IFA 2016 is complete and was chock full of new products and announcements, including the newest generations of thin and light laptops, as well as the latest smartwatches, and wearables. Let’s jump right into all the latest and greatest in the tech world at the moment.
We covered Acer’s latest offering to the world of portable gaming with our Acer Predator 21 X article, and the 21 X was available for show and tell at IFA this year. On the other end of the portability spectrum, Acer announced the Swift 7, which clocks in as the latest edition of the “world’s thinnest laptop,” beating out the previous record-holder, the HP Spectre 13 by a mere 0.42mm. This is poised to be a serious contender amongst the many other Ultrabook offerings at the moment, with a no-nonsense Kaby Lake i5 CPU, and a 1080p IPS display.
The absence of an i7 model with a 4K panel in it may deter some, but for a device where space and thus battery life is at a premium, many will appreciate the balance between performance, and battery lifetime. Along with the Swift 7, Acer brought along their Spin 7, another Kaby Lake powered laptop with a 1080p IPS display, this time in a 2-in-1 form factor that follows the trend of the MacBook in doing away with full-sized USB ports, an interesting move by Acer in terms of portability.
Lenovo came to the laptop showdown with some big guns, specifically the Yoga 910. Its claim to fame is being the thinnest i7 powered laptop to date offering a higher performance model than Acer’s offering, with a higher powered processor, and a 4K display available. Along with the improvements to the Yoga line, Lenovo’s Yoga Book serves to further blur the line between tablet, and laptop, with a capacitive panel labelled as a “Create Pad” that’s used as a non-tactile touch sensitive keyboard and digital art tablet. It seems to be targeted at the creative market, with most of the reason to have a laptop over a tablet in the current market being the physical keyboard, so this fits the specific need to have laptop grade processing power, as well as an integrated digital art medium, coincidentally the same space that Microsoft’s Surface Book. Speaking of the Surface series, Lenovo’s new Miix 510 is remarkably similar to the Surface Pro series, with some attractive specs in a Kaby Lake i7, as well as 1TB of SSD storage.
LG, as well as Philips, were both on the scene with High Dynamic Range televisions this year, with both manufacturers debuting new 4k OLED panels, both with HDR technology.
Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD 8” model is coming soon, promising to be available September 24th, with a rather significant $90USD decrease in price, as well as upgraded storage, RAM, and CPU. Most noteworthy, though, is the integration of Alexa, Amazon’s virtual assistant on par with the likes of Siri, Google Now, and Cortana. Alexa won’t only be coming to the new model Fire HD 8”, but to the 10” Fire tablet, and last year’s models of the Fire HD 8” tablets.
Asus announced their ZenWatch 3, touting the newest Qualcomm Snapdragon 2100 chipset, for a strong appearance in the wearables sector. They also brought along an updated version of their ZenBook 3, with a brand new i7 Kaby Lake CPU inside.
Samsung introduced two of their newest advances into the smartwatch field, with the Gear S3 Classic, and the Gear S3 Frontier. These are two smartwatches that are mostly identical apart from design, with the Classic being a more everyday model, with the Frontier being a more rugged model with LTE connectivity baked in. Rumours were rampant that the upcoming Galaxy Tab S3 would be announced at IFA, but there were no new tablets from Samsung in appearance.
Motorola’s newest addition to the Moto Z line of phones made an appearance, being the lowest price model that is compatible with Motorola’s line of “Moto Mods,” magnetically attachable accessories that attach to the Moto Z series phones, and add on various functionality. Another new product that was announced was the Hasselblad True Zoom, a 10x optical zoom camera that snaps on to the Moto Z phones, allowing them to act much more like a camera than a smartphone, adding on a large adjustable lens, as well as a much larger sensor and a dedicated shutter button.
Garmin seems ready to take on the likes of GoPro with the VIRB Ultra 30 action cam. The camera has a 1.75-inch touchscreen, can capture 4K movies at 30fps and take stills at 12MP or 8MP. The VIRB Ultra 30 will also have voice control. You will be abe to tell the camera to begin and stop recording video, take still photos and tag footage by saying, “remember that.” Garmin’s new recorder will become available later this month for $499 USD, £449, $699 AUD.
Qualcomm, the giant of the mobile chip industry introduced their newest flagship chipset, the Snapdragon 821, which will certainly be powering the latest and greatest phones very soon. There is speculation that Samsung’s surely upcoming Galaxy S8 model will use the 821, but it is possible we will see a handset powered by the 821 this year, with the upcoming Pixel phones being a strong candidate. The 821 promises incremental upgrades over the current Snapdragon 820, including a 10% boost in CPU performance, a 5% GPU speed increase, and 5% more in power savings than the previous model. Considering Google’s upcoming emphasis on mobile VR with the Daydream platform, this speed increase will be a welcome upgrade. Qualcomm appears to be joining Google’s push to mobile VR, showcasing the capabilities of the current Snapdragon 820 with the VR820, a standalone VR headset that incorporates two 1440×1440 displays, eye tracking, and dual forward facing cameras, features that no other VR headset currently on the market has. Unfortunately, the headset will most likely not be available for sale, it was created mostly as a demonstration of the capabilities of the 820 chipset. It’s possible that this will serve as a reference design for future Daydream headsets that will be powered by Google’s advances in the mobile VR category, but only time will tell.
With an emphasis this year on new technologies in mobile computing, as well as a following of TV and smart home technologies, IFA 2016 looks to be a prelude for the mobile offerings of the year to come. With many of the showcased devices becoming available soon, be sure to watch for more in-depth specs, details, and reviews of the latest devices promised at IFA this year.