IFA 2016 review

IFA is Europe’s largest consumer electronics trade show and it’s always a way of gauging the state of the tech industry. Jonathan Easton takes a look at the highlights from and picks out some of the trends that emerged.

Between 2-7 of September, the eyes of the tech world turned to Berlin’s ExpoCenter for Europe’s largest consumer electronics trade show, IFA. 

There were a whole host of new gadgets shown off but also a few trends which were unavoidable throughout the show.

Firstly, as unavoidable in 2016 as a bicycle in Berlin, was all of the ‘smart’ technology. From a £1,000-plus Laurastar connected iron (literally, the thing you use for uncrumpling your shirts), to a raging war between LG and Samsung to see who can make the smartest fridge, nothing is safe from being absorbed into the internet of things (IoT). There was even a smart thermostat in case you don’t want to physically touch your radiator. 

The amount of IoT devices on display at this year’s IFA shows that this is a trend that isn’t going away anytime soon. With connected devices becoming more and more vital to the tech industry, it seems inevitable that coming trade shows – such as January’s CES in Las Vegas – will see more household objects endowed with smart technology.

While the internet of things was shown off to the fullest at the show, that was nothing compared with the slew of wearables presented at this year’s IFA.

Almost as if they knew what Apple had up its sleeve, the likes of Samsung, Asus and Withings all showed off their latest, distinctly analogue-looking, smartwatches. With a lot of devices taking a particularly bold look at this year’s IFA, it was refreshing to see more subtle and moderate design. Turns out space-age tech doesn’t have to look like something from The Jetsons.

Speaking of loud design, Acer revealed the outrageous and audacious Predator 21X gaming notebook.

This laptop has a 21 inch curved screen (a first for a notebook), dual Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 graphics cards, two power supplies, five fans and a mechanical keyboard all wrapped up into an 8kg package that’ll cost around £3,800.

Acer’s unwaveringly daring notebook seems to have stolen the show with outlets including PC Advisor and Trusted Reviews, echoing those sentiments. The resounding take away is that, to quote TrustedReviews, “it’s mad, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want one”.

“This year’s IFA saw evolution rather than revolution.”

Amongst the optimism surrounding all the new gear on display, there was a bit of pessimistic shade hovering over ASUS who mostly – asides for their stellar looking ZenWatch 3 – rehashed everything from June’s Computex.

To round things off, the show also saw lots of different vendors make their first entries into the VR space at varying price points. 

VR has thus far been dominated by high-cost devices (HTC Vive, Oculus Rift) and low-end, mobile options (Samsung Gear VR, Google Cardboard). At IFA, however, we saw a few companies trying to approach something of a middle ground between the two. 

Qualcomm’s phone, computer and wireless VR headset platform will be licenced to manufacturing partners so they can create their own affordable devices. 

Similarly, Alcatel revealed the Vision which is a similar headset without wires and a significantly cheaper price point than the Rift and Vive. 

IFA is always a good way of gauging the current state of tech. This year saw evolution rather than revolution with concepts being tweaked instead of game-changing technologies being introduced. Attention now turns to Las Vegas for CES in January.

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