After six days of tech-filled events, the Internationale Funkausstellung or IFA, a leading trade show held in Berlin for consumer electronics has finally come to an end. IFA 2012 was eventful, and leaves us with some cool innovations, hot trends, and a controversy too. Talking about tech trends, it did take a leaf from Computex as manufacturers continued to display hybrid and convertible Windows 8 devices. Windows 8 appeared not only in tablets and Ultrabooks, but also in a few All-In-Ones (AIOs). Near Field Communication (NFC) showed up in a number of devices. TVs with 4K resolution are becoming more popular. IFA 2012 showcased some really promising devices and technologies; we have selected the 10 devices that impressed us most.
Samsung Galaxy Note 2
The successor to Samsung’s best-selling 'phablet' has been making headlines for quite some time now. After rounds of rumours and speculation, the company finally took the wraps off the Galaxy Note 2 at IFA this year. It features Android v4.1 (Jelly Bean) out of the box, and is fuelled by a 1.6GHz quad-core processor. Samsung has thrown in Air View, a new feature that it hopes will change the way mobile phones are used nowadays. Air View enables users to hover over an email, S Planner, image gallery, or video with the S Pen to preview content without having to open it. The feature enables users to quickly search and see more information in one view without making screen transitions. Moreover, the S-Pen has also been given a facelift. It is now longer, thicker and has a better grip, allowing for a more precise, comfortable, and natural writing and drawing experience. The Samsung Galaxy Note II will be available in European, Asian, and Middle Eastern markets in October.
Note 2 gets new Air View feature
Here is a quick look at the features of the Samsung Galaxy Note II:
- 5.5-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen with a 1280 x 720 pixel density
- 4G LTE, EDGE, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n (2.4 and 5GHz), Wi-Fi HT40, NFC
- GPS with GLONASS and A-GPS support
- Bluetooth v4.0 with USB 2.0 Host
- 8 megapixel AF/ Touchfocus camera with full HD video recording and playback, 1.9MP VT Camera, BSI front facing camera
- 16GB, 32GB and 64GB versions, all with expandable support up to 64GB
- MHL for AV out
Samsung ATIV S Windows Phone
This handset made heads turn, and not just because it runs the highly anticipated Windows Phone 8 OS. It appeared in Samsung’s kitty rather than that of Nokia. Samsung stole Nokia’s spotlight, if we may say so, to show off the first Windows Phone 8 smartphone dubbed ATIV S. The device is extremely thin with a narrow bezel. Apart from Windows Phone 8, which is the talk of the town, the handset is equipped with other features, which surely set the bar for upcoming Windows Phone devices.
First Windows 8 Phone from Samsung
Here is a look at the highlighted features of the Samsung ATIV S:
- 4.8-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 720 x 1280 pixels
- GSM, HSDPA, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi hotspot, DLNA, NFC
- GPS with A-GPS support and GLONASS
- Bluetooth v3.0 with A2DP, microUSB v2.0
- Stereo FM radio with RDS
- 8 MP AF, LED flash with full HD video recording, 1.9MP front facing camera
- 16GB, 32GB versions with expandable support up to 32GB via MicroSD card
HP Spectre XT TouchSmart Ultrabook
HP showcased its new Ultrabook in the Spectre range, the Spectre XT TouchSmart. While Ultrabooks have begun showing off some nifty hybrid designs, this one from HP has given the design a miss, but brought some touch functionality to the display. This would definitely make the Windows 8 UI (formerly known as Metro) a breeze to use. This highest-end HP Ultrabook embeds a 15-inch IPS display with an edge-to-edge glass covering it, with a full 1,920 x 1,080-pixel resolution. The device is sleek at 17.9mm and tips the scale at a little over 2.1kg. It has an all-metal design, glass touchpad and speakers with Beats Audio technology. The Spectre XT is easily one of the slickest and most high-end PCs on display, and would be an enviable system even without the touch screen. It is also the first notebook from HP to feature Intel’s Thunderbolt interface which enables high-speed transfers of data to external hard drives. Moreover, it features the latest Intel Core processors, Intel’s identity protection, anti-theft, Smart Response and Smart Connect technology. On connectivity front, one will find Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.0 and HDMI ports. It is expected to hit store shelves in December with a starting price of approximately Rs 78,199 ($1399).
Yet another Spectre
Dell XPS Duo 12
Early this year, Intel had showcased some new technologies in an event held in Mumbai. The event showed some potential Ultrabook designs. One such design was this laptop-tablet combination. At the IFA, surprisingly, Dell put on display a trio of Windows 8-enabled devices namely, a 10-inch Windows RT tablet, XPS 27 All-in-One and XPS Duo 12. Dell wowed us with its XPS Duo 12 convertible/ hybrid device. It has a unique design with a sleek frame as the screen hinges at the centre of the left and right sides as seen in the image below. The screen swivels vertically and can be flipped by 180 degrees. This allows one to flip the screen backwards and fold it, turning the device into a tablet. It has a 12.5-inch touchscreen that serves as a tablet surface and also a conventional notebook screen, along with processor options up to Core i7.
