This week, consumer electronics vendors are once again congregating in Berlin for the IFA trade show, where products based on Microsoft’s upcoming Windows 8 and RT are expected to set the trend.
The next couple of months will be an important test of Microsoft’s operating system strategy.
Next week the spotlight will be on Microsoft’s phone platform, as Microsoft joins Nokia for an event in New York where the Finnish phone maker is expected to announce its first phones based on Windows Phone 8.
This week, though, the focus will be on Windows 8 and Windows RT, with the expected arrival of ARM-based tablets running RT from the likes of Dell, Lenovo, and Samsung Electronics. All three manufacturers are attending IFA this week, but it remains to be seen whether they will announce the products there.
Samsung posted a teaser video on YouTube last week titled “Something Smart is Coming…”, saying it would soon reveal its “newest Windows-8-ready innovation.” The 37-second video reveals a laptop or a laptop-tablet hybrid, but not much else. Around the 21-second mark it shows something that may be a removable stylus, much like the S-Pen that allows users of Samsung’s Android-based Galaxy Note family to write on the display and interact with the device.
At the Computex show in June, Samsung showed two Windows 8-based tablets with attachable keyboards and 11.6-inch touch screens that at the time were scheduled to go on sale in October.
Microsoft and its hardware partners have been struggling to make a real mark in the smartphone and tablet space, but will be hoping to change that with the three new operating systems now on the way. This time will also be different because of the fact that Microsoft will sell its own tablets, the Surface family.
Tablets based on Windows 8 and Windows RT will have an impact on the overall market — but not this year, according to market ABI Research. If Windows tablets are priced aggressively compared to current Android tablets, shipments of them in 2013 could increase tenfold over this year. However, if Windows tablets are priced more like Apples iPad offerings, shipments of them may only double or triple in 2013, ABI said.
Besides a Windows 8-based laptop, Samsung is also expected to launch a successor to the Android-based Galaxy Note, which was first shown at IFA 2011. The Galaxy Note II is rumored to be powered by a quad-core 1.4GHz processor, and have a 5.5-inch screen, which is slightly larger then the first generation’s 5.3-inch screen.
More Android-based products will likely come from LG Electronics and Sony. The latter is expected to launch new tablets.
Besides tablets, smartphones and also ultrabooks, IFA always offers a good dose of new TVs and displays.
LG has already announced some of the products it will show at IFA, which gives a hint at what the TV trends will be at this year’s IFA.
On Monday, the company launched a new TV game portal called Game World. From the portal owners of its Cinema 3D Smart TVs will be able to download 2D and 3D games. At the end of July, LG announced five 3D games that were on the way, including one called ‘Air Penguin’.
The titles available on Game World will consist mainly of family-friendly titles, and most titles will be controlled using gestures and movement, according to LG. Game World will be launched globally in the second half of this year, it said.
The company will also show an 84-inch UHD (Ultra High Definition) 3D TV, a product that has a 3840-by-2160 pixels resolution. The horizontal pixel count has helped coined the term “4k” to describe products that can handle the higher resolution.
The TV will become available in North America, Europe, Asia, and Latin America starting in September, and cost about US$22,100.
Today there is little content available to consumers at 3840-by-2160 pixels. But the higher resolution will take off in the next five years, and LG expects content providers to follow the trend, LG said at recent event.
LG likely won’t be the only vendor that shows 4k products at IFA. Sony is also expected to unveil its own TV.
IFA takes place in Berlin between Aug. 31 and Sept. 5, with product launches starting on Aug. 29.
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