IFA 2015 roundup: 13 key PCs and tech products you may have missed

PCR rounds up some of the best new computing products and announcements from last week’s IFA 2015 show in Berlin, from Acer’s building block PC to Lenovo’s tablet with touchless technology.

Lenovo’s first tablet with ‘Touchless’/gesture technology

Lenovo showed off its new YOGA Tab 3, 8" and 10" series tablets – the vendor’s first tablets on the market to be integrated with Crunchfish Touchless A3D gesture technology (pictured, above right).

The gesture controlled camera application lets users take photos from a distance of up to four meters by raising their hand. The 8MP rotating camera lets users take high-resolution pictures.

"The agreement with Crunchfish allows us to take the camera application to the next level by offering gesture controlled features such as photo capturing. The YOGA Tab 3, 8" and 10" are designed for creative use and it is very exciting to be able to offer such an innovative user experience to our users,” said Johnson Zhu, Director, Tablet Product Planning, at Lenovo.

Lenovo also talked about the high-end YOGA Tab 3 Pro, featuring a built-in 70” projector and optimisation for Netflix. The YOGA Tab 3 Pro features four front-facing JBL speakers, a virtualised Dolby Atmos experience (an "industry first for tablets") and Dolby Digital Plus, which Netflix streams with its HD content. 

It features Smart Window 2.0 for enhanced multitasking, allowing users to run a background app as well as two windows on top, with phone apps fitting everything on one screen.

The YOGA Tab 3 8” retails at €199 (WiFi) and €249 (LTE) from October, YOGA Tab 3 10” at €299 (WiFi) and €349 (LTE) from November and YOGA Tab 3 Pro at €349 (WiFi only) and €599 (LTE) from November.

Other products include these new computers, including some which Lenovo claims are world firsts:

  • ThinkPad Yoga 260, the world’s lightest 12.5-inch convertible notebook for ultimate mobility starting at 2.9 pounds
  • ThinkPad Yoga 260 and 460, the world’s first convertible notebooks to incorporate an LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) wireless WAN option
  • ThinkCentre M900 Tiny, the most powerful desktop per cubic inch
  • OneLink+ Dock and Pro WiDi adapter, designed to reduce or eliminate complex wired connections
  • ThinkCentre desktops with simple deployment and management tools

ASUS unveils ‘world’s first’ watercooled laptop, new all-in-one, compute stick and more

ASUS Chairman Jonney Shih unveiled the latest Innovations at IFA 2015, including the RT-AC5300, which ASUS claims is the world’s fastest Wi-Fi router (capable of combined total speeds of up to 5334Mbit/s).

He also revealed the ZenWatch 2 (with a two-day battery life and two sizes), ZenPad Series and Zen AiO S all-in-one (pictured) as well as new ASUS Republic of Gamers (ROG) products and the debut of the VivoStick PC, a Windows 10 ‘PC on a stick’.

Other new products include the G752 gaming laptop, ROG Maximus VIII Extreme/Assembly, ROG Matrix 980Ti, ROG Swift PG348Q, ROG 7.1 headset and ROG G20 Special Edition. The 165Hz ROG Swift PG279Q gaming monitor was also showcased.

Before leaving the stage, ASUS surprised the audience with a sneak preview of GX700, the "world’s first" water-cooled gaming laptop.

Finally there’s the ZenPad S 8.0, ZenPad 8.0 and ZenPad 10 Android tablets, featuring built-in DTS-HD Premium Sound and interchangeable covers for the ZenPad 8.0, including an Audio Cover that adds six-speaker, 5.1-channel surround sound.

Acer offers ‘build-your-own’ mini PC, ups Predator gaming lines

Acer had a ton of news from IFA, from the availability of its new Predator gaming products to a new buildable Revo PC (left), as well as a foldable Aspire R13 notebook with a special hinge.

The new Revo Build Series (M1-601) Mini PC takes a modular approach to allow consumers to customise their computer without opening up the chassis. Blocks with different features (like a 500GB or 1TB hard drive, available at launch, with others to follow) can be stacked on top of the base unit, connected through pogo pins with magnetic alignment. The Blocks can also work independently or with other PCs.

