IFA 2007 network connections
MP3 players can download their repertoire from a computer, home servers can send holiday photos to the flat screen: in 2007, the year of the IFA, digital consumer electronics is almost completely networked. Barely any of the countless products on display at the IFA 2007 operate in isolation any more. The digital exchange of entertainment and information is one of the most elementary capabilities of the latest equipment. The trend towards universal networking has been encouraged by the increasing speed of the transmission paths. Traditional ethernet cables, now carry up to 1 gigabit per second, a data rate that enables dozens of high definition video programmes to be carried simultaneously.
IFA 2007 - Wireless LAN
Wireless LAN (also known as WiFi), the uncomplicated connection via radio, now has new standards that can easily handle up to 200 megabits per second. This bandwidth is also more than capable of carrying video signals of any quality. And networking via the new standard, Homeplug AV, i.e. data transmission using the existing electricity network, also operates at the same speed. All of these infrastructures are now well established as media highways within the home. The IFA 2007 is presenting a wealth of different types of equipment which can exchange media content and data over these networks. They range from AV receivers to stereo systems and media PCs. Numerous special media players are also on show: compact units that can obtain and decode pictures and sound from the internet and then transfer them to a television screen or hi fi system. One of the most interesting new television sets at the IFA 2007 also incorporates a media player together with a Home Plug adapter. This means that as soon as the television set is connected to the electricity supply it can use this route to access videos, digital photos and music from a computer. Another easy solution on show at the IFA 2007 demonstrates how a video can follow the viewer into every room in the house via the home network.
IFA 2007 - Network technologies
Innovative storage solutions are also among the exciting network technologies to be seen at the IFA 2007. NAS hard drives, for example, (the acronym stands for “Network attached Storage“) establish direct contact with the home network and can supply all the connected terminals in the house with content from central media archives, without the involvement of a computer. Special home servers are becoming more widespread too. These are devices with computer capabilities that can store media content and data centrally in the network and display it when requested. They are also ideal as an easy-to-use method of safeguarding data from all the PCs in the home. Such special computers are completely remote-controlled, for example by means of the television screen in the living room, which is why they do not need their own monitor or keypad.
IFA 2007 - Universal Plug and Play
Modern standards such as Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) and the specifications of the industry consortium Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) ensure that all the various items of networked equipment can interact with one another. Equipment bearing the appropriate logos can be used without requiring any prior configuration. Simply plug them in and the network takes care of the rest automatically.
IFA 2007 - MP3 cell phones
However, connecting up to a complete home network is by no means the only way of ensuring that digital components can exchange data and operate in complete harmony with one another. Operating over short distances, radio systems such as the established Bluetooth are particularly suited for linking mobile audio equipment with a hi fi system or music installations in cars. So stereo systems and car radios with Bluetooth capabilities are also among the highlights of the IFA 2007, along with MP3 cell phones which can send the contents of their music archives to such equipment via a radio link. And even everyday MP3 players are equipped for this kind of radio operation: using special Bluetooth adapters.
IFA 2007 - DVD players
And if a long holiday video has to be downloaded onto a computer for editing, or a few gigabytes of music have to be copied onto an MP3 player, the super-fast cable interface iLink or USB 2.0 are still indispensable. They are now firmly established among the spectrum of consumer electronics equipment, along with DVD players and televisions with built-in USB ports, which are able to tap into the multimedia content held on hard drives.