10 months ago

Review Edition - IFA International

  • Text
  • Products
  • Berlin
  • Wireless
  • Audio
  • Features
  • Consumer
  • Mobile
  • Models
  • Devices
  • Curved


STREAMING SOUND SYSTEMS STATE OF PLAY Historically, the primary way to access content was through ownership. Watching a film, reading a book, listening to a song or playing a video game generally relied on first owning it. The field of streaming sound systems has changed all that, and today it is one of the most complex, but also one of the most exciting fields in our industry. Having begun with simple internet radio systems and iPod docks some years ago, the sector has exploded, with a huge range of device styles and applications. MARKET Audio systems that allow music streaming continue to be highly popular in 2014. Network music systems which facilitate multi-room solutions are especially in demand. Several major manufacturers are stepping into the space which had until recently only been occupied by specialist audio companies. Mainstream brands such as Panasonic, JBL, LG and Samsung are showing all-new product at this year’s IFA. The advantage for the mainstream providers is that such a system may be coupled with other devices such as TV, tablets etc. SOLD X’000 UNITS OF CONNECTED AUDIO DEVICES IN EU6* Network Music System Connected AHS 118.8 59.0 Jan 12-Jun 12 * EU6 = Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, Spain, Netherlands 205.3 65.1 Jan 13-Jun 13 +122% 523.8 76.6 Jan 14-Jun 14 CONTACT Bettina Steinbrenner Marketing Manager Home Consumer Electronics GfK Retail and Technology THE FUTURE Mobile devices like smartphones or tablets now are the main source of music for many consumers, be it playing from their own library or streaming from the cloud. Wireless sound systems will continue to be the perfect match for this trend as they allow easy and versatile connection to whichever device the user owns. KEY SELLING POINTS TECHNOLOGY Bluetooth Support for “audiophile” Bluetooth, dubbed aptX is highly recommendable. While still a compressed transmission format, it nevertheless offers better sound quality than a standard Bluetooth connection. AirPlay Apple's AirPlay technology seems to have lost some of its momentum but will still be supported by many streaming products, especially in higher price classes. For fans of iDevices, this technology must be listed in the spec sheet. Multi-room More and more manufacturers offer entire eco-systems of wireless products that can easily form a music network in the consumer's home. Technological challenges that had to be solved in this case are the range of the wireless connections under different conditions, and synchronising the music when played from one source to a number of end devices. FEATURES App Control: In all streaming audio systems that use a standard network infrastructure in the home (AirPlay, DLNA etc.), the ability to control all aspects of the music playback via an App on Android and/or iOS devices is a key factor. Streaming Services Streaming Services like Spotify, Deezer or Soundcloud have quickly revolutionised the way people consume music. Many manufacturers have integrated some of these services directly into their streaming audio products. Integration Many streaming devices are designed to work as stand-alone products, but there are smarter solutions in the market. Some devices can be connected to existing stereo or home theatre systems. INNOVATING @ IFA PHILIPS SPOTIFY MULTI-ROOM SPEAKERS The Philips Spotify multi-room speakers are the first dedicated Philips audio solution for Spotify users. Incorporating Spotify Connect, controlling music across smartphones, tablet and speakers from the native Spotify app is effortless. Users can place Philips Spotify multi-room speakers throughout the home and stream music to every room at the same time. » HALL 22 / STAND 101 DESIGN On The Go The most basic version of a streaming sound system is designed to fit into the palm of a hand and to be used everywhere the owner takes is. A long-lasting battery, possibility to charge mobile devices and a stylish yet rugged design are key in this category. Docking Station Without a Dock Wireless one-box audio systems have almost completely replaced the category of products formerly know as docking stations. Although often in theory portable, these devices tend to be used as the stationary main source of music in the home. They should reflect current trends in interior design. Desktop Systems While too large to be taken everywhere, these are still portable enough to be used as on-demand audio systems anywhere in the house, providing background music in the study as well as for a barbecue on the patio. The design also aims to fit into any modern interior and usually incorporates some kind of integrated stand for easy set-up. LG MUSIC FLOW LG introduces Music Flow, with the Music Flow Player app, whereby users can centrally manage their entire digital music library, even if music is stored across multiple devices, and control all Music Flow units in the home. » HALL 11.2 / STAND 101 LG Music Flow Speakers (models H3, H5, H7), Sound Bar (model HS6), Network Bridge (model R1) and the companion Music Flow Player application for smartphones form a total audio eco-system for the home. Philips Spotify Multi-room Speaker SW750M Our thanks to EISA for their help in compiling this buyers’ guide. » HALL 1.2 / STAND 204 » HALL 1.2 / STAND 204 » HALL 22 / STAND 101 » HALL 1.2 / STAND 204 » HALL 1.2 / STAND 113 34

