MediaFile

Apple’s ghost hovers over IFA

September 1, 2008

A worker cleans parts of the Samsung exhibition stand at the Internationale Funkaustellung consumer electronics fair in BerlinApple‘s ghost was hovering over the feast of gadgetry at IFA, the world’s largest consumer electronics fair in Berlin. Unlike most of its competitors, Apple itself didn’t have a stand – its still very much alive chief executive Steve Jobs doesn’t like to share the limelight with others.But Apple was the benchmark against which many of the journalists and trade buyers present assessed rival wares. Two products were touted as Apple killers, though neither quite makes it.

The one that comes closer is iRiver‘s SPINN media player, which is a similar size to Apple’s iPod Touch but 40% lighter and has a touchscreen with superior OLED technology, which makes it ideal for watching video. The SPINN’s angular metal case contrasts with the more rounded Touch and is named after an knob built into its top right corner that allows users to easily flick through photos and music.

Buyers in the market for a dedicated music and video player may overlook the SPINN’s lack of wifi to connect to the internet, which the Touch has, but the SPINN’s Achilles’ heel is its meagre 8 gigabytes of memory. This is enough for thousands of songs but only three or four films. The top-of-the-range Touch has four times the capacity.

The other product viewed as a challenger to Apple was Samsung‘s ultraportable X360 laptop which faces up to the Macbook Air as well as Lenovo‘s X300. Like the Air but unlike the fractionally heavier X300, Samsung’s X360 eschews a DVD drive and weighs just 1.27 kg – even less than the Air.

The X360 can store more files than the Air, which came out in February, and connects more easily to a wider range of devices. Unfortunately in a market segment where looks matter, the X360′s shiny black plastic comes across as brash and, well, plasticky compared to the Air’s stylish tapered aluminium and the Lenovo X300′s discreet matt black casing.

Samsung’s display model was also covered in a generous layer of finger grease by lunchtime on Friday – testament for sure to visitors’ eagerness to paw the laptop but a warning to prospective buyers that they’ll need to back some wet-wipes when they travel.

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