Tag: Philips

Philips and DTS implement full network multiroom audio functionality in a TV set

Article – From the horse’s mouth

Philips TV image courtesy of Xperi

DTS Play-Fi has Philips as the first brand to offer a TV that is part of a network-based multiroom audio setup

XPeri (DTS)

DTS Play-Fi Arrives On TVs (Press Release)

My Comments

Over the last seven years, there have been a plethora of network-based multiroom audio platforms coming on board. Some of these, like Frontier’s UNDOK, Qualcomm’s AllPlay and DTS’s Play-Fi allow different manufacturers to join their ecosystems, thus allowing for a larger range of equipment in different form factors to be part of the equation. But these platforms only work with devices that use that same platform.

Well, how do I get sound from that 24-hour news channel or sports fixture that I am following on TV through the multiroom speaker in the kitchen with these platforms? Most of the platforms have at least one vendor who offers at least one home-theatre receiver or soundbar that connects to your TV using an HDMI-ARC, optical digital or analogue line-level connection. With these devices, they offer the ability  to stream the audio content that comes via those inputs in to the multiroom audio setup.

In this situation, you would have to have your TV on and tuned to the desired channel, offering its audio output via the soundbar or home-theatre system that has this technology for these setups to work. Then you would have to select the soundbar’s or home-theatre receiver’s “TV input” or “TV sound” as the source to have via your network multiroom audio setup’s speaker.

Bang & Olufsen, with their continual investment in their Master Control Link multiroom audio platform, even had the idea of TV sound in another room work out for that platform since the late 1980s. Here, most of their TV sets made since the late 80s could be set up as an audio endpoint for their multiroom system with the idea of having one’s favourite CD or radio station playing through the speakers built in to the TV installed in a secondary room. Or one could have the main TV “stream” the sound of a TV broadcast through a set of speakers installed in another room.

But DTS and Philips worked together to put full network multiroom audio in to a range of TV sets sold under the Philips name. This feature will initially appear in their 2020-model OLED premium “main-living-area” TVs.

Most of us will remember Philips as an innovative Dutch consumer-electronics brand that has existed over the many years. This is what with their name behind the audio cassette tape that effectively drove the 1970s and 1980s along with optical-disc technology such as the CD. But Philips devolved themselves of the consumer-electronics scene and had Funai, a Japanese consumer-electronics concern, continue to carry the flag in that market since 2013. This is due to a highly-saturated market when it comes to value-priced consumer electronics.

What will it offer? The TV can be a client device for online services and local content sources able to be streamed via the DTS Play-Fi platform. It will include the ability to show up metadata about the content you are listening to on the TV screen. There will even be the ability to have graphically-rich metadata like album art, artist photos or station logos on the TV screen, making more use of that display surface.

You may think that a TV isn’t an ideal audio endpoint for regular music listening from an audio source, what with integral speakers not suited to hi-fi sound or the screen being lit up and showing information about that source. But some of us do listen to music that way if there isn’t a music system. A common example would be listening to radio or a music channel in a hotel room through that room’s TV thanks to digital-TV or “radio-via-TV” setups that hotels provide. Similarly, some of us who haven’t got a separate music system to play CDs on have resorted to using a DVD player to play our CDs through the TV’s speakers.

On the other hand, the TV can be a source device for a Play-Fi device or logical group. This means that audio associated with the video content can emanate through a Play-Fi client device like a speaker. This means that you could have a Play-Fi speaker in your kitchen playing the sound from the sporting fixture that matters on the TV, typically by you using your Play-Fi app to “direct” the TV sound from your Philips TV to the Play-Fi speaker or the logical group it is a member of.

DTS even uses a special mobile-platform app which effectively turns your iOS or Android mobile device in to a Play-Fi client device that you use with your existing headphones connected to that device. This could avoid the need to set up, use and be within range of a Bluetooth transmitter adaptor plugged in to your TV for wireless headphone functionality. As well, with that setup, you could even be anywhere within coverage of your home network’s Wi-Fi for this to work.

I see this as a chance for any network-based multiroom platform who has a TV vendor “on its books” to draw out the idea of integrating the TV set as a legitimate member device class on their platform. This is whether it is a client audio device with a graphically-rich user interface or as a source device with access to audio from a connected video device, the set’s onboard broadcast-TV tuner or a connected-TV service viewed through its smart-TV functionality. In the context of smart TV / set-top box applications, it could be about having integration with one or more network multiroom audio platforms as a legitimate functionality case for these devices.

