The Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin (IFA) started life as the Berlin Radio Show, but these days, it exists as a showcase for a variety of new consumer tech. It's not quite as expansive as CES in Las Vegas, or as focused as E3 in Los Angeles, but IFA Berlin does have the virtue of acting as a central location for both Eastern and Western companies to show off their latest and greatest gizmos each September.
While we won't know for sure what surprises IFA has in store until next week (Tom's Guide will be traveling to Germany to cover it firsthand), the Internet rumor mill is alive and well. Between leaks, trends and good old-fashioned guesswork, here are five exciting things that you'll almost certainly see at IFA:
The smartwatch is a technology whose time is almost here, and manufacturers seem keenly aware of this. Samsung likely plans to debut the Gear Solo smartwatch, while Asus seems ready to announce an Android Wear watch at the conference. LG may take things one step further with a successor to the LG G Watch, this time with an OLED screen for crystal clarity.
Between giants like Sony and niche brands like the Swiss MyKronoz, there's almost sure to be a smartwatch on display to fit every lifestyle and preference. The only question is: Are consumers ready for wrist-mounted computing?
The Next Phase of TV
For most consumers, a TV is just a living room focal point; what's displayed on it is more interesting than how it looks. For videophiles and engineers, though, things like resolution, color depth and sound quality are matters second only to life and death. The three big trends at IFA will be 4K resolution, OLED screens and smart TV functionality.
Now that ultra-high definition 4K TVs are becoming affordable, brands like Sony, Samsung and LG will have to entice mainstream consumers with features beyond "it looks really good." LG, for example, will display the first-ever 4K OLED consumer TV, while Samsung will show off its smart TV gaming capabilities.
Smartphones will not be absent from this year's IFA, although consumers should expect refinement rather than sweeping changes. Samsung will likely debut its Galaxy Note 4, which should be exciting for smartphone aficionados. Experts expect the Note 4 to sport a 2650 x 1440 pixel display, a powerful Snapdragon 805 CPU and a 16-megapixel camera.
Sony's Xperia Z3 (sporting an impressive 20-megapixel camera), LG's G3 Prime (with an improved Snapdragon 805 processor), and new contenders from Motorola and Nokia could make appearances as well.
Smart Home Explosion
At CES 2014, we took a look at a number of smart home devices, including cookware, ovens and beds. However, individual smart home gadgets are already passé; IFA is all about smart rooms. Although they're not as sexy as mobile devices, home appliances make up an enormous chunk of what's on display at IFA, and this year, it's all about interconnectivity.
IFA released an article about smart home trends in 2014, explaining that you'll be able to control whole rooms from your smartphone — namely your kitchen. IFA 2014 will play host to a whole variety of smart pots, microwaves, refrigerators, dishwashers, stoves, coffee makers and toasters. What remains to be seen is whether they'll all work together.
Odds and ends
What else could show up at IFA 2014? Almost anything. The IFA exhibitor website lists 18 categories, including Communications, Audio, Car Media, Home Entertainment and the ever-promising Miscellaneous. Expect to see cameras, 3D printers, medical technology, headphones, speakers, and maybe even an unexpected gaming peripheral or two. With exhibitors from almost 50 countries spanning five continents, there will be something weird and wonderful that you can't live without — and about fifty kinds of phone cases, power converters and tech startups, but that's just how these big conventions are.
Whatever IFA brings this year, Tom's Guide will showcase it all next week. Stay tuned to the site for our firsthand experiences in Berlin.