IFA 2013: highlights from the show
6th Sep 2013 | 14:00
The full rundown of the big stuff we've seen
IFA 2013 has kicked off in Berlin with tech, tech and more tech and the announcements are now wrapping up.
A few rumored phones (and a watch) are rumors no more, and of course there are tablets, TVs and laptops galore.
We have a dedicated IFA 2013 channel where you check out all of our IFA stories, or if you want a handy snapshot of the highlights in one place, then check out the list below to find out what we've seen, and what we thought of it in all our hands ons.
Asus at IFA 2013
Asus took to the stage at IFA to announce the new Transformer Pad with Tegra 4.
Already teased ahead of the show, the 10.1-inch Android tablet has been revamped with a 1.9GHz Nvidia Tegra 4 quad-core processor, along with a 2560x1600 IPS display.
The new pad is also touted to last at least two days between charges thanks to a supposed 17-hour battery life.
We dispatched Hugh Langley to spend some quality time with the new Transformer and he returned with good news: "Those who have been holding out for Asus to unleash its new Transformer for some time shouldn't be disappointed by what's on offer here," he writes in our hands on review. "Tegra 4 was the only logical next leap and now we've seen it in action it feels like this will really rock it when it hits market."
Inside is an AMD A4-1200 1GHz dual-core APU with integrated Radeon HD 8180 graphics, which the company claims "balances multi-tasking performance with energy efficiency."
More notebook refreshes are on the way from Asus with the Zenbook range getting a powerful upgrade.
The new Zenbook models - the UX301 and UX302 - have the latest-generation Haswell Intel processors, beefed-up graphics and a high resolution WQHD display on certain versions.
They also have the latest-gen Intel Core processors from the Core i5-4200U up to a high-end 28W Core i7-4558U option. And to power that high-end screen, you either get Intel Iris or Nvidia GeForce GT 730M with Optimus auto-switching graphics.
A refresh of the Fonepad was also announced - with a new glossy rear cover and extra speaker on the front, and dubbed it the Fonepad 7. The tablet comes with a 7-inch HD 1280 x 800 display and offers voice calling and 42Mbit/s download speeds. It's also powered by an Intel Atom Z2560 processor.
But wait, there's another: The 6-inch Android tablet, Fonepad Note 6. It comes packed with a Full HD Super IPS+ display with both multi-touch and stylus inputs. It's also powered by the new Intel Atom Z2580 processor clocked at 2Ghz. Meanwhile there's HSPA+ and 3G to keep you connected.
And last but not least, Asus also announced the Memo Pad 8 and Memo Pad 10. While different in size, both Android tablets offer 1280x800 resolution displays and quad-core processors.
The Memo Pad 8 comes in an 8GB model with a 5MP rear camera and 1.2MP front-facing snapper. The 10, meanwhile, comes in 8GB and 10GB versions and has a 10-inch display.
For more details see Asus outs Fonepad 7, Fonepad Note 6 and Memo Pad 8.
HP at IFA 2013
We're not sure whether the HP Envy Recline is a genius or insane idea. This all-in-one PC has a hinge that allows the massive touchscreen to pivot over the edge of your desk and into your lap. You can "easily adapt and change its shape to naturally fit different end user uses," promises HP's Louis Perrin.
The all-in-one PCs come in 27- and 23-inch editions, with a 10-point touchscreen, Beats Audio dual speakers, 4th ten Intel Core i-series processors and Nvidia graphics.
Lenovo at IFA 2013
Lenovo's IFA offering includes a pair new IdeaPads – the Flex 14, and Flex 15 dual-mode notebooks. The Flex line offers 14.1-inch or 15.6-inch display options that flip 300 degrees into "stand mode," bringing the 1366 x 768 or optional Full HD 1920 x 1080 touchscreen display closer to the user.
Lenovo also revealed its ThinkPad Yoga 2 Pro with a stunning display. Aimed at the business market and featuring Windows 8 Pro, the new model impresses with a whopping QuadHD+ 3,200 x 1,800 resolution touchscreen. The new model is also slightly thinner than the old version, at 1.5mm instead of 17.1mm, and there's also a bit of weight removed so it's now 1.4Kg.
The largest PC maker in the world wants to get into your pocket, too, with its Vibe X smartphone. By 'your pocket' that's 'your pocket in China' as this handset, which Lenovo is basically marketing as being good for taking selfies, isn't likely to go on sale in the US, Europe or Australia.
Alongside the new Yoga 2 Pro and Vibe X smartphone, Lenovo also introduced a budget 7-inch Android 4.2 tablet called the S5000. This Nexus 7 rival is thinner and lighter than both the Nexus 7 and Asus's new MeMo Pad HD7 and although the rest of the specs aren't stunning, the price is attractive, aiming it squarely at the Nexus 7.
