I’m typing away furiously on my BlackBerry (yes, I sometimes write full columns on my BlackBerry – and no, that doesn’t make me a hopeless addict). It’s my flight back from IFA 2010, Berlin, and my notebooks died on me (when will they start making these with 20 hours battery life?), my deadline for this column is looming (I have this bad habit of saying yes to impossible deadlines) and I’m wondering whether I should go with my original column idea on 3D TVs. My mind is still reeling from the onslaught of technology that I’ve just been subjected to (IFA is the world’s largest consumer electronics fair spread over 29 football stadium-sized halls) and writing on anything else seems like I’m committing adultery to the effort put in there. Writing this whole column on IFA seems a little beyond the scope of this page, plus I am still a bit numb and bewildered with all that I saw in four days.
Maybe, just maybe, there is a way. How about a quick and dirty on IFA? The best and worst of what I saw there without any order or function to it. Products that left a lasting impact, great glimpses of technology and even good stuff that is unfortunately destined to fail. Don’t expect this to be a detailed chronicle of IFA 2010 – more like the ramblings of a technumbed mind that has been exposed to more than 100,000 gadgets in 96 hours.
IFA started fairly typically – cold, wet, crowded and chaotic – but then our driver (who was especially imported in from London – some incredible story to do with the difficulty of getting English-speaking drivers at IFA time) pulled off the impossible! He lost his way to IFA! With large hoardings everywhere, every street labelled, directions on every square inch of the way, he managed to take us miles away from the destination. By the time I got there, badge in place, hair and clothes wet and dripping, I was two hours late!
After attending the obligatory press conferences and speeches, I finally pulled myself together and let myself loose on the exhibition floor. And the sense of being overwhelmed and overawed was immediate. This was bigger than ever before, too many companies, too many products, would I be able to cover it all?
Samsung had built up Applesque level hype and buzz around its Galaxy Tab tablet. Never a good idea to set expectations that high. Thankfully they pulled it off with what is easily the best Android tablet ever. Nice portable form factor, thin and light, built solid, speedy, great features, video conferencing out of the box and full telephony. They should have put in an AMOLED screen and added some extra layers over Android. Still, easily the best product of IFA 2010.
LG’s 31-inch OLED bluntly showed us our future TV. At about 3 mm thin (isn’t thin in TV going to ridiculous levels? This one was more of a sharp weapon on the side than a TV). Amazing clarity, colour depth, contrast ratio and uses very less power. This is a display that blows your mind and your eyes!
Sony made all us point-and-shoot camera users less embarrassed. The NEX 5 has the lines and body of a compact digital camera and the capabilities of a full fledged DSLR. Mirrorless interchangeable lens, 14.6 megapixel, high-resolution tilt/flip screens, 1080i HD Video and mount lenses that can rival anything those conceited, overly glib pros use.
Toshiba threw all conventional thinking out of the box with its cloud computing AC 100 laptop. It’s anorexic in ways that will make most modelling agents salivate, a battery life that goes beyond your dreams and a concept that fits right into our future. The device has a customised Android OS but everything else lives in the cloud, i.e, nothing resides on the laptop – it’s all out there on the Net.
And that’s as quick and dirty as it gets. Yet, in a nutshell, that was the essence of IFA 2010 – barring the fact that it leaves about 99,996 more products to cover. Maybe next week’s Brunch could be a 300 page Tech special. Do write to the editor to make sure that happens. Meanwhile I’m going to pry my sweaty, almost crippled little fingers off my BlackBerry. I’ve had enough of technology for a long, long time. It’s time to sit back, relax and enjoy the flight. I’ve heard they have some great entertainment on the 21-inch LED touchscreen display, with a state of the art 64-bit custom in-flight theatre system on 99 per cent noise cancellation headphones. So good to escape from technology for a while!
(Next week is IFA Part 2, not typed on a BlackBerry, not written on a no-sleep-for-96-hours-numb-mind and will cover the ‘great but destined to Fail’ gadgets of IFA 2010)
Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3.0. Follow Rajiv on Twitter at twitter.com/RajivMakhni