IFA 2018: Everything we've seen at Europe's biggest tech show
We've seen a fridge with a built-in vacuum sealer, a metric ton of smart speakers, cutting edge phones and more.
Rich BrownFormer Senior Editorial Director - Home and Wellness
Rich was the editorial lead for CNET's Home and Wellness sections, based in Louisville, Kentucky. Before moving to Louisville in 2013, Rich ran CNET's desktop computer review section for 10 years in New York City. He has worked as a tech journalist since 1994, covering everything from 3D printing to Z-Wave smart locks.
ExpertiseSmart home, Windows PCs, cooking (sometimes), woodworking tools (getting there...)
IFA 2018 has fulfilled our expectations both for practical upgrades and wild innovations. Wednesday and Thursday offered all manner of surprises, and the hits kept coming on Friday. Check out the highlights of what we've seen in Berlin below. All of today's new headlines are highlighted in bold, and check out our favorites of the show here.
Stay tuned -- IFA's press days are over at this point, and the show is now open to the public, but we'll continue to keep this post updated with the final cool, crazy and interesting stuff we spot as we're finishing our coverage of the show.
Watch this: Top 5: New tech at IFA 2018
Appliances and smart home
From see-through fridges to dishwashers that lift racks themselves, IFA often shows off crazy new features in the ordinarily practical category of appliances. IFA 2018 has been no different. Not all of these ideas will ever see the light of day, let alone come to the US, but it's still neat to know there's a fridge out there with a built-in lazy susan.
Enough with the wild whims of appliance makers, let's get practical. We've seen a host of smart watches and mobile gear all designed to help you get fit and feel stylish while doing it. Google kicked things off with an update of its Wear OS smartwatch platform, and plenty of vendors are already supporting it.
Intel's latest chip update is the basis for most of the new mainstream PCs coming from familiar brands this fall. From the world's lightest 15-inch laptop to a parade of new monitors and VR accessories, IFA 2018 has a plethora of cool new computers and
HTC, Sony, Huawei and more are putting their best phones forward to take on the titans of Samsung and Apple. From getting rid of bezels to cramming in extra power, the phones of IFA 2018 have taken a variety of approaches to standing out from the crowd.
BlackBerry Key2 LE dazzles with new colors and thinner bezels
Smart speakers are everywhere. With Harman Kardon, Bang & Olufsen and more on board, we might finally be entering a phase in which smart speakers generally have the sound quality to match their built-in smarts. Plus, we saw headphones and Bluetooth speakers with their own quality-of-life upgrades, including a big leap ahead of its rivals for Sony's noise-canceling headphones.
Sony SRS-XB501's wireless speaker is the life of the party
Last but not least, IFA offered us a glimpse into the future of TVs with voice controls and extreme HD. We saw eye-melting gaming gear, old school cameras and a handful of highlights from other categories of tech.
Our original IFA 2018 preview story from Aug. 27 follows:
2018, like most big technology trade shows, will showcase a mix of new tech products that fall predominantly into one of two buckets. The first bucket is the practical, more or less predictable one with iterative product updates. In here you'll find the next flagship phone we all know is coming, or
with the newest
CPUs that show up on a regular schedule, like the tide.
The second bucket is home to all of the unexpected products. I think of it as the fun one, since this is where you find things like LG's robotic pants and Segway roller shoes, but you also have to accept some frustration with all that novelty. You'll find a lot of vaporware here, along with intriguing prototypes that will never see their way to the consumer market. If bucket one is filled with most likely real things you might go out and buy in time for the holidays this year, bucket two makes you think about what you might buy in five years, even if the product that gets you thinking will never exist.
CNET will be on the ground in Berlin, Germany to sort through all the buckets at IFA (Internationale Funkausstellung) this week. We've pulled from across our global editorial teams to contribute, including writers, photographers and video content creators from our offices in San Francisco, New York, London, Madrid and Louisville, KY.
Watch this: Here's what we want to see at the IFA trade show
What to look out for
We expect plenty of real-world products and concepty headline-grabbing tech at IFA 2018. Here's a non-exhaustive look at what we hope to see.
I'd be surprised if Amazon announced any new Alexa or other hardware products at IFA, but the odds increase slightly given that Amazon's vice president for smart home, Daniel Rausch, is delivering Amazon's first ever IFA keynote speech this year. At a minimum, we'll see the usual flood of third party products that you can interact with via an Alexa voice command, as well as devices in the vein of the Ecobee 4 smart thermostat and the GE Sol lamp that have an Alexa microphone built in.
IFA 2017: The biggest announcements from Berlin's tech show
Google has its fingers in so many pies that even without its own IFA press conference, between Chromebooks, wearables, Android mobile devices, Google Assistant products, the search giant will show up across nearly every product category on display in Berlin. Maybe we'll finally catch a glimpse of Google Assistant-powered smart displays other than the Lenovo and JBL models. Given Bang & Olufsen's four or five different press sessions, it's a good bet its $1,750 Google Assistant speakers will be there too.
LG has put a lot of emphasis on its ThinQ-branded AI development efforts this year. Despite a few AI-related hiccups at its
press conference, the company launched ThinQ as an AI platform in January. Then, earlier this month, LG announced its plan to open an AI research center in Canada. LG has also said that its keynote speech on Friday will have a heavy AI focus. How its AI efforts manifest themselves in real-world products isn't clear right now, but as long as we get the robotic pants, I'll be happy.
The Galaxy Note 9 has already landed, but Samsung will still likely give its new flagship smartphone plenty of airtime at IFA. More intriguing is some signage that popped up in Berlin depicting an 8K Samsung TV peeking out from behind a sheet, with the tag line "Prepare to be amazed at IFA." Samsung debuted the better-than-4K screen at CES already, but with no release date or pricing information, so hopefully we'll learn more here. Samsung is also usually good for a quirky appliance announcement or two, and of course we'll be looking out for the Galaxy Home Bixby speaker.
The best way to follow all the developments from IFA this year is to keep an eye on our coverage throughout the week. You'll find it all on our dedicated IFA page. You can also check IFA's press conference schedule to see who's presenting when. Here are the conferences we'll be following especially closely, along with their starting time in Berlin (conversion tool here).