When we think of events like IFA and the technology that comes along for the ride, most people tend to think of the fancy gadgets like phones, laptops, and TVs we'll never be able to afford. But the regular home appliance stuff is often there too. It's easy to scoff at them getting launched in a similar manner to flagship smartphones, we need it all in our homes. Or most of it anyway. Nobody needs a washing machine or a dishwasher, but life is much more convenient with them both.
Sharp has a big stake in appliances, so obviously had a whole bunch of stuff to show off at IFA. Here's what we've seen so far.
The IoT factor
IoT is a big deal these days, and that means connecting every little thing in your house up to the internet for connectivity reasons. Sharp is no exception, with a new series of smart appliances with Wi-Fi connectivity for "a more inclusive and meaningful home service". Here we have an oven, a fridge/freezer, a dishwasher, and a washing machine.
All of these are capable of sending out product notifications, and in the event anything should go wrong they can alert Sharp's customer service team who will then identify the problem and arrange an engineer visit. Actually, I'm no fan of IoT, but that does sound rather useful.
Air Purifier Series
Sharp has announced three new series of air purifiers, the KC-F, KC-D, and KC-G. They're to help clean the air in your home and its inhabitants breathe easy - particularly those who suffer from asthma or allergies. So how do they do it?
Each purifier keeps humidity levels between 55 and 65 per cent, which is designed to keep skin supple and hydrated. Dry skin is especially common in winter, with the dry air and central heating on at all hours of the day. There's a timer on this as well, should so it's not do it's thing when nobody is at home.
The actual purification comes from what Sharp claims is the world's first natural air disinfectant. Is uses an ionic purification, with positive and negative ions breaking down allergens and spores. These ions then combine to oxidise and deactivate bacteria and return to the air in water form.
All that humidity isn't good from a mould perspective, which hasn't been ignored. the KC-D and KC-G air purifiers have procedures in place should humidity exceed 70 per cent. If it happens a high impact plasmacluster ion shower setting kicks in, designed to combat the mould that thrives in damp conditions.
Each model comes with several filters designed to keep it in operation for a minimum of two years, including a deodorisation filter to keep your home smelling nice, as well as HEPA filter to catch allergens and other irritants.
So what's the difference? Well the KC-F covers spaces of 21 square metres and cleans the air in around 41 minutes. It has three automatic sensor detectors, adjusting the power according to levels of dust, humidity, and the local temperature. Included is a humidifying filter that lasts around five years.
The KC-D offers enough power for larger homes, with areas of 26, 38, or 48 square metres. Two of the models have the same auto sensors as the KC-F, along with an extra one for odour detection. It comes with HEPS and humidifying filters to ensure it lasts around 10 years of use.
KC-G purifiers are the ultimate editions, for want of a better term, with auto sensors in two of the three models and a setting that allows automatic operation when it detects motion, light, or haze-inducing dust particles. They're capable of covering 28, 38, and 50 square foot homes.
First up is the Love2Cook Oven, which can be remotely accessed, set, and monitored from anywhere. That way you don't have to keep running into the kitchen when you have guests over, or you could preheat the oven during your commute so you can start cooking when you get home. Sharp promises that you can cut pre-heat times by up to 50 per cent, and bring forward meal schedules without causing any adverse effects to the final dish. There's also a self-cleaning feature (called VapClean) which can complete a cycle in a mere 20 minutes.
The Sharp Home appliances app also comes with 150 built-in recipes that integrate with the oven to set the programme and temperature for each recipe. It can even work out what ingredients you need, should you have a greater (or fewer) number of dinner guests.
If you want to be able to cook a lot of stuff, or multiple meals at the same time, (and you have the money) Sharp has the oven for you. Called Airstream, it has five separate shelves to maximise the space in your oven. Sharp used the example of fussy people in the family who ca't agree on a meal (including children), though I'm not so sure that's realistic. If I didn't like what my parents were cooking the only alternative was going hungry.
The oven itself has a 78-lite capacity, and uses a vertical airstream to ensure heat is evenly distributed around the oven. Despite this, Sharp promises that there won't be any cross contamination of smells and flavours. If you can't visualise a 78-litre capacity, it means that the Airstream can cook 100 cupcakes or five pizzas at once. Perfect for bake sales, dinner parties, multi-person houses, or if you're just really really fat.
Next up is the is the smart French Door Fridge Freezer, complete with a high-tech food management system. That lets you pre-plan your fridge space, changing the cooling conditions in accordance with what you're planning to buy at the supermarket. It also has a feature called 'AdaptiZone', which helps prevent food wastage and lets you turn either one of the freezer zones into extra fridge space. All of which can be configured remotely.
Other remote features include ExtraCool and ExtraFreeze that let you speed up the cooling process, plus eco and holiday modes that lets them maximise efficiency (and raise the temperature) or switch off the unit completely.
Sharp did make a big deal about the Karakuri fridge/freezer, which is is referring to as 'magic'. It's not actually magic, because that would be ridiculous, it's just got a lot of hi-tech features you may or may not need.
Karakuri itself is the water dispensing part of the fridge, which actually hides itself when it's not in use. Pressing a touch-sensitive sensor causes the cover to spin around, revealing the dispenser and then hiding it once you're done. This has supposedly been done to protect the dispenser from the elements, minimising its exposure to allergens, bacteria, mould, and other airborne nasties. It's also capable of spinning automatically when it detects cup motion, features custom-sized ice cubes, and has a tank big enough for 20 glasses of water before it needs to be refilled. Sadly this isn't one of those fancy fridges that has a direct line into the mains.
