Tag: hybrid computers

ASUS to launch a Windows detachable laptop with detachable Android smartphone


ASUS Transformer Book V is a Windows hybrid laptop with a detachable Android phone | Engadget

My Comments

There have been various devices that were effectively multiple devices in one package with one device being able to be detached to perform its own function. One of these devices that came to my mind was Hitachi’s TRK-W1 boombox of the early 80s. This was a high-quality radio-cassette unit with two cassette transports but one of the transports in this unit was in fact capable of becoming a cassette Walkman once it was detached from the main unit and effectively combined two portable-audio paradigms that were underscored through that time period.

ASUS has applied this same concept to the Transformer Book V detachable laptop which has a separately-detachable smartphone. Here, you had a 12” detachable “hybrid” laptop running Windows 8.1 which could become a tablet one moment and a laptop the next like with the HP x2 series. But you could clip a supplied 5” Android smartphone in to the back of the tablet to provide for access to the mobile broadband service.

The tablet could run Windows 8.1 or, with the phone attached, could run Android 4.4 KitKat in a “virtual-phone” window or run as a full-on Android tablet / laptop. It has 4Gb RAM and 128Gb solid-state storage but has a 1Tb hard disk in the battery-less keyboard attachment. The phone would have 64Gb of its own storage and 2Gb of its own RAM. But there is a limitation that each operating system can only use its own storage space.

Who knows when ASUS would officially launch it with many people looking at it housed in a glass showcase. As well, who knows if this would he launched to all of the markets but ASUS are showing that a device integrating Windows and Android in all the useable form factors can be made available.

Convertible or detachable–where to go?

You are not really keen on keeping a separate laptop for creating content and a separate tablet for casual browsing. But there are portable computers that can become a regular clamshell-style laptop; or a touchscreen tablet at a moment’s notice.

Typically these will run the “open-frame” operating systems such as Microsoft Windows 8 or, in the case of most smaller 10” variants, Android with some newer varieties moving towards being able to boot from either operating system or run Android as a separate virtual machine..

Why own a convertible or detachable?

HP Envy X2 detachable-screen hybrid tablet-notebook computer

One of the HP X2 series detachable-screen hybrid tablet-notebook computers

These portable computers are optimised for both content consumption and creation. Here, they work as a tablet to use for reading in bed or on the couch, or they can become a laptop for frequent text-entry work such as using Google / Bing frequently to look for concepts, creating emails of any length, or amending notes for your speech, typing up documents “on the go”.

A person who values the idea of separate devices may stand for the idea of particular screen sizes and operating platforms being perfect for particular tasks. For example, a 10” tablet such as the popular Apple iPad family may work well for reading while a 13”-15” laptop may work well for writing up material and performing “larger tasks”.

Some people even couple a tablet with a USB or Bluetooth accessory keyboard typically in the form of a device cover that has an integrated keyboard and works as a stand for the device. This is seen as a cheaper path to a “combined-device” concept and may be seen as whether it is the path to go for your portable computing needs.

Screen sizes and what they are good for

HP X2 detachable tablet as a tablet

HP X2 detachable tablet as a tablet

Most manufacturers have units with either 10”-11” screens or 13”-14” screens in their convertible and detachable product lineups with most of these products with the 10”-11” screens.

Sony VAIO Duo 11 slider-convertible tablet

Sony VAIO Duo 11 slider-convertible notebook

The 10”-11″ units will work well for short bursts of text entry such as searching for information, short email replies, a few Social Web entries at a time, or amending speech notes before / after your speech. This is while they work well as a tablet screen size that suits most users. Some of you may value these units if you are typing up notes during a presentation because they don’t cramp you in between the seating rows.

Sony VAIO Duo 11 slider-convertible tablet - Right-hand-side view - 2 USB 3.0 ports and an HDMI port

Sony VAIO Duo 11 as a tablet

The 13″-14″ units work better for longer periods of text entry such as creating documents or writing down heaps of notes. The larger screen can also earn its keep if you are browsing Web sites, or viewing pictures and videos alongside someone else like your significant other frequently.

15” convertibles like the Acer Aspire R7 or the Sony VAIO Fit 13a may also appeal to those of us who like the large screen for both typing up content and browsing. This may also allow you to see the detail more easily but they won’t be as portable as the 13”-14” varieties.

