IFA’s big surprises – wraparound phone screens, in-ear heart-rate monitoring and waterproof e-readers. The best of Berlin’s huge technology expo.
Samsung Galaxy Note Edge
The latest in Samsung's attempts to show it's far from an Apple copyist. The Note Edge takes the chassis of the more straightforward new Note 4 (also announced at IFA) and adds a wrap around section of screen on one side, with the phone flippable – depending on your handedness. The 5.6in screen is 1600x2560 resolution, matching the greater-than-HD LG G3, and the 'Edge' shows notification icons and can be used for app control. So, when the phone's off you can swipe it to see current notifications and apps can use the space to move things like movie playback controls off the main screen.
Sony QX1 and QX30
Sony's innovative QX100 and QX10 led the charge last year. These were digital camera lenses with sensors built-in, that clipped onto smartphones – ditching the need for a traditional camera body. This year at IFA, Sony unveiled the second generation. The QX30 adds a 30x zoom lens with optical image stabilisation – plus 20M resolution, 10fps continuous burst, and full-HD video at 60fps. The QX1, more radically, combines a 20M sensor with the ability to use E-mount lenses on a smartphone. So if you already own lenses for a Sony compact, you can now use them on your phone too.
Kobo Aura H2O
It's such a simple idea, it's a wonder it's taken this long for someone to do it. Welcome to the "world's first premium waterproof eInk eReader". Or, in put another way, this is the first e-reader you can use in the bath or on the beach without worrying about getting it wet. That instantly puts e-readers on a far more level playing field with paperbacks. Now they've just got to work on the whole shoving-it-in-your-back-pocket bit. It is IP67 waterproof for 30 minutes in 1m with port cover closed; also 6.8in touchscreen, 4GB storage plus MicroSD slot etc.
Digital turntables are either "cheap USB decks that sound poor and can ruin records, or pricey, fiddly to set up," high-end jobs, according to Flexson – makers of Sonos accessories. So they decided to do something new. The VinylPlay, showing at IFA, features built-in analogue-digital convertor and phono amp, so you can just add powered speakers or record MP3s straight from it. Or, you can connect to standard hi-fi, or even into a Sonos Play:5 or Connect – so you can then play your vinyl wirelessly to other Sonos speakers around your home. The VinylPlay is also UK "precision made".
Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless
The "world's first stereo earbuds with integrated heartrate monitor". Not just that, they're Bluetooth wireless earbuds too. Jabra's technology involves putting tiny sensors in each earbud near the tiny blood vessels inside your ear. The result is, according to them and Campbell University, North Carolina, 99.2 per cent accurate compared to a medical ECG. The heartrate monitoring is combined with wireless, sweat and "storm" proof buds and an app that includes "personalised audio coaching" matched to heartrate zones etc. In other words, it won't switch to 'Eye Of The Tiger' until you really are hitting the right "cardiac arrest" zone.
XYZprinting da Vinci 1.0
The cost of entry-level 3D printers keeps on dropping fast. The da Vinci 1.0 is under €600, making it the "most affordable 3D printer on the market", according to its makers (and given that it has a larger printout size, 20x20x20cm, than any other at around this budget). This combination of rock-bottom pricing and large scale capability already scooped the da Vinci 1.0 an award when it was unveiled CES in January. It was more recently showcased at IFA and is now available to buy. Fittingly for the price, there's no assembly required, auto-calibration and the enclosed design keeps hot bits away from family fingers.