Top consumer electronics show opens in Germany

2nd September 2005, Comments 0 comments

2 September 2005, BERLIN - Tomorrow's high-definition television (HDTV) sets are set to become the main computer running the household of the future, Japanese-based Panasonic said Friday at the start of the world's biggest consumer electronics show, IFA, in Berlin.

2 September 2005

BERLIN - Tomorrow's high-definition television (HDTV) sets are set to become the main computer running the household of the future, Japanese-based Panasonic said Friday at the start of the world's biggest consumer electronics show, IFA, in Berlin.

Europe has been late to pick up HDTV, which has already been launched in the United States and parts of Asia, but the technology may get off to a faster start with prices for the TV sets falling.

The sets, most of them flat-panel displays, are the most eye-catching of all the devices at the two-yearly show in the German capital. Panasonic executive Fumio Ohtsubo quoted market studies suggesting 15 million HDTV sets would be sold in Europe through 2008.

A study unveiled at the show showed that 6 million people were contemplating buying a new TV within the next 12 months in Germany, a country with a population of 80 million.

While there are huge cathode-ray-tube TV sets weighing 50 kilograms that arguably do the best job of handling HDTV signals, most buyers are keener on the more expensive, flat panels which take up less space in small apartments and use LCD or plasma technology.

Those flat screens, the launch next month of HDTV broadcasts by one of Germany's four main TV companies broadcasters and excitement at next year's televised football World Cup in Germany were all identified in the survey as reasons to replace older televisions.

Panasonic set out Friday in Berlin its vision for the devices as the heart of home networks.

It said householders could use a remote control and HDTV set to make video-telephone calls, shop online, monitor visitors, control heating or air-conditioning and monitor electricity usage.

The company demonstrated a 'universal' remote control it has developed that could handle most of those tasks. It is operated by a rotating knob and only a small number of buttons.

The company also showed a tiny high-definition video camera that saves images to an SD flash card.

"People often say the personal computer is the main portal to the outside world," Ohtsubo said. "But we think it'll be the TV."

Ohtsubo said linking the various devices involved creating an "added value chain" around high-definition.

Both trade buyers from around Europe and hundreds of thousands of home entertainment fans are set to tour IFA, held on Berlin's exhibition grounds in the west of the German capital.

The fair marks the latest stage in convergence between the computer and the consumer electronics industries.

Flat-panel displays, which are already common as computer monitors, have been prettied up and grown in size to suit the living room while manufacturers are also offering ways to play movies off computers into family-room TVs.

Devices to record television shows are also using hard-disk drives that are identical to those in personal computers.

DPA

Subject: German news

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