Internationale Funkausstellung 2022
It's IFA time - here are 12 gadget announcements I thought were cool and you should know about.
I’d bet that a lot of you didn’t know “IFA” stood for “Internationale Funkausstellung.” I’ll be totally honest - I didn’t either until I wrote this newsletter. The Berlin-based technology conference has been around since the 1920s when its primary focus was detector devices and tube radio receivers. It later expanded to other new emerging technologies like television broadcasts, including one of the first color TV broadcasts. It’s hosted many visitors, hosts, and speakers over the years, including none other than Albert Einstein.
Nowadays, IFA has become hyper-focused on consumer gadgets, whether it be new smartphones, laptops, smart watches, or (lately) foldables. It’s always held at the beginning of September and acts as the official kick-off of New Gadget Season. It’s also the beginning of the most hectic time of year for tech reporters like myself, where nothing really slows down until we get to the second week of December. Get ready for lots of reviews, editorials, and scoops on what’s coming up this fall.
Until then, we’ve got IFA to talk about, and this year’s conference has been no exception to traditional IFA expectations - there are plenty of new gadgets to talk about from phones to earbuds to foldables to laptops, and it mounts up to an avalanche of corporate jargon and product specifications.
To make things easier, I’m breaking down 15 big announcements from the show (in no particular order) that I think are cool/noteworthy/impossible to ignore. Enjoy!
1. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Fold, take two
I got a sneak peak at the new ThinkPad X1 Fold during a briefing in New York a couple of weeks ago, and let me tell you, it is incredibly interesting to use. It’s a lot thinner and lighter than the previous model, with more powerful specs and battery life to boot. No, I’m not sure if it’s worth buying (it’ll be a challenging conclusion to come to once I review it given the $2,499 price tag), and it still doesn’t seem perfect. However, I’m happy Lenovo is continuing to iterate on its idea of what a PC that folds in half can do.
I have a full hands-on article up on the site now.
2. Asus ZenBook 17 Fold
Lenovo isn’t the only manufacturer making folding PCs - Asus made sure it had a presence at IFA with its ZenBook 17 Fold. Originally unveiled back at CES in January, the company confirmed during the Berlin show that its device would start at $3,500.
That’s a large markup over the X1 Fold, but in exchange, you get a much bigger 17.3-inch screen and a hinge that’s built to store the Bluetooth keyboard between the two halves of the device. Shipping with up to a 12th-gen Intel Core i7 processor, Intel Iris Xe graphics, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of NVMe M.2 SSD storage, the device will also offer pretty steady performance as well.
It does a lot of the same tricks as the X1 Fold, such as fold halfway for a traditional laptop form factor and give you a super-tall canvas for things like photo editing or writing. Of course, it faces still competition from Lenovo which seems to be hitting a lot of solid notes with its new foldable, but it’s nonetheless exciting to see some competition arise in this developing market.
3. LG’s first 240Hz OLED curved gaming monitor
LG made an early announcement at IFA this year with its new 45-inch gaming monitor. Surprisingly enough, its size is the least interesting part of it. It’s curved so you get good viewing angles however you look at it, it uses an OLED panel for rich colors and deep black levels, it’s 1440p, and it ships with a 240Hz refresh rate. LG says it’s the first monitor in its arsenal to boast a refresh rate of that caliber with an OLED panel, but it’s worth noting that it’ll likely be one of the only ones on the market as well, at least for a while.
Called the UltraGear 45GR95QE, pricing and release information has yet to be confirmed.
4. Bang & Olufsen made a crazy soundbar and TV stand for $8,000
Bang & Olufsen’s latest soundbar is nuts. It’s called the Beosound Theatre Dolby Atmos soundbar, and it combines a soundbar and TV stand into a single device. The soundbar itself has 12 speaker drivers with two long-stroke 6.5-inch woofers, Dolby Atmos 7.1.4 surround sound, and compatibility with other B&O speakers like the Beolab Penta, Beolab 6000, and Beolab 8000. Meanwhile, the TV stand lets you mount your TV to create a setup that more or less emulates a PC monitor.
The only catch? It’s crazy expensive. B&O will charge $7,990 for the home theater setup with a wooden cover. A version with a fabric cover will go for $6,890 which is still a lot of money.
4. Leica’s new 100-inch 4K projector
Leica is diving head-first into the world of UST projectors. If you’re unaware, UST stands for “ultra-short throw,” which means a projector can be just inches away from your wall and still project a large display. In the case of Leica’s new project, the display can reach up to 100 inches away and sit just 12 inches away from your wall. A second project the company is working on can project an 80-inch screen at six inches away, thanks to a more powerful lens.
These obviously won’t be cheap. The 100-inch Leica Cine 1 will retail for $7,900, while the 80-inch model will cost $6,900. Neither are expected to launch until later next year, so at leas you’ll have some time to save your money.
