IFA 2018: The Biggest Display Trends and More from Berlin
Held from August 31 through September 5 in Berlin, IFA 2018 showcased more innovation and product launches than any of its previous events, cementing its status as an essential event in the technology calendar.
With products exhibited by the world’s leading companies, startups, research laboratories, and universities, IFA offers a unique insight into the future of consumer electronics.
Here we’ve rounded up some of the biggest display trends and other notable innovations that will change how we interact with technology from this year's event.
IFA 2018 saw 8K resolution take the center stage. Although some manufacturers—including Samsung Display—already showcased 8K products last year, the general industry consensus was that mainstream adoption was still several years away. However, IFA 2018 showed that we are getting closer to consumers accepting the high resolution.
At the event, Samsung announced the release of its Q900R 8K TV. This 85” inch QLED display boasts a peak brightness of 4,000 nits. Combining this with the color possibilities of QLED, HDR 10+, and fast-processing AI to upscale 8K, it makes an incredibly impressive display. It was the winner of a Best of IFA 2018 award and will go on sale later this year.
Other manufacturers who showcased 8K at IFA 2018 include:
- Sharp: displayed the company’s 2nd-generation 8K TVs and an 8K soundbar
- Toshiba: revealed their first 8K model
- TCL: unveiled an AI-enabled TV
- Haier: continued to build on their premium and innovative capabilities
- Changhong: showed a 75-inch QLED TV
8K technology was turning heads. For more information on 8K, visit our blog explaining 8K resolution.
High Dynamic Range (HDR)
HDR is another technology that stood out last year, and its influence was felt again at IFA 2018. HDR offers greater depth, brightness, and color accuracy than Standard Dynamic Range (SDR). While HDR 10 is now the industry standard, Samsung introduced HDR 10+ at IFA 2017. This year, we saw it in action on Samsung’s 85” Q900R 8K TV.
Meanwhile, Sony showcased the possibilities of HDR technology beyond TVs, launching three HDR home cinema projectors. These utilize 4K Motionflow— enabling a smoother and clearer motion by adding extra frames that reduce blur and maintain brightness. Sony also revealed its new mobile phone model Xperia XZ3 that boasts an 18:9 OLED HDR mobile display, showing how HDR can work on scales both large and small.
TCL’s HDR displays were another attraction at IFA 2018. Their line-up included their 4K TVs which are Hybrid Log Gammas compatible, enabling them to display HDR quality images from any signal source including HDMI, live television broadcasts and internet content.
In other HDR news, Hisense utilized the range on two new ULED (Ultra Light Emitting Diode) televisions it plans to release in 2019—with one for the high-end market and the other for mid-range.
IFA 2018 demonstrated how complementing and enhanced technologies, as well as different use cases, will push HDR forward.
Quantum Dots (QD)
Quantum dot LED (QLED) TVs deliver a higher percentage of color volume, regardless of brightness levels, ensuring HDR content can always be displayed as intended. Because of its potential to deliver such high-quality visuals, QLED continues to impress consumers and industry experts alike. However, at IFA 2018, Samsung’s QLED TVs were a talking point for a new reason.
Samsung’s 2018 QLED TVs feature the innovative Ambient Mode, which transforms black "off" screens into a dynamic and animated interior design feature which mimic its surroundings. The high color gamut achievable by QLED helps these images blend in and boosts the realism. At IFA 2018, Samsung Electronics collaborated with design and architectural magazine Dezeen for a worldwide competition to find the next Ambient Design mode design. Five finalists exhibited at IFA, with UK-based Swift Creatives winning with ‘Kinetic Decor’ inspired by Scandinavian pleasures.
Other manufacturers are also realizing the potential for quantum dots as part of living spaces. TCL unveiled its Living Window series—a 4K QLED TV series that uses Onkyo hardware, Dolby Vision HDR, Dolby Atmos for audio, and an embedded AI system to bring art to life. The series comes in four models, with their 'frames' designed to suit different eras of art, with displayed images chosen from a library of Chinese and foreign paintings.
Quantum dots offer high color realism. This makes for impressive viewing of TV shows, sports, and movies. But as these innovative examples show, the technology also has the potential to change the way we view displays in our home.
To find out more about quantum dot physics, read our guide to understanding QD displays.
MicroLEDs are very small LEDs that help create brighter and more colorful screens. The technology is still in its early stages, with many manufacturers struggling with the complex development. Nevertheless, it was functioning at IFA 2018. Mini LED is a more mature, transitional technology that also made appearances at this year’s IFA.
