On the 29th August I took off from my home, heading to Berlin for the IFA, as a guest of Samsung as part of their Mob!ler programme. Exciting times!
This was a trip full of many first time experiences for me. For starters, it was my 1st major trip away with Samsung – sure, I’ve had meet-ups with the rest of the UK mob!lers at Samsung HQ in Chertsey, and in London – but this was going to be my 1st time at a meet-up with mob!lers from around the world! Different cultures, different programmes, different people!
It was also the 1st time that I had been to Germany and Berlin, it would be my 1st press conference where I’m actually physically in the room, and not watching a live stream over the internet – it was also going to be my 1st consumer electronics fair! I wasn’t really sure what to expect.
New city, new sights, new sounds, it was a lot to take in, and my first obstacle was navigating the German U- and S- Bahn network – which wasn’t that tricky if you’ve had experience with the London underground. My hotel for the next 11 days was in the heart of Berlin, right next to the train station, which meant getting around for sight seeing and general exploration was relatively easy.
After a little nap, a spot of exploration, it was time to meet-up with some of the other mob!lers who had arrived that day, at a local Tapas restaurant. Good food and good company – I was soon made to feel at home, and met some amazing people. If this was the start of the adventure it was going to be a fantastic 2 weeks here!
The following morning, it was a bright and early hotel breakfast followed by a meet and greet with our hosts. We were formally introduced to the rest of the 17-strong mob!ler team in Berlin, and briefed on what the next 11 days held for us.
The programme of events included a special pre-press conference hands on with the 3 new mobile devices (the Wave 3, Galaxy Note, and Galaxy Tab 7.7) the day before they were publically launched on the 1st of September at 11am. As well as getting to chat with the development team / designers responsible to get a little insight into the new products.
We had a couple of general IFA days, where we were given free reign to explore everything this exhibition had to offer, as well as 3 intense days working on the Mobile Phone booth in the Samsung Hall, showcasing and promoting the new products to members of the press and the general public. We also had almost front row seats at the Samsung unpacked press conference! And last but not least was a Berlin day, to allow us to take in some of the rich history and sights of our host city.
My first impression of the IFA, as we pulled up and were greeted with a giant Siemens washing machine over the entrance, was this event was a lot bigger than I was expecting. Actually, I’m not sure what I was expecting, but this was definitely so much more!
The press conference was a rather intimate affair, don’t get me wrong, the room itself was pretty big, I think I was just expecting.. a humongous lecture hall or something. We managed to score seats on the third row back from the stage right in the centre. Prime viewing spot for everything that was to come! For the next hour or so, I was introduced to some important people at Samsung who were here to tell us about their vision of a smarter world and a smarter life by the announcement of their exciting product lines. From stats and how they were the first manufacturer to have a phone used in space, to their new range or televisions, and cameras – and of course the primary reason I was here – the 3 new products in their mobile phone line up.
– The Wave 3, running the newest version of Samsung’s own OS – Bada version 2.0, with it’s sleek full metal unibody, bigger brighter Super AMOLED screen, how it was lighter, thinner, and would be the launch platform for their new intra-communication application – ChatON, allowing you to chat to your friends over wifi or your data connection without having to sign up on the same service – it involves the use of the app and connects via your mobile phone number – the closest thing currently on the market would be the BBM service offered by Blackberry, or maybe what’sapp from the android store. This would allow you to chat to your friends on their Samsung devices regardless to what OS they are running!
– Galaxy Tab 7.7 – thinner & lighter than it’s 7″ predecessor, and the first tablet to house a Super AMOLED Plus screen. Packed with a 1.4GHz dual core processor, a brushed metal back, a very crisp, bright and vivid screen while running Android Honeycomb. It also has the added ability of being able to control your Samsung home entertainment systems with it’s IR port and has expandability with the micro-SD memory card slot. The 7.7″ size is still a lot more comfortable to handle one handed than the larger Ipad or the 10.1 Galaxy Tab – making this much more portable than it’s bigger tablet rivals. It was definitely love at first sight and a want item on my Xmas list!
– The Galaxy note – carving out it’s own niche market, as it fits inbetween the smartphone and tablet categories, this 5.3″ device was certainly impressive and is probably the biggest surprise at the press event. We were all aware of the name, after it had been leaked from the decoding of the unpacked app, but there was a big gasp of air from the auditorium as it was unveiled. (I was slightly less surprised as I had already had my mitts all over the Note the day before 😉 ) See HERE for more information about the Galaxy Note.
