The 9 best bits of tech from IFA 2013 (and the Galaxy Gear)

The best tech from IFA 2013
We're not sure, but this might be the Sony stand

In the past, CES monopolised the big technology launches and IFA played the poor Euro cousin you reluctantly visit because your mum says so.

But not any more. You want big tech launches and game-changing gadgetry? IFA 2013 catches the geeky eye with HDMI 2.0, Nvidia's Tegra 4, a souped up Xperia and a wrist-mounted Galaxy Gear. And that's just for starters.

Here's our pick of the best tech on show at IFA 2013.

1. Samsung Galaxy Note 3

What more could you want from a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 upgrade than a device that is lighter and thinner; has a superior camera; a bigger and fuller 5.7-inch HD screen; plus the latest quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 chip?

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (and its S-Pen stylus) isn't strictly a consumer plaything. It's a mammoth mobile that's built for business and comes with Samsung's own BYOD Knox mobile security solution to secure data at both platform and application levels. The air gestures look interesting too.

2. HDMI 2.0

The road to Ultra HD is paved with HDMI 2.0 connections. According to Panasonic, the 65-inch WT600 is the world's first television to make use of the new-and-improved HDMI spec, which boosts bandwidth (up to 18Gbps), supports 4K x 2K resolutions at 50/60fps and embraces 32 audio channels.

Panasonic WT600

Why is it a big deal? The current HDMI 1.4 standard wasn't designed for Ultra HD and can't support 2160p video at speeds greater than 30fps.

3. Sony Xperia Z1

What word describes something that is better than 'Ultra'? Is it 'Super'? Perhaps it's 'Hyper'? Whatever it is, the Sony Xperia Z1 is it.

Xperia Z1

This update to the excellent, water resistant Sony Xperia Z incorporates a 5.0-inch Triluminos LCD, zippy 2.2GHz quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 processor and a 20.7 Megapixel camera with 1/2.3-type Exmor RS image sensor.

Yes, so it might be fatter and heavier than its predecessor. But this phone is a serious contender for best Android smartphone. At least until next week…

4. Asus Zenbook

Asus released two new additions to its 13.3-inch Zenbook range at IFA 2013 - the UX301 and UX302. What caught our roving eye is the option to add a 2,560 x 1,440 pixel WQHD display (rated at 220 pixels per inch), which rivals the 2,560 x 1,600 pixel resolution of the Retina-equipped MacBook Pro (rated at 227 pixels per inch).

UX301 and UX302

Better still, while the 13-inch MacBook Pro makes do with Intel HD Graphics, the ZenBook can be picked up with an Nvidia GeForce GT 730M GPU. Nice.

5. Tegra 4

Hidden away inside the New Transformer Pad from Asus, Nvidia's powerful 1.9GHz quad-core Tegra 4 chip delivers a noticeable speed boost without sacrificing battery life.

New Transformer Pad

It does this by leaning on the number-crunching prowess of 72 custom cores and 2GB of DDR3L RAM. There's support for resolutions up to 3200 x 2000 pixels - the New Transformer Pad has a 2560 x 1600 pixel display - and 4K output via HDMI.

6. Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro

The original Yoga impressed us with its flexibility - laptop, tablet, tent, stand. The Yoga 2 Pro continues that tradition, but takes a big swing at the business market.

It runs Windows 8 Pro, boasts a 9 hour battery life, and dances to the beat of Haswell-generation Intel Core processors.

Yoga 2 Pro

And if you thought the WQHD display on the Asus Zenbook was stunning, the 13.3-inch QuadHD+ 3,200 x 1,800 pixel touchscreen display (rated at 276 PPI) will reach into your eyeballs and French-kiss your corneas.

7. Vaio Tap 11

At IFA 2012, we singled out the Sony Vaio Tap 20, which blurred the lines between all-in-one desktop PC and Windows 8 tablet. A year on and Sony is prepping a slightly bigger version - the Vaio Tap 21.

Vaio Tap 11

But the smaller Sony Vaio Tap 11 looks far more interesting. As Dan Grabham points out, Sony's 11-inch, Full HD Windows 8 tablet (with neat detachable keyboard) is "clearly designed to smash Microsoft's Surface Pro into the ground."

8. LG G Pad 8.3

Hoping to muscle in on a market contested by the iPad mini, Nexus 7 and Galaxy Note 8.0, the Android-powered LG G Pad 8.3 features an 8.3-inch screen (1920 x 1080 pixels) and gets its kick from a 1.7GHz Snapdragon 600 processor.

LG G Pad

It's neatly designed, not too bulky and, so we're told, comes with a meaty battery. But as ever with Android tablets, this gadget's success will come down to pricing - if it's higher than an iPad mini, nobody will care.

9. Sony HMZ-T3W

With talk of a VR headset for the PlayStation 4, face-hugging gadgetry like the Sony HMZ-T3W could be a sign of personal entertainment screens to come.

Capable of plugging into a PC, tablet, games console and even a mobile phone, these bulbous goggles incorporate two 1280x720 OLED displays to fake a cinematic experience.

Sony HMZ-T3W

Unlike the Oculus Rift, the view doesn't shift as you turn your head. But, the effect can be impressive. If you can't fit a 7ft cinema screen in your house, this might be the next best thing.

10. Samsung Galaxy Gear

Say what you like about Samsung's new Galaxy Gear, sales of Pebbles, FitBits and Fuelbands have proved that there's a demand for wearable technology.

The Galaxy Gear boasts a 1.63-inch, 320 x 320 Super AMOLED colour touchscreen and a single-core Exynos processor. It's an intriguing device - a companion gadget rather than a fully-functional wrist computer.

Samsung Galaxy Gear

But what can you do with it? Why did Samsung choose an LCD that crucifies battery life? Why does it only work with the Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Tab? And why, oh why, would you want one? Gary Marshall doesn't know. Neither do we.

Seven things we have learned from this year's show…

  • Here come the smartwatches
  • Smartwatches might be a dumb idea
  • A 21-inch tablet isn't as crazy as it sounds
  • The word 'phablet' hasn't caught on
  • Ultra HD is the new 3D
  • Your next HDTV might be gently curved
  • Don't buy an Ultra HD TV without HDMI 2.0