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5 gadgets that should rule at IFA 2016

Rajiv Makhni makes five risky predictions about the IFA, days before the gates open at the consumer technology extravaganza in Berlin

brunch Updated: Sep 18, 2016 01:36 IST
Rajiv Makhni
Rajiv Makhni
Hindustan Times
IFA Berlin

The world of tech doesn’t have too many gambles. Obviously every new product launched is a bit of a gamble and the online gaming casinos are, of course, pure gamble – but the rest of the industry tends to play it safe. Which is why, this column is an anomaly. Let me explain.

IFA, or Internationale Funkausstellung, is one of the biggest consumer technology events in the world. It takes place in Berlin every year and showcases almost all the cutting-edge new devices you’ll be able to buy in the next year.

The IFA is known to be a window into the future and usually throws in a large number of shocking unknowns and surprise announcements. I’m writing this column on the flight to Berlin. Here’s where it gets interesting. By the time this column appears in print and online – IFA will be over!

So, here’s how we will play this out. I’m going to make five predictions about IFA days before the gates open. You’re going to read this after IFA 2016 is done and dusted. Let’s create a scorecard and see how each of my predictions fared.

Acer will break a few world records

The brutal war to have the thinnest phone has now moved on to notebooks and convertibles. HP and Lenovo are the current kings of anorexic devices. HP has the carbon fibre Spectre 13 that clocks in at 0.41-inch at its thickest point and cocks a snook at the Apple MacBook at 0.52- inch and the MacBook Air at 0.68-inch. The Spectre is a stunning piece of design and one of the best- looking products I’ve ever seen. The world’s thinnest hinged convertible notebook is Lenovo’s 900S which measures 0.50 inches and is also made out of carbon fibre. My prediction says Acer will hold both crowns starting at IFA and will introduce a notebook and a convertible that will beat these super-slim dimensions by quite a bit. Look it up and tell me – how did I do?

The size zero race: HP’s Spectre 13 (0.41-inch at its thickest point) cocks a snook at the Apple MacBook (0.52-inch)

Fitbit will hit the ground running with two new devices

Both will be brand new upgrades to two of their best selling devices ever. The Fitbit Charge 2 will be a really good- looking device, with a much larger screen, interchangeable bands, and will finally have heartbeat-sensing technology and be able to track multi-sports. The Fitbit Flex 2 will also be a better-looking device, will now be waterproof and thus you can go swimming (a very big deal) with it and track strokes and laps. Plus, it will have smart notification features using just those LEDs.

The Flex 2 will also have a lot of jewellery like pendants and bracelets as add-ons. Fitbit will also introduce its own version of teaching you how to deal with stress with an all-new breathing system. That’s quite a bit to predict. How close was I?

Fitter fitbits: The Fitbit Flex 2 will be waterproof and a better-looking device. You will now be able to go swimming with it and track strokes and laps.

Ultra HD 4K blu-ray players will finally become crystal clear

4K Blu-ray players have been playing a ‘now you see me, now you don’t’ game for a while. In fact, the running joke is that we will see 4K Blu-ray players as soon as the whole industry moves to 8K TVs. But IFA is where I predict this strange omission will no longer be one. Formats are more or less decided, small prototype level plus silly-priced 4K Blu-ray players are already out. Also, 4K Blu-ray discs are about to be released and it all seems like it is coming together. Expect Panasonic, Samsung, Sony and LG, plus a few more, to announce some natty 4Kers at IFA. I’ve made this prediction and yet it’s the one I’m most sceptical about. The ground is all set for these players – but the industry has been notoriously iffy about actually doing it. Hopefully, this won’t be my first prediction to bomb on me.

Expect Panasonic, Sony, LG to announce some natty 4Kers.

Smartwatches and smartphones will be very ho-hum

They won’t be boring or anything, just that it’s tough to get the world excited about just another watch or phone with some tacked-on new feature – when the rest of the event is all about serious cutting-edge innovation. Samsung should have the Gear S3 smartwatch announced, LG may go down the path of its new flexi phone – the G Flex 3 with added on modular features, Asus will have its Zenwatch 3 with a round face, Huawei will come up with the Mate 9 with a dual-lens set-up and may even have its first VR headset. Philips will showcase its Health watch with medically certified real-time heart rate monitoring, Sony will have a high-end Xperia smartphone which once again no one may really care about. All in all, there will be a huge array of smartwatches and smartphones announced and shown – but nothing to set the market on fire. Was I right?

LG may go down the path of its new flexi phone – the G Flex 3 with add-on modular features.

What else?

8K TVs from almost every company under the sun, at least two self-driving cars, some brilliant speaker and audio technology, 360-degree cameras coming out of our ears, 3D printers that take the materials used to a whole new level, a device that can make home-brewed beer at the press of a button and a light bulb that is a projector and computer built into one and can project on to any surface.

Good times ahead: A device that can make home-brewed beer at the press of a button is also on my list of predictions.

Those are my predictions. Like I said, as you read this, everything will have been revealed. All you have to do is look it up. What’s the final verdict? Did I end up with serious egg on my face or am I a digital soothsayer with some super potential?

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3

From HT Brunch, September 4

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