Detachable tablets

Sony VAIO Fit 13a convertible Ultrabook at Rydges Hotel Melbourne

Sony VAIO Fit 13a 13″ convertible laptop

These computers like the HP x2 family, the ASUS Transformer family and Microsoft’s Surface family, also known as hybrid tablets, have a keyboard that unclips from the tablet itself.

The computing power, memory and main secondary storage  in these detachables is housed within the tablet like what is expected for a typical tablet. But the detachable keyboards contain some extra functions like supplementary storage space, a high-capacity battery and extra connections like more USB ports. Some of these computers may use a microSD card slot in the tablet itself and a standard SD card slot in the keyboard and this would require you to use the keyboard if you are “developing” those pictures from your digital camera’s “film roll” on your detachable tablet.

They appeal to those of us who value carrying around the lightweight tablet and reading material from it more.

Convertible notebooks

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 courtesy of Lenovo

Lenovo Yoga convertible notebooks

The convertible notebooks have a mechanical arrangement where you can fold, swivel or slide the screen to switch between a tablet computer or a clamshell-style laptop computer.

These would appeal to those of us who want a readily-accessible keyboard and don’t place emphasis on the lightweight tablet. Like the regular laptop, they have their connectivity, functionality and battery runtime as a known quantity and there is less of a likelihood of you losing the detachable keyboard.

Different convertible styles


These computers, like the Sony VAIO Duo family, have the keyboard slide out from behind the screen with the screen coming up at a particular angle.

Typically most of these work at a fixed angle when they become a laptop and are worth their salt if you value a computer that, when used as a laptop, doesn’t have a larger footprint.


Lenovo ThinkPad Twist convertible notebook courtesy of Lenovo

Lenovo ThinkPad Twist convertible notebook

This type of convertible computer was considered the “original” convertible laptop when Microsoft launched Windows XP Tablet Edition and brought on the idea of pen-based computing for the Windows platform. They have the screen swivel 180 degrees vertically to become a laptop or tablet. A current example of this is the Lenovo ThinkPad Twist which is pitched at the business user.


This style has the screen flipping horizontally between a front view or a rear view with the display rotated accordingly. These will have the screen either on a small hinged support like the Sony VAIO Fit 13a or the Acer Aspire R7; or in a frame like the Dell XPS 12.

360-degree hinged lid

Another type of convertible notebook, popularised by Lenovo under the Yoga name, is the 360-degree hinged lid. These computers which are like regular laptops have the lid swing from a closed position to the back of the computer’s case. Once you have folded the lid out all of the way, you turn the computer over for it to become a tablet.

The disadvantage with this style is that the keyboard is exposed to dirt when the computer is set up as a tablet, which can limit its useful as a tablet in areas where you may be eating or drinking.

Choosing the right convertible style

Each convertible style suits particular users and scenarios. These depend on how easy they are to switch between the different setups, what usage environment they work well with

The swivel-head, flip-screen or 360-degree lid may appeal to those of us who want to place the screen at an angle for viewing photos and videos when the machine is resting on a table. A swivel-head or 360-degree lid may appeal to those of you who may have dexterity problems or find operating some mechanisms difficult.

A slider unit or some flip-screens like the Acer Aspire R7 may appeal to those of us who want to expose the keyboard without taking up too much room when you do this. An example of this may be a public speaker who needs to quickly amend notes for their speech at the lectern using the regular keyboard rather than picking around on the touch keyboard.


If you are thinking of having one touch-enabled portable computer to use as a tablet or a laptop / notebook computer, I would suggest that a detachable would work well for those of you who value the lightweight tablet or a convertible for most usage scenarios.

It is also worth considering the convertible notebook or detachable-keyboard tablet as a valid option for your portable-computing needs especially if you see yourself typing up material.

The classes of computers to be blurred–is this the trend?


A dual Windows-Android machine: PC industry savior or non-starter? | Mobile – CNET News

My Comments

Sony VAIO Duo 11 slider-convertible tablet

A computer that slides to become a tablet or laptop

Previously, a computer with a screen greater than 11”, having a physical QWERTY keyboard and running a desktop operating system like Windows, MacOS X or Linux was a separate class of computer from something that had a smaller screen, no physical keyboard and running a mobile operating system.

