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IFA 2007 report


Welcome to our Blu-ray coverage of Internationale Funkausstellung (IFA) 2007, the world's largest electronics and IT show, which was held from August 31 to September 5, 2007 in Berlin, Germany. This years IFA attracted 235,000 visitors and a record breaking 1,212 exhibitors from 32 countries. We were of course there sweeping the trade show floors for everything related to Blu-ray to bring you all the latest developments.



Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA)


The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA), similarly to previous years had a joint booth located at the center of the main IFA hall where all of their member companies could display their upcoming Blu-ray products. However, as those that have been following our coverage from IFA already have seen, Blu-ray was everywhere and virtually every large consumer electronics manufacturer (Sony, Samsung, Panasonic, Pioneer, Philips, Sharp, LG, JVC, Hitachi, Denon, Loewe, Daewoo, Funai) featured various Blu-ray products in their own halls/booths as well.

The BDA also held a press conference at IFA where they announced that China Hualu and Acer had joined the BDA. China Hualu, which has close ties to Panasonic and interestingly created the first DVD player production line in China in 1998, revealed that they are in the process of setting up a Blu-ray authoring center in China and will begin releasing local content on Blu-ray. As for Acer, with the addition of them as a contributing member it means that the top four PC makers now are supporting the format. Other significant announcements at IFA included the Hitachi Blu-ray camcorders that will be introduced in October.

At the press conference, the BDA further revealed that Blu-ray software so far this year has outsold HD DVD in the US (67%), Europe (70%), as well as Japan (90%+). In addition, representatives from Disney, Sony Pictures, Fox/MGM and Warner detailed their plans for upcoming Blu-ray titles in the fourth quarter and beyond. Warner, which chose to only appear at the BDA press conference and not the HD DVD one, promised to release more Blu-ray titles in Q4 than in Q1, Q2 and Q3 combined.

Footsteps all the way from the entrance to the BDA The Blu-ray Disc Association booth at IFA 2007
BDA members displaying and demonstrating Blu-ray hardware and software

Blu-ray home theater demonstration on
Panasonic's world's largest plasma.
Blu-ray media from Moser Baer, TDK, Verbatim, LG, HP, Memorex, Maxell, Imation, Fujifilm
8cm Blu-ray media from TDK and Maxell

8x BD-R media Blu-ray media overview


Philips


Philips debuted their new BDP7100 Blu-ray player at IFA, which besides playing back Blu-ray discs also supports upconversion of DVDs to 1080p. The player features 1080p/24, HDMI 1.3, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital+, DTS-HD, 7.1-channel surround sound and is backwards compatible with DVD/CD. It also features HDMI-CEC for convenient control of devices with one remote control, as well as an Ethernet port for software upgrades. The BDP7100 will be available in Europe later this year for around €600. We weren't able to get any information about their plans for the US.

Philips' BDP7100 Blu-ray player

Remote control


Panasonic (Matsushita)


Panasonic brought their DMP-BD10A Blu-ray player released earlier this summer, as well as some of their Blu-ray drives for desktop and notebook computers. However, the main attraction at Panasonic was their Premium Blu-ray Theatre featuring 5 large plasma screen HDTV's and 5.1-channel surround sound. In the theatre they were showing HD music videos by a new group called Three Graces, a trio of girls that blend their various backgrounds in Opera, Pop and Broadway to create a new sound. Their debut album will be released in January 22, 2008. We're not exactly sure how they were able to feed different video streams to the plasma screens and keep it perfectly synced, but it was an interesting experience.

Panasonic overview

DMP-BD10A demo Blu-ray Premium Theatre
Three Graces performing "Requiem" and "I Wish"

DMP-BD10A demo Panasonic's DMP-BD10A Blu-ray player

Blu-ray recording demo Blu-ray drives HD camcorder demo
with BD player
Blu-ray media


Pioneer


Pioneer unveiled their new Blu-ray player, the BDP-LX70A, which when released in Europe next month will supersede the BDP-LX70 model released earlier this year. The price of this high-end model will remain €1,300 and the only difference between the two models seems to be that the HDMI version has been upgraded from 1.2a to 1.3, which enables bitstream output of Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. The player also features 1080p/24, HDMI 1.3, HDMI-CEC, Ethernet and DLNA. Pioneer further plans to introduce another player model in the US, the BDP-95FD, which they will be able to offer more information about at CEDIA.

The highlight of Pioneer's Blu-ray showcase was their Blu-ray theater showroom where they were showing clips of new and upcoming Blu-ray movies including Cars, Wild Hogs, Sin City and Batman Begins. The Cars footage showed off the "Car Finder" interactive BD-Java feature allowing users to search for the more than 200 different cars featured in the movie, and even "race the clock" to find a specific car in a frozen frame of film. The Sin City and Batman Begins footage is hopefully a sign that these movies are being prepared for release and will make an appearance on Blu-ray soon.