The Samsung Hall #20 was definitely impressive. From the 50+ LED screen giant 3D tv set-up, to the crisp blue and white decor, this was one of the better set ups I had seen around the IFA (most had attempted the multi-screen giant display, or the sprawling out column in the centre, but this was by far the better executed) – the only other one that stands out in my mind and from the crowd would be the LG Hall where they had definitely embraced and made sure you were overloaded on 3D technology. You were even given a pair of 3d glasses for the experience as everywhere you looked, screens, gaming rigs and mobile phones at LG were embracing 3D! It’s also where I picked up one of my coolest freebies – my clip-on 3d glasses! 😉
As you wandered from one hall and booth to another, you were treated by the sight of a lot similar products. Obviously they had been given a similar problem or brief and had come to the same more-or-less conclusion.
There were smart phones of all shapes and sizes and each company had their own take on the newest technology craze – the tablets. Sony had definitely tried to be different with their Tablet P. This device was like a clam shell or glasses case compact design in that it folded up to be a more comfortable fit in a pocket while unfolding to give more screen real estate. A good idea in theory – but in practice not so much. You were left with a screen with a thick line across the centre so images were ruined. The centre of the screen which is where you would primarily access the screen you had a section without touch control. When the device wasn’t utilising the full screen for the display, you were left with a feeling of having a Nintendo DS, with one screen being used for navigation etc., and the other for display. A weird set-up and one that I personally wasn’t a fan of.
Mobile technology was not the only things on offer, and one of the coolest things that I saw while exploring the IFA were the hoover-bots. These small round thin robots were automated cleaning machines, they would react to their surroundings and had a built in dirt sensor. This meant you could head off to work and trust them to clean your home while you were out. As if this wasn’t awesome enough – they could be combined with an app on your compatible smart phone for remote control viewing (they were installed with cameras) and control. Definitely stuff you expect to see in sci-fi movies but available for your homes soon enough! The Samsung version ran with an app on the Galaxy S2 – I really wanted to take one of these little boys home with me, but I’m not sure I would have been able to smuggle it past customs, let alone in my airplane luggage allowance!
Either way it was very very cool!
The other highlight of my trip was the Vodafone exhibit, and I’m not talking about their contracts or the range of phones and tablets they had on offer. As well as their inside hall, they also had a mock Formula One pit, and karting track! I am a HUGE formula one fan, granted vodafone now sponsor the wrong team with McLaren (I’m definitely a Ferrari kind of girl), but even I cannot say no to seeing a Formula One car up close and personal. It wasn’t just any car, it was Jenson Button’s race car, and my spies informed me that the man himself was at the IFA doing some promotional work. Well, I made it a mission to track him down and meet him.
Not only is the above photo proof – I also managed to change the front tyre on his car! Oh yes – BEST DAY EVER! I’m such a geek 😉
Jenson wasn’t the only celebrity I managed to snag a photo with.. I also met somewhat of a German Children’s tv character celeb – Bernd Das Brot, and his friends!
Definitely a good day for meeting famous people at the IFA!
My time in Berlin wasn’t just technology, Samsung phones and freebies, there was also our Reporter Day, where we were let loose in the city, to explore, and take in the rich cultural history and sights of a re-unified Berlin. Truly harrowing stuff, but it was good to see how Berlin had grown from the Terrors it had witnessed and been a victim of.
As well as meeting celebrities, getting to see some awesome technology and meeting famous people – my palate was treated to a range of different dishes across a variety of restaurants in Berlin, including some delicious German staples such as Schnitzel, a kind of Apple Strudel and of course you can’t go to Berlin or Germany without tasting the Currywurst!
You can definitely tell I had an amazing time. When I wasn’t out and about soaking up the sights, smells, technology and putting on a few pounds with the gorgeous food – I was working hard at the Samsung booth talking about another love of mine technology. 3 solid days of hands on excitement with the Galaxy Note and the Wave 3; unfortunately the Galaxy Tab 7.7 was only around for the press conference, as I would have loved to have more time playing with that! But the Note and Wave 3 more than made up for that! This allowed me to show off the amazing features of both devices, impress random strangers with my not so impressive drawing skills, and strike up some interesting conversations about what their impressions were of the new Samsung line up. Obviously, the most popular device we had on display was the Galaxy Note – everyone wanted to give it a whirl, pick up that stylus and S-Memo away. Overall I think all the new products went down extremely well, and I’m certain that more than a few will be putting the Note on the top of their Xmas list!
I really can’t believe we managed to fit all this excitement into only 11 days! I met some amazing people, from around the world – Germany, Korea, Japan, China, Dubai – and they all helped to make this experience one to remember! I’d also like to thank Samsung and Mr. Kim and his team for such an amazing time!