Europe’s largest technology show, IFA, kicked off early this week in Berlin. Running until Sept. 6, the huge show gives everyone a glimpse into the future of consumer tech.
While the biggest tech announcements are reserved for CES in January, big brands like Samsung and LG still debut some pretty sweet products at IFA.
Like previous years, there’s a boatload of smart (and dumb) home appliances, but we’ll spare you all the new connected stovetops and blenders. Here’s our picks for the best tech products we saw and why you should care about them.
1. LG V30
Why you should care: LG’s fooled around with a lot of hardware gimmicks over the years, like tiny secondary displays, modular add-ons, and other silly stuff. The V30 ditches all of that crap and focuses on the essentials: premium design, big screen with bezel-less edges, and dual cameras that shoot professional-quality video. It’s the best no-nonsense phone the company’s ever made.
2. SanDisk 400GB microSD card
We know, and we say it all the time: storage isn’t sexy. But 400GB is pretty insane for a memory card that’s no larger than your fingernail.
Why you should care: We broke it down in detail here, but the card basically lets you store a ton of data. Maybe you want to store 400,000 e-books or shoot a lot of high-resolution photos and videos. The average person is going to think 400GB is overkill, but that’s what people said when 4GB was a lot of storage a decade ago, and that’s virtually nothing today.
3. Samsung Gear Sport
Samsung announced its Galaxy Note 8 a week before IFA so we’re not going to put it on this list. That said, it did save room for three wearables that pair well with its smartphones. Out of the three — Gear Sport, Gear Fit2 Pro, and Gear IconX 2018 — the Gear Sport smartwatch is our favorite. While it doesn’t have built-in LTE, it does have a GPS, 5ATM water resistance for swimming, a bunch of advanced fitness features, and works as a controller for PowerPoints and Gear VR.
Why you should care: Contrary to popular belief, smartwatches aren’t dead. In fact, there’s lots of runway for companies like Samsung to figure out what their purpose should be. With the Gear Sport, you still get a lot of the connected stuff from its other smartwatches and more purposeful fitness-centric tracking and features. If you like being active, the Gear Fit has a lot to offer, and the NATO band that you can buy is also just classy AF.
4. Acer Predator Orion 9000
Acer always comes to big tech shows like IFA and dumps a gazillion new devices on everybody. This year’s IFA was no different. From a super thin all-in-one PC, to new laptops, to a 4K 360-degree dash camera, Acer had a lot to show off. But the one product that stood out was the Predator Orion 9000 gaming PC.
Why you should care: If you want one of the biggest, baddest, most powerful gaming PCs, the Orion 9000 is it. One look at it and you know it’s a beast. The monster computer packs an 18-core Intel Core i9 Extreme Edition processor with up to 128GB of quad-channel DDR4 RAM. It has room for four graphics cards and you can cram up to 44 terabytes of storage. The damn thing is so huge Acer had to include wheels so you can roll it around.
5. Lenovo Star Wars: Jedi Challenges AR headset
Microsoft’s HoloLens is cool, but it’s still just a plaything for developers. And while Apple’s ARKit could be the platform that makes AR mainstream, it’s still phone-based. Lenovo’s Star Wars: Jedi Challenges AR headset, however, isn’t trying to be a do-it-all AR headset. It partnered up with Disney to make very specific content based off the Star Wars franchise, and it could work.
Why you should care: The headset comes with a lightsaber controller, which you use to fight villains like Kylo Ren and Darth Vader. Do we even need to say more? The other two games will let you play Holochess and command good forces to fight against the galactic empire. We only tried the lightsaber battling and while it’s got some shortcomings, it’s still really fun.
6. Samsung 49-inch curved gaming monitor
Computer monitors aren’t supposed to be this huge. Like, do you really need a computer screen this large, this wide, and this curved?
Why you should care: After trying it out in person, the answer is: yes, yes you do. If you’re a gamer, the massive ultra-wide curved display has a ridiculous 1-millisecond response time, 144Hz refresh rate, and HDR. But even if you’re not a gamer, you can still appreciate the ultra-wide screen that practically wraps that fills your peripheral vision and is large enough to open two fullscreen windows as if you’ve got two 24-inch displays glued together.
7. Sony smart speaker
As good as the Google Home and its Google Assistant is, it’s not exactly the best sounding smart speaker available. The sound is decent and fills up a room nicely, but it’s not going to blow you away. Sony’s Google Assistant-powered smart speaker does everything Google Home does, while pumping out louder and cleare sound in all directions.
Why you should care: If you care about sound quality, Sony’s $200 smart speaker (available in October) is just the better deal, even though it’s $50 more than Google Home. We can’t say if it’s better-sounding than Apple’s HomePod, which is said to have even better sound than Sonos speakers, but at least it also displays the time on its fabric exterior.
8. Polaroid Pop
Polaroid may only be a shadow of its former instant photo days, but that doesn’t mean it can’t mount a comeback now that instant photography is so hot again. The Polaroid Pop prints digital photos based off its ZINK ink-less film, and this time the shots are roughly the size of old Polaroids.
Why you should care: Because who doesn’t want an original Polaroid-sized (bordered frame and all) sticker photo? Everyone does and anyone who says otherwise is lying to themselves.