7 of the coolest gadgets on show at IFA 2010
3rd Sep 2010 | 15:08
Galaxy Tab to a wider-than-widescreen Cinema 21:9 TV
UPDATE: Check out our IFA 2011 page for news on this year's show.
Wandering around the halls of the Messe Berlin for IFA 2010, it's easy to be blasé about new technology. Especially when there are 26 exhibition halls crammed with 3D televisions, brand new laptops, camcorders, 3D Blu-ray players and all manner of computing and AV hardware.
It makes defining the 'best' kit at an IFA show a tricky task. What really stands out? Where are the real "ooh" and "aah" moments that twang the heart strings of your inner geek? Here's our pick of the gadgetry that we think is worth a second look…
The Samsung Galaxy Tab
Microsoft must be kicking itself. Or perhaps it's developed some sort of prototype robotic boot device that can kick people for it. Really hard. Because while Bill Gates predicted the success of the tablet PC back in 2001, he didn't foresee that it would be running Android rather than Windows.
Enter the Samsung Galaxy Tab. This giant-sized Galaxy S is the poster-boy for the new breed of keyboard-less portable computers running mobile operating systems. Built with a 7-inch display, it's smaller and far less sexy than the inspirational Apple iPad. Nevertheless, it impresses with expandable storage, Android 2.2, a built-in 3MP camera and a 7-hour battery life.
Samsung SF-series laptops
Samsung's engineering might is unquestionable and it is fast becoming the most prolific tech-builder on the planet. Its new SF-series laptops certainly catch the eye and not just because of an attractive, curvy design.
Powered by Intel's Core i3 or i5 dual-core processors, they also include a Jekyll and Hyde hybrid graphics solution – an Nvidia GPU for power processing, a lower-powered Intel option for everyday spreadsheeting and word processing. Battery life is around 7.5 hours, claims Samsung.
CURVY: Samsung's new SF-series laptops feature hybrid graphics technology
Toshiba Regza VL HD TVs
Toshiba describes its new VL series as a 'premium range of Full HD LED TVs'. Featuring an all-new design (courtesy of Danish designer Jacob Jensen), the VL sets feature a built-in Freeview HD/DVB-T2 tuner so you can switch on and be watching BBC HD minutes after plugging it in.
Philips Cinema 21:9 Platinum Series TV
If money was no object, we'd eagerly fritter away thousands on the wider-than-widescreen Philips Cinema 21:9 HD TV. It's a well-worn cliché, but you never truly appreciate this eye-catching HD telly until you see it. The 21:9 aspect ratio is unique, almost breathtaking, making it the perfect cinematic screen for blockbuster Blu-rays.
The new 'Platinum Series' version on show at IFA this year evolves the 21:9 model by adding support for 3D. With a 58-inch full HD display, it's two inches bigger than the previous model. Philips has also improved the backlighting– out goes the old-fangled CCFL technology, in comes an array of locally dimmable LEDs. Look out for this bad boy in September.
WIDE SCREEN: The eye-catching Philips Cinema 21:9 HD TV now supports 3D
Philips "3D of the future" requires no glasses
The first time that you experience a 3D image without wearing a pair of Jarvis Cocker-esque Active Shutter glasses is a revelation. "Surely this lenticular viewing is the future", you think. "Why are we bothering with 3D specs?" And then you move. Whereupon the 3D effect dissipates for a second and you're forced to shift slightly to correct your viewing angle.
That's the problem with glasses-free 3D TV. As amazing as the tech demos undoubtedly are, they're only amazing when viewed straight on. Philips has been flogging its lenticular technology since 2007 and, while it's certainly made some improvements, there's still a long way to go.
Sharp BD-HP90S Blu-ray 3D player
Sharp is dipping its toes into Blu-ray 3D territory with the skinny BD-HP90S player. It's a stunning-looking slab of hardware, part of the Aquos range, mounted upright and featuring built-in Wi-Fi for easy Internet connectivity. Pair it with one of Sharp's new quad-pixel Quattron 3D ready HD TVs and you'll have an empty wallet but a home cinema setup to die for.
SKINNY BLU-RAY: Sharp's BD-HP90S looks (but doesn't act) like a slimline PlayStation 2...
Viewsonic ViewPad 100
Luke-warm on the heels of Apple's iPad, Tablet PCs are becoming all the rage. Gangs of these keyboard-less laptops have been roaming the halls of IFA, effortlessly seducing tech journalists with their roomy touchscreens and Android-powered UIs. The Galaxy Tab has been enjoying most of the attention, but don't overlook the ViewPad 100 from Viewsonic.
While the smaller ViewPad 7 underwhelms, this '100' model is a more ambitious 10-inch tablet that can dual boot Android 2.2 and Windows 7 Home Premium. It's surely the best of both worlds – Android for easy (and battery-friendly) access to web content; Windows 7 for more in-depth tasks. Tablets are often viewed as devices for 'consuming' content rather than creating it. The ViewPad 100 offers tablet and laptop functionality in the same device.
Hey! What about OLED?!
Every year we get excited about the prospect of OLED-based TVs. But as far as TVs are concerned, the technology is still a long way from replacing LCD and plasma. So while LG's 31-inch, super-duper-thin OLED TV looks pretty nifty, sumptuous even, we're not foolish enough to believe that it's anything more than another tech demo. For now.
And that's it. Seven outstanding products that caught the TechRadar eye at this year's IFA. But what about you? What gadgets and technologies are you looking forward to the most? Let us know in the comments.