What’s just ahead in plasma and LCD TVs, AV, Blu-ray & more – highlights of IFA 2009

Europe’s biggest consumer electronics show, IFA (full name: Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin) presents the latest in consumer technology, with the 2009 outing covering 121,000 square metres of exhibition space and attracting 228,000 visitors during the first week of September. It’s colossal, showcasing as it does a white-goods mountain of vacuum cleaners, fridges and coffee makers, as well as photo imaging and computing gear, and, of course, the latest in audio-visual delights from the world’s biggest electronic entertainment nameplates.


This year, the show appears to have triggered an avalanche of bright-eyed optimism around 3D. Adopted as a major theme with the home entertainment crowd, apparently we’re all absolutely gagging to bring the 3D cinema experience we got with ‘Bolt’ and ‘Aliens vs Monsters’ into our own homes, although Philips cautions that future rollout “will depend on a 3D TV standard’.

Given the scrappy manner in which rival manufacturers have approached these things in the past, setting a standard will probably involve a long drawn-out process over several years, the establishment and breaking-down of liaisons and partnerships and a good dose of under-specced, overpriced and under-delivering initial product line-ups to further erode early adopter loyalties and scare off mainstream purchasers. Still.

Before we crack on, and not even new for the show but, for me, the shining star by a long margin, we should introduce the Philips LCD TV Cinema 21:9. This will very likely frighten the uninitiated as they spy a really odd- shaped TV sitting proudly on a shelf in their local electronics store, but the Cinema 21:9 is practically a miracle. Why? Because it thumbs its nose at its more familiar 16:9 widescreen brethren and actually offers us all the opportunity to display our movies in the same 2.39:1 format as Hollywood directors use.

But it’s risky, and unfamiliar, so miraculous because most companies wouldn’t even attempt to launch it. Already the recipient of a 2009 award from the EISA experts, Philips’ 56PFL9954H 56 inch (142 cm) Cinema 21:9 isn’t going to get another prize for its model name, but it is the very best choice so far for watching most Blu-ray & DVD movies as they were intended. And there’s a 3D model on the way.

While Philips is a major big wheel in the European market it, of course, no longer markets televisions or other consumer electronics gear in Australia. Don’t expect to be seeing its 21:9 tellies in stores locally then, but if it catches on we might see the concept arrive under another badge.