Remember the display on your first mobile phone? If you’ve been chatting on the go for as long as we have, it was probably barely big enough to fit a complete telephone number — let alone a contact name or text message. And your first smartphone? Even displaying scaled-down, WAP versions of web pages was asking a lot. Now, those mobile devices we couldn’t live without have screens that are much, much larger. Sometimes, though, we secretly wish they were even bigger still.
Samsung’s new GT-N7000 Galaxy Note is the handset those dreams are made of — if you happen to share that dream about obnoxiously large smartphones, that is. It’s as thin as a Galaxy S II, lightning fast and its 5.3-inch HD Super AMOLED display is as gorgeous as it is enormous; the 1280 x 800 pixels you once could only get with a full-size laptop (or in the Galaxy Tab 10.1) can now slide comfortably into your front pocket. Its jumbo display makes it the perfect candidate for a notepad replacement and, with the included S Pen stylus, you’ll have no problem jotting notes on the fly, marking up screenshots or signing documents electronically. But, is that massive display too much of a good thing? You’ll need to jump past the break to find out.
We had a feeling the Samsung Galaxy Note would be a hit on the benchmark scene, but now its unsurprisingly speedy results are documented. Greek site TechBlog installed Quadrant Standard on one of the phone / tablet hybrid demo units at IFA 2011 and produced a benchmark score of 3,624, exactly where we’d expect a Sammy-branded 1.4GHz dual-core CPU to end up; in comparison, our review of the 1.2GHz Samsung Galaxy S II produced an outcome of 3,396. Here’s the letdown: the Galaxy Note is expected to top the charts in pricing as well, as it’s being reported that we should see the device show up in Scandinavia by year’s end for no less than €715 ($1,000 in the US). Let’s hope those benchmarks are worth the cost, because there’s one thing that can’t be denied — it makes the HTC Jetstream feel like a bargain.
You probably thought Motorola had a lock on this whole docks for your phone thing, but Korean company KT quietly launched an assault on the Atrix manufacturer at IFA. Rather than a single (and underwhelming) “Webtop,” KT’s Spider Concept has three different accessories that expand the capabilities of the 4.5-inch gingerbread device. The laptop dock adds a QWERTY keyboard, an extended battery and a revamped UI while relying on the phone itself as the touchpad. If keyboards aren’t your thing, there’s the Spider PAD tablet shell which blows the interface up to 10.1-inches while adding a few slate-friendly tweaks. Last is the gaming dock, a simple cradle with a D-pad and buttons that connects to the Spider via Bluetooth. The phone itself is no slouch, packing 1GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, and a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm processor. Oh, and that 4.5-inch screen? A stunning 1280 x 800 resolution. It’s kind of hard to believe all that is jammed into a package just 9.34mm (0.37-inches) thin. The phone is expected to launch in Korea in either November or December, though price and international availability are still up in the air. Check out the pair of videos after the break.
Altec Lansing is showing off a handful of updates to its line of audio accessories this week at IFA in Berlin. At top of the list is the newly revealed inAir 5000, a hefty tabletop AirPlay speaker that the company is firmly positioning to take on Bowers & Wilkins’ Zeppelin line (which also recently got its own AirPlay version). Like that system, the inAir certainly offers a unique take on aesthetics, with a teardrop design. The company opted not to install an Apple dock on the 110 watt system, given that compatible devices can stream audio wirelessly to the thing via AirPlay.
The iMT630 Classic is, not surprisingly, a more traditional speaker dock. It’s portable and light and features a docking shelf on the front that can be flipped out with the push of a button. Open up the stand on the back, and you’ll find a spot for storing the speaker’s remote. The remote itself is also magnetic, so you can stick it to the Classic’s front grill (someone at the company has clearly lost a lot of remotes in their day). No word yet on pricing and availability for either speaker system.
The company also showcased its Bliss Headphones, which are “designed for a Woman’s ear.” What does that mean, exactly? Mostly that their earbuds are smaller, fitting more comfortably in smaller ear canals. Altec Lansing assures us, however, that they’re still capable of offering great sound, in spite of their size. And yes, they come in pink.
What’s the worst thing about your TV? If you said “opaqueness,” boy have we got the set from you. This is a 22-inch transparent organic TV from the folks at Haier (you know, the ones who also showed off that mind control TV today). It’s a slim display with a metal bezel that has a clear OLED at its center with a 1680 x 1050 resolution. The images appeared pretty sharp on screen, though the colors didn’t particularly pop.
And really, this thing isn’t likely headed to any living rooms in the near future — Haier sees it more as an advertising tool, letting shoppers see its images from both sides. The display in its demo form was actually hooked up to a Windows PC, running video through a media player, making this not too unlike that 14-inch Samsung laptop that we saw at CES last year.
