Now that I’ve sufficiently recovered from the jetlag of a 36-hour trip back from IFA in Berlin, I figure it’s a good time to look at the 10 best products from Europe’s biggest consumer electronics conference. Here’s what I wish I could have smuggled home in my suitcase:
10. Panasonic 152-inch Plasma
Sure, Panny showed this off at CES this year, so it’s not like it’s exactly new. But there’s something incredibly endearing about a screen so big it’s almost as tall than you. Mind you, I’d need to charter a jumbo jet to get it home, so probably for the best they weren’t giving these 4K capable screens out at the door.
9. Toshiba Folio
Toshy’s tablet offering was arguably the weakest on show. For a start, they were all wall-mounted so you couldn’t really get a proper feel for the device. But there’s also the fact that despite running Android 2.2, all apps must be purchased via the Toshiba Marketplace, which seems like an unnecessary barrier to software and potential confusion for Android users. But what the Folio does offer is competition in a rapidly expanding and evolving sector, and that’s a good thing.
8. Viewsonic ViewTab 7
Viewsonic’s 10-inch tablet was a huge disappointment, but their 7-inch, Android 2.2 ViewPad 7 was surprisingly responsive, functional and droolworthy. Even though it only had a 600MHz processor inside, it was extremely responsive, although significantly thicker and heavier than the Galaxy Tab. In the 7-inch tablet space, this will make a good budget entry.
7. LG LEX8
LG’s LEX8 LCD TV was announced a little bit before IFA, but it was all over their stand like breadcrumbs on schnitzel. Although there’s still not too much detail on exactly what nanotechnology has gone into the LED backlighting, it’s still obvious from looking at the TV that it’s both thin and has pretty nice black levels. It’s no OLED, but it looks like a decent technology to hold us over.
6. Sony 1080p 3D projector
My house just doesn’t have the room to take advantage of a projector setup, but if Sony gave me one of these, I think I’d move. Sure, I’d probably never watch any 3D content on it, despite it’s ability to play back Full HD 3D content and convert 2D to 3D, but with a contrast ratio of 150,000:1 I’d push this thing to the largest screen size you can imagine and play some 360. Oh yes I would!
5. Huawei IDEOS Android smartphone
Android phones are falling from the sky like geek manna from heaven at the moment, but as a general rule, cheap equals Android 1.6. Not so with the Huawei IDEOS, which will cost under $US200 and offers Froyo as a standard colour. Plus, it comes in a range of colours. It’s a solid first effort from the Chinese company.
4. Sharp Parallax barrier 3D screen
It’s still got a LONG way to go before it makes it into a decent-sized screen, but the Sharp parallax barrier 3D screen shows that there is actually potential out there for glasses-less 3D. It kind of struggled if you moved around at all and the 3.8-inch screen was a lot more impressive, but on the whole it was reassuring that once day – maybe – we’ll get a screen capable of 3D without dorky glasses.
3. Sony’s Google TV
It wasn’t a live demo by any stretch of the imagination, but Sony unveiled their Google TV enabled set at IFA, and I want it. It’s a bit of a different design for Bravia TVs, and that makes it quite striking – but not so much as the ability to hit up internet video content with the ease of a Google search. Plus, it’s definitely coming to Australia, which makes me want it all the more…
2. Samsung Galaxy Tab
This was by far the biggest tablet announcement of the show, and with good reason. It’s a tiny, stylish, fully functional 7-inch tablet running Android 2.2 that addresses many of the issues of the iPad. It’s fast, lightweight and is limited only by developers imaginations as to what it can do. The fact that it will double as a phone gives it an even greater edge. Samsung will sell lots of these.
1. LG’s 31-OLED screen
I’ll say it: this is by far the sexiest TV ever made. There’s just something about OLED that draws out the TV lust in me. 1080p 3D (with passive glasses, which is kind of awesome too), the 31-inch screen was less than 3mm thick, had blacks as dark as putting your head in a bag inside a cave at night, colours as vibrant as a spring day and a price tag that would make Bill Gates wince. If the recent election was campaigned on the promise of OLED screens for everybody, I would have voted for the devil himself to get one.