Samsung and Sony bounce back as big screens rule in Berlin
THE TECH WORLD descended on Berlin yesterday for the first day of the IFA with the dust still settling from the Apple v Samsung patent war.
The scrap, settled last week in a US court, went public at last year’s IFA. Last-minute injunctions from Apple forced the South Korean company to yank new phones and tablets from the show – and cover up massive advertisements with bin liners.
There were no bin liners to be seen yesterday as Samsung did its best to shrug off the wrangling. It revealed a second-generation Galaxy Note – a pocket-sized smartphone-tablet hybrid with a stylus, bumped-up 5.5-inch display and 16MP camera.
Not only is the display larger than its predecessor, it promises a 1.6GHz quad-core CPU and a heftier battery. Despite a weight gain of 2 grams, the device is a whisker thinner than the original Note.
In a swipe at Apple, the Koreans rolled out German director Wim Wenders for its ad campaign, remarking: “Anyone can do it.”
Other Samsung gadgets scheduled to be unveiled last evening included a Galaxy camera with a 21x zoom lens, 16MP camera and Android onboard, allowing users to install apps and share pictures via mobile and wifi connections.
It was an energetic start to the world’s largest technology show which, with 1,400 sold-out stands spread over 142,000sq m, seems impervious to the ongoing crisis. Exhibition organisers GFU said they are optimistic about cracking last year’s €3.7 billion order record.
“Despite the difficult market situation, which in many countries is dominated by the debt crisis, the early signs are that IFA 2012 will be a success,” said Dr Rainer Hecker, GFU chairman.
Samsung wasn’t the only company facing harsh new market realities dictated by Apple, a regular IFA absentee.
The California company is promising improved navigation features in the next iPhone software update, using maps licensed from Dutch satnav firm TomTom.
However, TomTom is hedging its bets by announcing yesterday that it is going to launch a navigation app for Google’s Android mobile operating system.
“We aim to make TomTom content and services available to as many devices and platforms as we can,” said Corinne Vigreux, TomTom MD, promising full functionality including traffic technology on smartphones. “Bringing TomTom navigation to Android smartphones is, therefore, a significant milestone for us.”
After years adrift in the choppy seas between Apple and Samsung, Sony is determined to turn things around at IFA 2012.
It was quick out of the starting gate on day one yesterday with a hybrid laptop-tablet device. The Vaio Duo 11, known as a “slider tablet” offers a keyboard, a stylus for handwriting on an 11.6-inch, 1080p touchscreen.
Inside, the device packs an Ultrabook-level Core processor up to i7, solid-state hard-drive up to 256GB and two HD cameras. The hybrid runs Microsoft Windows 8 and, according to chief executive Kazuo Hira, will “move people emotionally”. With a launch date in October, it remains to be seen if it will move people emotionally to the cash registers.
Other promising tablets included two Asus “transformer” tablets which, like Sony’s slider, offer keyboards to complement the touchscreen. The smaller, Vivo Tab RT, has a 10.1-inch display with 1366 x 768 resolution and a Nvidia Tegra onboard ad 2GB RAM.
Its big brother, the Vivo Tab, is a full-on Windows 8 tablet with a larger 11.6-inch and same resolution. Both have metal backs and high-end finish, no word yet on pricing or launch dates.
After years presenting 3D technology, IFA exhibitors continue the trend this year by cranking up displays to 11.
A buzzword yesterday was “4K televisions” with 4096 x 2160p resolution – four times greater than current HD standards – promising even clearer images. This would open the door to 3D HD, even with regular passive 3D glasses. Though no 4K broadcasts are likely any time soon, Sony and Toshiba are lining up demonstration models. LG is hoping to have the biggest 4K television with a whopping 84-inch display.