It would be very similar to what is happening with the Frontier Smart UNDOK network multi-room audio platform. This is where a significant number of member companies for that platform are offering Internet radio devices as part of their device lineup where most of them have FM and or DAB+ broadcast-radio functionality with some units having integrated CD players. Here, the UNDOK platform is allowing a user to listen to broadcast radio or CDs played on one of these devices through one or more other platform-member devices that are on the same home network in lieu of listening to online sources through these devices. A similar approach has also been undertaken for the Qualcomm AllPlay platform with Panasonic having AllPlay-compliant stereo systems equipped with broadcast-radio or CD functionality streaming the sound from a CD or radio station to other Qualcomm AllPlay-compliant network multiroom speakers on your home network.

What is being underscored here is that a network-based multiroom audio setup doesn’t have to be about listening to online audio content. Instead it is also about making legacy audio content available around the house through your home network.

Internationaler Funkaustellung 2015-Part 4-Home Automation and the Internet Of Things

IFA LogoPreviously, in my series about the Internationaler Funkaustellung 2015 fair in Berlin, I had covered computing and home network trends like Intel Skylake chips leading to improved performance for desktop and portable computers and the steady rise of 802.11ac Wave 2 Wi-Fi wireless and HomePlug AV2 powerline networks. This was followed up with home entertainment technology which was centered around 4K UHDTV becoming more mainstream, the arrival of 4K UHD Blu-Ray Discs and HDR TV technology.

Home Automation

There has been a rise in the number of home-automation systems appearing on the European market with companies offering a new home-automation platform or building out their existing platform with new sensor and control devices. Most of these systems implement Zigbee or Z-Wave and use a hub or central unit that links to your home network to allow monitoring and management of these systems from your smartphone or Web-connected computer.  Some of these systems may have some sensor or output devices work with your home network’s Wi-Fi segment rather than Zigbee or Z-Wave.

Devolo Home Control Central Unit (Zentrale) press photo courtesy of Devolo

Devolo Home Control Central unit connected to router

Devolo have built out the Devolo Home Control platform with more devices. This Z-Wave system started off with a central unit, a wall-mount room thermostat, a thermostatic radiator valve, a smoke alarm and a plug-in appliance module which turns appliances on and off and reports their power consumption. The central unit can link with your home network via an Ethernet or, thankfully, a HomePlug AV 500 connection both of which are more realistic in this application than Wi-Fi wireless. Now they have built it out with a motion detector, a reed-switch-based door/window contact sensor, a water sensor to detect leaky washing machines or flooded basements, and a humidity sensor. They also added an indoor siren to provide an audible alert to user-defined events; along with a wall-mount switch, light dimmer and blind/shutter controller that have to be installed by an electrician and connected to AC wiring. This system is managed by a mobile-platform app and can signal events by email or SMS text messaging.

D-Link have also built out their myDLink home-automation platform which uses Wi-Fi for some applications and Z-Wave for others. This system is based around a Connected Home Hub which connects to your home network via Wi-FI or Ethernet and connects to the Z-Wave-based devices. Here, they have an appliance module and motion sensor that connects directly via Wi-Fi along with a smoke alarm, siren, water sensor, 3-in-1 magnet/reed door sensor which also senses room temperature and light level, 3-in-1 motion sensor which also senses room temperature and light level, and smoke alarm.

Samsung just lately took over the SmartThings home automation initiative and brought it under their banner. This system again is based around a home-automation hub which works with Z-Wave or Zigbee along with your home network but can work with devices from other vendors like the Yale Real Living deadbolts or the Honeywell Lyric thermostats. They have also shown the SleepSense bed sensor which slips under your mattress and registers how much sleep you are getting.

Philips are building out the Hue LED-based lighting range with the Hue+ lighting strip which is effectively a string of lights. Here, you can adjust colour and control the light from your smartphone like you can with other Philips Hue devices and this can be built out to 10 metres by adding a 1-metre extension strip.


Increasing more of the appliance manufacturers are working towards an increasingly-sophisticated “app-cessory” approach to online enablement where your smartphone or tablet becomes an extra control surface that exposes increased functionality like notifying you on your smartphone when the laundry is done so you can start the next load as quickly as possible. But it is also driven by the manufacturers implementing an interlink with their resources to facilitate assisted cooking and similar functionality.

