As it does every year, Berlin hosted the 2013 IFA exhibition at its giant Messe exhibition grounds. This uncompromising mass of concrete and steel evokes memories of a Blade Runner-like retro futurism, but the devices on show had little retro about them. Much was expected before the event, from Sony's innovative QX lens cameras to LG's return to Android tablets with the G Pad, and the big tech companies duly delivered. You'll find the full set of news, previews, and impressions from the September trade show right here.
Sep 7, 2013
Spec Sheet: IFA 2013
A lot of products come out each week — we don't highlight all of them, but all of them make it into The Verge Database. In Spec Sheet, a weekly series, we survey the latest product entries to keep track of the state of the art.Read Article >
There really are a lot of products announced each week, and that’s truer than ever when a major electronics show is happening. This week, that's IFA. So rather than diving deep into a couple of new devices, we're taking a look across a bunch of products that were shown off at the event to get a better picture of what the conference floor looked like.
Sony's HMZ-T3 continues a proud tradition of awkward head furniture
The latest iteration of Sony's head-mounted display is somewhat obscured, deep at the back of the company's IFA 2013 booth, but that didn't stop me from paying it a curious visit. I'd never previously gotten the chance to experience this strange contraption for myself, and having recently taken a magical ride inside the Oculus Rift, I was keen to see what Sony had to offer as competition. Alas, my experience is best described as mixed.Read Article >
Reaching the milestone of a third-generation product should mean the HMZ-T3 has the benefits of a couple years' of evolution and, indeed, the latest model has been subjected to a range of small nips, tucks, and improvements. You now have a pocketable battery pack, which tethers to the HMZ and helps lighten the load on your head. It can accept Wireless HD transmissions — which are then piped to the headset — or you can even plug in your smartphone via an MHL cable. In spite of the octopus-like arrangement of head-gripping gear, there are no actual headphones built into the HMZ, so you'll need a second cable, preferably jacked into a high-quality pair of over-the-ear headphones.
LG's G Pad 8.3 has the build quality to compete with the iPad mini, but not the apps
LG has traditionally kept a low profile during the annual IFA show in Berlin, but this year it's introducing a big new product in its Android portfolio: the G Pad 8.3. The company couldn't contain itself and already fully detailed the spec sheet of its new 8.3-inch slate, which marks its return to the Android tablet market. There's an aluminum back cover, a Snapdragon 600 processor and a quite handsome 1920 x 1200 display to woo potential buyers, though I must warn that the G Pad 8.3 suffers from the same issue that plagues every other Android tablet: a shortage of worthwhile apps exploiting the form factor.Read Article >
Physically, the G Pad 8.3 is a nice and compact device, with a rigid build quality that far exceeds the company's typically plastic-heavy smartphone offerings. The aluminum cover wraps around most of the back and sides, with white plastic inserts on the lighter model and black ones on the dark option. 8.3 inches is not an accidental screen size: LG went to great lengths to research the average hand size in Korea, and has come up with the biggest possible screen size for what it believes is the maximum width (127.29mm) for a single-hand device. The bezel on the side of the screen is 7.2mm, as thin as LG could make it, while the thickness of the new G Pad is 8.3mm, again the best the company could achieve while hitting its other design goals.
Samsung promises over 70 apps for Galaxy Gear, these are the first 12
Now that Samsung has finally announced the Galaxy Gear, you've probably made up your mind on whether it's beautiful or hideous. What you probably don't have a great grasp of is what apps will be available on the smartphone, and how they'll work. We had a brief preview of Pocket for Galaxy Gear yesterday; it offers a complimentary experience to the Android app, effectively functioning as a remote control for the phone version. You can ask your phone to read an article aloud to you, favorite articles, or archive them, and that's about it. Other Gear apps are a little more ambitious.Read Article >
Facebook and Twitter haven't announced any plans to make Gear apps — although you'll of course be able to view notifications from the regular Android apps on the watch. The "private social network" Path, however, is pledging to support the Gear at launch. It's perhaps the most fully functional app we've heard of: in addition to rich notifications, the app lets you share photos, locations, and give feedback on other posts straight from the watch.
Sep 5, 2013
Lenovo adds flexible hinges to even more laptops, including its best Yoga yet
Lenovo is one of many PC manufacturers convinced that the traditional laptop form factor is on its way out — and the company is doing a better job than anyone at figuring out what's next. It's bet primarily on its rotating Yoga hinge, which swings seamlessly from a traditional laptop look to far more touch-friendly modes.Read Article >
The Yoga 13 was one of our favorite Windows 8 laptops, and now the Yoga family is growing by two models: the Yoga 2 Pro and the ThinkPad Yoga. Both notebooks support up to the new Intel Core i7 Haswell processors, and feature displays that can flip a full 360 degrees. But there's plenty more to like about the new models.
