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IFA 2018: Consumer Electronics Gets Smarter


IFA 2018: Consumer Electronics Gets Smarter

IFA 2018: Consumer Electronics Gets Smarter

The Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin (IFA) show claims to be the world’s largest consumer electronics show. With over 1,800 exhibitors and 250,000 visitors from 31st of August-5th of September, it was certainly a mind-boggling place to experience.

The smart home matures
We’re saying this every year, but IFA 2018 showed us once again the continuing maturation of the smart home sector. Voice assistant technology is being built into a whole slew of products: from wireless loudspeakers to TVs and headphones built by the likes of Sony, Marshall, Harmann, LG and Huawei. Google and Amazon’s Alexa lead the way in terms of platforms, and the two giants are naturally encouraging consumer electronics makers to support their digital assistant tech as they look to win the battle of the ecosystems.

You’d be surprised at how many smart home gadgets now respond to the spoken word: even lighting and heating systems can now be voice controlled in the smart home. All of this is creating a lot of buzz in the channel. The smart home category is one of the top five which global resellers are considering introducing into their portfolio in the next year, according to CONTEXT’s latest ChannelWatch survey. Awareness of the category is highest in Germany and the UK.

PCs get even skinnier
It might come as some surprise that, for all the eye-catching hi-tech gadgets on show at IFA, some of the biggest excitement was generated in the traditional PC category. All the major vendors, from Lenovo to Asus, Acer and Dell had new laptops and PCs to show off, across all form factors. Lenovo launched a new Yoga Book C930 featuring an e-ink dual display and a super-thin, high-end business model: the ThinkPad X1 Extreme.

Asus used the show to display some lightweight ZenBook models which even rival the MacBook Air in terms of their portability, while Acer wasn’t far behind. The former’s ZenBook S has a thickness of just 12.9mm and weighs less than 1kg, while Acer claimed its Swift 5 is the world’s lightest 15-in laptop, weighing in at just 990g.

TVs up, smartphones down

Elsewhere at the show it was something of a mixed bag. On the one hand, the smartphone releases were a little disappointing this year. One or two launches — including the Samsung Galaxy Note 9, Sony’s Xperia XZ3, the Motorola One and LG G7 — caught the eye. But the general trend these days is for individual vendors to save the biggest announcements for their own launch events, where they can have the undivided attention of the world’s media.

The TV space was more exciting at this year’s IFA in that we were introduced to a number of 8K models: from Sony, LG, Samsung, Sharp and Toshiba. The demos on stand were very impressive, with a clarity and crispness of image we’ve not seen before. However, even 4K HDR content is currently available only on streaming sites like Amazon and Netflix so it’s still very early days for 8K and it will be a while before we see a commercial TV.

That is IFA in a nutshell: a glimpse into the future of consumer technology. But in a few cases, you might need some patience, as that future is still some way off.

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