Pioneer's Blu-ray studio Pioneer Blu-ray setup Pioneer's BDC-S02BK
Blu-ray drive
Cars featuring BD-Java enhanced interactivity such as the "Car Finder" game

Frank Miller's Sin City in high-definition

Pioneer's BDP-LX70A Blu-ray player

BDP-LX70A
from the rear


Samsung


Samsung, which featured Blu-ray products throughout most of their displays, also had one of the most diverse line-ups of Blu-ray products at the show, including multiple Blu-ray players, a Blu-ray home theater system as well as a dual-format player.

Samsung's BD-P1400 Blu-ray player, which is their new entry-level player, features 1080p/24, HDMI 1.3, HDMI-CEC, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital+, DTS-HD, BD/DVD/CD playback, 5.1-channel surround sound, as well as an Ethernet port for firmware upgrades. The BD-P2400 model comes with all the same features as the BD-P1400, but in addition offers 7.1-channel surround sound and a HQV video processor to enhance the upscaling capability of the player. The BD-P1400 and BD-P2400 will be released in the US in October for $549 and $649 respectively. As for Europe, the two players will be introduced later this year for €599 and €699 respectively.

Despite the market for dual-format high-definition disc players only representing 2-3% of the overall HD player market Samsung felt compelled to introduce a dual-format player, perhaps as a response to South Korean arch-rival LG's introduction of the BH100 earlier this year. The BD-UP5000 Duo HD player, which supports both Blu-ray and HD-DVD, is basically a BD-P2400 with HD-DVD support added to it. We spent some time talking to a Samsung representative and were able to confirm that the BD-UP5000 will support Profile 1.1 (picture-in-picture functionality), but unfortunately we weren't able to get a definitive answer about the other players. The BD-UP5000 Duo HD Player will be released in Q4 2007 and will retail for $999.

Blu-ray Home
Cinema System
Samsung's Blu-ray Home Theater System HT-BD2
Home Cinema demo Samsung's BDP-2400 Blu-ray player

Four different home theater setups, all featuring a BDP-1400 for Blu-ray playback

Samsung's BDP-1400 Blu-ray player

CD/DVD/BD combo writer
Samsung's combo player BD-UP5000

SP-A800B demo

We also checked out Samsung's HT-BD2 Blu-ray Home Theater System, which comes complete with an 1,100-watt receiver and a 7.1-channel surround speaker system (five tower speakers, two rear satellites and a powered sub). Similarly to the BD-P2400 it offers 7.1-channel surround sound, but lacks the HQV video processor for upscaling. It's also worth mentioning that the player comes in a new design and has a completely different look than the other Blu-ray players. The HT-BD2 Blu-ray Home Theater System will be available in the US in Q4 2007 for $1,499.

After spending some time talking to Samsung representatives about Blu-ray we were lucky enough to be treated to a screening of Samsung's new 1080p single-chip DLP projector the SP-A800B by none other than Joe Kane. He's been been working together with Samsung as a consultant and helped them with the development of the projector for the past couple of years. He was very excited to tell us about the projector and show the picture quality. To start things off he showed us some test-patterns to demonstrate that the projector was able to show the tiniest details down to each individual line and pixel perfectly and true to the original. However, it wasn't until he started playing Phantom of the Opera that we realized just how impressive the picture truly was and it left us wanting to take it back home with us. The projector should be on the market later this year for €5,999 and Joe feels that for this quality at this price Samsung is practically giving the projector away.


Sony


Sony as usual showed a wide variety of Blu-ray products including a selection of VAIO computers equiped with Blu-ray drives, as well as the Blu-ray enabled PlayStation 3 (PS3) video game console. In addition, Sony featured two of their upcoming Blu-ray players, the BDP-S300 and BDP-S500, which soon will become available in the European market. The cheaper BDP-S300 model is aimed at ordinary consumers, while the higher-end BDP-S500 model is targeting HD enthusiasts.

Both models feature 1080p/24, HDMI, HDMI-CEC, Dolby Digital+, BD/DVD/CD playback, AVCHD, as well as x.v.Color (xvYCC) technology, an international standard for wide color space with more natural and vivid colors. The main difference between the two models is that the HDMI version for the BDP-S500 has been upgraded from 1.2 to 1.3 to enable bitstream output of HD audio formats such as Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD High Resolution Audio. The BDP-S500 also supports internal decoding of Dolby TrueHD. The BDP-S500 will be available in the US in October and will retail for $699. The BDP-S300 and BDP-S500 will be available in Europe in mid-September and October for €599 and €899 respectively.

