IFA IS ONE OF THE WORLD'S biggest and longest-standing trade shows, and is a force to be reckoned with.
Each year in Berlin at the end of summer, thousands of technology journalists descend on the German capital to visit one of the world's biggest and most badly designed conference centres - the Messe Berlin - which must have ignored everything the Germans are famed for (efficiency) when it was designed and built.
Getting from one end to other is never easy, and normally involves running and getting lost in the process, fuelled by some ill-informed directions from a badly designed map, a gobful of currywurst and a well-needed German beer or two!
As predicted, there were stacks of announcements from most of the world's biggest names in computer hardware at the show this time round, such as Sony, Lenovo, Intel and Samsung.
Here are The INQUIRER's picks of the best and worst at IFA 2015, in no particular order.
It's in Berlin
The best thing about IFA is the location. As soon as you leave the dreadful Messe conference centre you're in one of Europe's coolest cities, where liberality is celebrated. If you want to parade your most cherished fetish gear in broad daylight, you can, and if you want to party until the next day without sleep, you can do that too. There are also lots of nice places to eat and good beer to drink, if you're more the quiet type.
The 'world's first' 4K smartphone
There wasn't much innovation at IFA this year so we were happy to see that Sony unveiled a "world's first" in the form of the Xperia Z5 Premium with 4K display.
In fact, the Japanese phone maker unveiled three new smartphones - the Xperia Z5, Xperia Z5 Premium and the Xperia Z5 Compact - but the Xperia Z5 Premium is the standout device, and is the first smartphone to feature a 4K screen. The 5.5in display offers an eye-popping 3840x2160 resolution and a 806ppi pixel density. The top-end device also comes with a fingerprint scanner, an upgraded 23MP camera with 0.3 second autofocus, and 32GB built-in storage, expandable by an additional 200GB.
Acer Revo Build Series mini PC
Acer kicked off IFA with something a little different on Wednesday, unveiling the Windows 10-powered Revo Build Series mini PC that's a build-it-yourself modular PC tower.
The Acer Revo Build Series M1-601 allows buyers to customise the computer without opening the chassis, and is split into 'Blocks' so that different PC components - such as HDDs, processors, discrete graphics, audio cards and even wireless charging docks for smartphones etc - can be easily added to or subtracted from the tower, making adding functionality much easier.
Finally, something that isn't a laptop or tablet! We had a quick hands-on with the Acer Revo Build Series M1-601 shortly after Acer's announcement to see how the tower looked and felt.
Berlin's tube system
No technology trade show is possible without transport to get journalists from one press event to the next, and luckily for industry hacks at IFA no mode of transport was better than Berlin's relatively cheap and easy-to-use U-Bahn and S-Bahn trains.
Not only reliable, laid back and easy to navigate, the system is efficient, quiet and environmentally friendly compared with most other tube systems we've used before.
IFA this year was a throng of throw-away announcements about bog standard laptops, tablets, smartwatches and a few top-end smartphones, but there wasn't anything truly innovative on show this time. Sony's latest smartphone screen showed us something new in terms of design tech, but there was little else for us to gawp at when walking around the show floor. Most years, we would usually see something a little different, but this time: na-ah. How many headphones and phone cases does one actually need? Not that many, we're sure. So why do they have to dominate an industry-wide event that supposedly demonstrates the best on offer in the industry right now?
Cheesy and patronising press conferences
Every year that we come to IFA we always forget how cringe-worthy the press conferences are. They like to make sure the press is entertained and take any opportunity they can to turn a product launch into a theatrical display, but it just comes across as patronising. We are the technology press, not a bunch of primary school kids who will hang on every word.
Take Acer's event on Wednesday, for instance. Never before have we seen laptops and tablets talked about in such an energetic way. It's good to come across excitement and enthusiasm about a new product, but overdo it and it just feels fake.
Sometimes, when there's a lot of press in one room, conferences can often turn into shoving matches between journalists to see who can get to the front first for the best shot of the latest phone or hands-on video of the latest ultrabook or tablet. It's not the best part of the job, we admit.
You can spend several minutes queuing for your turn on Asus' new tablet or to look at Acer's new smartphone, for instance, only to have it ripped from your hands by another member of the press, even when you're half the way through a hands-on video. We are planning to take a jacket made of barbed wire next time. That should do the trick.
The Messe conference centre is just that: a great big fat mess. Taking no notice of Germany's obsession with competence and efficiency, the Messe is a concrete jungle where even those with the best sense of direction will get lost. They will be 30 minutes late to a press conference because they can't find meeting room 7.3c, will give up and sit on the floor and accept that the only possible future is to just live there.
IFA is the same every year and, even though this was our fourth time at the event, we still felt the frustration involved in not knowing where the hell anything is. Worse still, the press days at IFA are the days before the conference opens to the public, so most of the stands are half-built, meaning that a lot of the running around you do is through obstacle course-like gauntlets from one company's stand to another. Thank goodness it's only once a year. µ
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