Every year, at the end of August, the world’s biggest tech companies gather in Berlin to unveil their latest and greatest. It’s called IFA and if you’ve got more than a passing interest in gadgets you’ll want to keep an eye on it.
We've been running around the show floor to bring you all the news from the Berlin-based bedlam. But to save you time, we’ve put together a list of 15 of the most exciting launches from the show. So in no particular order...
Additional words by Burhanuddin Kapasi
1) LG 88in 8K OLED
LG first showed off its 8K whopper - that’s 7680x4320 pixels - back in January, but back then it was little more than a ginormous digital photo frame. At IFA it’s been putting the OLED display to good use, showing proper moving images on it. Fancy removing a wall and having one delivered? Hard luck, because LG still isn’t ready to sell them yet. Amazingly, it wasn’t even the biggest screen the company had on show, with a 173in 4K display made up of MicroLED panels also on show, although you can’t buy that one yet either. Shame.
2) UE BOOM 3 and Megaboom 3
UE’s Bluetooth speakers have been soundtracking our lives for years now. They’re rugged, sound great and look pretty decent too, so why change a winning formula? To make it better of course. The Boom 3 and Megaboom 3 have been redesigned for better 360 sound, although the familiar cylindrical shape remains. They’re tougher now too, with wireless range extended to a whopping 45m.
Available: October 2018, £130; around ₹10,700 (Boom 3) and £170; around ₹14,100 (Megaboom 3)
3) B&O Beosound Edge
B&O made its name by designing hi-fi gear that wouldn’t look out of place in a Bond villain’s minimalist mountain lair - and it looks like all that practice has paid off. Measuring just over half a metre tall, with six amps, a 10in woofer, two mid-range drivers and a pair of tweeters inside, the Beosound Edge is a bit like a massive musical pound coin. To adjust the volume you have to roll it from side to side, so make sure you leave plenty of space around it. Still, if you’re willing to spend £2900 on what is essentially a Bluetooth speaker, you’re probably not cooped up in bedsit.
Available: October 2018, £2900 (around ₹2.4 lakhs)
4) Sonos Amp
Got a Sonos system and some less brainy hi-fi kit you’d like to get singing from the same song sheet? Sonos has got just the black box for you. Its new Amp, which replaces the ageing Connect:Amp, has more power per channel and can now drive twice as many speakers: four instead of two. There’s AirPlay 2 onboard, an HDMI ARC port, which will allow it to control your TV, but if you want to keep things old-skool it retains the RCA inputs that mean you can plug in your turntable. Time to drag your separates into the 21st century?
Available: February 2019, €699 (₹58,600)
5) Samsung Q900R
LG’s 8K TV might be the biggest but it’s not all about size, it’s what you do with it that counts - and Samsung thinks it has a solution to the absence of any 8K content to watch. It’s given its Q900R range of 8K TVs AI-powered upscaling, so whatever you’re watching it’ll use machine learning to fill all those extra pixels as accurately as possible. It comes in four sizes: 65in, 75in, 82in and 85in, with peak brightness of 4000 nits. Let’s hope you can remember where you put the receipt for that 4K telly you just bought, eh?
Available: October 2018
6) Sony Xperia XZ3
Sony’s Xperia XZ2 has only been on the scene for six months but it’s already been usurped by a successor. Clearly Sony couldn’t wait a whole year to fit an OLED screen to its flagship phone, so the XZ3 gets an 18:9 OLED display. Considering what Sony knows about making TVs, the HDR-capable six-incher should be a stonker. The glass design is certainly on-trend in the smartphone world, although there’s a bit more bezel than you’ll find elsewhere. Given the short turnaround time the processor and rear camera are unchanged, although your selfies should look a bit sharper thanks to a 13MP front-facer.
Available: End of September 2018
7) BlackBerry Key2 LE
Given its boardroom-friendly approach to business, you can normally have a BlackBerry in any colour as long as it’s black. But for the first time since 2014, BlackBerry is offering a new phone in something other than monochrome. Sure, it’s still mostly black, but the red accents should distract you from the fact that this is essentially a ‘lite’ version of the Key2, with a 4.5in Full HD display, 4GB of RAM, 32GB or 64GB of storage, and dual 13MP+5MP rear cameras. Obviously, it comes with the trademark QWERTY and two other finishes are also available (although one of them is basically black).
