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A look back… IFA BERLIN


2019: LG’s OLED “wave wall”


October 2021 ertonline.co.uk


2016: Curved 4K OLED screens


24


2018: Sharp showing 8K


3D or not 3D Roll back to 2013, and 3D appeared to be on the way out, to be replaced by 4K and curves. Samsung showed off a 110-inch screen (well, why not?), while others wowed with more modest 55- and 65-inch models. Toshiba, which had launched the world’s first


4K screen in the form of the ZL2 several IFAs prior, predicted that upscaling would be the big differentiator. The brand’s big technology then was the CEVO 4K engine, an update of its lauded proprietary Resolution+ picture processing suite. Remember this was before AI was even an idea in CE. As such, it did a remarkable job. A spokesman likened the then new technology


and UHD screens to racing cars. “The panel represents the tyres,” I was told. “But like a car, if you combine them with a cheap engine the performance will still be bad.” Panasonic introduced its first 4K consumer


screen for Europe at the 2013 show. The 65-inch TX-L65WT600 was also the first screen to offer HDMI 2.0 connectivity, compatible with 4K UHD up to 60fps. The set also touted DisplayPort connectivity, suggesting it might be a standard for the future. This turned out not to be the case. Perhaps the most contentious TVs at IFA in 2013


were curved models from Samsung and LG. “The future is not flat!” proclaimed Samsung


famously, as it unveiled its SC9, an OLED screen. “The curve of the screen makes the TV feel larger. This creates an incredibly immersive viewing experience.” LG countered with a 77-inch OLED curved prototype.


2018: Sony’s 8K screen Not to be outdone, Sony showed the world’s


first curved LED set. The back panel appeared to remain flat, with only the substrate carefully arched. The end result was really rather... curious.


Say hi to Hi-Res audio The now familiar Hi-Res Audio label from Sony also made its first appearance in 2013. The brand’s initial High Res Audio collection comprised hard drive audio players, a USB DAC amplifier and bookshelf SS-HA1 and SS-HA3 loudspeaker packages. Very lovely, very expensive. Sony also unwrapped its first high-end


soundbar, the HT-ST7. Described as a 7.1 solution it featured novel magnetic fluid speakers. Audio quality was genuinely outstanding for the form factor. Soundbars were about to become very big business. Back in 2013, the idea of ubiquitous streaming


services would have seemed fanciful. Home entertainment was still based around the disc, and the Blu-ray Disc Association had something fanciful to show – an all new 4K disc format. Blu-ray was “the perfect format for Blu-ray” we were told. As IFA unfolded that year, there was no firm


product launch on the cards – that was still a year away. But the disc business was looking good back then, with BD software sales up 20 per cent. In the UK alone, disc sales had grown 37 per cent over the first half of that year. BD Profile 4.0, as it was unglamorously referred


to, wasn’t just going to be about a resolution bump though. “We’re considering a lot of other


things, from dynamic range, to bitrate and sound- quality,” the BDA teased. All we did know for sure was that 4K


compatible BD players would be backwards compatible with Full HD Blu-rays. Good taste has never been a prerequisite of IFA


– and we’re not referring to the Messe’s Currywurst stalls. Few remember LG’s limited edition Swarovski-pedestal OLED panels of 2014, or Samsung’s curved soundbar, launched to match its curved screens. Taking that curved mantra to another level, LG


also showed off a prototype 77-inch flexing OLED. “Different types of content look better on flat and curved screens,” was the rationale. “If you’re watching news or TV shows, then a flat screen may be preferred. When you’re watching movies, a curve might work better.” As it happened, this wheeze flat out didn’t work. LG had far more luck with webOS, which it


launched at IFA on the 55EC9300, a 55-inch Full HD OLED TV. It went on to become the darling of the connected TV industry and a ground- breaker in the world of smart TV. Arguably the biggest story at IFA 2014 was the


surprise return of Technics, with the first kit to appear under the brand in six years. Intended to be a statement, the Technics reference-class R1 relaunch system comprised the €14,000 55kg SE- R1 stereo amplifier, and the €8,000 SU-R1 Network Audio Control player. The combo brought a smile to the face of


everyone who heard it that year. I can’t help feeling Einstein would have loved it.


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