Techstravaganza! IFA and Apple Event 2015

IFA 2015, Europe’s largest tech show, has officially drawn to a close.  Close on its heels, as is the tradition, was the now annual September Apple Event.  We watched the Apple Event live and have been scouring the IFA reports to see what went down, what everyone loved and what flopped.  The verdict?  If last September (or should we call it Techtember?) was all about upping the ante on flagship smartphones (which it was) this year was all about…TVs, apparently.  4K, OLED, Creepily Intuitive, you name it, everyone had a new TV they wanted you to see.  Even Apple wanted you to get with TV.

Here are a couple of the best overviews, for a general rundown of what went on at IFA.

IFA 2015 logoEngadget coverage of IFA 2015

21 IFA 2015 Product reviews from The Verge

TechRadar’s weirdest things from IFA 2015 and IFA favorites

PCMag’s IFA 2015 photoblog 

You can also watch most of the press conferences and keynotes online:

stylized microphone imageApple Event

Sony IFA Press Conference

Philips IFA Presentation

Huawei IFA Press Conference

Samsung Pre-IFA Press Confrence

Microsoft IFA Keynote

Acer IFA PResentation

Lenovo IFA Presentation

Asus at IFA

Intel IFA Keynote

Internet of Things

The TV trend seems to be part of a wider focus on the Internet of Things, which ruled the day at IFA and which even last year seemed to be becoming Samsung’s consuming obsession.  Having gotten its releases of the requisite fancy new phones out of the way last year and earlier this summer, the Korean electronics company focused almost all of its considerable energy at its IFA press conference on its development of eye-widening, if at times uncomfortably omniscient, appliances and other household goods that observe, calculate, and react in accordance with your every move.

Samsungs’ SleepSense bed sensor  follows in the tradition of Fitbit and other on-body devices that track your sleep cycles, only this one covers your whole bed for super accurate…sleep monitoring.

Samsung’s Smart Things Hub, through which Samsung wants you to control your whole house via WiFi, ZigBee, Zwave, and now Bluetooth.

Wearables

IFA 2015 smartwatchesWrapped up in this IoT trend is a wealth of wearables, particularly watches, and this week saw new ones from pretty much everyone you would expect.  They were as follows:

Samsung’s Gear S2

Huawei Watch (Apparently, they like Apple’s Naming conventions.  It’s best feature? It can pair with Android or iOS phones.

ASUS ZenWatch 2

Motorola’s 2015 Moto 360

The New Moto 360 Sport

LG’s Watch Urbane Luxe Luxe = a watch face plated in 23-karat gold and an alligator leather strap.  And a $1200 price tag.

TomTom’s Spark  Available in October, this one is designed to let you leave your phone behind – it has its own GPS and music storage

Sony’s Wena Wrist This watch was actually crowdfunded through Sony’s First Flight platform for employee pitches and it’s not actually a smartwatch – it’s mechanical, but the band houses an NFC chip for mobile payments an whatnot, a pedometer for basic activity tracking, and a clasp that is triggered to vibrate and light up by smartphone notifications. “Wena”, incidentally, stands for “Wear electronics naturally”. Hmm.

Hermes-DoubleTour-HeroApple Watch: Watch OS2 (coming Sept. 16) will add all sorts of new functionality to Apple Watch, including public transit on Apple Maps, Facebook Messenger, iTranslate,and Go Pro viewfinder and control; but out favorite Apple Watch innovation is a HOT new series of Hermes leather watch bands and faces available in October.

As you can see, some of them are pretty dang slick.  Here is Tech Times’ handy comparison of the first four watches on our list.

Computers and Tablets

It seems that PC and laptop, and even tablet and phone, development is focusing a lot on the high-requirement gaming market – and to interesting effect. Digital trends was kind enough to provide this very handy overview of all the new laptops revealed at IFA, including one that’s liquid-cooled.  Some standouts?  Lenovo introduced a Yoga tablet with a built-in projector.  Acer displayed its new modular PC.  And then, at the Apple Event, we met the new iPad Pro, which boasts a 12.9″ screen and has a detachable keyboard case ($169) and the Apple Pencil ($99) as available accessories.  Looks like the Surface was giving them a run for their money.  We have to admit, the iPad Pro seems pretty slick.  We’ll be excited to beautify and protect it for you when it come out in October.

Phones

Apple announced the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, and it looks like they might be getting back on top of their game.  The most notale new feature is, by far the 3D touch capability, which allows the phone to sense pressure, creating a whole wealth of new funcitonality, including a sneak peek feature that allows you to peek at maps, links, emails, messages, etc., without actually having to open them.  We also love the Harry Potter-esque moving photo capability.  We’ll let them explain.

Marshall headphones released theLondon, a phone especially for music fanatics, with two front-facing speakers and two 3.5mm headphone jacks.

Acer revelaved a whopping 10 new smartphones, 8 in the Liquid series (6 “Z” series running on Android and 2 “M” series running Windows), plus a gaming-focused Predator and the Jade Primo, which runs Windows 10.

Sony launched a new “Z” series of Xperia phones, the Z5, Z5 Compact, and Z5 Premium, the last of which boasts a 4K UHD screen, the first of its kind.

Huawei Announced its G8, a mid-range phone with an all-metal build and fingerprint sensor.  It also announced the Mate S, it’s higher-end iPhone competitor.

Lenovo introduced two phones so gigantic they almost don’t qualify as phones – the Phab and Phab Plus (yeah, that’s short for “phablet”, they just embraced it).  Their screens are just a nudge away from 7″.  The iPad mini’s screen is 8″.

Asus revealed five new camera-centered “Zen” phones, including the ZenFone Zoom with a 3x optical zoom lens and the ZenFone 2 Deluxe.

Samsung, of course, had already released its new Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, and Note 5.

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