IFA 2019 made me realize that tech may be stagnating

(Image credit: IFA / Consumer Technology Association (CTA))

Before heading to IFA 2019 – my first time – I kept hearing people tell me that it's the "CES of Europe". I took that at face value, didn't really have a reason to doubt it. I know that CES is this huge tech show where all the biggest brands show off a bunch of radical products that will probably never see the light of day, but still manage to spark the imagination of the tech world. 

And, while there were some decent products out there – the Lenovo Yoga C940, for instance, might end up delivering on Intel's Ice Lake promise – there was nothing Earth-shattering. Like, where are all the cool gaming laptops that CES 2019 had to offer? The new computing components? Where were the bizarre new TVs?

The beginning of my navigational nightmare at IFA 2019

The beginning of my navigational nightmare at IFA 2019 (Image credit: Future)

Unfinished business

This lack of excitement wasn't helped by the fact that the show is an impossible-to-navigate mess. Now, I understand that pretty much every convention center has been designed by someone clearly inspired by M.C. Escher, but at least most of the time the show has finished being constructed before welcoming in jet-lagged journalists. 

It didn't help that a lot of my appointments throughout the week were in the middle of a convention that was still being built. I'm not afraid to admit that I spent my first couple of days at the Berlin tech show completely lost. 

Still, all of the hassle of navigating the confusing show floor would have genuinely been worth it if I was able to get a glimpse of what the future looked like. I saw plenty of new products at IFA 2019 – many of which genuinely seem like a great choice for a lot of people. But, while those devices will technically be coming out in the future, it didn't feel like the future

I did at least get to see some cool PC cases

I did at least get to see some cool PC cases (Image credit: Future)

What even is the future, then?

Basically, what I'm getting at is that IFA 2019 was just kind of ... there. I didn't see anything that shattered my worldview, making me envision a new world where I could finally achieve some of my dreams.

Looking back at a lot of the announcements that were made over this last week, there are definitely some awesome products, but even those weren't enough to get me excited. 

The Razer Blade Stealth (Late 2019), for example, is an update to a laptop that I already pretty much love, bringing real graphics power to the laptop for the first time. But, that is pretty much just a case of technology catching up with the original promise of the laptop when it launched three years ago. 

Then, Intel announced the release date for the Intel Core i9-9900KS. Intel desperately needs a desktop processor that can put AMD back in its place, and instead, its releasing a slightly overclocked Intel Core i9-9900K. Now, I obviously haven't had a chance to slap this chunk of silicon into a test bed to see if it destroys the Ryzen 9 3900X, but I'm not holding my breath. 

I did see some laptops from Asus and Acer that had 300Hz displays, which is definitely a new thing. But, we've had high refresh rate displays for a while now, and at least personally, the move to 300Hz from 244Hz doesn't seem like the most important technological advancement. And, honestly, it seems kind of overkill for a laptop. 

But, of course, we can't forget about the Acer Predator Thronos Air – a slightly more lightweight version of a ridiculous gaming chair that was announced a year ago, and still costs an outrageous $14,000. There are probably people out there that think that's exciting, and I'm not here to rain on anyone's parade – but I don't really see the appeal, especially when you can buy a car for the same amount of money. 

It might not be new, but I love this Razer Blade Stealth.

It might not be new, but I love this Razer Blade Stealth. (Image credit: Future)

You need to chill out

At the end of the day, it's probably not really a big deal that there weren't any Earth-shattering announcements at IFA 2019. But, still, I do love tech, which is why I suffer through these trade shows in the first place. It's definitely possible that you saw something at IFA that blew your mind, and you're thinking "what are they talking about". I get that, and I'm super happy for you if that's the case – maybe I missed something.

But, I still can't shake the feeling that the computing world is a little stale right now.  Most of 2019 has been filled with some pretty high-stakes tech – from AMD claiming the processor throne at Computex 2019 to the Asus ROG Strix Mothership blowing all of our minds. It's entirely possible that I'm just so used to an unusually exciting time, that this relatively calm period feels like I'm stranded in some technological desert. 

Either way, I'm sure it will change. IFA 2019 felt like the calm before some exciting tech storm. And, I can't wait to see what lies around the corner. 

Bill Thomas

Bill Thomas (Twitter) is TechRadar's computing editor. They are fat, queer and extremely online. Computers are the devil, but they just happen to be a satanist. If you need to know anything about computing components, PC gaming or the best laptop on the market, don't be afraid to drop them a line on Twitter or through email.