Hey, it’s our old pal, the Acer W4. We’ve heard tell of the device and seen our share of mockups, and this week at IFA, we actually got to play with the thing. The 3.6-inch handset is fairly compact, and pretty slick looking, with its black front and curved white backing. It’s not particularly exciting on the spec side, with its 1GHz Qualcomm processor. Nope, what’s most exciting here is the inclusion of Mango, which should look rather familiar to Windows Phone 7 owners, while adding some welcomed updates to the mix.
Just two days after Samsung unveiled its Honeycomb-sporting Galaxy Tab 7.7, the slate (along with all traces of its existence) has vanished from the IFA floor. All demo models have been yanked from Sammy’s booth, branding has disappeared, and even the large poster touting the slate has been covered up. The Korean company hasn’t been entirely forthcoming about the reason behind the removal, but a spokesperson did tell SlashGear that the move was voluntary. Given that the Galaxy Tab 10.1 is already barred from sale in Germany(and some 7.7 units on display bore a sticker informing handlers it would also not make it to retail in Deutschland), speculation has led many to link the vanishing act to the ongoing legal battle with Apple. For now though, all we have to go on is Samsung’s confirmation that the tablet has been pulled, accompanied by a refusal to comment further.
Toshiba knew what we wanted at today’s IFA press conference, and naturally, it saved the best for last. The company unveiled its AT200 tablet at the show today, and really, as predicted, the thing does seem like a serious competitor to Samsung’s popular Galaxy Tab 10.1. The tablet is quite thin and well-built (it was on lock down, so we can’t quite attest to its “lightest” claims), unlike a number of its Android brethren. The brushed metal backing also adds a level of sturdiness lacking in the Galaxy Tab 10.1′s plastic rear.
Viewsonic has been taunting us a slew of slates for months, one of which we even got to manhandle way back in February. It seems the company is finally ready to deliver its ViewPads to the public though, and announced the availability of three models at IFA. The ViewPad 10pro has been around the block a few times by now and, after a limited run earlier, the Android 2.3 and Windows 7-running tablet will hit shelves on September 5th starting at €499 ($714) for the WiFi only version. Next up is the oft-teasedViewPad 7x, a 7-inch slice of Honeycomb that sports the custom, 3D ViewScene skin. A definitive date hasn’t been set for this 8GB, Tegra 2-powered device, but it’s expected to land before the end of the month for €349 ($499). Last, is the budget-minded ViewPad 7e. We don’t know much about this device, outside of the fact that it sports a 4:3 screen, most likely of the 7-inch variety, but it seems safe to assume we’re looking at another Android device. One with relatively low-power internals considering its estimated €169 ($242) price when it lands sometime in Q4.
Creative isn’t nearly the aural force it once was, but it’s still a respected name when it comes to headsets and — gasp! — sound cards. Here at IFA, the outfit has busted out a new range of Sound Blaster (yeah, seriously) gaming headsets for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC and Mac platforms. The 360-friendly Sound Blaster Tactic360 Sigma is being revealed with a steel core headband design and 50mm audio drivers, not to mention separate voice and game audio controls. Moving right along, the Tactic360 ION slims down with a pair of 40mm drivers, while the Tactic3D Wrath Wireless caters to Mac / PC users who’d rather not sweat the whole “cable” thing. The Tactic3D Omega Wireless does likewise for console gamers, and for those infatuated with three-dee, the outfit’s new Recon3D audio platform / sound cards sound give you reason to celebrate. Full details are posted up after the break, for those who find themselves strangely intrigued.
Had enough Samsung this morning? Well, how about a little more Samsung, then. Also on the company’s laundry list of new devices is the Wave, which was announced earlier this week. The Wave 3 is the highest end of the three new devices carrying that name, packing a zippy 1.4GHz processor, which seems to handle tasks with ease. Like most of the rest of the products introduced here at IFA, the screen is the centerpiece of the device, a brilliant 4-inch WVGA unit. Also like the rest of Samsung’s handsets, the hardware is really terrific on the Wave, glossy screen complimenting a brushed aluminum back.
The handset runs Bada 2.0, which means that we’re not likely to be seeing the thing in the US any time in the near future — Samsung has largely backed away from US support for the mobile operating system, though it promises to expand its selection of applications from third-party app developers. Also new on the software front is ChatON, a mobile messaging service which we were unfortunately unable to give a spin here in Berlin.
Samsung Wave 3 hands-on
How excited is Samsung about the new Galaxy Note? The company is convinced that the device heralds a whole new space for the industry, something in between the smartphone and the tablet. And what’s the space called? The Note, of course. At 5.3 inches, the thing does feel a lot more like a cell phone than a tablet — albeit a really large one. It’s still reasonably portable, certainly more so than the also recently announced Galaxy Tab 7.7, but the added screen real estate might not be worth the extra pocket space for those who don’t use their portable devices to watch movies.