LG at IFA 2013
LG surprised us by bringing a rather nice little tablet to Berlin in the form of the G Pad 8.3, a slick and well-designed tablet that impresses without the headline specs.
In his hands-on review, Gareth Beavis noted that the premium feel of the tablet shows that this is "a company that's changing its mindset in the phones and tablets market."
It's a "really well-shaped device, throwing together a decent screen and mostly aluminium chassis for a sleek device that sits nicely in the hand," adds Gareth, concluding that LG may have just found a backdoor entrance into the tablet market.
LG also rocked up with the world's biggest Ultra HD curved OLED TV. The 77-inch curved set is "proof that we will never stop pushing the boundaries and exploring new possibilities" said LG. There's no word yet on a price, but we're thinking somewhere in the $OMG range.
The smaller-but-still-curvy 55-inch OLED LG 55EA9800 TV popped up on LG's stand and although we're not espeically sold on curved TVs, Jamie Carter noted in his hands on that the technical viewing angle of the 55EA9800 impresses close-up, with little loss of contrast or colour when watched from the wings. "For now, though," concludes Jamie, "curved OLED seems, to us, a pure and pointless novelty."
On a slightly more affordable note, though again we have no idea of an actual price, we rather liked the LA9700 Ultra HD TVs from LG. Featuring motorised drop-down speakers and available in 55-inch, 65-inch and 84-inch variants, these TVs are all about superior audio.
Panasonic at IFA 2013
The WT600 is an update of its WT60 range, and according to Panasonic, the WT600 is the world's first television to make use of HDMI 2.0, which means that it will be able to accept 4K signals and 50- and 60p.
Philips at IFA 2013
Philips brought its first Ultra HD TV to the 4K party in the form of the Philips 65PFL9708, following the rule that televisions always have to be given completely unmemorable names. The 65-inch set plans to make Ultra HD a bit more affordable, bringing European buyers 3,840 x 2,160 pixels and "high-class" upscaling for a €5,000 price tag.
Jamie Carter got eyes-on with the new screen and was seriously impressed, saying "This looks like a brilliant first-generation Ultra HD TV. The picture is fantastic and the price is almost too good to be true."
Check out our hands-on review for the full lowdown.
Samsung at IFA 2013
The textured, leathery backed handset packs the latest version of Android, Android 4.3 and a 5.7-inch Full HD Super AMOLED screen plus the S-pen, the key to unlocking and manipulating your Note.
We got our hands on the new Note, which takes over the title of the world's most powerful smartphone, although that advantage is a lot smaller this time. Writing in our hands on, Gareth Beavis felt that "the Galaxy Note 3 is very much an evolution, with the specs starting to top out," adding that while we're not sold on the design of the back, or the high price, this could be just the handset that Samsung needs.
The Galaxy Note 3 will be rolling out September 25.
The hotly anticpated Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch was also a big deal in a small package.
Unveiled during Samsung's press conference, it seems sleek, and feature filled with apps plus a 1.9MP camera that snaps pics and records Full HD vids and different non-interchangeable strap colors.
But the Galaxy Gear left us with concerns. TechRadar columnist Gary Marshall compared it to a horse, calling it a "blast from the past" in a time when we're looking for real innovation. "Maybe Samsung, for all its talents, just doesn't have the vision thing," suggests Gary. "And neither does Sony, or Pebble, or Google, or LG, or anybody else working on a smartwatch project. Does Apple?"
We canvassed the TechRadar team and opinions were mixed. Marc Flores called it "more of gimmick than something useful", Michelle Fitzsimmons called it "a superfluous accessory" and Reviews Editor Alex Roth wrote "all it seems to be is a clunky thing on my wrist that saves me from taking my phone out of my pocket"
Kate Solomon was more positive - "the Galaxy Gear looks OK" - while Lily Prasuethsut admitted "In spite of the cheesy calling functions (which I'd probably be too embarrassed to use), I still want a Samsung Galaxy Gear."
Would it fare better when we got our hands on one and actually tried it for ourselves? Gareth Beavis had some positive findings, writing that "Samsung has got some things really right on the Galaxy Gear: the styling is great and the interface is nifty."
So do we recommend it? Not at this early stage, sadly. "Samsung could still turn this one around," notes Gareth, "but there needs to be a big step forward to make the Galaxy Gear worth anywhere near the money that's likely to be asked."
For our full thoughts, hit the links below.
