CeBIT, the world's biggest technology and telecoms fair, which starts Wednesday, will showcase how fast networks can link high definition TV and wireless gadgets, and a mysterious new product from Microsoft.
The World Cup soccer finals in Germany this summer, broadcast in high definition and mobile TV, will show Europeans that the next stage of electronics has arrived. Companies hope it will kickstart the next major cycle of product upgrades.
The first signs were visible in the fourth quarter of 2005 when, after years of stagnation, TV set revenues grew 13 percent year-on-year as consumers snapped up flat screen and high definition TVs, according to market research from DisplaySearch.
High definition TV (HDTV) will also put the spotlight on new, higher capacity storage versions of DVD.
The rival Blu-ray and HD DVD formats will make their case at CeBIT as they move from a war of words to an all-out commercial fight for the $24 billion a year home video market.
US NVIDIA will showcase the new 7900GT series of GPUs along with support of its products for the AMD's upcoming AM2 socket.
The annual trade show in the northern German city of Hanover, now in its 20th year, expects to attract more than 6,000 exhibitors and around half a million visitors this year, about the same number as in 2005.
Although the show is aimed at business rather than consumers, firms ranging from software makers to telecoms operators hope entertainment technology integrated into work devices will prove just as attractive to business users as it has to teenagers.
The show, more than ever before, celebrates the evaporating boundaries between traditionally distinct industries. Telecoms operators will show off their first television delivery services over the Internet, which go commercial this year.
Meanwhile, cable operators and new wireless communications firms offer everything from TV and Internet to voice calls over the Internet, and mobile telecoms firms have pinned their hopes on TV on portable devices. New TV sets with built-in wireless Wi-Fi Internet connections can just as easily show an on-demand TV show streaming from the Internet as pictures from a home PC.
The ORIGAMI Mystery
One of the eagerly awaited announcements at this year's CeBIT will be the unveiling of Microsoft's mysterious Origami device, which has been trailed for weeks on a website registered by the company (www.origamiproject.com).
The campaign has fueled speculation of a new device designed to rival the phenomenal success of Apple's iPod or Sony's Playstation Portable.
One media report said it would be a smaller, lighter version of current tablet computers that allows users to write and draw pictures with a digital pen and play music and movies.
So far all Microsoft has confirmed is that it will be a paperback-sized tablet PC that runs Windows XP.
An answer came from Intel, which plans to show off on Tuesday a minitablet device at the center of Microsoft's Origami Project.
The first devices are expected to have a 7-inch touch screen, standard x86 processors, and will possibly run full versions of desktop operating systems including the Windows XP variant being used for Origami.
In later generations, probably next year or later, the devices could have the pocket size, all-day battery life, and $500 price that Microsoft and Intel are aiming for.
Samsung also is showing the first device designed around Microsoft's Origami project at the Cebit electronics show in Germany. The device measures about 15cm by 20cm, or half the size of a sheet of copier paper, and is known officially as an ultramobile device. Samsung's product, called the Q1, runs on a 900MHz Intel Celeron microprocessor and has 500MB of RAM.
The device is in the final stages of development and it's not known exactly when it will be available or at what price. It will be discussed further at Cebit press conferences on Thursday by Intel and Microsoft.
This year, CeBIT expects more than half its exhibitors to come from outside Germany, from 70 different countries.
The leading exhibiting nation will be Taiwan, with more than 700 companies showing off their wares, followed by China, South Korea and the United States.
On the corporate side, the focus will be on RFID (radio frequency identification) tags and products designed for the banking and finance sectors. So-called eHealth in the public sector, including electronic health cards, will also be a theme.
In the following days, CDRInfo.com will offer detailed presentations of new products and technologies showcased at CeBIT, as well as reports from various press events.