Sony overview Sony Blu-ray demonstration PS3 demo in
BDA booth
Progressive vs interlaced

Sony's BDP-S500 Blu-ray player
New Sony VAIO models: VGN-AR51SU, VGN-FZ21Z and VGC-LT1S,
which features a slot-in Blu-ray Disc drive for playback and recording of Blu-ray Discs

We also spent some time talking to a representative from Sony DADC and learned that they have plants in the US, Europe and Japan that collectively produce about 20 million Blu-ray discs per year and they have the capacity to produce a lot more discs if needed. The majority of the discs produced are still BD-25 because PS3 games so far don't require the full 50GB (it's still very early in the PS3s life cycle), but 75% of the movie production is already BD-50 discs.


Sharp


Sharp, which had one of the more prominent Blu-ray displays at IFA, showed their upcoming BD-HP20 Blu-ray Player which will be available shortly. While Sharp has previously released Blu-ray recorders in Japan this will be their first Blu-ray player available to consumers. The BD-HP20 features 1080p/24, HDMI 1.3, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital+, DTS-HD, 7.1-channel audio output, as well as a quick start mode that should speed up the time it takes to load Blu-ray discs. The BD-HP20 will be released in the US and Europe in September and the price will be $550 and €599 respectively.

Sharp also displayed their BD-MPC70 Blu-ray Home Cinema System, which comes complete with a 7.1 high fidelity sound system including amplifier and speakers. The BD-MPC70 features 1080p/24, HDMI 1.3, Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital+, DTS-HD, 7.1-channel surround sound and a next generation audio formats decoder, which we assume means internal decoding of Dolby TrueHD. As the BD Home Cinema System won't be released until Spring 2008 it will have to support at least Profile 1.1. The price for the whole setup will be around €6,000 in Europe. While this system might not appeal to the average consumer at this price, we liked what we saw and heard.

Sharp overview Sharp's 108" LCD TV

BD Home Cinema System
demonstration
1-Bit Cinema Rack System
demonstration
BD Home Cinema System Sharp's BD-MPC70 Blu-ray Home Cinema System

"Time to View Blu" Sharp's BD-HP20 Blu-ray player



LG


LG showed their BH100 Super Multi Blue player, which when originally released earlier this year was the world's first dual-format high-definition disc player. The problem with these dual-format players has been and continues to be that they're more expensive than buying a player in each format and until this changes they're unlikely to become popular with consumers.

We also found what promises to be the world's fastest Blu-ray burners, GGW-H20L (internal) and GGW-E10L (external), with an impressive 6x BD-R write speed. While these Super Multi Blue drives can record Blu-ray Discs, DVDs and CDs they can only read HD-DVDs. LG also showed the GGC-H20L, an internal PC drive which has a 6x Blu-ray read speed. All of the Super Multi Blue drives shown by LG support reading and writing of DVDs and CDs as well. The only non-Super Multi Blue product they displayed was the GBW-T10N, a slim Blu-ray rewriter for notebooks, which can write Blu-ray discs at 4x and DVDs at 8x.

LG's hall LG's BH100 player demos

LG's BH100 Super Multi Blue player

LG's GBW-T10N
Blu-ray rewriter
LG's GGW-H20L
Blu-ray rewriter
LG's GGC-H20L
Blu-ray drive
LG's GGW-E10L Blu-ray rewriter

We also spent some time talking to an LG representative and although they are releasing dual-format products their focus is on Blu-ray. The BH100 for example is originally a Blu-ray player with HD-DVD playback added right before shipping it, so they didn't have time to add support for HD-DVD interactivity. When creating the Super Multi Blue burners and drives they also focused on Blu-ray recording and later added HD-DVD support. We weren't able to get an answer as to why none of their drives support HD-DVD recording.

The internal GGW-H20L rewriter will be released in the US and Europe in September and retail for $499 (€400). The internal GGC-H20L drive will be released in the US and Europe in September and retail for $399 (€300). Finally, the external GGW-E10L rewriter will cost $499 (€400), but won't be available until Q1 2008. We weren't able to get any information about the release date and pricing of the GBW-T10N Blu-ray rewriter.


Hitachi


In Hitachi's booth they were displaying a lot of new products, but the main focus was on their recently announced Blu-ray camcorders. The camcorders come in two models, DZ-BD70E and DZ-BD7HE, which both record video in full 1080p HD (using MPEG-4 AVC) on 8cm Blu-ray discs. They are also backwards compatible with DVD and can record SD on 8cm DVDs. The main difference between the camcorders is that the DZ-BD7HE comes featured with a 30GB HDD, which can also be used for recording.