- Hands on: Samsung Galaxy Gear review
- Samsung Galaxy Gear vs Sony SmartWatch 2 vs Pebble vs Qualcomm Toq
The Galaxy Gear Smartwatch will be available in stores on September 25 in more than 100 countries, however, the U.S. and Japan have to wait until October to get their hands on the new device.
Pricing for the new device has come in at £299/$299 for the U.K. and U.S.
The new Galaxy 10.1 has a WQXGA LCD screen with a resolution of 2560 x 1600. There will be three connectivity options: Wi-Fi only, Wi-Fi plus 3G and Wi-Fi with LTE.
There are three storage options, too - 16GB, 32GB and 64GB - plus microSD support.
While it's not going to be cheap, the new tablet features a slew of top-end tech. That impressed Gareth Beavis, who concluded: "The Galaxy Note 10.1 is the tablet that finds all the best bits of Samsung and pops them neatly under the hood of a well-packaged device, and can be called a real companion for the Note 3 thanks to the extra power."
Sony at IFA 2013
The long awaited Sony flagship, the Sony Xperia Z1 (formerly the Honami and Xperia i1) was announced and shown off at IFA.
The much hyped "best of Sony" definitely hit high marks with this new Xperia.
It's an impressive phone that packs so much technology inside you can't help but enjoy all the treats on offer. In our hour-long session with the phone, Gareth Beavis found it to be "another step forward from the brand that's going from strength to strength in the smartphone market," concluding that "the Z1 is a decent phone that will rival the Galaxy S4 on the shop shelves - so if you can get over the bulk, it's one of the most exciting smartphones to check out this year."
The Sony Xperia Z1 release date is now set for some time in September 2013, with pricing to be confirmed in the near future. Hit the link below for our in-depth hands on.
Aside from the water and dust proof Xperia Z1, Sony also announced the arrival of three new Vaio laptops.
First off is the crisp and clean looking Vaio Tap 11. Packed with Windows 8 and apparently meant to compete with the Microsoft Surface Pro, this machine has a Full HD display, stylus and the Pro-esque kickstand.
This 11.6-inch slimline tablet with keyboard is slated for an October 2013 release.
The second of the trio is a hybrid device, called the Vaio Fit. Coming in three different sizes, the Vaio Fit is actually a trio itself boasting 13.3-inch, 14-inch and 15.5 inch screens respectively.
The Vaio Fit also comes out in autumn 2013.
Marc Chacksfield spent some time with the Fit, which can be used in laptop mode, tablet mode or 'viewer' mode - where you can prop it up to watch movies or show a presentation at work.
As a laptop, "the Sony Vaio Fit is one of the nicest Ultrabooks we have ever seen," writes Marc, noting that it's less impressive in tablet mode as it's a little chunky. That said, this is a stylish device and one that we're definitely looking forward to getting our hands on for a full review.
Additionally, Sony is upgrading its Vaio Tap 20 to the Vaio Tap 21 by making it bigger and providing an aluminum finish. It might not be a complete replacement but the Tap 21 will feature a 21.5-inch Full HD display with better resolution and the latest Haswell processors.
Sony also unveiled a couple of intriguing lens-style cameras, which hook up to your phone instead of having a standard LCD screen. The QX10 and QX100 are shaped like lenses, but contain all the things you'd normally find in a compact camera, including sensor, processor, memory card slot and optical zoom.
As TechRadar's Amy Davies notes: "For some time, camera manufacturers have struggled to keep up with camera phones in terms of instant connectivity and ease of use. This is the first time we've seen something designed to work with your phone, rather than beat it."
Amy got hands-on time with both cameras and you can read her thoughts below.
Also being shown off by Sony this year is an updated version of its personal viewer that what we'd already seen at previous IFAs. The Sony HMZ-T3W now has wirelessHD support, an improved display and better adjustment straps.
Hugh Langley slipped stuck the 3D viewer to his face to check it out and wrote that while it's "very cool in theory" it takes a bit of fiddling with the straps to get the device positioned for the best viewing experience.
The experience left us a little underwhelmed although a dedicated PS4 version could be something to get excited about.
Toshiba at IFA 2013
Toshiba introduced a couple of new 13.3-inch ultra-portables with detachable keyboards this year. The Intel-powered Satellite W30t and AMD-powered W30Dt are decent ultraportables and very powerful tablets.
The W30t ships in various versions with new 4th generation Intel Core Haswell processors while the more interesting W30Dt features not only a low power variant of the AMD A4-APU but also AMD's powerful Radeon HD 8180 graphics.
The Japanese firm also brought its new range of 11.6-inch thin-and-light Satellite and Satellite Pro laptops and the 8" Encore tablet, which houses Intel's Bay Trail Atom processor, meaning it will run all of your old desktop Windows apps.