3D, tablets galore expected at Berlin consumer electronics show

The world's largest consumer electronics makers are gathering in Berlin for the 50th Internationale Funkaustellung (IFA) trade show. The push to put 3D screens in our homes continues unabated, and a plethora of tablet PCs are expected to be launched.

IFA will open Friday, but the two preceding days feature back-to-back press conferences at which many of the new products will be announced.

LG has already jumped the gun and announced new TVs, projectors and Blu-ray players that can reproduce 3D. The LEX8 TV is 0.88 centimeters thick, with a bezel just 1.25 centimeters wide, according to LG, but the company isn't saying how big the screen is.

No consumer electronics show would be complete without some over-the-top prototypes: LG's contribution will be a prototype 180-inch Plasma 3D TV, the company said. The company is also expected to show a prototype of a 0.29 centimeters thick, 31-inch OLED (Organic LED) TV.

The HR550, the BD590 and the BX580 are three new 3D-capable Blu-ray players from LG. The HR550 comes with an integrated hard drive and a built-in tuner for terrestrial, satellite or cable TV. The tuner allows users to watch a Blu-ray movie while recording a TV program simultaneously, according to LG.

For users that want a reproduce 3D on really big screens, LG is launching two 3D projectors: the CF3D and the BX327, which offer image sizes at up to 200 inches and 150 inches respectively, LG said.

TVs aren't the only products getting a third dimension: Chinese vendor Rocketchip is expected to formally unveil the Supernova X1, an Android-based tablet PC that allows users to view 3G content without glasses.

However, 3D will never take off unless there is good content. On Friday, Bryan Burns, vice president of strategic business planning and development at sports network ESPN, takes the keynote stage to outline what 3D programming the network will air next year in the U.S., and also talk about some of the lessons it has learned so far.

More tablets are also expected, and Samsung's Galaxy Tab looks set to be one of the hottest products. A preview trailer promises an Android 2.2-based tablet PC with a 7-inch screen that offers video calling, full Web browsing and augmented reality applications.

ViewSonic will show its new ViewPad 7, announced today, which is based on Android 2.2, has a 7-inch screen and a 3-megapixel camera. It also comes with 3G and A-GPS (Assisted-GPS) integrated.

It will cost "no more than £350" (US$54), according to ViewSonic, which isn't detailing when the ViewPad 7 will ship.

Toshiba, Acer and Asus are also expected to show new tablets.

IFA is not known as the premier place for launching new smartphones, but some new products will premier at the show.

Huawei will announce the U8150 smartphone running Android version 2.2, with a 2.8-inch touchscreen, a 3.2-megapixel camera and GPS. Users will also be able to access the Internet over Wi-Fi 802.11n, which is appearing on more and more new smartphones. The U8150's processor is clocked at 528 MHz, according to Huawei.

Also, the launch of Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 and mobile networks based on LTE (Long-Term Evolution) are getting closer, so the launch of products for either of those is not out of the question.

The 2010 edition of IFA will likely not feature such revolutionary products as some past shows have offered -- the world's first mass-produced GSM phone appeared there in 1993, the widescreen TV in 1989 and a prototype TV in 1930 -- but it should still be a fun event.

Send news tips and comments to mikael_ricknas@idg.com

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