Miele CM7 countertop bean-to-cup coffee machine press picture courtesy of Miele

Miele CM7 countertop bean-to-cup coffee machine

Miele has brought in the Edition Con@ct washing machine and dryer which implements an automatic detergent dispensing system and lets users know using their smartphone and the Internet if they need more of the detergent cartridges. As well, they are extending this concept to dishwashers so the app reminds you when to get dishwasher powder or tablets. They also are releasing the US-sized ovens and range-style cookers in to Europe because of the fact these bring out the “gourmet” in some European cultures. Their new CM7 touch-operated bean-to-cup superautomatic espresso coffee machine has been released as their foray in to the countertop coffee machine space and implements a “jug” function for making large quantities of coffee or milk as well as a cartridge-based automatic descaler. Miele’s newer electric induction cooktops are implementing the TempControl function for frying so you can get those eggs, sausages or “best of the kitchen” fry-up just right.

AEG Pro Combi Plus Smart Oven press picture courtesy of the Electrolux Group

AEG Pro Combi Plus smart oven – you can see how it’s cooking from your iPad

Electrolux have been showing their vision for the Internet Of Everything at this year’s IFA as far as their appliance brands are concerned. One application that they want to underscore with AllJoyn and the AllSeen Alliance is assisted cooking. One of their brands, AEG, has come forward with some connected cooking ideas including the ProCombi Plus Smart Oven. This takes the “app-cessory” concept further by using an integrated camera so you can peek at what is cooking in that oven using your smartphone or tablet which is connected via Wi-Fi.  The mobile device app will have access to their recipe catalogue which is searchable and sortable by diet, cost, occasion, ingredients and technique along with access to AEG’s social-Web channels. The ProCombi Plus Smart Oven is one of those ovens that implements wet and dry cooking in the same space so you can steam-cook the fish and roast some potatoes in the same space. The Hob2Hood rangehood is one of the first rangehoods that uses the hob or cooker as a control surface and will work with AEG’s cooktops.

Bosch Home Connect press picture courtesy of Robert Bosch AG

You can see in your Bosch fridge using your smartphone courtesy of Home Connect

Bosch Home Appliances has also headed down the connected appliance path with a fridge that has an integrated camera so you can see what is in there on your smartphone or tablet. As well, they also have other “app-cessory” functionality including system diagnostics across all of the appliance classes including their built-in bean-to-cup coffee machine. Let’s not forget that Bosch are releasing cooktops that are equipped with sensors for optmum cooking.

KitchenAid used the IFA 2015 to capitalise on the fad for sous-vide cooking by launching the Chef Touch Sous-Vide collection. This consists of a vacuum sealer, steam oven and freezer pitched for this technique with an ask of approximately EUR€10000. It isn’t just about that famous electric mixer anymore., W

Whirlpool are launching their Bauknecht sub-brand which is pitched at a “life-balanced” lifestyle for the millenial generation. This courts households with a family and career focused lifestyle and encompasses washing machines, dryers and fridges controlled by the BLive mobile app. For example, you can tell your Bauknecht washing machine what material your clothes in your washload are and the machine determines the best cycle for that job.

Samsung AddWash washing machine press picture courtesy of Samsung

Samsung AddWash washing machine – you can add that sock mid-cycle

Samsung had fielded a front-load washing machine that has a door which you can open during its cycle so you can add laundry that had missed the start of the cycle like a sock’s mate. Here, you can pause the cycle and this small door unlocks while the water stays in the machine when you add that item. It also is a connected appliance which supports smartphone notification.

Philips has introduced a range of devices that work with your smartphone and tablet for “cradle to grave” personal wellbeing. For example, they have an ultrasound scanner so you can scan yourself during pregnancy and see how the new baby comes up on your mobile device. They also have the uGrow in-ear thermometer to measure baby’s temperature and show it on your smartphone as well as a baby monitor. The SoniCare electric toothbrush uses your mobile device to show you how to best clean your teeth wile the Smart Shaver 7000 system becomes an electric shaver, skin buffer or beard trimmer. They even provide a location tracking device for seniors who have the wanders.

Other brands have come to the fore like Haier with a fridge that has a door that becomes a window to what’s in there and the Neato Botvac which is a robot vacuum cleaner that connects to your home Wi-Fi network and uses your smartphone or tablet as its control surface.

