tvfindr @ IFA 2019 – news and trends

We went to IFA 2019, the largest consumer electronics show in Europe. In Berlin, we marveled at the latest innovations in the TV scene und talked to some of the most exciting manufacturers right now: LG, Sony, Panasonic, Sharp and more. Find out what innovations the show introduced to the public and which TVs are to be released in the near future.

These are the highlights from IFA 2019

As we have reported last week, we went to the Internationale Funkausstellung in Berlin. Not only is it the biggest consumer electronics show in all of Europe, it is also one of the oldest industrial exhibitions in Germany. As we are based in Germany but also report internationally, it is clear as day that we wrap up our experiences for readers around the world. We would especially like to thank our interview partners for their time and effort. Here are our highlights from IFA 2019.

In our eyes, there was an apparent trend at IFA, which is 8K. This year, most manufacturers have turned to developing TVs that can deliver four times of 4K resolution. Consequently, LG, Sharp, and Samsung brought their 8K TVs beyond the 88 inch mark. Some of these 8K TVs are even OLEDs, which made for a very impressive picture. More about this later. Another trend was transparent picture technology. We saw transparent LCD and OLED TVs from players that had previously left this technology untouched. Finally, HDMI 2.1 took on a big role.


TCL is setting the bar high

During our time in Berlin we talked to Olivier Semenoux, Head of Product Management for TCL, who kindly introduced us to the current TCL lineup. It consists of the new Mini LED TVs, TCL’s very own QLED TVs with 4K and 8K resolution and a very special Micro LED Cinema Wall.

The TCL QLED TVs are available in 4K and 8K revolution. We find it very impressive that these TVs support all HDR formats from HDR10 and HDR10+ to Dolby Vision. Also, there is an included soundbar that comes with front- and upfiring speakers and Dolby Atmos support. The 8K QLEDs also have HDMI 2.1, which we really liked.

Interestingly, the model variants do not have the same smart OS technology. The European models feature Android TV while the American models have Roku TV. Regional features, like BBC iPlayer capability, are available on British model variants.

The mini LED by TCL are supposed to be LCD TVs that reach the performance in terms of black level and contrast as OLED panels. Now is the really true? Olivier showed us these TVs and we have been very impressed with them. For example, the 75 inch model housed 25,000 LEDs and, in combination with QLED technology, comes pretty close to OLED performance.

As a little cream on top, TCL showed a 132 inch Cinema Wall (similar to Samsung’s “The Wall”) with a Micro LED array. That means 24,000,000 LEDs, a contrast of 2,500,000:1 and a brightness of 1500 Nits. TCL is hoping to lauch Micro LEDs within the next two years.


No innovations by Sony

Unfortunately, Sony Electronics from Japan brought no new devices with them. The company presented its latest televisions at CES 2019 in Las Vegas – the very same presentation was given in Berlin. Highlights are still the Sony Z9G and A9G, which were impressive in its own right with their Sony Acoustic Surface Audio+ technology. We have already reported on these TVs for you on our YouTube channel!


See-through with Panasonic

The Japanese company Panasonic presented several interesting products at the IFA. These included market-ready televisions as well as future-oriented concept sets. By this we mean a transparent OLED, which was produced in collaboration with the Norwegian designer Daniel Rybakken. Neither a release date nor a price are foreseeable right now.

Dirk Schulze, Head of Product Marketing TV, also introduced us to the Panasonic OLED TVs. According to Dirk, these OLEDs should overshadow all competing devices: 30% higher brightness, support for all HDR formats, good TV sound and Dolby Atmos. As most OLED manufacturers, Panasonic uses panels made by LG Display, but engineers them to display higher brightness.


Samsung does not introduce any new products

Unfortunately, the South Koreans from Samsung presented hardly anything new at IFA. The focus was on 8K QLED TVs and lifestyle TVs that we already knew from the first half of the year. Only the 55 inch version of the Samsung Q950R 8K TV was new. However, it is questionable whether this “small” screen size can even make a difference between 4K and 8K when watching TV. As a computer screen, 8K in this size would be extremely useful. Unfortunately, we couldn’t do an interview, but of course we still visited the huge Samsung stand for you.