We spent a few minutes playing around with the camcorders and checking out their features. The camcorders are light, easy to use, responsive and have fast access times. Unfortunately the camcorders weren't hooked up to a HDTV, so we couldn't see the actual result and video quality on anything other than on the small display, but overall we were very impressed. The Blu-ray camcorders with the small 8cm BD-R/BD-RE discs also show Blu-ray's versatility as a recording format.

Hitachi's booth 8cm BD-R and BD-RE media DZ-BD70E with tripod
Hitachi's DZ-BD70E Blu-ray camcorder DZ-BD70E specs

Hitachi's DZ-BD7HE Blu-ray camcorder DZ-BD7HE specs


The camcorders are already available on the Japanese market and will be released in the US and Europe in October. The DZ-BD70E will retail for €1,300 and the DZ-BD7HE for €1,500.


Loewe


Loewe were displaying a very sleek and stylish looking Blu-ray player, which they've simply chosen to call "BluTech Vision" (it doesn't have a model number). The player features 1080p/24, HDMI 1.3, Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD, 7.1-channel surround sound and will be available in two different colors, black and silver. The player will be released in Europe in October-November and the price is expected to be around €1,400.

Loewe Loewe's BluTech Vision in black

BluTech Vision demo Loewe's BluTech Vision with front panel open

Loewe's BluTech Vision in silver

BluTech Vision
from the rear


Daewoo


Daewoo surprised everyone by unveiling a Blu-ray player supporting Profile 2.0, which means that the player supports picture-in-picture (PiP) functionality, as well as web-enabled interactivity (BD-Live). The player comes in two models, the DBP-1000 and DBP-2000, with the only difference being that the DBP-1000 comes with a blue-hued front and the DBP-2000 comes in black. The players, which come in a 55mm slim design (2.17 inches), feature 1080p/24, HDMI 1.3 and are backwards compatible with DVD and CD.

Daewoo's booth Daewoo's Blu-ray demo

Daewoo's DBP-2000 Blu-ray player

Daewoo's DBP-1000 Blu-ray player

The Daewoo representative said that they plan to release it worldwide in Q1 2008, possibly as early as January. As for the price they could only give ballpark figures, but they basically said way less than $1,000 and that it could be less than $500.


Denon


Denon displayed their two upcoming Blu-ray players at IFA, the DVD-2500BT and DVD-3800BD. Unfortunately the Denon representatives couldn't offer much details about the players, but both players will support Blu-ray Profile 1.1, which means that they will come equiped with secondary video/audio decoders to enable picture-in-picture functionality. The BD players will also feature HDMI 1.3a and are backwards compatible with DVD and CD.

The main difference between the two players is that the DVD-3800BD does internal decoding of the audio, while the DVD-2500BT only supports output of the HD audio bitstream to an external decoder. The DVD-3800BD also comes equiped with Silicon Optix Realta HQV video processor for deinterlacing and upconversion of standard definition to HD. We weren't able to get confirmation if the DVD-3800BD will support internal decoding of Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, but they stated that it was very likely. The DVD-3800BD also features Dynamic Discrete Surround Circuit-HD (DDSC-HD), which is a sound circuit designed by Denon to offer high-quality surround sound.

Denon's booth

Denon's DVD-2500BT Blu-ray player
Denon overview

Denon's DVD-3800BD Blu-ray player

The players will first be released in the US, then in the European market. Denon expects to have both players on the market in Q1 2008.


Funai


When at IFA we made sure to check out Funai's exhibition, to get a first glimpse of their upcoming Blu-ray player. We spent some time talking to a Funai representative, unfortunately he couldn't give us any details about the specs for the player as it's only a prototype and still in development. The final product will have a new design when it is introduced in the market. When pressed a bit about the release date he said sometime in Q1 2008. He couldn't give us a specific price, but said that Funai is known for their low prices and the Blu-ray player would be no exception. Funai expects to be able to reveal more information about the player in November-December.

Funai overview Prototype of Funai's upcoming Blu-ray player



JVC


In JVC's hall at IFA we found a new Blu-ray player prototype that we haven't seen before. Although JVC had a lot of people there, nobody was able to say anything about the specs for the player or its release date and pricing. We did however take the time to snap a few photos of the player and its remote control.

JVC overview JVC's Blu-ray player

Remote control


Final words


That's the end of our IFA 2007 coverage, we hope you have enjoyed it. If anyone from the press is interested in high-resolution versions of any of our photos, feel free to contact us and we'll see what we can do.





 


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