At IFA 2018, Samsung officially announced the release of The Wall—the world’s first modular MicroLED 146-inch TV, initially introduced at the First Look CES event in January 2018. This cutting-edge screen is designed for enterprise and out-of-home viewing environments. Its modular design and self-emitting display technology allow users the freedom to customize The Wall so that they can enjoy the benefits of MicroLED in their desired space.
Gaming monitors were another display type featured at IFA 2018. Samsung unveiled the Samsung CJ79—a 34-inch curved QLED monitor. Its use of QLED gives greater color detail than traditional LED panels, while its curved shape makes gaming more immersive. Another impressive feature is that this display is the first to support Thunderbolt 3—this connector provides faster data connection than standard USB-C connection, allowing for a more powerful single cable connection. The ultra-wide monitor was also the winner of a Best of IFA 2018 award.
Meanwhile, Philips showcased their frameless, slim, and curved super wide 32:9 monitors that also help PC users to get in the moment while gaming. The Momentum line features monitors that have been specifically designed for the need of gamers, with low input lag and Adoptive Sync inbuilt to ensure interruption-free fast-paced gaming.
Gaming innovations at IFA 2018 went beyond displays and showcased furniture innovations as well. Acer’s Predator Thronos is an advanced gaming chair that comes with three monitors that offer a wrap-around effect that surrounds the gamer. It also has the classic features of a gaming chair, such as the famous ‘rumble’.
Smart assistants and speakers
Smart assistants and their associated devices continued to be a talking point at IFA. Many brands such as Sony, Marshall, Harman, LG, and even telecom giants Huawei got on to the smart speaker game at IFA, with most of these being powered by either Google’s Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa.
At IFA 2018, Amazon’s Daniel Rausch took to stage to announce that Alexa had grown from being installed on 4,000 devices at the beginning of 2018 to more than 20,000 by the date of IFA. Voice assistants are now being deployed on more and more devices, and the number is set to grow. Amazon also used IFA to exhibit its new products—the video-enabled Amazon Echo Spot and Amazon Echo Show.
There were more smart appliances than just assistants, with the smart home being an overarching theme of IFA 2018 (including the appearance of the Smartfrog webcam and app, as pictured above).
Display still played a part in these innovations with Synaptics’ AudioSmart far-field voice (FFV) technology, Alexa AI being used to create a TCL television that can hear you even in noisy rooms. This new line of TVs was unveiled at IFA and boasts the technological ability to accurately understand voice control commands despite background voice, while still meeting all low-power energy requirements.
In addition to making things easier to control, smart home innovations also give consumers the ability to control more things than ever before. Philips’ Hue range, for example, gives people new opportunities to control their lighting experiences with unique designs and use cases. With Hue, a room’s lighting can even be programmed to automatically complement images on a television screen. This can be particularly effective with music videos.
As we’ve already discussed, smart speakers had a big presence at IFA 2018, but robotics could be about to push personal assistants one step further.
Temi has been described as “like an Amazon Echo Show on wheels”. This is a telepresence robot that has the intelligence to follow you while you’re on a video call. It can also identify rooms and automatically avoid objects so that it can be sent somewhere (e.g. your home kitchen or a workplace meeting room) ready for a call without getting damaged while traveling. Its ‘head’ is a tablet which is available in up to 4K resolution and can show YouTube videos as well as other apps, with more functionalities and a built-in Google Assistant expected to come soon.
The biggest robotic talking point at IFA 2018, however, was arguably Sony’s Aibo robot dog. Despite having already been released in Japan and announced at CES 2018, its crowd-pleasing interactive demo helped spread the news that Aibo was coming to the European market. The robotic dog can respond to voice and touch, and can also act as a webcam. Aibo even has the artificial intelligence to be able to go and charge itself when its battery is running low—something which Temi can do too.
Smart technology went beyond the home, with wearables continuing to make an impact at IFA 2018. Although the concept of wearables is no longer new, there were still innovations.
Sony’s Fes Watch U also updated smartwatch design, creating a fashionable but smart accessory. This uses e-Paper technology for its screen, rather than LCD or OLED. The e-Paper, which is available in over 100 designs, extends around the strap giving consumers flexibility over the entire appearance of their watch, including its display.
The latest Google Wear OS, unveiled at IFA, was already featuring on multiple watches at the event. This update includes easy-to-read smartphone notifications and an overall cleaner design.
Fitness trackers were also displayed at IFA. The Fitbit Charge 3 was officially revealed at IFA 2018, while Garmin continued their efforts in the market with the Vivosmart 4. The Vivosmart 4 now includes blood oxygen saturation measurements and a "body battery" feature assessing your energy levels.
Once again, IFA was the place to be to discover the latest technological innovations and new consumer electronics from around the world. With powerful displays and so much more exhibited, the future looks to be a very exciting time.