It has a 1 litre chassis with a 125×125 mm footprint, while the base unit comes with an Intel Pentium or Celeron processor with integrated Intel HD graphics; the system memory of up to 8GB DDR4 RAM can be upgraded by loosening one screw.

The Acer Revo Build M1-601 will be available in the UK mid-October with prices starting at £199.99.

Elsewhere, the Predator 17 and Predator 15 notebooks (out later this year, pictured below in red and black) support the Predator FrostCore, a third fan module that may be swapped in with the optical drive to lower the CPU and GPU temperature further by up to five per cent, while the Predator 8 tablet supports Predator Quadio, an array of four speakers with a special DSP algorithm to enhance sound quality with virtual surround, as well as Predator TacSense, which provides haptic feedback for games and videos.

In addition, the Predator Z35 monitor (out in 2016) features Nvidia G-Sync and a 35-inch 21:9 UltraWide Full HD (2560×1080) panel with a curvature of 2000R and a refresh rate of up to 144Hz (overclockable to 200Hz) for an immersive, wraparound gaming experience.

Acer’s Aspire V Nitro series notebooks (out mid-October, starting from £899 for the V15 and £999 for V17) boast a slot-antenna design, where it is discretely positioned on one corner of the display ensuring 360-degree wireless coverage with no dead zones. 

Additionally, the Predator 8 GT-810 will be available in the UK in mid-October with prices starting at £249, while the Predator XB1 Series gaming monitors are available in the UK now with prices starting from £499.99.

Outside of gaming, the Aspire R13 (pictured in black below) will be available to purchase from mid-October with prices starting from £899. It includes Qualcomm Wi-Fi with MU-MIMO technology, an Ezel Aero Hinge for easy transition between modes and measures 18.5mm thin, weighing 1.6 kg, plus it includes the new 6th Generation Intel Core processors (aka Skylake).

Other products include: 

  • The Chromebook R11 will be available to purchase from mid-October with prices starting from £229
  • The Aspire V13 will be available in the UK mid-October with prices starting at £399
  • The Aspire U5-710 will be available in the UK mid-October with prices starting at £1099.99
  • New Liquid Z630/530 Android and Windows 10 smartphones

Intel confirms retail launch of Intel Core 6th gen processors (aka Skylake)

The new thinner processors are capable of starting in about half a second, and offer up to two and a half times the performance and triple the battery life when compared to the computers many people currently own (6th Gen Intel Core i5-6200U (43WHr battery size) compared to a five-year old PC based on Intel Core i5-520UM (62WHr battery size): 2.5x better performance (SYSmark*2014), 3x better battery life (Windows* 10 on i5-6200U and Windows 7 on i5-520UM).

6th Gen Intel Core processors have been optimised to best run Windows 10, and can power the Intel Compute Stick and All-in-One desktops, 2 in 1s and notebooks, while the first-ever Intel Xeon processor has been announced for mobile workstations.

"6th Gen Intel Core processors deliver some of the most significant advancements in computing that we’ve ever seen," said Kirk Skaugen, Intel senior vice president and general manager of the Client Computing Group. "New 6th Gen Intel Core-based systems are more responsive than ever with enhanced performance, battery life and security. And they can enable amazing new PC experiences like logging into your computer with your face and having a personal assistant respond to your voice. The combination of 6th Gen Intel Core processors, Windows 10 and beautiful new systems from PC manufacturers make this the best time ever to buy a new computer."

More devices will feature Thunderbolt 3 for USB Type-C and Intel’s RealSense Camera in the future, while the 6th Gen Intel Core platform will also advance Intel’s "no wires" initiative to deliver the best wireless display experience with Intel WiDi or Pro WiDi. In the coming months, Intel plans to deliver more than 48 processors in the 6th Gen Intel Core processor family.

Samsung announces SleepSense, SmartThings hub and Gear S2 Classic

Samsung Electronics unveiled Samsung SleepSense at IFA 2015 in Berlin – a new type of personal healthcare device that helps people improve the quality of their sleep. 