What is showing up here is that the Internet Of Things is being seen as an essential product differentiator for large and small appliances while some manufacturers are building out home-automation platforms to get us going in this field. These goals will be centered around smartphones and tablets being control surfaces. Who knows what next year will bring.

Part 1 – Personal Computing Trends

Part 2 – Wearables and the Home Network

Part 3 – Home Entertainment

Part 4 – Home Automation and the Internet Of Things

Philips to present Android all-in-one touchscreen displays


Philips Launches Two Smart All-In-One Displays | TechPowerUp

Philips Smart All-in-One Android-Displays mit Touchsteuerung | Gizmodo.de (German language / Deutschesprache)

From the horse’s mouth


Product Page

S221C4AFD 21” variant

S231C4AFD 23” variant

My Comments

Philips S221C4AFD Smart All-In-One Monitor - press image courtesy of PhilipsAfter the Consumer Electronics Show 2014 had passed, it was for sure that Android was to step up to the plate as a desktop operating system and the classes of personal computing equipment were to be blurred. One class of equipment that was being premiered was a monitor that was an Android-driven “all-in-one” computer that that was being showcased running one of the Angry Birds games.

Philips was no further from the truth when they launched a pair of Android-powered Full-HD “smart monitors”. These monitors are able to work as primary or secondary displays for Windows computers but also work in their own right as the equivalent of a recent Android 4.2-powered tablet.

They are available as a 21” (S221C4AFD) or 23” (S231C4AFD) variant with full access to the Google Play store (and such goodies as Instagram, Angry Birds, Candy Crush Saga and the like). Here they run this software using NVIDIA Tegra 1.6GHz horsepower and work with 2Gb RAM and 8Gb flash storage. They also can mount an SDHC card for your digital camera’s photos or other “offloading” storage requirements and connect to your home network using 802.11g/n Wi-Fi.

Some of us could see these as “toys” but they could be purposed not just as secondary monitors for your propped-up laptop. There is the ability to use these as task-focused computers like digital signage / electronic picture frames, kiosks, POS terminals and the like when it comes to work use or they could be used in the same vein as the Sony VAIO Tap 20 and its ilk where they end up on that ottoman so that two kids play air-hockey or similar multiplayer games.

At the moment. they are being sold in Europe for €440 (21” model) or €470 (23” model). This is a symptom of what will be happening with Windows and Android being the mainstream operating systems for both regular and mobile computing needs.

Smart TV Alliance–the goal of a level playing field for connected TV


Will Smart TV Alliance challenge cable operators? | FierceCable

LG launches “universal” smart TV platform | CNET

Leading TV Makers Launch Smart TV Alliance, Provide Infrastructure For Effective Collaboration Among Smart TV Makers And App Developers | FierceCable

From the horse’s mouth

Smart TV Alliance – Website

My Comments

At the moment, there are many different connected-TV platforms out there offered by different hardware-manufacturers for use with their “smart-TV” sets and video peripherals.

This provides key challenges for both content creators and video-hardware companies alike. Content creators would be required to work towards creating their interactive content and service-to-TV front ends for each smart-TV platform and, in some cases, this would require negotiation with the platform owner ie the video-hardware manufacturer for them to develop for that platform.

Similarly, there is a higher cost of entry for companies who haven’t established a “smart-TV” platform of their own. This especially applies to those who make TVs, Blu-Ray players and video peripherals for multiple brands on an “OEM” or “ODM” basis or who focus on certain aspects of their device’s design like a European TV maker offering premium TVs that excel in picture and sound quality or a computer-technology name offering network media players.

What has now just happened with LG and TP-Vision; who are represented by the Philips TV nameplate, is that they have started a “Smart TV Alliance”. This is an industry association open to broadcasters, pay-TV providers, video-hardware manufactures and software developers who want to create a level playing field for the connected-video marketplace.

They even targeted the pay-TV industry so that this industry doesn’t have to focus its activity around set-top-box infrastructure which has a high capital-expenditure cost.

Issues that have to be raised include a standard SDK and codebase for applications, encouraging the support for standard network-connected and local-connected peripheral-device classes as well as support for industry-standard broadcast-broadband TV arrangements. This, along with home-network integration, could be worked out using one or more reference implementations for these sets.

Similarly, the Smart TV Alliance could work out issues concerning “multi-box” setups like home-theatre setups and Blu-Ray players as well as network setups like network DVRs and smartphone / TV viewing arrangements.

