After two very intense “Press Days”, all the major products at the IFA trade show in Berlin/Germany have been announced, looked at and covered. The best technology companies in the world took their best shot at demonstrating the value of their new products, and many are impressive, but we think that there are ten that are above all others, the Best of IFA 2016, Here they are, in no particular order:
Samsung Gear S3
Undeniably a head-turner, the new Samsung Gear S3 is a beautifully designed watch with a large 16M color display. It uses premium materials and manufacturing processes but is nonetheless “military tough” with an IP68 rating and extreme cold/heat resistance. It comes it two variants: Gear S3 Classic and Gear S3 Frontier.
The Frontier version has slightly more expensive features and supports LTE. Both run on the Tizen OS and are designed to complement Samsung’s Galaxy 7 Series (S7/S7 Edge/Note 7) and support Samsung Pay MST which is compatible with 90% of credit card point of sales. Read our Gear S3 hands-on review.
Asus ZenWatch 3
The ASUS Zenwatch 3 is an Android Wear watch which features an updated design from last year’s ZenWatch. This new version looks classier and uses 316L Stainless steel which is highly resistant to corrosion and often used to build medical devices. It is also often used to build jewelry and watches. It has a 1.39” display (287 PPI) and has an IP67 rating, which makes it dust and water-tight. As part of the new design, the ZenWatch 3 has received two extra buttons that should reduce the number of touch-screen interaction. It’s also convenient when using thin gloves. Here’s what we said about the ZenWatch 3 this week.
Moto Z Play
The Moto Z Play is Motorola’s aggressive entry in the $400 smartphone market. Positioned to please an increasingly savvy public, the Moto Z Play bring a great battery capacity (and therefore battery life) value to the table. It also has a nice-looking glass and metal design, a Super AMOLED 1080p display and a well-designed camera module. But is the built-in camera isn’t enough, it’s possible to plug a Hasselblad MotoMods camera module. Yes, the Moto Z has a built-in extension mechanism in the back, and many modules are available. Here’s more information on the Moto Play Z.
Fitbit Charge 2
The most popular wearable tech vendor (IDC data) is back with an updated fitness device: the Fitbit Charge 2. It provides a continuous heart rate monitoring that has a vastly superior sampling than other non-continuous sensors. Think of it as if Fitbit Surge and a Fitbit Charge HR had an electronics child. The OLED display is now 4X larger, but the battery life remains in the 5-days range. Ubergizmo co-founder Eliane Fiolet took it for a workout prior to IFA and can confirm the 5-day battery life. The Fitbit Charge 2 impresses with the accuracy of its heart rate monitoring and has a new Cardio Fitness Level algorithm that can coach you with many aspects of your workouts. Read our hands-on review of the Fitbit Charge 2.
Garmin Action Cam
The Garmin Action Cam is a small, tough and smart Action Cam. It has voice control that let you turn the Camera On and OFF without having to deal with the awful user interfaces action cams normally seem to strive for. That’s particularly true if you are wearing gloves or have dirty hands, like any good adventurers might. On a technical level, it competes with the GoPro Hero 5: 4K/30FPS video recording, LCD display, GPS, Image Stabilization… More info on the Garmin Action Cam.
Lenovo Yoga Book
The tablet market never saw this coming: Lenovo has released a folding tablet that can be ordered with Android or Windows 10. It looks like a mini laptop and is set to dramatically increase the Android tablet productivity experience, or lighten the Windows 10 experience – depending on your OS of choice. Additionally, the keyboard is also a powerful (and large!) Wacom digitizer on which you can take notes with either an electronic pen tip or a ball pen tip. Yes, you can write on regular paper on top of the digitizer, and it will record everything. You no longer have to choose between the “paper feel” and having instant electronic archives of your writing. This is possibly the most innovative device of IFA 2016, and certainly the most innovative tablet of 2016. Read our complete hands-on review of the Yoga Book.
Garmin Fenix Chronos
Right before the start of IFA, Garmin dropped the Fenix smartwatch into the light, and it was a trending topic for a couple of days. Finally, we had an opportunity to get our hands on it. The Fenix is built as a “luxury” watch and does look like a nice, expensive watch at first glance. Of course, it’s packed with tech: GPS, Altimeter, Thermometer, Pedometer are all there to track your activity or help you predict short-term weather conditions (Barometer). Our favorite version is the Titanium one, which sells for $1500. Hands-on and video of the Garmin Fenix Chronos.
HP Pavilion Wave
Desktop PCs are usually boring, and when they’re not, they are big and not something you want to show unless you’re a bit nerdy. HP changes this by introducing the HP Pavilion Wave, a desktop PC that clearly doesn’t look like one. Built in partnership with Bang & Olufsen (B&O), the Pavilion Wave is a great-looking desktop PC with a built-in speaker (with B&O, what else?). The result is a powerful computer built with real desktop parts (faster) that will perform, and look superb. Because it’s on your desktop, connectors are easy to access, and the built-in speaker saves additional space because you don’t need the ones with hanging wires. More details about the HP Wave computer.
Parrot Disco FPV Drone
Drone are incredibly fun, and of all companies, Parrot knows better because it was the one that started the consumer drone revolution. Parrot CEO Henri Sedoux presented the Parrot Disco right before the start of IFA, and we had an opportunity to fly it for ourselves. The Parrot Disco drone is wing-based, a design choice that has many advantages over the usual helicopter approach. First, the flight time is vastly improved to 45mn (many drones can only fly 15-25mn). Secondly, the top speed of 50 mph is impressive. That’s even truer when you pilot the drone with the Parrot Cockpitglasses (VR Headset) via the Parrot Skycontroller. Read about our piloting experience with the Parrot Disco drone. [Photo credit: Brian Craig]
Qualcomm Snapdragon VR820
Qualcomm steps into the future of VR by building this development platform for future virtual reality (VR) devices based on mobile hardware. Powered by the Snapdragon 820 SoC, which is arguably the most powerful mobile VR chip today, the Snapdragon VR820 embeds four cameras (2 for eye-tracking), four microphones, a hiDPI display and the equivalent hardware of a high-end mobile. It is a monolithic VR headset which includes all the computing and sensing required for a totally free, untethered, VR experience. Here’s our take (+video) on the Snapdragon VR820 reference design.
Withings Steel HR Watch
Withings (owned by Nokia) launched a new watch with continuous heart-rate monitoring – which means “even when you sleep.” It presents the data on the watch face which is designed to look like a classic French watch with a rather minimalist and classy design. The high point of this watch is its battery life of ~25 days before it goes to “power savings” mode. If you care about health tracking but are notoriously bad to charge your watch – this may be a great option. Hands-on photos and demo of the Withings Steel HR watch.