The best new gear from IFA 2020 (oh, and a few other places)

Our best of IFA list is usually typed up while wedged between blogger and bratwurst at the Berlin show, but this year, we’re eyeing up tech’s autumn/winter slate from afar. Despite the tedium of the virtual press conference recapping (many, many) existing technologies, against all odds IFA delivered enough shiny new products to justify both its existence and this edit for 2020. Plus a few companies decided to schedule announcements for this week, because why the hell not. Now, we just need to get our hands on the things.

Samsung Premiere 4K Ultra Short Throw Laser Projector

Forget TVs. Small, UHD projectors are the way to go. Samsung’s new Premiere is the world’s first HDR10+ triple-laser projector. Its ultra-short-throw design means it can kick out images up to 130in (there is also a 120in model, too) from almost directly in front of your living room or bedroom wall – well, as close as 11cm anyway. Aside from 4K resolution, a peak brightness of 2,800 ANSI lumens promises some enviable levels of contrast, and integrated streaming apps. A Filmmaker mode also suggests that you get to watch movies as the directors intended. The clincher? Built-in woofers and Acoustic Beam surround audio tech (this last option only in the top model) means the sound should be as good as the images. Coming later this year, but – oddly – not to the UK.

ZTE Axon 20 5G

We’ve finally got there – no notch, no hole punch, no pop-up camera. This is the first phone available with an under-display camera. Despite cracking this issue that’s been bothering all manufacturers (except Apple, which doesn’t seem to care having yet not made any attempts to reduce the size of notch on its phones), ZTE has yet to confirm a price or release date for the Axon 20 5G, but we do know its that it has a 6.92in, FHD+ OLED screen with 20.5:9 aspect ratio. Qualcomm’s 5G-ready Snapdragon 765G provides the processing power, which is also in the OnePlus Nord, and the handset is 7.98mm thick. You get a 4,220mAh battery and 30W quick charging, too. The rear camera is a 64MP unit capable of capturing 4K video at 60 frames per second, as well as HDR clips and “super night scenes” – but it’s really all about that secret selfie cam. Will it be any good?

JBL Club Pro+ true wireless earbuds

Oddly not announced at IFA, yet still launched at the same time were these new true wireless earbuds from JBL. Club Pro+ have adaptive noise cancellation, an ambient sound option if you need to hear what’s going on around you, and a design inspired by professional in-ear monitors. JBL says they boast the brand’s best sound quality with up to eight hours of battery life (six with ANC active) with an extra 24 hours thanks to the battery case. A quick-charge feature that will give you 60 mins of listening time with a ten minute charge. What’s more, as they are IPX4 rated for water and sweat resistance they should serve well as gym companions. Fast Pair is included for easy setup on Android, and either earbud can be used independently, which is good for calls – something JBL says these buds are particularly ideal for with three microphones built in. Lastly, Qi wireless charging tops off the diminutive package. Coming October at £179.

Samsung Wireless Charger Trio

Many have been crowing that with its new Charger Trio – a sequel to the existing Charger Duo – Samsung has managed to blow a big, fat raspberry in Apple’s general direction. Why? With three devices charging at once it is more than reminiscent of Apple’s abandoned but much-desired AirPower charging mat that let you place the devices wherever you wanted on the charging surface. The tech specs available right now for the Wireless Charger Trio are slim, but we’re not convinced yet that Samsung has succeeded where Apple could not as those devices in the image look decidedly regimental in positioning, and not at all haphazard. Fingers crossed they have cracked it, though.

Harman Kardon Citation 200

Even though Harman’s new portable speaker first revealed at CES in January reminds us a little of the Bose SoundLink Revolve+ in design, it is a step in the right aesthetic direction as it looks better than the previous members of the Citation Series. It is HK’s answer to the Sonos Move as this unit can operate on both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, which means thanks to the rechargeable battery and IPX4 splash-proof Kvadrat fabric, you can happily take the Citation 200 outdoors. A 1in tweeter, 5in midrange driver and two passive radiators for bass provide the sound, while connected smarts come from Google Assistant. Fully charged, the Citation 200 (available in grey and black) is supposedly good for eight hours of playback.

Price: £280 | Harman Kardon

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2

When you get a measly 5/10 score for your first effort, there’s room for improvement alright. And so it is with the new Galaxy Z Fold 2, a £1,799 hunk of reworked folding phone. Major improvements? A 6.2-inch front display that actually resembles a phone this time, a punch hole (instead of a notch) camera in the main display and upgrades to slim down the tech inside the now-customisable hinge. Plus all the usual multi app refinements and 5G. In other words, we haven’t seen it in person yet but Samsung is moving in the right direction of a viable folding phone/tablet hybrid. Pre-order now for a September 18 release if you’re convinced. Oh, and at the other end of its 5G phones, the mid-range A42 gets the upgrade – it shouldn’t cost too much more than the £429 A51.