Sharp likes it sharp

The Japanese Sharp Group is betting on 8K this year. The company presented a 120 inch LCD 8K TV – which was extremely impressive. Even with this huge TV, it was difficult to see individual pixels. But not only TVs were part of the product lineup, but also cameras in order to produce 8K content in the first place, and reference monitors to process 8K content.

This 8K ecosystem will ensure that 8K is used in the television business and especially in live broadcasting, once 5G is ready for the market. We also talked to product manager Adrian Wysocki, who was able to give us more in-depth information on the Sharp lineup. Please note that the video is taken from our German channel while the interview is conducted in English – so feel free to tune in if you like!


Philips shows self-confidence

Philips TP Vision confidently presented itself at IFA and – in contrast to most other manufacturers – completely dispensed with 8K. This decision is based on their own statement that Philips is the best at upscaling and therefore 8K is not necessary and will only play a role in the future.

Georg Wilde, Head of Communications TV & Audio for all German speaking countries, guided us through the product lineup. For the middle of the market Philips offers the Performance Series, for example the Philips 7304 and 7504, which scores with a powerful image processor, the P5, beautiful Ambilight and a budget friendly price. As of right now, the Performance Series in only available in Europe.

But now for the international models. The high-end series, on the other hand, consists of the 8 and 9 series OLEDs. A distinction is made between OLED+ and OLED. In terms of picture technology, the two are similar, but the OLED+ TVs include improved Ambilight and a sound system developed with British company Bowers & Wilkens. At IFA, Philips presented the 934 and 984, both of which are part of the OLED+ series, for the first time.

The Philips TVs presented here feature all HDR formats, i.e. Dolby Vision, HDR10 and HDR10+, as well as Dolby Atmos with Dolby Digital Plus.


LG introduces 8K OLED and infamous “ROLED”

LG R9
This is the LG R9, a rollable OLED panel TV that is expected to release in 2020.

At LG’s booth we immediately noticed that the South Korean manufacturer focused entirely on high-end products: From premium OLEDs to a huge curved wall of OLED panels called “The Massive Curve of Nature”, which looked really stunning.

LG had two novelties with them: First, there are the 8K TVs, namely the 8K NanoCell LCD TV and an 8K OLED, the LG Z9. To give them both a price tag, we asked LG and found out that the NanoCell will start at about $5,000 and the LG Z9 will cost about $30,000.

The other novelty was the rollable LG OLED R9. Practical for those who want a huge screen but want to hide it when not in use. The screen dynamically adapts to displayed content and looks really impressive. At this point it has to be said that we do not understand why this TV was not called ROLED. We don’t know the exact price or release date at this point, but we expect Q4 2019 to Q2 2020 to be realistic.

Hisense brings ULED and Laser TVs

At Hisense’s stand, we were able to talk to Heiko Meusel, POS Coordinator for Hisense, who showed us the latest equipment from the Chinese high-flyer company. We especially liked the Hisense Laser TVs.

What may at first look like an ordinary (albeit very large) LCD TV to the layman is actually a 100 inch passive screen illuminated by the short distance beamer in front of it. Beamer and Smart TV as well as connections are located in one housing, while the millimeter-thin screen is simply hung on the wall. A sound system from JBL is also included. This makes the Laser TVs a competent insider tip for home cinema, which, however, also costs a lot of money. The most sophisticated version is about $15,000.

Heiko also showed us the Hisense ULED XD Dual Cell TV in 4K and 8K resolution. The technology behind it is comparable to Samsung’s QLED. They score with a comparatively low price, offer great picture and functionality for Dolby Cinema, so Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos.

Another highlight was the 21:9 Movie Wall, which was tested in Europe during IFA. According to Heiko, this is a concept study for which the opinion of the end customers is in demand.


We are excited for IFA 2020!

IFA 2019 was a great experience for us and we learned a lot. If you liked our coverage and videos, please subscribe to our channel and check back every now and then – with us you will stay up to date in the international TV scene. We are already looking forward to the IFA 2020, which will hopefully bring interesting discussions and great innovations with it again. The 60th IFA 2020 will take place from 4 to 9 September 2020.

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