The Karakuri is also compartmentalised, and each one can be set to a number of pre-determined temperatures. That means you can use them as a fridge or freezer as you see fit - negating the need for separate dedicated compartments that might end up going empty.
Like the french door fridge/freezer it has the ExtraCool feature for speeding things up, along with a plasmacluster in system to keep the air inside clean and free from airborne particles that would spoil your food.
Sharp also has the Grand Top Series, available in three different sizes (510L, 550L, and 600L) which are designed to maximise space in your house by making the fridge narrower and taller than typical models. They've also been designed for a glamorous look, with a black glass finish, and 178 or 163 litres of freezing space. Also in there is the same air purification and Extra Cool tech mentioned above.
Now we have the Smart Dishwasher, which promises an A+++ efficiency rating, and a large selection of routines - including a super-speedy 18 minute cycle. What's more, Sharp promises that it's 30 per cent more efficient that similarly-rated washing machines on the market. To help with that the machines also comes with a feature called 'EcoBox' which saves water from the previous washing cycle. That means it can wash your dishes with a mere 5.5 litres of water.
It also has a number of features inside including IntelliWash feature, which automatically adjusts the programme duration and temperature to suit the requirements of each load of dishes. There's also a NightWash function that minimises noise and lets you get a bit of piece and quiet when you need it. Also in there is a steam-assisted cleaning cycle, which can tackle incredibly stubborn burnt on stains, a StemSafe basket designed to keep even the most delicate of glassware safe, WaterBlade that uses two extra spray arms to offer three times the cleaning power of a regular dishwasher, and Aquaglide which directs the water towards the interior or different items for a more localised washing process.
But wait there's more! DualPro combines washing programmes so you can wash your delicate crockery alongside your hardier stuff, splitting the dishwasher into two separate sections to do so. There's also AutoDoor which opens the door as soon as each cycle is complete, letting the steam out and allowing your things to dry more quickly.
Last, but not least, there's the Smart Washing Machine with an 8kg capacity. Like the dishwasher it has a bunch of remotely accessible programmes - including a 12-minute cycle for small (sub 2KG) loads. Ecologic also ensures the most efficient conditions are in place, even if (like most regular people) you have no idea how big the washing load actually is. This also automatically reduces the amount of water and energy used when the drum is only half full.
Also included is an AllergySmart cycle that combats allergens caused by pollen, mould, fungus, dust mites, and four different kinds of bacteria. The drum can be cleaned remotely when there isn't any washing on, and like the dishwasher there;s a NightWash function that reduces sound levels and delays the noisiest parts of the spin cycle by up to 10 hours.
There's also a second washing machine dubbed the Intellidos Washing Machine. It's designed to maximise convenience, so that washing your clothes doesn't become a chore you put off until you run out of clean pants.
The 10kg machine has a system that administers the appropriate amount of detergent for each wash, with a capacity equivalent to that of 20 full washing cycles. It even lets you know when you should top up, giving you two washes of notice to get your act together. Make sure to pay attention to that, or else you're going to accidentally rinse your clothes without properly washing them.
It also uses 70 per cent less energy than other A+++ rated washing machines, comes with Ecologic, AllergySmart, noise reduction, and has a number of programmable options - for which it automatically calculates and dispenses the appropriate amount of detergent.
There are plenty of big appliances at IFA, but Sharp has the smaller stuff for you to enjoy. First up is the new cordless vacuum cleaner.
So what do these have that you can't get from a cheap vac from Tesco? For starters it has a battery, which means you don't need to tether yourself to a plug socket. It also revolves with 360 degrees of manoeuvrability, LED headlights to see the dust in those dark corners and under furniture, and it transforms into a handheld vacuum so that it's easier to clean areas other than the floor.
In terms of accessories, it has an Animal Jet motorised brush that's able to pick up pet hair from the furniture, a crevice tool for the hard-to-reach areas, and a bag-free design as all good vacuums should have.
The downside here is that it takes three and a half hours to fully charge, and that only gets you about an hour of use. But most vacuum cleaners don't even have batteries, so I guess that's a plus.
Inside the kitchen there are a lot of things you might actually buy, unlike the big-ass fridges that aren't really a necessary upgrade for the majority of people. First to mention is the 'Kitchen Machine', which is essentially one of those big fancy mixing bowls with extra feature. It's got a 4.7 litre bowl, and surprise surprise it's really good at mixing stuff.
That's not interesting, though, the interesting thing is the accessories that let you do more. They include a meat grinding tool, a shredder for vegetables, and a pasta maker.
Finally there are a selection of new kettles, toasters, a personal blender, and a filter coffee machine
The kettle has seven settings, a boil-dry protection feature, a 360-degree base, four temperature options, a warming feature which keeps water warm for up to 40 minutes, and a single cup quick boil. The toaster has multiple cooking settings, extra wide slots of chunky bread and things like bagels or waffles. The coffee machine has six different settings, a 1.8 litre capacity, and adjustable strength. The blender has a 600ml capacity, designed to, well, blend things. For the people who enjoy kale in their smoothies and all that.