IFA is the consumer electronics trade show that takes place in Berlin every year. The show takes place in September, and it has been the platform for a range of major launches including the first generations of Samsung Galaxy Note devices. ASUS has been a stand-out manufacturer at IFA 2016 with the launch of products within their ZenSeries line, along with a number of other companies. As the feature-packed event has now come to an end, we bring you a round-up of the best at IFA this year:
1. Samsung Gear smartwatch –the Gear S3
IFA 2016 was the platform for the release of the highly anticipated Samsung Gear S3 smartwatch. The 4th generation Gear S3 smartwatch by Samsung is considerably larger than the previous release, as well as having a 4G enabled mode and a GPS signal. It is available in either classic or frontier design. The Gear S3 Frontier is slightly weightier than the Classic, weighing 62g; however they both have 46 x 49 x 12.9mm dimensions. The smartwatch is also waterproof –which is a signature enhancement on many Samsung devices; it can stay in water up to 5 feet deep for 30 minutes.
There are not many significant changes that have taken place in the new smartwatch in comparison to the Samsung Gear S2 –which is a highly acclaimed release; however the longer battery life and larger size are impressive changes. The Always-On Display (AOD) is able to display up to 16 million colours without draining the battery which is a striking plus.
It will be interesting to see how Apple responds with the next release of the Apple Watch, as the Gear S3 looks hard to beat, aside from the fact that the Frontier is considerably heavier than the standard Apple watch. A minority may find the substantial size of the smartwatch troublesome, however the style and skill of the gadget overcomes that.
Release date: October 2016
Price: not confirmed, however is expected to be £249 for the Classic and around £300 for the Frontier.
2. Lenovo Yoga Book tablet
Lenovo announced a new Yoga Book at IFA 2016; it uses the manufacturer’s signature watchband-hinge –one part with the standard touchscreen and the other half with a fascinating touch-sensitive surface. The surface has light-up keys which emulate a keyboard, however it also accepts input as a stylus so can be used as both; it is powered by Wacom.
Lenovo’s new Yoga Book tablet, which the company calls the ‘Create Pad’, has a “halo” touch sensitive keyboard which is great for graphic designers, as it can be used for typing, writing notes or drawing with a stylus pen. The device has another remarkable feature – you can add an ink cartridge into the stylus and take notes on real paper, while the Yoga Book copies them onto the screen. The hinge on the device allows you to swing the screen all the way around so you can even take and record notes while it’s folded.
The device has a 15 hour battery life, so it’s also great for on-the-go use, and it gives users the option of an Android or Windows operating system. In Lenovo’s signature manner, there will be two variants of the device: Android Marshmallow and Windows 10. Both versions will have the stylus included as well as LTE radios.
Up until now, we’ve been using tablets in ways we weren’t meant to: for productivity, for example, which becomes painful when typing or applying a stylus onto a touch screen that you’re using on-the-go.
The Yoga Book removes that difficulty by taking the fundamental building blocks from the DNA of what makes a great tablet – namely portability, long battery life and a rich app ecosystem – and entwines it into a strand of creativity and productivity through a suite of powerful new hardware and software features, including:
- The instant halo keyboard
- The dual-use stylus that writes on paper and screen
- The productivity-driven Book UI
Release date: the device will be available to buy in the US from October.
Price: Android Marshmallow version: $499; Windows 10 version: $549
3. Sony Xperia XZ
IFA 2016 saw Sony launch their official flagship X –series device, the Xperia XZ. The XZ differs with the previous Xperia X, with an emphasis on photography and a more refined design. There are evidently a range of great camera improvements from the previous offering, such as the 23 MP sensor which has new white balance technology to improve the colouring of photographs and enhance detail. Sony sensors often indicate issues by displaying fine details, so this is a welcome improvement from the manufacturer.
Sony has also combatted any issues of blurriness with the 5-axis stabilisation technology which ensures clear-cut video quality. The smartphone is available in deep blue, black and silver, and features the highest range of specs ever seen in a Sony device. The Xperia XZ is a great premium handset which marks a return to the waterproof feature for Sony, and it will also be upgraded to Android Nougat soon, so it is essentially the unison of the best features of Sony’s X and Z series of devices.
Executive Vice President, Global Sales and Marketing, Sony Mobile Communications, Hideyuki Furumi says: “With Xperia we want to assist you when and where it matters most, making your everyday lives more convenient, more effortless, more spontaneous.
With Xperia XZ and Xperia X Compact you can capture every moment as you see it, with blur-free images day or night, and with true to life colours thanks to our new triple image sensing technology.”
Release date: early October
Price: expected to be £500 to £600.
4. Acer Predator 21 X
(Source: Business Insider UK)
Acer has revolutionised the gaming scene by breaking the barriers between PC’s and laptops. The Acer Predator 21 X is the first laptop which has a curved screen and is specifically designed to engage gamers. PC gamers may have finally found the device that converts them to laptop gaming, as the Predator 21 X has all the power of a desktop (with the dual NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card) along with the benefit of portability –so you can take premium gaming with you everywhere!
The fact that laptop manufacturers can now install full-size desktop versions of the NVIDIA GTX 10-series graphics card has also been helpful in the growth of laptop gaming. The device is similarly priced to a standard gaming desktop, so the choice between the both is purely personal preference –although desktop gamers still have the niftiest gadgets available to enhance gaming, such as curved and ultra-wide monitors, which are great for immersive gaming.
