We were expecting smart home technology to dominate IFA 2018, but were surprised to see smartphones and wearables eliciting the most excitement. That being said, we did see a lot of really innovative smart home gadgets at the conference, with smart speakers prevailing over other connected smart home gear.
If you're looking to upgrade your home from dumb to smart, take a look at our top pick from IFA below.
1. Huawei AI Cube
Huawei’s first venture into the world of smart speakers in the form of the AI Cube impressed at this year’s IFA conference. With Amazon’s Alexa assistant built-in, it has access to all of the voice assistants skills, and can answer questions, play music, and control other devices in your smart home setup.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about the AI Cube is that it is also a 4G router, which means it can be used to connect your other devices to the internet.
2. Sonos Amp
It’s been a 10 year wait for an update to Sonos’ Connect Amp, but the result won the award for TechRadar’s ‘Best in Smart Home’. With twice the power as its predecessor, the Sonos Amp is designed to connect your existing wired speakers into the Sonos home sound system, essentially making them ‘smart’.
Made for connectivity, the Sonos Amp supports AirPlay 2, voice activation, HDMI ARC (for TV setups), and analogue to connect your record player. Although it is Wi-Fi enabled, there are two ethernet ports in the back if you prefer.
The Sonos Amp is out in December for custom installers. For the rest of us, it will be available in February for $599 ( around £460 / AU$830), with official pricing in non-US markets to be confirmed.
3. Technics Ottava S SC-C50
Speakers dominated the smart home field at IFA this year, and with good reason. One of the most impressive was the Technics Ottava S SC-C50, which combines sleek, futuristic design with completely customizable sound, thanks to an accompanying smartphone app.
Housing a total of seven speakers within the casing, the speaker is Chromecast enabled, and music playback can be controlled via Google Assistant – provided you have another Google Assistant-enabled smart speaker in your home, as voice activation is not built-in.
4. Harman Kardon Enchant soundbar
Home cinema enthusiasts had a lot to take in at IFA this year, not least of all the new Enchant soundbar from Harman Kardon. Using a digital signal processor as well as side firing transducers, the soundbar is designed to bounce sound off the walls of your living area for a truly immersive cinematic experience.
With Chromecast built in, you can stream shows to your living room and connect the soundbar to a wider Chromecast multi-room audio system. WiFi and Bluetooth are included, and the Enchant comes in two different sizes - it should be available to buy by the end of 2018.
5. Toshiba Alexa-enabled TVs
Toshiba announced at IFA that it would be adding Amazon Alexa to its OLED, 4K HDR, and Full HD TV ranges from 2019. With access to the voice assistant, the range will be able to deliver a wide range of features, some unique to the smart TV and also features part of Alexa’s wider skillset.
This means you can give Alexa voice commands to change the channel and amend the volume, as well as asking questions, requesting weather reports, and more. Although price and availability is yet to be confirmed, Toshiba’s 65-inch OLED 4KHD TV currently retails for around $3900 (£3000 / AU$5300).
6. Lenovo Smart Camera
Lenovo announced its new Smart Essentials range at IFA this year, including the Smart Plug, Smart Light, and Smart Camera. The Smart Camera is Lenovo’s answer to the influx of home security technology we’ve seen cropping up over the last couple of years, with the small surveillance camera allowing you to monitor live footage from inside your home, 24 hours of the day.
It also has a built-in microphone and speaker, allowing for two way conversations. It’s currently set to go on sale in the US in early 2019, with a price of $99.99. Availability in other markets like Europe, Africa, and the Middle East are yet to be confirmed.
It wasn’t just smart speakers and TVs that wowed us at IFA 2018. Away from the big launches, we also saw some really cool little gadgets like Varram’s Pet Fitness robot, which can be controlled via Bluetooth to distribute treats for your pets and help with separation anxiety.
We also tried out the HiMirror Mini, a smaller version of the HiMirror Plus, which uses a camera to analyze your skin for wrinkles, pores, dark spots, and redness, and can be used to track the effectiveness of your skincare products over time.
- IFA 2018 is Europe's biggest tech show. The TechRadar team is in Berlin to bring you all the breaking news and hands-on first impressions of new phones, watches and other tech as they're announced.
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Olivia was previously TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in London, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine. Olivia now has a career in PR.