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2005 Internationale Funkausstellung (IFA) Show

HDTV, camcorders, and next-generation video recorders were among the hot topics at the 2005 Internationale Funkausstellung (IFA) held in Berlin Sept. 2-7. Dubbed the largest consumer electronics fair in the world, IFA is a six-day event open to the trade and the public, showcasing current and future technologies in 26 halls from more than 1,000 exhibitors.

Panasonic used the occasion for a worldwide launch of its SDR-S100, the first 3CCD camcorder based on the stamp-size Secure Digital (SD) card format. At 1.96 (w) x 3.8 (h) x 3.16 (d) inches and 8.5 ounces, the SDR-S100 is the smallest and lightest MPEG2 video camera to date. Panasonic’s previous SC-based camcorders–D-Snap–were based on the MPEG4 format. JPEG still image resolution is an impressive 3.1 megapixels, and the camera adds a Leica lens with 10x optical zoom, Panasonic?s O.I.S. optical image stabilizer and PictBridge technology for direct connection to a photo printer. Video records in either 16:9 or 4:3 format. The LCD viewfinder measures a roomy 2.8 inches.

Panasonic claims that PC transfer time using the supplied USB cable is ¼ the time of that from DV tape to PC and a third of that of a DVD camera in XP mode. No cable connection is required with a PC housing an SD slot, and no finalization is required when recording to SD. The SDR-100 will be available in October at a suggested retail price of $1,199, including a 2-gigabyte SD card which can store up to 100 minutes of MPEG2 video in LP mode, 50 minutes in standard mode.

Pansonic SDR-S100
Pansonic SDR-S100

Panasonic also announced the introduction of a 65-inch 1080p plasma TV for the Japanese market. Plans haven?t been disclosed for the U.S., although typical product cycles point to a U.S. introduction at the International Consumer Electronics Show in January. Panasonic also cut prices by $500 last week on five plasma models ranging from 37- to 50 inches. The 42-inch TH-42PD50 EDTV dropped from a suggested retail price of $2,499 to $1,999, and the 50-inch HD TH-50PX500 fell from $5,499 to $4,499. Fueling the price reductions was an expansion of production. The company said it will reach production capacity of 5 million plasma panels at its six manufacturing plants in 2006.

As HDTV picks up steam in Europe, so did the display of Blu-ray recorders, although most were under glass as technology statements rather than market-ready products. Yamaha showed a combination Blu-ray recorder with hard disk drive. Hitachi featured a Blu-ray recorder next to a prototype 1-terabyte HDD digital video recorder. No availability was given for the recorder which can store 40 hours of HD video.

Philips also showed Blu-ray intentions with a prototype home recorder as well as an integrated PC drive. A company spokesperson said the Blu-ray triple-writer would be available worldwide. (photo of PC Blu-ray triple writer CD/DVD/Blu-ray below)

Philips Blu-ray Recorder
Philips Blu-ray Recorder

Samsung highlighted both networked and standalone Blu-ray recorders and a playback-only unit. A 400-GB hard drive Blu-ray recorder with HDD promised 2.5 hours of HD recording on a 25-GB disc with 802.11 b/g networking capability.

Samsung also wowed showgoers with supersized flat-panel TVs. The company highlighted its 80-inch plasma as the largest ?commercially available plasma? TV and demonstrated a 102-inch plasma next-door with a resolution of 1920 x 1080p. On the LCD side, Samsung laid claim to the world?s largest LCD, an 82-inch behemoth with a 6.4 billion color palette and 1920 x 1080p resolution. Marketing plans weren?t disclosed for either jumbo panel.

Samsung 80-inch LCD
Samsung 80-inch LCD

Samsung 102-inch Plasma
Samsung 102-inch Plasma

iPod fever has hit Europe, too, and consumer electronics companies are hoping to capitalize with everything from iPod-ready mini music systems to car stereo head units. Onkyo?s DS-A1 interactive dock outputs stereo audio and iPod photo images to Onkyo RI-compatible receivers.

The most creative award went to Sony. Adopting a Sony Style approach rather than a trade show booth look, Sony entertained showgoers with futuristic lifestyle vignettes designed to give visitors a hands-on experience with portable Sony products. Attendees could lay back on plastic rockers while listening to music on Sony Ericsson mobile phones or take a rest inside individual pods while listening to Sony digital music players. They could also download music from the company?s Connect music site to portable music players.

Sony Style Display
Sony Style Display

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