Such an association can open the path to a critical mass for connected-TV applications such as IPTV channel directories, multi-screen synchronous viewing and video-on-demand services.

Internationaler Funkaustellung 2011–Part 2

IFA LogoWelcome back to the second part of my report on the Internationaler Funkaustelluing 2011. In the first part, I had touched on home appliances briefly but had focused on computing technologies like smartphones, tablets, laptops and the home network.

Now I am focusing on consumer electronics which mainly is focused around digital cameras, TV and home-theatre / hi-fi technology.

Consumer Electronics


3D is still being considered a dominant technology with some of the cameras being equipped with two lenses and sensors. As well, Samsung have also fielded a camera with two screens – one on the back and one on the front.

The camera manufacturers are releasing more of the small interchangeable-lens cameras. These are typically in the “non-SLR” style with the screw-on lens mounts. It is leading towards the appearance of more compact cameras with high-factor zoom lenses. Here, these cameras are being pitched mainly as  mainly “bridge-cameras” which exist between the “point-and-shoot” camera and the SLR camera and have many adjustable photography factors including semi-automatic and manual exposure modes.

An issue that may affect the launch of digital photography equipment at this or subsequent IFA shows is the up-and-coming Photokina photo/film/video trade shows. These shows appear in Cologne at the end of September and they are often seen as a major launchpad for anything to do with photography or videography. A valid point may be raised about whether companies with digital photo / video equipment show their equipment at both shows, launching consumer equipment in Berlin and “enthusiast” equipment (DSLRs, high-end camcorders) in Cologne.

Of course, there hasn’t been much interest in using network technology for photo and video equipment when interlinking with computer equipment.

TV and Display Technologies

There are a few key trends that are occurring concerning the television receivers being promoted at the IFA.

One is the DVB-T2 digital-TV standard which is to launch in Germany. This revision of the DVB-T terestrial digital-TV standard will provide for more HDTV with H264 video. It will also allow for advanced interactive TV (HbbTV, VoD) platforms, robust terrestrial reception as well as more services per TV channel.

3D is still a dominant technology with Toshiba and other names promoting glasses-free 3D viewing where their sets use a polarizing screen and support an ersatz 3D effect for regular content. Haier are also using a similar technology for their 3D Internet-enabled set. LG are running 3D TVs that work with cinema-style passive polarizing glasses. ,

For content, Deutsche Telekom  is providing “Entertain 3D” channels as part of their Entertain IPTV service. This requires the  Deutsche Telekom “Entertain” set-top box and access to a VDSL2 next-gen service. There will be the magazine channels as well as highlight footage from Bundesliga football (soccer) matches as well as the “usual suspects” – those popular 3D action and animation films from Hollywood.

Another key trend is Internet-driven smart TV. This is with access to the Social Web, video-on-demand / catch-up TV amongst other interactive-TV services using the home network.

Hama are releasing at this year’s IFA an Android STB with access to full Android Honeycomb service  on the TV screen. This time, the set-top is able to connect to the network via WiFi, or Ethernet.

Samsung are pushing the Social TV agenda. This allows you to view TV and chat on the Social Web at the same time with a button to press to focus on Facebook/Twitter/Google Talk chat streams or TV content. There is also the ability to use a Samsung smartphone or Galaxy Tab as the TV keyboard once you install the appropriate app. Of course, there is a Samsung TV remote that has a QWERTY keyboard and LCD display to facilitate the chat function.

Samsung have also released an app for their Android smartphones and tablets which allows the image on their Smart TVs to be shown on these devices.

Sharp have contributed to the smart-TV race with the AQUOS Net+ app subsystem for their TVs. As well Metz are showing a network-enabled 3D TV with HbbTV broadcast-broadband support and a 750Gb PVR.

There was an increased number of TVs that had the 21:9 aspect ratio being launched at this show. This aspect ration was more about a “cinema-screen” aspect ration that was often used with a lot of movies since the 1950s.

Even the projector scene is going strong at this year’s IFA.

Acer are showing the H9500BD 3D Full-HD home-theatre projector which is to be released October. This unit can work at 2000 ANSI Lumen with a 50000:1 contrast ratio. It fixes the keystone problem that often happens with projectors by using a lens-shift setup rather than digitally skewing the image; as well as a high zoom lens that permits a big image with a short throw and also has wall-colour-correction for projection to non-white-walls  It is expected to sell in Europe for €2499 recommended retail price

Sony are also launching a 3D-capable projector with a 150,000:1 contrast ratio and use of lens-shift as the keystone correction method. The big question that I have about this projector is how bright this projector is in ANSI lumens.

