The best of IFA: hybrid tablets and 4K TVs

Ultra-high resolution TVs and new Windows 8 tablet-notebooks are the stars of the Berlin electronics show

At this year's IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin, companies demonstrated a huge range of new technologies: ultra-high definition TVs, hybrid tablets based on Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8, and the first device based on the next generation of Windows Phone.

Here are some of the best technologies from IFA 2012, and the products that use them:

4K TVs

The Sony XBR-84X900 BRAVIA 4K TV.
The Sony XBR-84X900 BRAVIA 4K TV.

LG, Sony, Samsung and other tech giants all showed '4K' TVs, which jump ahead from the current 1920-by-1080 pixels standard (that's Full HD 1080p) to a massive 3840-by-2160 pixels. The term 4K comes from the approximate number of pixels in each horizontal line.

To take advantage of the huge resolution, an extra-large TV is needed: the screen on the Sony BRAVIA XBR-84X900 is 84 inches, as is LG's Ultra Definition 3D TV.

Price is going to be an obstacle to 4K TVs' Australian release. LG's TV will cost over $22,000 in the US when it launches in September. There's also a distinct lack of 4K video to watch, and no way to watch it at the moment — Blu-ray players only support 1080p Full HD.

Hands on with Sony's 4K BRAVIA TV

Hybrid tablets

IFA 2012 was the unofficial launch party for plenty of tablets based on Microsoft's upcoming Windows 8 and Windows RT desktop and tablet operating systems. Windows 8 tablets use notebook-grade Intel processors, while Windows RT devices use mobile-spec processors from ARM.

Most PC vendors took the view that Windows 8 tablets need a keyboard that can be detached or stored away when not needed. Microsoft's Surface is the best example of a detachable keyboard, and the Samsung ATIV Smart PC, Asus Vivo Tab, and HP Envy X2 also use this format. All of these hybrid tablets have a screen size of 11.6 inches.

What they cost when they are released later this year alongside the new Windows 8 launch is still to be decided, although Samsung has said its ATIV Smart PC should be around US$950.

ASUS Transformer Pad TF700 Android tablet review

Smartphones

While IFA is more geared towards home and large-screen tech than smartphones, there were still some fascinating devices on show this year. Samsung announced the very first smartphone to run Windows Phone 8, the ATIV S, which has a dual-core CPU and 4.8-inch HD display.

We're starting to see more screens that are larger than 4.5-inch, apart from the current (and possibly future) iPhone. Sony's Xperia T has a 4.6-inch screen and 13-megapixel integrated camera.

HTC introduced a new low-end Desire smartphone, the Desire X, with a 4-inch, 800-by-480 pixel screen and budget 1GHz processor.

Intel would have been happy with the swathe of hybrid tablet releases, but a stand-out smartphone was the ZTE Grand X IN, which uses an Intel Atom Z2460 processor. Its specs include a 4.3-inch 960-by-540 pixel screen and 8-megapixel camera.

Samsung ATIV S Windows phone preview

OLED TV

OLED (Organic Light-emitting Diode) technology is the love-child of LED and plasma: exceptionally thin and energy-efficient TVs that have excellent contrast ratios and no motion blurring.

At IFA, both LG and Samsung showed off TVs that are based on OLED. Both can show 3D video as well. Using a new Multi View feature and glasses with built-in earphones, two people can watch two different shows at the same time on Samsung's ES9500.

Both TVs look great, but just like 4K, the price tag of OLED models is going to be an impediment. We're expecting both Samsung and LG's TVs to be in the region of $10,000 — plus or minus maybe a thousand dollars. LG's TV will cost around €9000 in Europe.

LG's OLED TV will cost $10,000

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Campbell Simpson

Campbell Simpson

PC World
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