Gorgeous to gimmicky – new tech at Berlin’s IFA show

September 1, 2008

Technicians mount a new generation of OLED TV screen on the Samsung exhibition stand at the Internationale Funkaustellung consumer electronics fair in BerlinThe genuinely gorgeous and the jaw-droppingly gimmicky are rare sights on the floors of TVs and tumble dryers on show in in Berlin at IFA, which claims to be the world’s largest consumer electronics fair, but this year Sony takes the dubious accolade of having both on show within a few metres of each other.

First the sublime: Sony’s XEL-1 TV, based on OLED technology, will go on sale in Europe for the Christmas season for around 3,000 euros after being available in Japan for almost a year. With just an 11 inch diagonal, you don’t get much screen size for your money, but you do get a TV that’s just three millimetres thick and has strikingly more vivid picture than conventional LCD technology.

Of course, Sony isn’t going to be alone with OLED televisions for long. Samsung also has an impressive array to go on sale next year, though theirs will be pricy too — product executive Noh Young Joong told Reuters they would likely cost two to three times as much as equivalent-sized LCD units.

Turn round the corner at Sony’s stand, though, and things rapidly go downhill. Remember those artificial flowers from the 1980s, which gyrated around when you played music? Possibly not, but their spirit lives on and seems to  have possessed ‘Rolly‘. Rolly is egg-shaped, about the size of a hand grenade and plays tinny music. It rolls around (dances even) and flips lids covering its speakers. You can stream music from your mobile phone via a Bluetooth wireless network, or store several hundred songs on board. If you have time on your hands, you can even program its dance moves using a laptop.

You may be wondering what the point of it is, though seemingly not the design experts who gave it a prestigious Red Dot award. Rolly goes on sale for 350 euros in October:  roughly the cost of one of Sony’s Playstation 3 video games consoles.

A more deserving winner of a design award — and one that stays the right side of gimmicky — is an MP3 player from Korea’s iRiver that offers a minimalist, and miniature, take on Mickey Mouse. Mickey’s features are reduced to two small pastel-coloured spheres for ears and a larger one for the face. The ears act as a volume control and a track skip control respectively; the face has a socket for headphones and a discreet Disney logo. The price is right too, at around 40 euros when it goes on sale in Europe later this year.

No comments so far

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/