Canon also launched the LV8235 which is an ultra-short-throw DLP projector. Here, this projector can throw a 2-metre (80”) usable image projected with it being positioned at 32cm (1 foot) from the wall or screen.

As well, Sony had used this show to premiere a set of 3D personal video goggles. Here, these glasses show 3D video images on separate OLED screens, mainly for use with personal video players or games systems.

Home Theatre and Hi-Fi

There has been some activity concerning networked home-theatre and hi-fi equipment.

Harman-Kardon are launching a 3.1 HTIB with has an integrated 3D Blu-Ray player and uses a soundbar as its main speaker.

Loewe have used this event to launch the Solist single piece audio system. This has a CD player and access to FM and Internet radio broadcasts as far as I know. It can connect to home networks via WiFi, Ethernet or HomePlug and uses a 7.5” touch screen or Loewe Assist remote control as its control surface.

Sony have launched the SNP-M200 network media player which is the follow on from the SNP-M100, It offers 3D video support and an improved Facebook and Twitter experience. Of course, like the SNP-M100, it has the full DLNA Home Media Network credentials including being a controlled device. They also launched another Blu-Ray player in the form of the BDP-S185 which supports 3D Blu-Ray playback and access to online content.

As well, Pioneer have launched some network-enabled hi-fi equipment including a component network-audio player for use with existing hi-fi setups. Philips are using this show also to launch a Streamiun MCi8080 music system with DAB+ and Internet radio, a CD player as well as network audio. Intenso have launched their Movie Champ HD media player which is one of those media players that play off USB (or the home network). But this one can properly play 3D video in to 3D-enabled TVs.

It is also worth noting that Jarre Technologies is a newcomer to the scene of “worked” audio reproduction technologies. This firm has been set up by Jean Michel Jarre, known for setting the tone of European ambient-music with Equinoxe and Oxygene, and is now following the same path as Dr. Dre’s “Beats Audio” name. Here, they are launching their highly-powerful iPad speaker tower which can work comfortably at 10,000 watts and uses “speaker tubes” but would need a large area to perform at its best. Here, this product is all about proving Jarre Technologies metal and I wonder when there will be premium and multimedia laptop computers that have their audio subsystems tuned by Jarre Technologies on the market and who will sell these laptops.

Germany is now heading towards DAB+ digital radio broadcasting which yields an improvement over the original DAB digital-radio technology that it worked with before. Here, this technology uses AAC audio coding, allows for an increased number of broadcast services per multiplex and, from my experience with the Australian setup as I used many DAB+ enabled Internet radios on review, provides for highly-robust digital radio reception. It may be easier for set manufacturers to launch DAB+ digital radios in to this market due to them having DAB+ radios already on Australian and other DAB+ markets; and UK readers may find that their newer digital radios may be already set up for DAB+ technology even though the UK is working on “original specification” DAB radio.


The Internationaler Funkaustellung 2011 has reinforced the role of the networked home especially as Europe takes to the newer Internet technologies like 4G wireless broadband, IPTV and next-generation broadband service.

IFA Internationaler Funkaustellung 2010 Comments

IFA LogoI have previously published a separate article about the Internationaler Funkaustellung, celebrating the 50th edition of this show and “positioning” it as a pillar when it comes to consumer-electronics technology in Europe. In that article, I have also positioned it alongside the Consumer Electronics Show hosted in Las Vegas every January as a key consumer-technology event, especially whenever new technologies are being launched or commercialised. 

From the various press reports that I have read, it appears that the industry sees the European consumer-electronics and domestic appliance market as being very stable even through the Financial Crisis. 


Since 2008, the IFA have been exhibiting domestic appliances and there is still the desire for energy efficient appliances that are easy to use and make less noise during use. 

Again, there hasn’t been any innovations concerning home-automation or security equipment shown at this exhibition. Nor has there been any activity concerning “backbone” heating or domestic-hot-water equipment. This may also be due to such equipment being provided by building owners rather than by householders. 


There have been a few innovations concerning large appliances. This is mainly in the form of an automatic “as-needed” detergent dispensing mechanism for washing machines. 