The product lets users understand their sleep pattern and learn how to improve it using the accompanying mobile app. 

Samsung also showed off the Gear S2 Classic smartwatch, an Ultra HD Blu-ray player and a new SmartThings hub which helps customers turn their house into a smart connected home.

Razer shows off ‘most precise’ gaming mouse

Razer announced the redesign of the Razer Orochi notebook gaming mouse, designed for mobile gamers and boasting "the world’s most precise mouse sensor for on the go gaming".

It has also received Chroma lighting, dual mode connectivity and a completely re-engineered shell with a metal top, as well as a 4G, 8,200 DPI laser sensor – the highest DPI sensor apparently ever designed into a mobile gaming mouse. 

Razer also announced the newest iteration of its gaming mouse, the Razer Diamondback (pictured right). The rejuvenated Diamondback features enhanced ergonomics, the "world’s most precise sensor" and Chroma LED lighting.

The company also unveiled the Razer Kraken Mobile headset which is designed for use with iOS smartphones, and the Razer Wildcat tournament grade controller for Xbox One, boasting four multi-function buttons added to the conventional array, and a weight that is 25 per cent lighter than other tournament grade controllers.

Lenovo’s target small businesses and gamers with fresh products

Lenovo has announced its latest portfolio of laptops and desktops specifically designed for the small and medium business. The portfolio includes the ThinkPad E Series, the updated Lenovo M, B and E line of laptops and S series desktops including all-in-ones. 

ThinkPad E460 will be available in EMEA from December with a starting price of €569 (excluding VAT), while the ThinkPad E560 and E565 will be available in EMEA from December with a starting price of €609 and €539 (excluding VAT) respectively.

Lenovo’s S200z, S400z, S405z and S500z all-in-one desktops will be available in selected markets from Q4 2015, as will the S200 Tower and S500 small form factor. The Lenovo M41, E41, E51, B41 and B51 laptops will be available in selected markets from Q4 2015.

Lenovo is also going after gamers. The New Ideacentre Y900 and Y700 desktops offer a wide range of choice in a sleek, edgy design for busy gamers who demand hassle-free performance with Windows 10 and the latest Intel processors, but want the option to upgrade in the future. The Y900 and Y700 start at €1499 and €999 respectively, available in first half of November.

Then there’s the new Ideapad Y700 (pictured above) which offers power and portability for gamers on-the-go, combining the latest Intel or AMD processors, discrete graphics and optional touch or Intel RealSense 3D camera (on the 15-inch laptop). This will start at €999, available in beginning of November.

Toshiba touts new Satellite Radius computers including 4K convertible laptop

Toshiba revealed the Satellite Radius 14 (pictured), a compact 5-in-1 convertible. Powered by up to 6th gen Intel Core processors and optimised for Windows 10, the Satellite Radius 14 is billed as an all-round performer. 

The company also showed off updated versions of the Satellite P50-C/P50t-C, Satellite P70-B and Qosmio X70-B, and Satellite Radius 11 and Satellite CL10-C. The convertible Satellite Radius 11 and CL10-C will also benefit from upgraded processors with the addition of either Intel Celeron N3050 or Pentium N3700.

Perhaps most interestingly, Toshiba announced the Satellite Radius 12, a 12.5-inch Ultra HD 4K convertible laptop.

New My Book Pro is WD’s fastest external solution

WD has introduced the My Book Pro storage device, providing users with up to 435 MB/s transfer rates on what WD says is its fastest external storage solution yet.

It has capacity options including 6TB, 8TB, 10TB and 12TB. Designed for professional content creators, My Book Pro storage combines the power of dual 20 Gb/s Thunderbolt 2 ports, USB 3.0 compatibility, RAID and the speed of two 7200 RPM WD drives.

It also boasts two front-access USB ports and the ability to daisy chain up to six Thunderbolt devices, while users are able to charge and sync smartphones, tablets or cameras while simultaneously connecting 4K monitors or additional storage devices.

The My Book Pro storage device is protected by a three-year limited warranty and is available from the WD store as well as select retailers and distributors. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) will be $599 USD for the 6TB, $749 for the 8TB, $899 for the 10TB and $999 for the 12TB.