Price: £1,799 | Samsung

Sennheiser CX 400BT True Wireless

Sennheiser is sitting pretty with multiple entries in our best headphones and best wireless earbuds lists but it’s never quite got that mix of features and performance intuitive enough to beat Apple and Sony. Not to mention the fact that its finest true wireless efforts tend to be rather premiumly priced. Enter the £169 CX 400BT, arriving with the same 7mm drivers as the Momentum line-up alongside aptX Bluetooth and Google Assistant and Siri voice controls. No active noise cancelling here but if the passive NC is up to scratch, these could be well worth considering.

Honor MagicBook Pro

A 16-inch laptop under £1,000? There must be a catch. Well, the MagicBook Pro is powered by a lower-cost (though very impressive) AMD Ryzen 5 chip, rather than Intel silicon, and it’s a 1080p resolution screen and integrated graphics. But overall the value from this £850 machine is likely to be pretty difficult to beat. Aluminium body, lots of ports for peripherals, a 512GB SSD, the list goes on. Honor also debuted a rugged Watch GS Pro smartwatch, a couple of smaller MagicBook laptops at the Berlin show.

Panasonic Lumix S5

We’ve been musing on the reasons you might still buy a ‘proper’ camera here at WIRED recently and the Lumix S5 makes the case as well as any mirrorless camera. The gist here is that the £1,800 S5 shrinks down as much technology into as light and compact a body as physically feasible. So you get the versatility of a 24.2MP full-frame sensor and OLED EVF with new autofocus improvements over the S1 including Depth from Defocus for fast moving subjects and even body part tracking. All in something that won’t trouble your muscles too much. The Lumix S5 wasn’t technically ‘at’ ‘IFA’ but our list, our rules.

Blink’s well regarded smart security cameras got an upgrade for autumn 2020 with the new Indoor and Outdoor, which replace its XT model. The big sell here is four long years of battery life off two AA batteries and an affordable add-on, the Blink expansion pack. You get 1080p footage, night vision and two way chat in a solid, if not spectacular, package that’s made better by the Alexa integrations – Blink is owned by Amazon – and the prices: $80 for the Blink Indoor and $100 for the IPX7 rated Outdoor. (No UK prices out of IFA yet).

LG PuriCare air purifier face mask

Applying some wearable-tech savvy to the humble face mask, LG has come up with the PuriCare wearable air purifier. Yes, it is a powered air purifier that straps to your face. No word on price or release date, it uses two H13 HEPA filters, similar to the ones used in LG’s home air purifiers, wearers take in clean, filtered air while a sensor detects the cycle and volume of the wearer’s breath and adjusts the dual three-speed fans accordingly. Power is supplied by a 820mAh battery that supposedly gives up to eight hours of use in low mode or two hours on high. An added touch comes in the form of the PuriCare’s case, which is equipped with UV-LED lights to kill harmful germs while charging the mask.

Philips Hue Play Lightstrip

Philips has a new gradient Ambilight lightstrip, and it will make your living room wall look extra impressive. If you don’t know what Philips Ambilight is, it essentially uses LED lights that sit around the edge of your TV to reflect the colours that appear on-screen on to the wall behind. The picture will look bigger and the experience is more immersive. What’s different between this Hue Play lightstrip and its predecessors is that the Play is easier to attach to the back of your TV because of the rounded brackets that come with it. There are three different sizes from which to choose. The 55-inch lightstrip costs £160, the 65-inch lightstrip is £180, and the 75-inch lightstrip, which Philips says fits on TVs up to 80-inches, costs £220.

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit

Forget boring new race courses and better graphics, Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit might be the coolest Mario Kart instalment yet. Yes, Home Circuit is the latest Mario Kart game… with a difference. Instead of just racing cars around a track on your TV, you can now use your Switch to drive actual IRL remote-controlled cars around a virtual racetrack in augmented reality. You can set up various gates to highlight areas which act as the track. In game, you’ll face the same power-ups and traps, with the kart physically stopping if you get caught out by one. Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit will be available to purchase from October 16, and you will cost £100 for one set.

Smart cycle lights are becoming a bit of a lifesaver during the pandemic as we all hop on our bikes, and are going to continue to be so as the nights draw in. But the Lumenus ioLIGHT is far smarter than ordinary smart bike lights. Before you head out on a ride, you input your destination into the app. Once you start cycling, the headlight will flash in the direction in which you’re supposed to turn, while the taillights will alert the drivers behind you of the direction you’re about to head. And when you’re about to go into a roundabout or an intersection, the lights will begin strobing, making you the centre of attention. Both lights output a bright 200 lumens and will last 30 hours per charge.

Price: from $100 | Lumenus

TCL NXTPAPER displays

Some of us never forgot about E Ink. The display technology has been biding its time, lurking in the shadows until it was time to strike. And while TCL’s NXTPAPER isn’t exactly E Ink, it sounds very similar. This ‘combination of screen and paper’ is colour, with a reflective screen that doesn’t need backlighting and higher contrast than LCD all while offering a screen that’s 36 per cent slimmer. The real benefit, aside from eye protection from blue light and flickering, is the battery life, with a 65 per cent power efficiency boost on regular LCD. There’s no details on when NXTPAPER might grace a product but it’s all very promising indeed, particularly as TCL is also experimenting with foldable and rollable screens.

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