But the main technology that this site is looking forward to is for Miele and Liebherr to release appliances that work tightly with the “smart grid”. The “smart grid” uses automatic meter reading and “time-of-use” pricing to encourage optimum use of electricity. It also integrates “demand-side load management” so that certain loads can be run with less power drain during peak power-usage times as well as support for “reverse metering” for client-managed power-generation installations like solar panels. 

In Miele’s case, their washing machines, tumble dryers and dishwashers can be set to commence their cycle during the time that the electricity rates are lowest. In Liebherr’s case, their refrigerator can run the freezer at a colder temperature during the time that the electricity rates are lowest so that the freezer becomes an “ice-block” thus avoiding the need to run as much during the day. 


This class of appliance has been mainly focused on lifestyle but there haven’t been any major innovations here. Still, the coffee machine is considered integral to most people’s lifestyle and there is still two different platforms (Nespresso and Senseo) existing for capsule-based espresso machines. 

Now this is where the real activity starts. 

Real competition to the Apple iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and iTunes

This year, IFA 2010 has taken the shine off Apple’s face with the arrival of effective competition to the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad and iTunes. This has mainly come in the form of Android-powered smartphones and tablet-style computers being supplied by different manufacturers. 

The event organisers even created a special show area for companies involved in the tablet-computing market to show their wares, whether through hardware, software or accessories. 

Samsung used this year’s IFA to launch the Galaxy Tab device which has an AMOLED display, Wi-Fi networking capability, 3G wireless broadband and has integrated memory capacity of 16Gb. They are also putting more effort behind the Android platform even though they have their hands in other smartphone platforms like Bada and Windows Phone 7. This is while other manufacturers like Lenovo and Toshiba presented devices for launch at a later time. Hanspree also fielded an LED-backlit LCD tablet computer which, like most of iPad’s competitors, is Android-powered. As well, ViewSonic had offered the ViewPad 100 which the first dual-boot tablet computer to run Android or Windows 7. 

As far as smartphones go, there is an increase in the number of Android-powered touchscreen smartphones even though Microsoft took Windows Phone 7 to the final “gold” stage where manufacturers can roll with phones based on that platform. But on September 5, LG had exhibited the Optimus 7 smartphone prototype which was powered by Windows Phone 7 and was demoing it working as a DLNA media control point application that was used to differentiate the phone from other handsets running the same platform. 

At the same time, the Apple iPod Touch has found a legitimate competitor in the form of the Philips GoGear Connect. This is a touchscreen-operated multifunction Internet device that runs on the Android platform. Similarly, Samsung have provided an iPod Touch competitor with their Galaxy Player 50. This device is styled similarly to their Galaxy-series Android smartphones in a similar vein to how the iPod Touch and the iPhone were styled. 

Sony has also answered iTunes as a content store by offering Qriocity as an online-content-retail platform. 

Apple tried to answer this competitive environment by staging their own product-launch event that was ran concurrent with the IFA. This is where they launched iTunes 10 which was a major revision featuring their own social network and extending the AirTunes concept which worked with AirPort Express to select AV-device manufacturers like Denon and rebranding it AirPlay. They also launched a revised iPod Touch which has many of the traits of the iPhone 4 and rolled out a major refresh of iOS 4. 

There has been a fair bit of activity in the “dedicated” e-reader market mainly from Acer, who were fielding their Lumiread e-reader and Sony who were fielding three readers. 

3D and network action in the TV market

2010 is the year of TV innovations 

2010 ist Jahr der Fernsehinnovationen 


Der Standard (Austria) described this year’s IFA 2010 as “2010 is the year of TV innovations” (“2010 ist Jahr der Fernsehinnovationen” – original German language). 

This year is also a major technological-improvement year for the main-lounge-area TV. Here, there has been a major effort in commercialising 3D TV and Internet-enabled TV. Most manufacturers are running at least one 3DTV range and running two or three TV ranges with network and Internet functionality. This is because the market is demanding 3D playback and / or online video functionality out of main-lounge-area TV sets or video peripherals. 

There is even the possibility of MSI introducing a 3D-capable laptop computer. As well,Viewsonic is to use the show to launch a 3D photo frame, camera, camcorder and portable TV as part of cashing in on the 3D craze. As well, Sony had launched a 3D home-cinema projector but would this unit need a special screen and Panasonic has also fielded a high-end camcorders capable of 3D when used with an optional attachment lens. 