Sep 5, 2013
Galaxy Note 3 first phone to feature ugly new Micro USB 3 port
With all the news coming from its big event yesterday, Samsung glazed over the importance of one new feature of its Galaxy Note 3 — it's the first phone we know of that uses USB 3.0. The benefits of the switch to the more modern standard are two-fold. The obvious plus for USB 3.0 is that it offers far faster data rates, potentially increasing the speed of transferring music, videos, and photos to and from your phone. "Potential" is an important word here: the speeds you'll actually achieve will depend on the quality of the storage Samsung has included in the Galaxy Note 3.Read Article >
Sep 5, 2013
Toshiba says 'we're re-energized' by Windows 8.1, launches two new tablets to prove itRead Article >
This is the IFA of Windows tablets. And for Toshiba, it's also the first time the company has decided to foray into the market at all. "We just didn't believe there was a robust experience to be had there," reps told us. But with Windows 8.1 right around the corner, the company's diving in with two different models: the 8-inch Encore tablet and the 13.3-inch Satellite Click, a detachable laptop.
LG says its 4K TVs will scare people like Armageddon
What makes a video go "viral?" After an elevator prank video from LG UK garnered over 19 million views on YouTube, LG Chile has used the same format for a new video. "Ultra Reality: What would you do in this situation?" presents itself as a hidden camera, much like a Candid Camera or Punk'd setup. Unsuspecting candidates are led into a room for an interview. The room is full of hidden cameras, and, in place of a window, one of LG's enormous 84-inch UHDTVs showing an image of a city. As the interview progresses, an imaginary meteor begins to make its way across LG's TV, headed for direct impact with the city. Right on cue, the interviewees cower, scream, and hide from the CGI terror.Read Article >
Just like the aforementioned elevator prank, and so many attempts at viral videos, it seems pretty clear that this is a fake. There's a reason people haven't been mistaking TVs for windows, and it isn't pixels. Our brains are perfectly capable of distinguishing between 2D and 3D images, and, perhaps more importantly, windows don't often glow like a television. Would someone really be fooled by the awful CGI explosion? And why does the entire room light up as the "meteor" approaches?
Pocket for Galaxy Gear gives a glimpse of how apps will work on Samsung's smartwatch
Revealing its new Galaxy Gear today, Samsung proudly announced the smartwatch will have 70 apps available to users at launch. What it hasn't shown us in detail yet is how third-party apps will look and function. The popular read later service Pocket has just announced that it'll be among the first to support Galaxy Gear with a short preview of it's new app.Read Article >
The Pocket app for Galaxy Gear will work in conjunction with the regular Android app, letting you have text read aloud to you through a text-to-speech function without taking out your phone. You'll also be able to favorite and archive articles straight from the watch. The Pocket app will be available when the Galaxy Gear launches in the US this October.
Samsung's Galaxy Gear is a smartwatch like no other
The Galaxy Gear, Samsung's latest foray into the smartwatch category, is now official and it's quite unlike anything you've seen before. Yes, it's a smartphone accessory that can pick up notifications, control music playback, and keep time with a rich variety of watch faces, but Samsung takes it a few steps further by integrating a 1.9-megapixel camera, a speaker, and two microphones — allowing you to shoot short 720p movies and even conduct phone calls with the Galaxy Gear.Read Article >
Importantly, the Galaxy Gear is not a phone in its own right — it relies on a Bluetooth connection to your Samsung Galaxy device in order to do most of its connected work. When it goes on sale later this month, the Gear will be compatible with the freshly announced Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 edition, while software updates for the Galaxy S4, Galaxy S III, and Galaxy Note II are in the works to introduce compatibility there as well. That new software should begin rolling out from October, depending on local carriers. Given that Samsung's new Galaxy slates run Android 4.3, which supports the Bluetooth Low Energy standard, Samsung may well have just tipped its hand about when it intends to distribute the 4.3 upgrade to its older Galaxy handsets.
Sep 4, 2013
Samsung's new Galaxy Note 10.1 is a high-res tablet that syncs with the Gear smartwatchRead Article >
The Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 edition will ship in three models: Wi-Fi only, Wi-Fi and 3G, and Wi-Fi and LTE. Samsung says it will be available in black and white in Q3, but the company isn't providing an exact release date or pricing just yet.
Samsung's Galaxy Note 3 is bigger, faster, thinner, and lighter, but is it any better?
