Dubai: Our survey shows more than 40 per cent of people are looking to buy new smartphones this Gitex.
So we'll take you on a walkthrough of this year's event, the biggest electronics shopping jamboree in this region, from October 2-6 at the Dubai World Trace Centre. It’s a prelude to the Gitex Technology Week, from October 14-18, also at the DWTC in Dubai.
Tip 1: The place is packed from early evenings, with thousands of visitors hunting for electronics bargains.
It’s best to take the Dubai Metro as parking can be an issue, though it's fee if you buy a minimum of Dh300 from the mega retailers on board.
Tip 2: Smartphones with AI and Bluetooth 5.0 capabilities are great and will serve you well into the future.
Below are our top tech picks which we think are awesome and have something to do with the rest of our lives:
Test your pilot skills at the Gitex Experience Zone. Look for a young guy whose name is Suhail Nazeer. He knows loads about drones and he can demonstrate how to control one with a smartphone -- or by hand.
He does not sell them, but can give advice as to what model fits your budget for the intended use.
Here's a live demo where he commands a drone by hand.
"Drones will become increasingly important," said Abbas Jaffar Ali, an in-house, technology expert at Gitex. "Texperts" from techradar.com are present with hourly tech-talks at a special booth near the drone booth. They dispense tech-related advice to people who care to listen.
Now, a whole range of recreational drones are available at Gitex Shopper.
Ali said the ability to drive drones is going to be in great demand as it is increasingly used in everything from the military, remote sensing, aerial surveillance, motion picture film making, oil gas and mineral exploration, disaster relief, real estate and construction.
Tip: Know and abide by the drone regulations where you are.
Price range: Dh500 to >Dh5,000
2. Gaming: GPUs and Cryptos
What would an IT show be without gaming? This year’s edition has a massive display of game gear at the sprawling Gaming Zone. Every night at 7pm, a tournament starts for gamers but it can only accommodate people who registered from 3pm.
On Thursday, the popular multi-player game Fortnight will see numerous participants try to take each other down.
Gaming experience has greatly improved, thanks to the drop in price of Graphics Processing Units (GPUs), that part of a computer that accelerates numbers-crunching required by realistic graphics.
GPUs ensure that the content rendered on your computer screen is more “fluid”. Gamers and crypto communities are familiar with GPUs, which are also used in most business tasks today.
This Gitex, there are loads of gaming gear and software you can check out, which are also offered on limited offers. AlienWare gaming laptops with the latest GPUs are being sold at around Dh8,000.
With GPUs sinking in prices, and currency traders increasingly using them, including the “mining” of so called crypto-currencies. GPUs are here to stay.
Price range: Dh4,000 to Dh9,000
3. Bluetooth 5.0
Bluetooth has changed the way we connect things, since it first came out in the late 1990s.
Fast forward 18 years and the fifth generation Bluetooth system is now out, with 30,000 companies forming part of the community.
Why does 5.0 matter?
The latest version of this standard leads to various improvements, but only becomes useful when used with compatible gear.
Therefore, any benefit from upgrading to a phone with Bluetooth 5.0 will not work for you fully if you use them with old accessories. The good news is that Bluetooth 5.0 is backward compatible.
The biggest upside for Bluetooth 5.0 is low-energy use, thus enhancing battery life. If you use Apple ‘s AirPods, note that they don’t use Bluetooth 5.0 yet; they follow the Bluetooth 4.2 format with a special chip for improved connection. On Android, Bluetooth 5.0 would greatly enhance Bluetooth headphones.
Price range: Dh99 to Dh900 (bluetooh headphones and speakers)
4. Web authentication
Imagine a world without passwords. This is what web authentication system promises to unleash.
Application programming interfaces now allow the integration of strong authenticators -- like biometric readers or facial recognition -- thus making a password-free future increasingly likely.
It also overcomes the weakness of password use (how many times have you forgotten your password?).