5. Sony unveils the Xperia 5 IV with another heavy focus on cameras
Sony really wants its phones to stand out thanks to their excellent camera capabilities, and that’s the bet they’re making once again with the Xperia 5 IV. The three rear cameras - each 12MP, one 24mm standard, one 16mm ultra-wide, one 60mm telephoto - have Sony’s Real-Time Eye autofocus that’s shaken out to be quite good. The phone ships with all of Sony’s heavy-duty shooting software for taking the perfect picture, you can capture photos at 20 fps, and you can record up to 4K 120fps video.
Flagship specs are in tow thanks to a 6.1-inch 120Hz OLED display, a Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, a 5,000mAh battery with wireless charging, and an IP68 rating. You even get a headphone jack and microSD card, which is nice. It’ll cost $999 when it starts shipping October 27th.
6. Honor 70 smartphone wants to appeal to the vloggers
Honor announced its new Honor 70 smartphone during IFA, and it focuses heavily on appealing to vloggers. It boasts a 54MP f/1.9 main camera with a 50MP ultra-wide and 2MP depth sensor. Powering those cameras are a suite of new features in the Honor camera app, including a special mode that can highlight one particular person while recording a video using “built-in Person Re-identification Technology.” You also get 4K video recording and EIS (electronic image stabilization). A few reviews dropped about this phone and its cameras, and they were all pretty positive.
Elsewhere, the device ships with a 6.67-inch Full HD+ 120Hz OLED display, a Snapdragon 778G processor, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, Magic UI 6.1 based on Android 12, and a 4,800mAh battery with 66W Super Flash charging.
7. Garmin’s Venu Sq 2 impresses with its long battery life
Garmin also had a big IFA announcement to make in its Venu 2 Sq smartwatch. It’s basically a cheaper version of the company’s Venu 2 with less premium materials and a square AMOLED display. You still get 25+ workout modes, an SpO2 sensor, a heart rate monitor, stress level monitoring, energy levels, basic fertility tracking, and even a pregnancy mode.
The Venu Sq 2 also manages to keep one of the best features of the more expensive Venu 2: 11-day battery life. Garmin is one of the only ones who makes smartwatches that last for so long on a charge, so it’s great to see those efforts extend to the cheaper model.
Speaking of which, it’ll be priced at $249.
8. JBL made earbuds with a touchscreen
I love weird gadgets, and I know you do too, so there was no way I’d let JBL’s new earbuds not make this rundown. The Tour PRO 2 earbuds look like normal premium earbuds with 10mm drivers, up to 10 hours of battery life, ANC, and Bluetooth 5.3 But the second you see their case, you realize they’re anything but.
There’s a 1.4-inch LED display on the front of the csae, and you can use it to control things like ambient sound and ANC. You can also see notifications from your phone on it, as well as answer calls. JBL is targeting people who don’t have a smartwatch but still want an easy way to check their phone’s notifications without having to actually pull out their phone. It sounds like an interesting concept, and for €249 ($249.75) they’re far from overpriced. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like they’ll be coming to the States anytime soon, but I’ll do my best to get my hands on a review sample in the future.
9 & 10. Smart glasses are (kinda sorta maybe) back
Both Lenovo and TCL had new smart glasses to show off at IFA, and they each basically do the same thing: give you a big, private screen to look at whenever you want. The Glasses T1 and next-gen NXTWEAR S look similar in that they’re both way too thick to be normal glasses, yet try their hardest to be just that. I went hands-on with Lenovo’s pair ahead of IFA, and while they were fun to play with, I wouldn’t say they were mind-blowing or came off as a “must-have” by any means.
11. Ring made a smart intercom system for your apartment
Ring announced a new Intercom system that’s designed for those who live in apartments and want a smart doorbell. The system connects to the Ring app on your phone over Wi-Fi and, just like a traditional apartment building intercom, lets visitors ring your designated doorbell, to which you can respond right from your phone wherever you are. It’s going on sale first in the UK for £119.99, later expanding to other territories, and eventually making its way to the US in 2023.
12. Make a statement with Philip's Hue’s new Lightguide bulbs
If you’ve wanted fancier smart lightbulbs to deck out your home with, Philips Hue will finally sell you them. At IFA, Signify (Philips Hue’s parent company) announced the new Lightguide bulbs which are far more striking than any other bulb the company has shipped before. They ship in large globe, ellipse, and triangular shapes, up to 500 lumens of brightness, and both white and color ambiance. They’ll each cost $74.99 to $89.99 depending on which one you get. I recommend checking out The Verge’s piece on them since it’s chock-full of other useful information on Philips Hue’s other announcements.
Coming up: Apple’s iPhone 14 event
IFA isn’t the only big tech event to talk about this week. Apple is hosting a keynote on September 7th to unveil the iPhone 14, Apple Watch Series 8, and second-gen AirPods Pro. I’ll have more on that tomorrow with a full round-up on what to expect over on Matridox. The season’s just getting started folks, so stay tuned for lots more.