Samsung's made an annual tradition of introducing a new Galaxy Note at Berlin's IFA trade show and this year's no different. The Galaxy Note 3 sticks close to the winning formula: it enlarges the Super AMOLED display of the Note II to 5.7 inches, adds a bombastic 3GB of RAM and a 2.3GHz quad-core processor, raises the camera resolution to 13 megapixels, and simultaneously trims the fat so it can be a millimeter thinner at 8.3mm and a shade lighter at 168g. Those incremental upgrades all point to a better device, but only marginally so — Samsung's hopes for attracting new buyers to its Note platform rest on a suite of new stylus-friendly software features and a physical redesign aimed at making the Note 3 look that extra bit more glamorous.Read Article >
The big novelty on the software front is called Air Command. This menu pops up any time you extract the S Pen from its silo, and can also be brought up by hovering the stylus above the display and clicking its built-in button. The latter method is thoroughly unintuitive, but once you get over the initial awkwardness and figure it out, it works pretty well. From the Air Command launcher, you can access all the central S Pen features — dubbed Action Memos, Pen Window, S Finder, and Scrapbook.
Samsung unveils new Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition
Samsung has just revealed its latest revision of the Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet here at IFA 2013. Dubbed the "2014 Edition," Samsung's latest tablet measures just 7.9 millimeters thick and is billed as the "ultimate productivity" device. It's also seen an uptick in resolution compared to the previous model, now featuring a a high-res 2560 x 1600 display. In fact, it's basically identical to the panel we've previously seen on Google's Nexus 10, which of course is manufactured by Samsung. That's about where the hardware similarities end, though.Read Article >
The 2014 Note 10.1 carries Samsung's 8-core Octa chipset clocked at 1.9GHz with a class-leading 3GB of RAM. In terms of appearance, the new Note 10.1 features the same faux-leather rear casing as its smaller Note III sibling. An 8-megapixel camera can be found on the tablet's backside, with your standard 2-megapixel affair up front. The Note 10.1 2014 edition will be offered in three capacities with 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB of storage.
Samsung announces the Galaxy Gear smartwatch
After giving as an accidental glimpse prior to today's big event, Samsung has finally revealed its new smartwatch, the Galaxy Gear. First impressions: it's big, but up on stage at IFA today it looks very little like the prototype watch VentureBeat leaked last week. The basic shape is the same, but, despite having a huge 1.63-inch 320 x 320 AMOLED display up front, it's a lot more svelte than the leak may have led you to believe.Read Article >
The Galaxy Gear's front is dominated by that display, which is framed, unusually for Samsung, in metal. Its strap appears to be made of rubber, and, just as the leaks suggested, there's a camera built into the strap.
Sep 4, 2013
Samsung unveils the Galaxy Note 3 with larger screen, faux-leather back
Samsung has just announced a redesigned Galaxy Note 3 with a slimmer design and larger screen. Though the phone's front looks similar to its predecessors, Samsung has made some tweaks to the design, covering the plastic back with an apparent faux-leather finish in three colors, adding a metallic sheen to the plastic sides, and redesigning the S Pen. The screen has grown to 5.7 inches from the Note II's 5.3, and it weighs in at a slightly lighter 168g. It's 8.3mm, about a millimeter thinner than its predecessor, with 3GB of RAM, a 2.3GHz quad-core processor on its LTE model — another 3G version will use a 1.9GHz octocore processor — and a 13-megapixel rear camera. Samsung has even promised that the phone can shoot 4K video.Read Article >
Samsung also touts new software and better multitasking, one of the Note's major selling points given its large form factor. A launcher called Air Command is designed to make the S Pen more useful, bringing up a menu of tools that let users organize and act on handwritten notes: one given example is jotting down a number, then using new software to save it in the address book or call it directly.
An early look at Galaxy Gear and Note III, courtesy of Samsung execRead Article >
Samsung's IFA keynote hasn't kicked off just yet, but the company's executives aren't waiting to reveal what's on today's itinerary. At a New York event coinciding with Samsung's Berlin presentation, Samsung's new president of telecommunications America, Gregory Lee, has already (briefly) shown off the Galaxy Note III and Galaxy Gear smartwatch ahead of their "official" public unveiling. Lee has already confirmed the existence of both products, so his willingness to freely showcase Samsung's latest isn't too shocking. Unfortunately he didn't delve into many details regarding the eagerly anticipated products, but we'll be finding out much more within the next hour or so.
Sony's Music Video Recorder is a small, strange, gorgeous handheld camera
Sony's Action Cam is rugged and boxy, but unless you're in grave danger somewhere you might be better off buying the $299.99 Sony Music Video Recorder (HDR-MV1). Mostly because it's just gorgeous — a beautiful, weird black and silver box that looks a little like a futuristic weapon or something James Bond might carry. (Though he's probably not big into taking video.) It essentially pairs the Action Cam's innards with a dual microphone array, which captures 120 degrees of broad, dynamic sound. Sony's pitching it almost exclusively to YouTube musicians — thanks to built-in Wi-Fi and NFC you can shoot and share all on the same camera — but for all but the most active users this might make more sense than your average GoPro or Action Cam.Read Article >
We got to see and hear the results from a Music Video Recorder next to devices like the Zoom Q3 HD and even Sony's own Action Cam, and the results are impressive. The video looks good without being overwhelmingly impressive — it shoots 1080p video at 30 frames per second — but the sound is dynamic, broad, and actually has a sound stage unlike nearly any other device this small. As he brought it out, Sony's rep told us "probably the only thing Sony's been making longer than audio products is rice cookers." Sony must, at the very least, make really good-looking rice cookers.
