I decided to make just one big conference trip this year and went to IFA, Berlin last Monday, flew straight to IBC, Amsterdam on Wednesday, and finally got home Saturday evening.
IFA was cool, although pretty much a consumer show. It was all about who's got the biggest LCD's and plasmas, with Samsung apparently still being the leader with a 102" plasma and a 82" LCD. HDTV was also quite visible, with a lot of new HD satellite channels coming up during 2005-2006 in Europe.
IBC on the other hand is the main professional event of European broadcasters, and the conference sessions weren't disappointing this year either. Although they ran out of space in some of the technical HDTV sessions, which pissed of a number of people who paid good money for it (including me).
Everybody probably knows that the primary argument on HDTV is now whether to go for 720p or 1080i resolution, i.e. 1280x768 with progressive scanning or 1920x1080 with interlaced scanning. EBU had set up a demo with both major resolutions displayed at various compression techniques and bitspeeds. Personally, I go for 1080i. The resolution advantage is just so clear, with 720p looking more like plain, ordinary tv.
The "final" resolution of HDTV is generally accepted to be 1080p, but there are currently some technical limitations to it. The main argument from EBU members seems to be that the coax wiring of production studios is limited to a bitspeed of 1.5 Gbit/s, while the full uncompressed HD-SDI signal requires 3 Gbit/s. Personally, I think it's better to upgrade a couple of studio cables than let people suffer everywhere for a poor decision.
In fact, going with 720p could prove disasterous for HDTV in Europe, because the 'wow' effect is just not there. The advantage of 1080i resolution, on the other hand, is instantly visible to ordinary people, and it's also the resolution that most US tv shows and movies will be released in.
By the way, Sony had an impressively small consumer HD camera on display at IBC. IFA on the other hand was already full of Blu-Ray and HD-DVD recorders and players. I would say that HDTV is coming now and it's coming fast.
Anyway, a week on the road (well, on airplanes, hotels and conferences, really kind of stresses you out, so trying to recover from some fever and flu now...