Additionally, WD has just launched some major enhancements to the My Cloud storage devices – including a redesigned My Cloud OS 3 NAS operating system.

Other features include a Software Developer Kit (SDK) – for improved app integration, while a new dual-drive My Cloud Mirror offers increased memory and faster processing performance than previous generations.

WD Sync works by syncing data across multiple PCs and notebooks; the OS also includes Chromebook and Chromecast support.

TP-LINK announces latest gen powerline AC Wi-Fi kit

TP-LINK has announced the release of the TL-WPA8730 KIT, which is the latest in a line-up of powerline solutions that allow users to create high-speed home networks.

The kit uses the AC dual band Wi-Fi standard to deliver combined speeds of up to 1,750Mbps, and the Wi-Fi Clone and Wi-Fi Move functions help users set up a network at the touch of a button. These features can be paired with TP-LINK’s customized tpPLC utility and tpPLC app for mobile devices.

The kit also takes advantage of the HomePlug AV2 standard to carry data over a home’s existing powerlines at speeds of up to 1,200Mbps. It has three Gigabit Ethernet ports, 128-bit AES encrypted pairing and a 300-metre powerline range.

TP-LINK also announced the release of the new EAP330, the latest instalment of the EAP Series of Wireless Access Points. The EAP330 is intended for SMB environments, including offices, restaurants, campuses, hotels etc.

Sony reveals Xperia Z5 Compact and world’s first 4K smartphone

Sony Mobile Communications unveiled its next-generation Xperia Z5 and Xperia Z5 Compact (pictured), and the world’s first 4K smartphone Xperia Z5 Premium (which is due out in November).

"Smartphones are part of people’s lives” said Hiroki Totoki, President and CEO at Sony Mobile Communications.

”Since users already create, share and enjoy most of their content on the go – we’ve set out to bring Sony’s latest innovations in camera, design and display to ensure the Xperia Z5 series is the best possible lifestyle and entertainment platform.”

Ben Wood, Chief of Research at CCS Insight, commented on Sony’s announcements: "Sony will be hoping the Xperia Z5 Premium acts as a high-end flagship device to showcase the very best of its in-house technologies.

"There is no question about the calibre of the specs, most notably the 4K display, but that guarantees it will also come with a hefty price tag. Although the video reproduction on the device is stunning users might wonder why they need such a high resolution display.”

Philips promotes eye-protecting SoftBlue displays and 5K monitor

MMD, the brand license partner for Philips Monitors, is rolling out new displays for home and business users featuring SoftBlue technology.

SoftBlue protects eyes and reduces eye fatigue by mitigating the impact of blue-light exposure, but without sacrificing the fidelity and quality of the original colour. The new SoftBlue displays for the home (the E-Line) are already in stores; the SoftBlue displays for professional users (P-Line) are due out this autumn.

Prices are as follows: 

  • Line 27-inch 277E6EDAD: £209
  • E-Line 24-inch 247E6EDAW: £149
  • E-Line 22-inch 227E6EDSD: £119
  • P-Line 24-inch 241P6EPJEB: £229
  • P-Line 22-inch 221P6EPYEB: £189

Philips also had a 5K monitor on show with a resolution of 5,120 x 2,880 (at 60Hz). It will cost around €1,500 (about £1,300) when it launches later this year. (Thanks, Techradar)

The ‘world’s first’ fully-flat bezel-less monitor

Eizo announced the release of the FlexScan EV2750, a 27-inch IPS monitor with an LCD screen that is flush with the minimalist frame that surrounds it for a fully flat surface.

The firm says it’s the world’s first fully-flat bezel-less monitor. The FlexScan EV2750 features picture-by-picture capability making it ideal for business environments such as trading rooms, control rooms and back offices.

The 27-inch screen uses an LED-backlit IPS (in-plane switching) LCD panel with a native resolution of 2560×1440. Its 178-degree viewing angle minimises color shift and the typical brightness is 350 cd/m2 with a contrast ratio of 1000:1.

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