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It’s not easy completing a lap of Messe Berlin — the home of Europe’s largest electronics trade conference, IFA. However I can confirm, it is well worth it — and not just for the free swag.
Every year, tech companies gather under the venue’s massive roof to out-peacock each other with the most lavish, outrageous or simply plain biggest booths. And this year, we figured we should pay homage to the teams behind these temporary facades. After all, without them there would be nowhere to display those wares.
We take a closer look at some of the booths that stood out for us.
LG: The return of the OLED tunnel
There are few things you can do to really stop a crowd in their tracks at IFA, except perhaps covering an entire hallway in OLED panels. Install a few speakers in the wall, and you have an interactive tunnel that can transport you to outer space, or a rain shower on planet Earth.
LG might’ve pulled this stunt before, but it’s hasn’t gotten any less cool.
If you could actually navigate those Instagramming the spectacle, LG also had its V30 smartphone on display, including a number of OLED gaming monitors and televisions.
Samsung: you’re fine, but your sausage isn’t
Samsung had the biggest installation by far, but there was no space for your bratwurst. The company didn’t want you soiling its products with foodstuffs, even though washing machines were part of its main attractions.
Other products showcased included AKG headphones, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 which launched a few weeks ago, and a bevy of screens. The ludicrous 3880×1080 panel that’s as wide as a toddler is tall also caught our eye.
As for the showstoppers, there were a number of AI face scanning booths, while it too had a large video installation like its Korean rival.
Sony: wood, projectors and board games
Sony’s booth theme this year centred on natural colours and wood. Add a splash of vinyl, games of Monopoly and a Google Assistant-powered kitchen, and you have yourself the most hipster-friendly booth at IFA 2017.
Sony did showcase its tech though. The company’s colourful smartphones, DSLR cameras and PlayStation products were all on display.
Oh, and how can we forget, board games.
Acer: the secret room
Although it’s adorned in neon green signage fit with its usual while and green paint scheme, Acer’s booth was tucked away in the corner of Hall 12. But better yet, the booth itself was behind a wall. I did have to walk past it once, and then ask one of the company’s staffers where the entrance actually is.
If you weren’t looking for it, you probably wouldn’t find it. The entrance to the booth, that is.
Razer: the PC master race has never been this loud
Razer had a slew of announcements and swag to give away at its booth across the way from Acer. It sure was noisy too. The company just couldn’t resist hiring a DJ and being the Taiwanese company’s noisy neighbour.
It showcased a number of its laptops, peripherals and prebuilt computers, including the Blade and its Wolverine gaming pad.
T-Mobile: too much pink?
I don’t quite know what to write about T-Mobile, but at least the company stuck with its branding. Was it too much? Possibly. Was it eye-catching? Definitely. And to be fair, attracting consumers to your booth is the entire point of IFA.
Sharp: pixels, pixels everywhere
Sharp is well known as one of the world’s foremost panel manufacturers, and the company was sure to reiterate that fact at IFA. Debuting a number of new UHD screens — some as large as 120-inches — the company also had a two-man drum band. Perhaps it wanted to be Lenovo’s noisy neighbour?
But its stand out device was a concept 8K 24-inch monitor. Granted, it’s a prototype for now, and is as large as an old CRT monitor at its rear — but my, it’s impressive.
Vestel: kitchen appliances as works of art
The Turkish tech company doesn’t just do televisions and smartphones, but also has a knack for painting fridges and washing machines in attractive shades. Granted, it doesn’t exactly make these devices any sexier, but they sure are more interesting.
It also had a mammoth hall to itself, and also indulged in a crafty, rotating TV installation.
Nokia: more than just a smartphone company
A fairly low-key booth tucked away in Hall 8, Nokia’s appearance at IFA 2017 was welcome. The company name is currently in the midst of a transformation undertaken by licensees HMD, and it’s showing in the parent company’s product lineup.
Along with having the Nokia 8 on show, bathroom scales, smartwatches, thermometers (above) and blood pressure monitors — all smart, mind — stole the show.
We’ve requested information on the products’ South African availability and will update as soon as we can.
Microsoft: that ninjacat mural though
Microsoft didn’t have any new wares to show off, but there sure were a lot of Surfaces. Of course, the mural was dope, but this particular booth lacked the hype and energy normally found at Microsoft events.
Still, with the Windows 10 Creators Update slowly trickling down to consumers, there were a number of would-be artists splaying their digital graffiti on screens.
Moleskine: we’re gonna need a bigger booth
Yes, that Moleskine.
Although arguably, LG’s booth was much, much crazier, it was also much larger than the notebook company’s tiny niche. With that said though, the product it was showcasing received a slew of attention.
Making use of its notebook heritage, the company launched a new smart pen and notepad combo — devices that appeal to those who still like writing, but who also want to keep their notes synced online.
We’ll have more on Moleskine’s smart bullet journal.