The laptop has a 21-inch curved display along with a wide-angle screen so it will be pretty impressive for gaming, and it also has an eye-tracking technology feature which is useful for interacting in games. Weighing only 8kg, it is great for on-the-go use; however it does require two power supplies
Release date: 2017
Price: not confirmed, expected to be upwards of £3800
5. ASUS ZenWatch 3
The launch of this smartwatch by the Taiwanese firm, ASUS, at IFA 2016 was a welcome surprise. ASUS Vice President Eric Chen stated:
“IFA is where we launched our very first smartwatch and we have continued the tradition today with ZenWatch 3.
We deeply appreciate the loyal support from consumers in Europe, and we are excited to bring our new Zenvolution product line-up to the European markets.”
The ASUS ZenWatch 3 is certainly a winner in the visual department, and it’s available in three stunning colours: silver, gunmetal and rose gold. Users are spoilt for choice with this gadget as it has over 50 customisable watch faces. The ASUS ZenWatch 3 is one of the first wearables to use the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 2100 chipset, so it features impressive HyperCharge technology which allows the battery to charge super quick and last 2 days.
The round design is different from the lozenge-style face of the previous ASUS release, and it has a fully circular 1.39-inch OLED display with stunning 400 x 400 screen resolution. Users will enjoy bright and detailed visuals with this impressive device. The premium and much-preferred round style of this smartwatch puts ASUS on the level of popular releases such as the Huawei watch and the Moto 360.
Release date: it will be available in October, first in the US and Germany.
Price: Rubber strap – £190; Leather strap – £210
6. Sony Xperia Ear
Sony discussed the release date of the Xperia Ear as well as many other members of its Smart Product range, which includes the Xperia Agent and Project. The Xperia Ear was first announced at Mobile World Congress 2016, and it is one of Sony’s trio of future tech.
It is a wireless in-ear audio companion device for Sony’s range of Xperia smartphones; it responds to voice commands and delivers notifications directly without the need to check your phone. The device will essentially act as a mobile ‘Siri’ or ‘Google Now’, and gives real-time weather and news updates, as well as personal schedule reminders; it can also read out directions so you don’t have to look at your phone screen. It has a high level of interaction, such as responding to questions as if you’re conversing with the device.
Sony has acknowledged that users may not always be able to ‘talk’ to the device or may prefer gestures, so the Xperia Ear has impressively been instilled with gesture recognition. For example, shaking your head can indicate ‘no’ to the device. The demos shown suggested that gestures did not need to be exaggerated, so it is an interesting future tech device; however it is questionable if it will be popular with consumers.
Release date: November 2016 in some countries
Price: €200 – UK and US price not announced yet.
7. ASUS ZenScreen
(Source: The Verge)
IFA 2016, this year, saw ASUS launch a series of impressive gadgets –most notably creating the “world’s lightest and slimmest full HD portable monitor”, the ASUS ZenScreen.
The ZenScreen is an innovative device which allows users to transport and enjoy a 15.6” Full HD screen anywhere, revolutionising the idea of standard portable devices which tend to compromise screen size for portability. It is also 60-percent slimmer than the usual portable displays, and has a USB-C connection. The Type-C (USB-C) port supports both power and video transmission for compatibility with any laptop with a USB-C or USB Type-A port.
ASUS Design Centre Director, Jen Chuang says “When computers get smaller, sometimes we feel restricted by the screen size. ZenScreen is designed to enlarge your workspace, so you can multitask with an extended view anywhere you want.”
Release date: not announced yet
Price: approximately $300
8. TomTom Touch
(Source: The Verge)
The TomTom Touch may not appear to be much more than a basic fitness tracker, however it has one stand-out feature –it can calculate body fat.
The touch-sensitive button sends a harmless current through your body to determine the balance between your muscle mass and fat. We’re not certain on whether it will deliver the most precise readings, however this is a unique and impressive feature to have on a fitness tracker.
TomTom has a renowned reputation as a dashboard GPS system manufacturer, however the company’s recent skill for stand-out wearables has given it a well-deserved spot on our round-up of the best gadgets of IFA 2016. The slim waterproof design and Touch feature has put the TomTom Touch in direct competition against the popular Fitbit.
Release date: pre-order from September 7th
9. Philips 55910F OLED TV
A large number of televisions were showcased at IFA 2016; however one that stood out was the Philips 55910F OLED TV. This 55 inch TV displays the brilliance of Philips’ famous backlighting technology –Ambilight, and it’s been combined with a stunning OLED 4K screen. This is Philip’s first ever OLED TV and it does not disappoint.
This impressive TV will unquestionably deliver an extraordinary viewer experience every time, as the 4K UHD screen displays magnificent vibrant colour quality. The unique Ambilight technology splashes light behind the television so the mood matches the screen –as evident from the image. It’s also an Android TV, so it is expected to be a pricey gadget.
The picture quality immediately engages, and the OLED screen differentiates the darkness of black and vibrancy of colours, resulting in a stunning display.
Philips says: “OLED, Ambilight and Philips PQ technology combine to set a new reference: the world’s only OLED 4K TV with Ambilight!”
Release date: not yet announced
Price: approximately £3,500 or $4,600
We hope you enjoyed our round-up of this exciting event. Keep a look out for full-on reviews for these remarkable product launches on our blog.