Interestingly, the major application here actually seems to be enterprise users. While Android 2.3 isn’t particularly known for being a great business OS, the ability to scribble notes with the stylus, the “S Pen,” harkens back to the old PDAs and will likely appeal to users sick of typing with their fingers. That said, we had some difficulty mastering the pen in the short time that we spent with it. Despite Samsung’s insistence on the thing’s accuracy, the stylus was quite slippery on the device’s glossy screen, and we had a lot of difficulty being precise for simple drawings — as you can see in the scribble above.
All in all, it’s hard to envision the Note as a whole new space, and it remains to be seen whether the S Pen can indeed give the aged stylus new life. Check on our hands-on video after the break and see for yourself.
Samsung may have been talking up the Galaxy Note as the hottest new piece of hardware for this year’s IFA, but it’s the Galaxy Tab 7.7 that’s got us really excited. The device is the latest entry in Samsung’s popular Android-based Galaxy Tab line, and the thing is pretty darn slick. The 7.7-inch screen is in keeping with the company’s push toward devices that straddle the line between the tablet and smartphone spaces (see also: the Note), and it is indeed a terrific form factor. This isn’t going to replace your laptop or iPad (or Galaxy Tab 10.1) for lengthy multimedia marathons, but it’s a great size for watching quick videos and basic computer like checking your email. It’s also exceedingly portable at 0.74 pounds.
Like so many other devices launched by Samsung this year, the screen is the thing, and indeed, that 7.7-inch 1280 x 800 Super AMOLED Plus display is quite sharp and extremely bright — in fact, we had to turn the thing down while doing the below hands-on video. Also new with the device is the addition of Android 3.2 — we didn’t notice all that much different on that front, however, seeing as how the tablet is still skinned with the familiar TouchWiz UX UI. There weren’t really any noticeable changes from the newly updated version for the 10.1.
Today at IFA 2011, one of Samsung’s many announcements is an update to its Smart TVs that will place YouTube’s library of 3D videos front and center for users to stream. So far one of the major issues for 3DTV owners has been a lack of content, but since it launched support for 3D videos two years ago, YouTube has accumulated quite a library of both professionally developed and user generated videos for viewing. HDTVs from LG added access to the site’s 3D content earlier this year, and the update is expected to appear across the Samsung lineup across the second half of 2011. We spoke with one of the engineer’s responsible for the initial rollout of YouTube’s 3D support, Pete Bradshaw, and he mentioned the project’s genesis as one of Google’s famous “20 percent” projects that was worked on on the side, but has now drawn the support of a multiperson team to support, and a rapidly expanding number of viewers and content creators uploading videos to the service. The intent is to make viewing 3D just as easy as watching anything else, once users film in 3D with their phone or camera, they can upload it to YouTube and watch on TV (or mobile device) without worrying about the formatting and technology involved. We’re still a few steps away from the magic bullet that removes the current hurdles for wider 3D acceptance in the market, but if you’re one of the (not so early at this point) adopters with the hardware to handle it, you’ll probably appreciate anything that makes more content available easily. Check after the break for the press release and a few sample videos to check out.
We’re here in Berlin, covering IFA 2011, and Panasonic’s getting things started by showing off a concept camera, its first with a twin-lens capable of shooting 3D stills and video. Alas, the company’s press release is light on technical info, though it does reveal the system’s built on dual 4x lenses with “thin, folded” optics. Hopefully, we’ll see this thing in person while we’re in town and learn a bit more. In similar news, the company also announced the HDC-Z10000 (pictured), its first 2D / 3D camcorder with an integrated twin-lens. The camcorder records 1080p / 1080i AVCHD 3D video, has dual CMOS sensors with a combined resolution of 13.1MP and a glasses-less 3.5-inch LCD. It’s also capable of 3D macros as close as 17.8 inches — a record for twin-lens 3D camcorders, according to Panasonic. As the company’s been known to do, though, it’s holding off on revealing any details about pricing or availability, so it looks like we’ll have to save that for a rainy day.
While LG’s 2011 HDTV lineup has been largely a success so far — we found a lot to like in the LW5600 we reviewed and quarterly earnings seem to justify its 3D and LED technology — some wouldn’t be satisfied without an LED backlit (rather than edge lit) option. That issue is solved now with the new LW9800 series, shown off here in Korea as the LW980S. Announced in two sizes, 55- and 47-inches, both feature “Nano LED” local dimming with as many as 2,300 sources in the larger one and 480Hz motion technology. They also include other LG standard features like Cinema 3D, Magic Motion gesture remote control and its Smart TV menus as well as built-in WiFi, but the big draw here is the deep blacks and a claim of the industry’s highest 10,000,000:1 contrast ratio. Check the press release after the break for a few more details while we wait to get our eyes on the new models in September at IFA 2011.