BUYERS' GUIDE SMARTPHONES STATE OF PLAY Global sales of smartphones continue to boom, however increased competition is changing the face of the market, as what had been second-tier players continue to gain market share against the sector’s mainstays. Despite the launch of the iPhone 5C, destined to a broader selling base, Android largely dominates as an operating system as the broader market is for lower to mid-price models. MARKET Within as little as three years, 69% of the planet’s population will own a smartphone. That’s 5.2 billion people with a smartphone by 2017. As the market continues to expand it gets closer to saturation point. For brands dominating the high-end smartphone market, diversifying their portfolios is critical to maintaining market share. Local brands are more likely to cater for the lower end of the market, and are expected to fuel smartphone adoption in emerging regions through diverse distribution methods and increasingly aggressive pricing. In the second half of 2014, GfK forecasts the Chinese brands to not only continue their strong growth domestically, but also to gain share across other emerging markets with the same strategy of offering smartphones with strong specifications at low price points. This trend is likely to come at the expense of the international brands. There is a clear trend towards bigger displays. One out of five handsets sold in Germany in 1H14 had a display bigger than 5 inches. KEY SELLING POINTS TECHNOLOGY Operating system Top three choices are Android, iOS and Windows Phone. The most popular OS is Android with the largest number of apps, while iOS remains the most intuitive platform for smartphones. Display Smartphones are getting larger every day and the border between smartphones and phablets is not clearly visible any more. Display resolutions in higher-end models are now surpassing Full HD and manufacturers will continue to raise the bar in this area. Screens are built with higher quality in terms of scratch and water resistance. Specifications Take a good look at what type of processor is in the smartphone you want to buy. The second important thing is the RAM – newer high-end models come with 2 or 3GB, while cheaper models have 1 or half-GB. FEATURES Camera One of the most important things for consumers is the quality of camera in the smartphone. Do not just look at the number of megapixels, since image quality depends also on the size of the sensor, and additional features like image stabilisation. Battery life There are now smartphones on the market with 3000 mAh batteries that can survive all day surfing the web and playing games or videos. Accessories As smartphones become the epicentre of our lives, manufacturers are creating accessories that connect wirelessly. New smartbands follow one’s everyday life, and smart watches do much more than just tell the time. DESIGN Build quality Some smartphones come with plastic chassis but some are built like a full-metal jacket. All manufacturers try to squeeze in the biggest screens possible, so there is not much to talk about in the design of the front side. If the consumer chooses a uni-body phone, he must bear in mind that changing that battery on his own is not possible. Buttons Whilst most manufacturers put buttons on the top and side of smartphones, there are new proposals with buttons on the back. This gives more space for larger screens, but it takes time for users to get used to this idea. Curved phones This solves the problem for those using a larger phone for voice calls, for whom this usually means the microphone is too far from their mouth. The types of display that curved phones use will make these phones almost unbreakable. CONTACT Arndt Polifke Global Director Telecom GfK Retail and Technology INNOVATING @ IFA VESTEL VENUS Vestel’s Venus is available in two models. The Venus X stands out for its sharp lines and is manufactured with display sizes of 5- and 5.5-inches. The Venus V sports more rounded lines but comes with the same screen sizes as the Venus X. The 5.5-inch versions feature 4G, NFC, 13MP cameras and quad-core 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processors. Both models have long battery life and are competitively priced compared to similar devices. » HALL 8.2 STAND 101 Vestel Venus Dr. Rudolf Aunkofer Global Director Information Technology GfK Retail and Technology THE FUTURE The future of smartphones is definitely in flexible screens using OLED technology. The next big thing will be augmented reality where the consumer can point his phone camera and get overlay information about things around him like cafés, restaurants etc. Voice control is an excellent feature that is already present, but we can expect further improvements. Haierphone W970 HAIERPHONE W970 Haier is launching five new Android smartphones at IFA 2014. They include the HaierPhone W970, which has a depth of just 7.7 mm, making it the slimmest model in the range. The large 6-inch HD IPS OGS screen is made for optimum video viewing, with any content or definition smoothly supported by a quad-core processor. Also boasts an extra-powerful 13MP camera, 16GB internal memory and a double-mic design for clear conversation. Powered by Android 4.4. » HALL 3.2 STAND 201 Our thanks to EISA for their help in compiling this buyers’ guide. IFA International • Friday 19 th September 2014 35

IFA International