Available: October 2018, ₹TBA
8) Sony FES Watch U
What do you get when you cross a smartwatch with an ebook reader? Sony’s FES Watch U. OK, so while it does hook up to a mobile app, it’s not exactly smart. Don’t expect any notifications, GPS or fitness tracking. Almost the whole of the FES Watch U is an e-paper display, so you use the app to customise what it looks like. There are 100 designs available and it wraps around the strap, not just the face, so you can change the pattern to match your outfit. The low-power tech also means the battery should last two weeks.
Available: September 2018, from ₹TBA
9) Acer Predator Thronos
There are gaming chairs and then there’s Acer’s Predator Thronos. While most are glorified bean bags with a set of tinny speakers built in, this 200kg construction looks more like something out of a sci-fi movie. It has space for three of Acer’s 27in gaming monitors and shakes and vibrates while you play, while a motorised mechanism can tilt the whole thing back up to 140 degrees. You need to add your own PC and there are no speakers built in, which seems like an oversight considering how OTT it is in every other area, but if you’re serious about your fragging, there’s nothing else that should beat it to the top of your Christmas list.
10) Sony WH-1000MX3
In the race to have the quietest headphones in the world, Sony has been silently battling it out with Bose for a while now - but the new WH-1000MX3 might just lay this fight to rest. Sony has upgraded the noise-cancelling tech, so they’re now up to four times more effective, plus they’ll automatically adjust depending on your surroundings. With a 30-hour battery life, they’ll also keep on trucking for even the longest of long-haul flights. Your move, Bose.
Available: September 2018, ₹TBA
11) Sharp 8K TV and soundbar
If there was any doubt whether 8K TVs were really a thing, Sharp’s already on to its second generation of sets. Previously only available in Japan, new 60in, 70in and 80in Aquos models will arrive in early 2019 with an ‘8K soundbar’ in tow. Of course, audio doesn’t contain any pixels, so presumably that means it’s capable of passing through 8K content, plus it supports Dolby Atmos and 22.2-channel surround sound.
Available: Early 2019
12) Netgear Orbi Voice
When it comes to positioning your smart speaker, you always have to consider how strong the Wi-Fi is in your preferred spot. And if it’s a few bars short of a full house? Netgear’s Orbi Voice has a way around that. You see, it doubles as part of a mesh network, so it’ll boost your Wi-Fi wherever you put it, and with Harman Kardon helping with the audio side it should also sound pretty sweet.
Available: October, ₹TBA
13) Beyerdynamic Lagoon ANC
Even when you’re not wearing headphones it can sometimes be pretty difficult to tell whether they’re on or not. Sure, if music’s playing that can be a bit of a giveaway, but Beyerdynamic’s Lagoon noise-cancellers have a neat way of informing you what’s up. Rather than having tiny lights on the outside, the insides of each ear cup illuminate in different colours depending what mode they’re in, to warn you that the battery is low, or simply to indicate which way round to put them on. A bit like a pair of traffic lights for your head.
Available: Late 2018, €399 (around ₹33,000)
14) Huawei AI Cube
Smart assistants have made their base in speakers and managed to find a soft spot in our homes. Huawei’s arrived a little late to the party with its smart speaker named AI Cube. It supports Huawei’s Histen Tech to enhance sound and bass, far-field mics so you don’t have to scream your lungs out to command Alexa what song you want to listen to, and you can plonk in a 4G Sim making it a wireless router. Here’s a trick question, “Hey Alexa, who’s the smartest in the room?”
15) Lenovo Yoga Book C930
Laptops usually have one screen and a physical keyboard with buttons to type on. Not this time. Lenovo’s newest Yoga does the 2-in-1 asanas like its other siblings, but this time it replaces the keyboard with a full-screen e-ink display that can switch between a keyboard, a canvas to paint on or an e-reader. You choose.
Available: September, €999 (around ₹82,000)