IFA 2018 is well underway over in Berlin. With the retail giants now swarming the show, planning what new tech is going to take pride of place in their stores over the next few months, it's time to look back on the big press events that proceeded the expo - taking stock of all the big new smart home launches...
8K was the big theme
While 8K screens have been demoed frequently over the past few years, the likes of Samsung and LG reckon that now's the time to start selling them to the public... despite there being zero 8K content available.
Offering 16 times the resolution of standard HD, Samsung's new 8K QLED features the quantum dot technology for better colour handling and matches the 4000 nit brightness that Samsung claims is favoured by Hollywood studios. It also boasts HDR10+, which adapts colour handling on a scene-by-scene basis.
Alexa gets meshy
It was only a matter of time before Alexa made its way into the unsung hero of a smart home: A Wi-Fi router. Netgear is making it happen with its new Orbi Voice Smart Speaker and WiFi Mesh Satellite. It's actually two devices - the Orbi Wi-Fi router, and the Orbi Voice, which is a speaker with sound tech from Harman Kardon.
The Orbi Voice packs Netgear's mesh technology in with a front-facing woofer, a tweeter, a bass reflex port and far-field microphones - in a four-mic array - to pick up your voice. Naturally, you'll be able to use Alexa to do Alexa things, like play music from Spotify and Amazon Music, or control your Fire TV, or check on the weather.
Pure packs Alexa and AirPlay 2
Alexa also made a Berlin-bow in the new Pure DiscovR - a 360 degree smart speaker that takes on the Sonos One by also packing in Apple's AirPlay 2 connectivity.
Where the Pure speaker beats its Sonos rival though is in the portability stakes. It packs in a battery pack - capable of up to 15 hours of battery life so you can take Alexa and all of the digital assistant's skills with you wherever you go. Provided you can still give it a data connection to feed on.
Eve busy in Berlin
The pair will be joined by a European version of the Eve Light Switch, with all three of the new smart home devices built solely for Apple HomeKit. The former lets owners light up their homes with pre-installed scenes and their own colours. The 2m LED strip (which can be extended to a length of 10m) beams out white and colour at an output of 1800 lumens, using Wi-Fi to connect to user‚Äôs phones for control.
The Eve Power Strip, shown above, allows for control of up to three devices through a single outlet.
More big IFA 2018 launches
More big IFA 2018 launches
‚ÄčNetatmo unveils Smart Smoke Alarm with HomeKit compatibility
‚ÄčTado focuses on air quality with new app update
Nanoleaf Canvas gets price and November release date
Just look at Bang & Olufsen's new speaker - the Beosound Edge
Sonos' new Amp is a more powerful way to bring wired speakers into its system
Huawei's AI Cube smart speaker isn't a cube, but it does double as a 4G router
Lenovo gets in the game
Lenovo played its smart home hand over in Berlin, unveiling a raft of new kit... all of which can be powered by the Google Assistant - hardly surprising given the Chinese company recently launched a smart display packing GA. However, the new Lenovo Essentials smart home range is also Alexa-compatible, and can also be controlled through the newly launched Lenovo Link app.
The starter pack packs in a smart bulb, a smart plug socket and a smart security camera - hardly inspiring stuff - but Lenovo's not really aiming at smart home super users, it's got beginners well and truly in mind.
"Smart home owners typically deal with smart devices from different manufacturers, leading to an inconsistent setup and control experience, with constant app switching and little-to-no integration between devices."
Lenovo's words, not ours. It's pretty easy to sync up stuff from rival brands and control them within singular apps nowadays, but don't let the facts get in the way of a good press release, eh?
Neato's new Botvac duo
Neato's flagship Botvac D7 Connected is the highest rated smart robot vacuum cleaner we've tested and now the company has a pair of cheaper models on offer too - both of which boast the super No-Go Lines feature that sets the range apart from its rivals.
Neato CEO Matt Petersen, explained, ‚ÄúOur new Botvac D4 and D6 Connected are products which will grow with the customer through software updates, answering to their needs. Neato was created to transform and with this launch our product portfolio is truly innovating for the future to offer a personalised cleaning experience.‚ÄĚ
Great stuff. What you're probably more interested to know is that the new models are $100 and $300 cheaper than the D7 despite packing in a bunch of the same features.