At the moment, most 3D TVs and active-shutter glasses only work together if they are from the same manufacturer, but what needs to happen is for a standard communications protocol to be established so that it becomes feasible for 3D screens from one manufacturer to work with active-shutter glasses from another manufacturer. This can allow for concepts like glasses that “look the part” for the wearer or the ability to make active-shutter glasses to an optical prescription so you don’t have to wear them over your prescription glasses. 

The Internet-TV function is based upon the TVs having an Ethernet socket and, dependent on the set, 802.11n Wi-Fi wireless network functionality whether integrated or as a plug-in dongle. They will work on a manufacturer-driven platform to provide streamed or on-demand local content via the Internet infrastructure, although some manufacturers, namely Sony, are implementing Google as an Internet-TV platform. Of course, most of these sets will support DLNA media streaming from the home network if you use your home network’s NAS device to store TV shows. 

This has been augmented by the HbbTV “broadcast-broadband” hybrid TV standard being set in stone by the European standards bodies. This will also lead to Internet content and broadcast TV content being delivered to the same screen at the same time and can cater for highly-interactive viewing setups. It has also been encouraged by most of the European ISPs and telecoms carriers offering IPTV services as part of their triple-play Internet services. 

Philips have released a DLNA-capable 3D-Blu-Ray “home-theatre-in-box” system that has 5 satellite speakers and 1 subwoofer but is able reproduce a sound-field of 9.1 channels. This has been achieved through the satellite speakers being equipped with diffuse drivers to make the sound envelope the listeners.  They hava also made sure that this year’s range of 3D Blu-Ray players are DLNA capable with the BDP9600 being equipped with integrated 802.11n Wi-Fi. 

Other AV technology

Acer have achieved the slimmest desktop monitors around with their 13mm thick LED-backlit LCD units. As well, South Korea’s LG had shown the EL9500 which is a 31” OLED TV and are releasing a DLNA-ready 3DTV which uses nano-LED backlighting. 

Samsung have also continued to push out another compact digital camera which can submit photos to DLNA home networks. 

For Denon, this show marks their 100th anniversary and they were using it to launch a set of limited-edition hi-fi components. 

Telefunken have come back to the hi-fi scene with a handful of component-style systems. One of these systems, designed like the legendary Telefunken units of the 1970s, is designed to be part of the home network and also picks up Internet radio. They are also offering an Android-powered set-top box for the German market. 

Fraunhofer IIS had previewed their TA2 (Together Anywhere Together Anytime) technology. This technology allows for  HD-grade pictures and CD-grade sound for videoconferencing with H.264 video codec and AAC-ELD (Enhanced Low Delay AAC) audio codec. It could be supportive of large-screen TVs with integrated camera and microphone for videoconferencing like the recent Skype-enabled TVs that Panasonic, LG and Samsung had released. 


At least this year has become one of those big years that has concerned consumer technology and yielded many innovations. It has encouraged real competition against Apple when it comes to handheld computing devices and has provided a standard level playing field when it comes to Internet-assisted interactive TV.

An Android-based portable media player takes challenge at the iPod Touch

Engadget Articles

Philips GoGear Connect is a legitimate Android-based iPod touch competitor (updated) – Engadget

Philips GoGear Connect Hands-on – Engadget

My Comments

Over the last year, devices that are based on the Android operating system have challenged the Apple iPhone and iPad. Now, Philips has launched an Android-based touchscreen portable media player that can effectively compete with the Apple iPod Touch.

This unit can connect to a Wi-Fi network and download apps from the Android Market or gain access to the Web and email through the Internet. Of course, if you add Andromote on board, you can play music files from your DLNA Media Server through the GoGear or use it as a controller for your UPnP AV / DLNA Home Media Network. Similarly, you could install TwonkyServer Mobile for Android on this device and the media on there is available to the DLNA Home Media Network.

Like most Android devices, this unit supports most media codecs in use and also has other points of flexibility like a microSD card slot for extra memory or “cassette-style” media management.

The unit does have a GPS, compass and accelerometer as well as the touchscreen and trackball, which could make it become an Android-powered games machine in the same way Apple pitched the iPod Touch as an iOS-based games machine with that famous TV commercial. It does depend on what games are available at the Android Marketplace like what happens with the iPod Touch and its iTunes App Store.

If it was offered a bit more like integrated storage capacities being above that of a similarly-priced iPod Touch, this could set the cat amongst the pigeons.