If Europe’s IFA trade show is any bellwether for what’s to come at the International CES held each January in the U.S., then we’re in for an exciting show in Las Vegas next year. At IFA, robots got smarter; smartphones and tablets lighter, faster, and more powerful; and smart watches — well, they finally became worth taking seriously. Our 10 favorite things from this event really stole the show.
While square and rectangular smartwatches were revealed by most major mobile manufacturers at the IFA show, smartwatches with circular faces are still a rare breed, making the stylish LG G Watch R’s arrival even more exciting. It’s a metal-bodied, leather-strapped beauty, which is as technically up-to-date as it is fashionable, thanks to the use of Google’s funky new Android Wear operating system.
Dyson’s robotic vacuum took nearly 16 years to develop, but based on what we saw at the show, it will have been worth the wait. The 360 Eye doesn’t just bump and grind its way around until it (hopefully) manages to cover every square foot of floor space, as other robot vacuums do. Instead, it uses a 360-degree panoramic image sensor to “see” its environment, and it never passes over the same area twice, so it moves more efficiently. Pair that with what Dyson claims is the most powerful suction available in its class, tank-like tracks that ensure it never gets held up by obstacles, and an app that lets you control and monitor its every move remotely, and you’ve got the robot vacuum of the future. Of course, at an estimate $1,100, you’ll also have to pay handsomely for it.
Nothing causes a better spectacle than an absolutely massive TV screen, and LG’s 98-inch 8K model is one of the most spectacular we’ve ever seen. With practically invisible pixels totaling 16 times that of 1080p HD televisions, this set delivers images with a depth of field that brings us a significant step closer to lifelike TV. Sure, 8K is ages away from being a practical standard, but that isn’t stopping the industry from pressing forward — and it’s always fun to look at a slice of the future.
Intel made a splash at the show this year by unveiling its new Core M processor. While some performance gains are expected, the highlights of Core M are its energy efficiency and fan-less attributes. According to Intel, the Core M CPU consumes only about 4.5 watts of power. That’s considerably less than the previous generation of low-power Intel Core chips, which need 11.5 watts to operate. Core M hardware is also significantly smaller than previous-generation gear.
Since Intel Core M processors don’t require fans in order to cool them, all of these factors could combine to make Core M-powered computers thinner and more portable than anything we’ve ever seen.
It’s impossible not to stare at Samsung’s crazy looking Galaxy Note Edge. While the Galaxy Note 4 will be more widely available, and inevitably more popular, it’s this unusual smartphone that really captured our attention. The 2,560 × 1,440 pixel screen has a curved edge to it, which operates independently, so it can display additional material including notifications, fitness data, and even a streaming news feed.
It may be new, but we already think the Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact will be a contender for the best all-round Android tablet we’ve seen yet. The 8-inch, HD screen is sized just right, and the quad-core chip makes it incredibly fast. But we were really won over by the astonishingly slim and light body, making it more pocketable than a tablet has any right to be. And it’s more waterproof than a pair of rubber trousers, so it’s extremely practical too.
Available in both on-ear and over-ear varieties, Sennheiser’s Urbanite headphones are what Beats wishes it was making. Designed with just a touch of extra bass in mind, the Urbanites avoid the all-too-common pitfall of sacrificing sound quality for prodigious low end. These headphones are stylish, comfortable and remarkably dynamic and balanced, right down to the bass department, where they get just the right amount of boost. The Urbanite may be aimed at a generation that enjoys EDM and hip-hop, but even the starchiest audiophile can’t deny that these headphones sound superb.
Lenovo’s sequel to its ThinkPad Helix detachable laptop was a welcome announcement. This new edition could be even better than the last entry, which was excellent in its own right. The ThinkPad Helix will ship with Intel’s Core M CPU inside, which should bring about considerably better battery life. That’s very important, considering that the Helix is geared towards business users who do quite a bit of traveling.
This time around, Lenovo will be offering two keyboard docks to choose from. One of them, dubbed the Ultrabook Pro, will ship with a built-in battery, which should extend battery life by about 4 hours. On top of that, the Ultrabook Pro keyboard dock will include improvements that weren’t present in the last Helix, including keyboard back-lighting. The standard Ultrabook dock that Lenovo will also offer won’t include a built-in battery or back-lighting, but both sport an excellent keyboard, which was a pleasure to use in our tests.
Perhaps best of all is the significant reduction in starting price. The current generation of the ThinkPad Helix starts at $1,499 according to Lenovo’s official site. The new version will start at $999 once the revamped Lenovo ThinkPad Helix launches sometime this October. Note that the Ultrabook Pro dock won’t be available until January.
HTC’s Desire range doesn’t always get much recognition, but the new Desire 820 is exciting enough to change all that. It uses the new Snapdragon 615 processor, which not only has eight cores but is 64-bit too, so it’s ready for the arrival of Google’s Android L software in the near future. HTC has fitted a trendy, and very powerful, 8-megapixel selfie cam, then wrapped the 5.5-inch screen up in a slick, two-tone polycarbonate body.
It’s a shame that parent company Audiovox doesn’t distribute Magnat’s wares outside of Europe, because we think they’d make a killing in the U.S. Even amid the din of a bustling trade show floor, these massive floorstanding loudspeakers reeled us in with their mighty and meticulous sound quality. Powered by Magnat’s super-sexy RV3 hybrid integrated amplifier (tube pre-amp, solid state amp) the Quantum Signature produced powerful, poignant bass accompanied by lush midrange and treble so airy and detailed we couldn’t believe it came from a pair of 1-inch dome tweeters. At $10,000 a pair, the Quantum Signature may be expensive, but they easily dispatch speakers costing several times that amount. We’re calling you out, Audiovox: Let’s see some Magnat distribution stateside, stat.
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