If you say “Internationale Funkausstellung” (IFA) with a rough twang, you’ll end up sounding very German but you will also end up naming one of the oldest and largest consumer electronic fairs in the world. It’s been on since 1924 and as there weren’t too many smartphones, laptops and tablets around then – they named it the International Radio Show.
It draws about 2,00,000 visitors, has pretty much every company worth its salt launching new products, the red-haired girl (in a way-too-obvious wig) in a red dress posing in front of a red background will continue to be the brand ambassador, the famous Summergarden-Stage will feature some of the biggest names in music; and overpriced Wiener schnitzel (a super-thin cutlet with an egg on top) or blutwurst (blood sausage) will still be the main delicious attractions.
Berlin is a stunning city. Unfortunately, the Berlin ExpoCenter, where IFA takes place, is not. It’s this gigantic, dark, brooding, grey mass of concrete, where finding a company or product is maddeningly frustrating.
The bigger question though is this: what can we expect from one of the most important technology fairs in the world?
It’s a tough question to answer this year. Every year, IFA and the companies participating, break new ground with the launch of new technologies and a few break-through products.
The problem this year is that we are on a technology cycle where the big technology stand-outs got announced last year. So the 2014 edition may only have prototypes maturing to ‘products ready to buy’. Here’s what I am hoping will become the showcase products at IFA:
Coming soon: The upcoming Galaxy S5 in all-metal body may be announced
The big news will be the launch of the all-new Galaxy Note 4 phablet
. It may well be thinner and smaller but with the same screen size, quad-HD resolution, metal body, a 20-megapixel camera and a UV scanner that warns you if you are going to get sunburn!
Adding to this will be an Android Wear-powered smartwatch but with one huge difference. This one will have a SIM-card slot and function independent of any phone, thus the name Solo.
The upcoming Galaxy S5 Alpha (the S5 in a much-required all-metal body) may just be announced here too. One of the more exciting products could be the launch of the Samsung Oculus Rift killer, the Samsung Gear VR. Just like the Rift and Sony’s Morpheus, this, too, is a head-tracking virtual reality headgear. I can’t wait for my head to get strapped to one of these.
The big one could be the Z3 smartphone. The noteworthy add-ons could be a 2K screen, and an even better camera, plus an add-on Z3 compact phone.
There is also news of a Sony Smartwatch 3 making its appearance with a radical new form factor, plus a better screen and fantastic new functionality. I really hope they have one, as the first two have frankly been an embarrassment for the Japanese giant.
Wide angle: The Sony Smartwatch 3 offers fantastic new functionality
The other big news here could be Sony furthering its foray into 4K Home Theatre projectors. After breaking the price barrier with the VW500, the next version could well be unveiled here at an even lower price.
I am also hoping that Sony is able to complete the system with a 4K home theatre player that works.
The newsmaker for them could well be the LG G3 Stylus. After the huge success of the G3, they’ve got a Samsung Galaxy Note killer, with even more features.
There may be the next version of the G Flex, the G Flex 2 (which is being termed as the super bendy phone). I’m not too convinced that there will be one this soon as the first one hasn’t exactly set the market on fire.
Then, there’s a lot of buzz about the G3 Prime, which is basically the G3 in a metal body with some souped-up specs.
Lenovo / Motorola:
The headline-making news will be the next versions of the hugely successful MotoX and the MotoG. The new Moto X2 may bump things up very high with a bigger 5-inch full-HD screen and 64GB storage in a custom metal body.
The new Moto G2 is rumoured to have similar specs, a much better camera and an HD screen in a plastic body to maintain the aggressive pricing. The next level of the Yoga Tablet and Notebook are also likely to be shown here.
Wide angle: Moto X2 offers a bigger full-HD screen
Superman may well be sighted at IFA. That’s the codename for the 730, Microsoft’s new Lumia superphone. This is a super economy phone built for the selfie maestros, with a fantastic front camera and some extra selfie magic added on within. Also up could be the Lumia 830 that has PureView optics at a price much lower than the Lumia 1020.
Other fun things at IFA could be the Nvidia Shield tablet, which could really be a game-changer as you will finally have a real reason to buy a tablet and not scracth your head as to what to do with the one you just bought. A new PadFone and a new Transformer laptop from Asus; Panasonic may finally unveil a curved OLED TV and a 4K home projector; and all the audio majors will have some big new products to make the audiophiles very happy.
All I have to do now, is to make sure I can find all these things. Did I mention that the Berlin ExpoCente is this gigantic grey mass of concrete where finding anything is like...
Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3
From HT Brunch, August 24
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