When it comes to product showcases and big events, there are two big ones to take note of each year. CES in Las Vegas every January, and IFA in Berlin every September. This week in Berlin a huge range of new products were announced, and I’m on the ground having a look at them all.
This show is Europe’s biggest by far, and in terms of attendance it beats the Consumer Electronics Show by a long way because the general public can buy tickets, meaning over 250,000 people will attend across the several days of the show.
IFA’s focus is primarily on appliances. it’s where retailers from around the world come to meet the appliance manufacturers to do deals that will see these products sold in stores, including in Australia.
Representatives of our biggest and smallest retailers are all here checking out what’s new.
Here’s a few highlights from what I’ve managed to see at IFA in Berlin
Big, I mean BIG screen TV
Everyone’s heard of OLED, QLED and all the many and varied TV technologies. But for a while now the TV brands have been teasing something new called MicroLED. To my mind, it’s like the technology used to make those big digital billboards, a bunch of small LED panels pinned together to make a big screen.
Samsung called it “The Wall” when they first made it a real thing, but it was never available to “residential” customers, instead it was more for large commercial installations. Now, for the first time you can get access to this technology. But it comes at a price.
Being the very latest TV tech, and arguably the best — the 110-inch version of Samsung’s MicroLED TV will set you back a cool $200,000.
In theory it can be made to almost any size, so I’ve no doubt we’ll see a time when you can literally get a TV that covers your wall. But for now, it’s the place of dreams. Having stood in front of this TV, I want one; it’s glorious.
Colour your kitchen appliances
Both Samsung and LG announced new colourful kitchen appliances, most notably fridges you can match to your kitchen design, or perhaps even your mood.
Samsung calls its version Bespoke allows buyers to pick colours for each door panel and having it suit your home design or your personality. It’s a real product Aussie retailers are excited about selling.
LG’s MoodUp fridges are colour-controlled by LED lights, which you can change using an app. There’s word from LG Australia on availability locally but rest assured with Samsung launching Bespoke, LG will be keen to follow fast.
We’ve seen the latest in Folding Phones, a market Samsung owns so far, but there’s plenty more cool bendable screen technology coming.
Lenovo and Asus announced laptops that open up to be a full screen, that is, there’s no physical keyboard on the bottom side of the device as you’d normally see. Instead an on-screen keyboard appears.
You can of course pair a Bluetooth keyboard and then use the larger flattened screen as a bigger screen display, and while an on-screen keyboard might seem strange, we’re used to it with our phones, so why not on a laptop?
Remarkable really to see these screens just fold in half when you’re done.
LG’s OLED technology has taken a step forward too. While we’ve had curved screens on TVs and monitors before, the option now exists to simply change the screen as you want it.
You might be working away on office documents on the 42-inch monitor flat in front of you, but then, with the touch of a button, you can make it bend, right before your eyes.
The edges of the screen push out towards you and you end up with a fantastic gaming or movie-viewing experience. That one is called the LG OLED Flex and given how popular it was here at IFA Berlin I’d be amazed if it didn’t come to Australia sooner rather than later.
More than the humble oven
Sure, you set it to 180 degrees and cook the cake, or roast — whatever it might be — but the oven can be so much more.
I saw two key examples that were very new ideas. Vestel, a brand not known in Australia, tapped into the smoked meat craze with a built-in smoke dispenser. Sprinkle some hickory (or other variety) wood particles into the dispenser, hit the smoke button and your meal is infused with that wooden flavour many achieve on big outdoor barbecues.
When you open the door you will need to expect the whole kitchen to have that same smell.
Miele announced a new HydroClean steam oven, which has a cleaning cycle that dispenses a food-safe cleaning product to foam the oven and rinse it with high pressure. Looking through the glass it looks like a dishwasher. Miele told me the cycle would be run every three to six months depending on how much you cook, but the results seemed mighty impressive. That one will be coming to Australia.
While appliances are by far the biggest focus of this show, there were of course many more gadgets for everyday use too.
Jabra announced its new Elite 5 headphones, priced at $219. They are a lightweight fit, with great sound quality and impressive noise cancelling.
JBL took an interesting approach to its new wireless headphones, adding a touch-screen to the charging case so you can see the charge state and toggle features of the headphones when connected to certain devices. It looks very cool.
And finally for the book lover, the new Rakuten Kobo Clara 2E launches at $229.95 in Australia and features a strong environmental credential, made with an 85 per cent recycled plastic exterior.
It’s also waterproof so it’s great for bath and beach reading whenever you like.