Sep 4, 2013
Sony's first curved LED TV ships in October for $3,999.99Read Article >
As part of its big IFA 2013 event, Sony announced a number of new TVs, including this 65-inch LED monster. The real draw here is that it's a curved LED TV, much like the curved OLED sets that Samsung and LG introduced back at CES earlier this year. Of course, Sony's set is using standard LED lighting and not the higher-quality (and more expensive) OLED technology — so while it might not match up to Samsung and LG's curved TVs in terms of pure image quality, it's also significantly cheaper. The TV comes with the standard smart TV connectivity features and 3D capability, but also features eight angled front-facing speakers that Sony says can effectively simulate the surround sound experience. The $3,999.99 set is available for pre-order now at Sony's site, and the company expects it to ship by the end of October.
Sony's Xperia Z1 aims to be the biggest and best Android cameraphone yet
Berlin's weather this week may be unseasonably bleak, but the tech companies gathered for its annual IFA exhibition aren't leaving us out in the cold. Sony is starting up the major announcements with its new Xperia Z1, a 5-inch waterproof Android smartphone with an eyebrow-raising 20.7-megapixel camera. Outside of Nokia's entirely unreasonable 41-megapixel sensor in the Lumia 1020, this is as much pixel power as you're likely to find in a flagship smartphone device. Sony's sensor is also larger than average in physical terms, comparable in size to some of the company's point-and-shoot cameras, meaning it has a legitimate chance at succeeding in its goal to be the both the biggest and best among Android cameraphones.Read Article >
Other than the larger Exmor RS sensor, Sony is also borrowing the BIONZ image processor and G Lens technology from its camera line, offering an f/2.0 aperture on the Xperia Z1. That's only part of the company's effort to distill all its technological leadership into a single mobile device — Sony's taking the Triluminos and X-Reality display enhancements from its Bravia TVs and bringing them down to size with the Z1. Triluminos offers a wider palette of colors than conventional screens, and indeed looks stunning on Sony's HDTVs, but — as with the Xperia Z Ultra, which got the same tweak earlier in the year — the new Xperia Z1 doesn't have a terribly impressive display. The problem is that Sony consistently opts for cheaper LCDs than its mobile competition, which shows in the limited viewing angles and washed-out colors on its handsets.
Sony's three new VAIOs find ways to make tablets out of anything, even 21-inch desktops
At IFA in Berlin, Sony's taken the stage to announce three new additions to its lineup of VAIO PCs. They're three radically different devices for radically different users, but from their 1080p touchscreens to their shape-shifting form factors, one thing is clear: Sony can turn anything into a tablet.Read Article >
The new VAIO Flip PC, part of the company's lower-end Fit line, joins a breed of laptops that use innovative hinges to twist, flip, and torque into other shapes. The Flip uses a fulcrum about half the height of the laptop itself, which normally looks like part of the lid. Push backward on the top of the screen, though, and the display rotates over the base, flipping over and docking again facing away from the keyboard. You can lay it down on top of the keys and use the Flip like a tablet, or use it display-out with the base as a stand. You get all the viewing options as a device like the Lenovo Yoga, but with a more complex (and slightly less sturdy) mechanism.
Sony's QX Smart Lens attaches an entire camera to your smartphoneRead Article >
The rumor that once seemed too wild to be true has just become an official reality with Sony's announcement of the new QX Smart Lens series of smartphone accessories. These so-called lens-style cameras contain almost all the hardware you'd find in a Sony point-and-shoot — a zoom lens, image sensor and processing chips, a battery, stereo microphones, and even their own memory card slots — but omit the inclusion of a viewfinder. That role is to be performed by your smartphone, which connects via Wi-Fi and is used to control the Smart Lens and share the resulting images out to the world.
Sony's SmartWatch 2 is better than the first one, but still far too expensiveRead Article >
First announced in June and now ready for its retail release, Sony's SmartWatch 2 continues an unfortunate trend in smartwatches: the materials and design are getting fancier, but the watches aren't becoming any smarter. I got a chance to try one of the new SmartWatches out ahead of this week's IFA showcase in Berlin, and while it delivers the usual set of smartphone-connected apps and options, it remains a device with distinctly limited appeal.