The IFA show in Berlin will kick off on September 2 and this year some of the big TV themes will be HDR, Smart TV, OLED, and UHD Blu-ray. Samsung, Sony, LG, Panasonic, Philips, TCL, and all the usual suspects will be there. Here is what we know, have heard, and hope to see at IFA 2016.
What to expect at IFA 2016
IFA is changing a little every year and over recent years more mobile devices have made it to the show floors. However, TVs still occupy one of the most prominent spots during the show.
High dynamic range One of the big themes this year will be HDR (high dynamic range). The industry is clearly excited about the increased dynamic range and improved colors in video. At IFA we expect to see many of the current HDR TVs but also new models.
Manufacturers will discuss HDR10 vs. Dolby Vision, and we expect to see the formal introduction of a third HDR format that the broadcast industry has been working on for some time; namely HLG - or Hybrid Log Gamma. HLG is a single-stream HDR format designed for broadcasting a combined SDR+HDR signal over a TV channel. Hopefully, some existing TVs can be firmware updated to support HLG.
We expect each manufacturer to push their story; “higher brightness”, “deeper blacks”, “better colors”, “1000 nits”, “UHD Premium” et cetera. At the end of the day, the only thing that we know for sure is that this is still very early days for HDR.
IFA 2016 could also mark the introduction of the next generation of HDMI; HDMI 2.1. It is rumored to lay the groundwork for dynamic metadata in the HDR10 format. With dynamic metadata HDR video can be optimized on a scene-by-scene basis instead of being set on a global video level once. Samsung has already demonstrated HDR10 with dynamic metadata, which is one of the unique advantages of the Dolby Vision HDR format.
Lots of OLED TVs This is no secret. More manufacturers will join the OLED movement at IFA 2016.
Philips has confirmed that it will launch its first OLED TV in 2016 and we expect to see it at IFA as a new 9 series flagship TV. Loewe has already unveiled its first OLED TV with support for both HDR10 and Dolby Vision, and it will be on display at IFA. Furthermore, German brand Metz has confirmed that it will launch an OLED TV at IFA.
Our guess is that Panasonic will announce a follow-up to the company’s first OLED TV. If that happens, it will be based on a 2016 LG OLED panel.
LG will surely exhibit its current 2016 OLED TV line-up but we hope that the company will add smaller and larger models soon. We also assume that LG will try hard to push its message that ‘OLED’ equals ‘LG’ now that other companies are starting to gain access to LG’s OLED panels. If LG wants some extra attention it could feature its incredibly cool wallpaper OLED prototype.
We do not expect Sony to get on the bandwagon. The company added a new flagship LCD in the form of ZD9 to the line-up only a few weeks ago. ZD9 will be Sony’s hero TV at IFA.
Ultra HD Blu-ray There are 3 UHD Blu-ray players available in Europe from Samsung, Panasonic, and Microsoft. We expect more to be added at IFA 2016.
Panasonic has already launched the more affordable UB90 in Japan and we hear that it will launch as “UB700” in Europe. This is not something that the company has confirmed but we expect it to launch at IFA 2016.
Could Samsung do the same? Sure, but we have not heard anything yet. LG has yet to launch its first UHD Blu-ray player and many of us think that it has something to do with Dolby Vision. All of LG’s 2016 OLED TVs and high-end LCD support Dolby’s HDR format. So, we hope to see the first Dolby Vision-enabled UHD Blu-ray player from LG at IFA but it may not arrive until CES 2017. This is of course pure speculation as there is no guarantee that LG will even launch one.
Oppo has also promised to launch its first UHD Blu-ray player “in time for the holiday”.
And Sony? The company confirmed to FlatpanelsHD that it will launch a player before the end of its current fiscal year, meaning before April 2017. Our guess is that an updated PlayStation 4 will be Sony’s first UHD Blu-ray player. However, it will not be announced at IFA.
Smart TV & Android TV The ’Smart TV’ story is getting a little tired as the only thing manufacturers have consistently delivered is broken promises. There are still some promising platforms out there with Google’s Android TV likely being the most exciting of the bunch but it is not pretty to observe how manufacturers jump to new platforms like the wind changes and continuously fail to update last year’s models.
We do not expect the leading manufacturers to shift allegiance during IFA. If it happens, it will instead happen at CES 2017 where the 2017 line-ups will be unveiled. But we know that more manufacturers will join team Android. Bang & Olufsen is one of them, Grundig another, TCL a third, and Hisense a fourth.
We are still waiting for Sony and Philips to update their TVs to version 6.0 - even though 7.0 has been released - so we expect to hear more at IFA. We are also waiting for Samsung to deliver on the promised Tizen update for its 2015 TVs. Again, we hope to learn something at IFA.
Xiaomi could launch its announced Android TV box but a new Nvidia Shield box is not in the cards and a new Apple TV box is completely ruled out at IFA.
What else? Probably some virtual reality but nothing major. Oculus Rift and HTC Vive were launched recently and we have already lost count of how many times Samsung has updated Gear VR. PlayStation VR is not likely to make the big splash at IFA since Sony has scheduled a PlayStation event on September 7 – after IFA ends.
Don’t miss anything
IFA kicks off on September 2 but the press events start a few days prior. You can find all the news on our front page or on our IFA 2016 page.