Distinguishable design (Image Credit: Cnet)
Samsung dual-screen laptop prototype
Samsung had yet another prototype on display at IFA. The company put on display a dual screen laptop. Harnessing the dual nature of Windows 8, creative minds at Samsung showed a fully functional laptop on the inside while the outer side becomes a tablet with the tiled UI. Interestingly, the company also utilises the S Pen on the outer touchscreen. The device certainly looks trendy but the dual screen capability is likely to add some bulk. The laptop also shows a front-facing camera, and the touchpad has a brushed metal look along with black chiclet-type keys. Although just a prototype and in need of more work, we think it would be a cool device in case it makes its way into the market.
Best of both worlds (Image Credit: Engadget)
Sony Bravia 84X9000 84-Inch 4K TV
This year, we saw quite a few TV brands displaying their 4K products at the IFA. These devices have an image resolution of 4K, which is far greater than HD today. Sony also unfurled its first 84-inch 4K TV set. Featuring a 3840 x 2160 LCD panel, it is designed to ensure clarity and crispness. It brings a more cinematic experience to viewers, and also a better 3D experience. It is accompanied by 3D glasses. Sony has infused its proprietary upscaling technology into it, which includes 4K X-Reality PRO picture engine. Sony claims that there is no degradation of picture quality as seen in other big screens. As for the audio experience, the 4K TV incorporates a 10 Unit Live Speaker system, which has been optimised for such large screens. It serves as a complete entertainment hub, with features such as Wi-Fi to access movies, music and other content from the Sony Entertainment Network suite of services that includes Music Unlimited, Video Unlimited, Yahoo! Broadcast Interactivity, etc. The downloadable Media Remote App enables users to control their TV via a smartphone or tablet.
Samsung Galaxy Camera
This prototype from Samsung is quite interesting, and takes Android beyond the usual mobile computing devices. While many may find this concept unusual, we think it’s worth a mention. Samsung has showcased the hybrid of a camera and a smartphone. While the camera part of it is taken from Samsung's extensive range of point-and-shoot digital cameras, the smartphone and the interface part is likely to be a slice of its Galaxy S line-up. This Android-based point-and-shoot digital camera, according to GSMArena, is the Galaxy S III glued onto a camera and has no physical buttons. The camera has a 16MP sensor of unknown size, Xenon flash, and a curved right side to help with the ergonomics. It runs Android Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) OS, and will come in Wi-Fi and 3G + Wi-Fi versions supporting only mobile data, not voice. We aren’t sure if the device will have any takers, but the concept sounds very exciting.
Point n Shoot camera plus Galaxy smartphone
Sony Vaio Tap 20
The Vaio Tap 20 isn’t your average portable Windows 8 device. It is Sony’s attempt to bring a nifty touch product into your home. Though you will see a wireless keyboard and mouse bundled with the device, this table top PC isn’t the usual All-In-One PC either. The backstand is flexible, and lets users position the device according to their viewing comfort. In fact, one can lay it completely flat for coffee-table use. The 10-point multi-touch display lets one take utmost advantage of the Windows 8 UI and turns it into an interactive table. Sony has also added its Family Paint application that enables multiple users to simultaneously paint, draw and scribble on a virtual notepad. They can select from pencils, crayons or paint brushes. A range of collaborative software and multiplayer games will be offered once the device is available sometime at the end of October.
Windows 8 Tabletop (Image Credit: PCPro)
Sony Xperia T
Remember the Sony Xperia phone dubbed ‘Mint’? Rumours about it had surfaced sometime last month. Well, the company has unveiled the handset at IFA, giving us some magic from Android in the Windows 8 dominated event. The handset was codenamed Mint, and is officially called the Xperia T. It runs on Android’s newest Jelly Bean flavour, and is fuelled by a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM and an Adreno 225 GPU. Sony hasn’t jumped onto the quad core bandwagon yet. However, the smartphone promises an improved battery life, fast performance and sharp graphics. Sony also employs the Mobile Bravia Engine to deliver razor sharp display clarity. It will be dipped in shades of black, silver and white, and is slated for a global launch in a couple of weeks. There is no word on the pricing yet.
Its Xperia T, not Mint
Here are a few specs of the Sony Xperia T:
- 4.6-inch HD Reality Display powered by the Mobile Bravia Engine
- LTE, UMTS / HSPA+, NFC
- 13MP fast capture camera with LED flash and a 720p HD front camera
- 16GB internal memory along with a MicroSD card slot
ZTE Grand X IN
This ZTE handset is the first Android ICS phone with ‘Intel Inside’. The ZTE Grand X IN features the low powered Intel Atom processor Z2460 with Intel Hyper-Threading Technology and support for HSPA+ 21Mbps network with the Intel XMM 6260 Platform. With these Intel technologies, the handset will offer an energy efficient, high performance user experience with faster browsing, and a responsive Internet experience. This ZTE flagship phone is expected to launch in Europe this month. So far, there is no news about its availability in other regions.
Here are the specifications of the phone:
- 4.3-inch TFT capacitive touchscreen with a resolution of 960 x 540 pixels
- EDGE, 3G, HSDPA, HSPA+, NFC, Wi-Fi 802.11 /b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct
- GPS Enabled
- Bluetooth v2.1 with A2DP
- 8 megapixel AF camera with full HD video recording, 0.3MP front facing camera
- 16GB internal memory expandable up to 32GB via microSD
After a high dose of technology at IFA 2012, a slew of devices will soon be making their way into markets across the globe. Which device are you looking forward to most?
Main Image Credit: Jagdish Limbachiya
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