary function and 2GB memory for storing up to 1,200 books.

HP got in on the 3D action as well with the introduction of its Envy 17 notebook with a 17.3" 3D Ultra BrightView display screen. The Envy 14 got a different treatment with a special Beats by Dr. Dre edition, complete with a black-and-red design with a cool red backlit Beats logo on the LCD back. Oh it comes bundled with a red Beats headphone too.

US-based Pandigital showed us an 8" Digital Photo Frame with a SIM card in the device. Basically, right off the box, users will have an email address from the frame that they can attach and send images to instantaneously. Thanks to the SIM and algorithm in the frame, images are automatically resized to fit the frame and your family can immediately view the images wherever you send them from. We thought this was genius and would love to see service providers in Asia bundle this nifty gadget with their long-term service mobile plans. Oh the Photo Mail Digital Photo Frame can store up to 6400 images.

Soulra is a solar powered sound system for iPod and iPhone. It is equipped with a built-in rechargeable lithium ion battery pack and the unit is made in a rugged/rubberized case and aluminum body. It is also splash-proof with its IPX-4 case. The Soulra can last 4 hours with a full charge, and another 4 hours of playback with the solar panel lid opened towards sunlight.

Texas Instruments showed us several pico projectors it has been working on with different technology brand partners -- including these two new ones from Acer and Aiptek.

We thought this credit card authentication reader from US-based mophie (yes, the one behind the popular mophie juice pack) looked really cool. Basically it works with the iPhone 4 and by swiping your credit card in the slot underneath, an authentication app will do the remote checks for you.

Toshiba has announced Toshiba Places, a music and download service that is capable of working across different Toshiba devices, seen here on its TV, notebook and the new Folio 100 (far right), an NVIDIA Tegra 2-based, Android-operated 10.1-inch WSVGA tablet device.

Here's another shot of the Folio 100 tablets by Toshiba. Previously known as the SmartPad, the Folio 100 is a 10.1-inch multitouch screen device with a 1.3-megapixel Web camera, 16GB memory, SD/MMC card slot and USB 2.0 slot.

Finally, Toshiba has also entered the 3D fray with the announcement of its WL series of 3D TVs and its first 3D Blu-ray Disc player (the BDX3100KE). It also announced its CEVO-Engine (a progression from its Cell TV development), which will appear inside a new, slim Full HD LED TV (VL series) designed by renowned designer Jacob Jensen, to be launched next year. One of the main functions of the CEVO-Engine is 2D to 3D conversion (demoed here) and we were very impressed by the intelligence of the post-processing results. Truly remarkable!

Well, that's it for some highlights from the Press Day conferences at IFA 2010. We will be updating this article with additional highlights as the days progress, including upcoming videos of what we saw (plus, an intimate executive Q&A on the Samsung Galaxy Tab). Stay tuned.