Using biometrics for bank transactions from mobile phones, for example, the electronic gear we use greatly enhance our lives. Besides smartphones, laptops and even immigration boarding gates are increasingly using biometrics for authentication.
Experts say that web authentication interfaces -- provided they are secure -- and a password-free access to technology could have a significant impact on the way we all use technology in our daily lives.
The first generation of mobile phones offered basic voice service over and analog radio; 2G offered voice and improved coverage and capacity, through as GSM and CDMA standards and 3G delivered voice, with some data, multimedia, text and Internet, unleashing the first mobile broadband system.
The 4G system is primarily for data, an IP-based system such as LTE (long-term evolution) and is the first true mobile broadband.
The evolution of 4G is closely linked to 5G technologies, which will greatly improve the current-generation mobile networks. Some of the compelling 5G benefits: higher speeds, latency (the time it takes for a source to send a packet of data to a receiver), bandwidth, energy consumption and more.
5G is the technology that will enable self-driving cars, the Internet of Things, smart watches with ECG, virtual reality, augmented reality and various other things requiring constant and fast connections. Experts say 5G is the backbone that's key to connecting over 50 billion phones and electronics devices by the year 2020.
This was my first Gitex stop (it’s the Asian in me). Karaoke is a social machine, literally “empty orchestra” in Japanese, that has encroached into our homes, among east Asians especially.
Karaoke singing is a social thing, typically groups of people passing the mic around. But now, “Wankara” karaoke set or “singing alone”, is also increasing in popularity. It's one of those things that are here to stay: Karaoke machines are now a $10-billion-a-year market.
Recorded music with canned MTV shots and a mic are great stress busters. In some homes, parents use Karaoke (also 'videoke' or 'KTV') to brush up their children's English language skills, too.. File
These contraptions have greatly improved in technology, too: enhancing connectivity (via Bluetooth microphones) and sound quality using latest digital signal processors and controls. Gitex has several Karaoke booths, where demo singers and visitors test drive the machines, crooning from noon till night.
Price range: Dh399 to Dh1,099
7. Massage chairs
Massage chairs are essentially robots. They are pricey chairs mechanically designed and programmed to give you a massage. These machines that look like chairs come in different types and price points.
Gitex Shopper offers a great opportunity for you to try them all -- and see what model suits your needs and budget. There are at least 30 models available to try at DWTC. That's tonnes of free massage treats for you.
Tip: There's a hand-held massage gear for Dh60
Price range: Dh750 to Dh15,000
8. TV Screens
For home screens, LCD, Plasma and LED displays are so ancient. With the arrival of digital TV, ultra-HD, 3D, and smart OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) TV screens, major UAE electronics retailers are putting their best foot foward, with bargains (like the one below) or "flash" offers.
There are different TV display formats to choose from. At the moment, OLED (below) is expensive in comparison to other types, although prices are dropping.
But with OLED, pixel lights up individually and blacks are deep. OLED panels have a response time 1,000x faster than LED, which is great for fast-moving sports.
It is also physically flexible -- some Asian manufacturers even created a screen that rolls up or screens that can be peeled off the wall.
If you want a simple, 32-inch LED displays, they're available at great bundles.
Price range: Dh399 (32-inch screen) to upwards of Dh50,000
Many of today's electronic gear are packed with artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. Thanks to chip sets with central processing unit and a GPU, phone makers like Huawei are adding an NPU (neural processing unit) too, to the chip set for AI functionality.
An NPU is a chip with neural networks "learning" chip designed to mimic a human brain. Huawei's phone series with Kirin 970 has such NPU, while Apple has also added a neural engine to its new chip on iPhone X for Face ID, Animoji and augmented reality apps.
At present, AI features on mobile devices get their power from the cloud (Alexa or Siri) but experts said that NPU chips allow the use of on-device AI and cloud AI working in tandem.
Phones with chip powered by eight-core CPU, a 12-core GPU and NPU will have unmatched computing power we hold in our hands.
NPU phones from Dh2,000 to Dh4,600