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Keep your gadget wishlists handy, IFA Berlin is back with new toys
Sanshey Biswas  6th Sep 2014

Galaxy Gear VR for Note 4

FA (Internationale Funkausstellung) Berlin is a calendar event for the tech-curious. The devices announced and on show there launch before the holiday season and become the wishlist of every tech-savvy shopper on the planet. From the first few days of the show, it is clear that the segments for this industry have been well defined. The big guns like Samsung, Asus and Sony are making sure that they dip their fingers in all three major categories: portables, wearables and the odd.

THE ODD

An IFA event is incomplete without the quirky and clever devices that try to grab a new platform every year. Sony's camera mounts for phones, QX10 and QX100, will be succeeded by a new version which is compatible with E Mount lenses. Along with the camera lens, Sony has used its expertise in display technology to create a 4K projector that's portable, waterproof and shoots a 23-inch projection from close range on any surface.

Samsung made the Note 4 a sweeter deal by pairing it with a Gear VR headset that uses the AMOLED display on Note 4 to create virtual reality using technology similar those in Oculus products.

Logitech has been in the accessories business for a long time now. Their contender was not just different but practical — a Bluetooth keyboard that pairs with three devices and switches between them with the turn of a dial.

Home appliances just got smarter with OEMs coming up with lighting, cleaning, sound systems and added extras for practicality. Phillips shed some light with their Android and iOS-connected lamps that can produce up to 16 million RGB colours.

PORTABLES  

Tablets, phones and laptops stole the show, as everyone stepped up their game in either aesthetics or specs. Metal has finally crept over Samsung devices' DNA, with beautiful bezels and better materials being used on the Note 4. The concept of a curved display materialised with the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge. The Note Edge basically wraps around the edge to cover the side of the phone that originally hosted the volume buttons.  Image 2nd

Microsoft is planning to infiltrate the mobile market using the Nokia acquisition as their armor. The Windows Phones that Nokia is manufacturing have been coroneted with metal elements and the PureView camera technology that Nokia is loved for. Considering the large anticipation for Lumia 930 as a good sign, a cheaper Lumia with similar design elements and PureView technology was showcased. Even though Windows Phone is not the best operating system for phones out there, they could gather a huge customer base if they attack the hobbyist photographer section.

As phones keep getting bigger and bigger, Sony has decided to divide and conquer with Xperia Z3 and Z3 mini. With similar configurations and the ability to pair with PlayStation, the gamers will be reaching out for these devices by the time Santa arrives.

Laptops have struggled to keep up with their tablet nemesis. The laptop-tablet hybrids have not been able to achieve that perfect balance required to create a well-defined consumer base. Acer upgraded their existing market of laptops and hybrids with larger screens, better specifications and lower prices.

The Chromebooks are trying to hold onto the big following they have managed to gather up in a short period of existence with upgrades on the hardware, featuring a Macbook Air-like look and feel.

A line of sub $200 light-weight laptops running Microsoft's Windows 8.1 on 11.6 inch screens are making an attempt to regain the customers who switched. As of now, we know that Toshiba has one of these budget machines ready for the fall and HP should soon reveal the Stream 14.

Convertibles have got bigger while following the similar form factors that Lenovo's Yoga series and Helix popularized. HP took the road less travelled by with Windows 8 tablets that follow the design elements of the Surface Pro 3 as the evolution of their X2 series hybrids.

Tablets are going niche with sub-nine inch form factor. While Android tablets from Samsung and Sony have water resistant abilities, Toshiba's Encore Mini is a $120 tablet running Windows along with a one-year subscription to Office 365. Which is an odd ordeal, considering one-year subscription to Office 365 itself costs around $100.

WEARABLES

This category is definitely the segment of the year, considering the excitement and uncertainty surrounding it.

The Asus set the wearable bar at IFA with its first attempt at a smartwatch that uses Android Wear, Asus Zen Watch, following the fairly successful Zen series by the company. The display was curved, following the trend that all companies are eager to set out on. Asus is also going to use its own apps to give the user complete control over the watch's screen from the Android phone it is paired to.  Image 3rd

Sony goes IKEA with a smartwatch that can pop in and out of straps, which might be useful if you want to put it in custom housings while diving or swimming (it is waterproof). Where the Zen Watch excelled in aesthetics, with its curved display and metal chassis, Sony used the rubberised strap similar to a sports watch look, with Android Wear running inside. With Android Wear gathering more homes, a lot of app developers will look to release a single version of apps for smartwatches, rather than separate ones for different operating systems.

LG has been on a roll with the launch of G Watch's successor, the G Watch R. It's a round face and premium design on the old smartwatch. What was really interesting, though, was that LG made Kizon smartwatch for kids —it supports a SIM card and geo location from a parent's phone while giving the wearer the ability to call their parents at any time.

If you are not a kid and still want a smartwatch with SIM, Samsung has got you covered. Samsung Gear S is a phone on your wrist with 3G connectivity, 2-inch AMOLED display packed into a curved and slim form factor that makes for a great trekking comanion with the barometer, GPS, pulse rate reader and even a UV monitor.

For those who aren't fans of having to wear a watch, Archos has decided to go the Beanie way. This Beanie makes sure you always have access to your tunes while staying nice and warm (it costs $40 and launches in October).

 
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