Now we are starting to see these classes become blurred by the arrival of 7” and 10” tablets running Windows 8.1 on Intel x86 microarchitecture, along with a plethora of ultra-portable laptops with integrated physical keyboards that convert to tablets whether by folding the keyboard under the screen or detaching the keyboard. This is now augmented with a new trend where computers can boot between Windows 8.1 and Android or run both operating systems concurrently; and Android is being ported to work on the classic Intel microarchitecture.

HP Envy X2 Detachable-Keyboard Hybrid Tablet

The HP X2 family – showcasing the trend for a detachable-keyboard tablet computer

What is happening for both consumers and business users is that they will find it hard to determine which kind of computer is exactly the right one for them to use for their needs. Operating systems and baseline hardware configurations may lose their position as a factor for determining a computer’s suitability to a particular task.

Rather I see factors like the screen size which typically affects the computer’s size and form factor; the graphics or audio chipsets; the existence of a physical keyboard and its actual size; as well as the unit’s connectivity, primary RAM and secondary-storage capacity along with the presence and runtime of an integrated battery being what determines the computer’s suitability for particular tasks and operating conditions that a user may put it to.

Sony VAIO Fit 15e on dining table

The 15″ mainstream laptop will still earn its keep as an option for one’s “digital hub”

For example, if you are creating a lot of documents and other textual content, a full-sized physical keyboard would be considered important. Similarly the size of the screen along with the computer’s form factor and the battery integrated in the computer would also affect its portability and suitability to certain tasks.

In a lot of cases, you may end up with multiple devices where each device suits a particular task or activity. For example a 7”-8” tablet that you can stuff in to a coat pocket may come in to its own when you want something that has material you refer to when you are on the road. This is while you keep a 10”-14” ultraportable computer for when you are “doing a bit more” like taking notes or creating content “on the road”; or you may keep a 15”-17” laptop or a larger-screen desktop computer as your “main digital hub”.

Desktops of a sessile nature like traditional 3-piece desktops and “all-in-one” desktops will typically end up just for applications where the computer is used in one place only. Whereas the “adaptive all-in-one” computers of the Sony VAIO Tap 20 ilk, along with 15”-17” high-end laptops will end up for those situations where the computer will be shifted as required.

What will become of this is to look at particular features and the size and form-factor of a computer to rate its suitability for a task you are targeting it at rather than thinking that one computer would suit all your needs.

HP x2 detachable-tablet design to become like an established car-model lineup


HP announces the HP Split x2 | Windows Experience Blog (Microsoft)

HP intros the Split x2 Windows hybrid and Android-based SlateBook x2 (hands-on) | Engadget

HP SlateBook x2: An Android Notebook With Sweet Tegra 4 Guts | Gizmodo

Previous Coverage of the range

Product Review – HP Envy x2 Hybrid Tablet

HP Envy X2 Detachable-Keyboard Hybrid Tablet

HP Envy X2 detachable-keyboard hybrid tablet computer – now part of a larger family

My Comments

Those of you who have followed this site regularly have come across my review of the HP Envy x2 which is HP’s first Windows 8 detachable-keyboard “hybrid” tablet computer. This 11” tablet computer was based on the Intel Atom processor and excelled more as a portable Windows 8 tablet.

Now the x2 detachable-keyboard hybrid-tablet from HP has become like a model series that represents a class of car released by a car manufacturer where the series features different body types, powertrain specifications and trim levels. Here, this has become computers with different screen sizes, operating systems and microprocessor technology where different models exist for different needs.

Here, HP have released the Split x2 detachable-keyboard tablet with similar credentials to a recent-issue 13” ultraportable computer. Here, the computer could come with an Intel Core i3 or i5 mainstream microprocessor and a variant could come with the ability to have a second 500Gb hard disk in the keyboard module. Similarly, they have released the SlateBook x2 which snaps at the heels of the ASUS EeePad Transformer Prime by being a Tegra-driven 10” Android detachable-keyboard tablet.

Oh yeah, some of us would consider this as being useless due to a 13” screen size for a tablet compared to the typical 10-11” screen size for this class of computer. But this size may appeal more for group viewing or, when used with the keyboard, for creating a lot of content. The Split x2 would have either a Core i3 or Core i5 processor while the SlateBook would have the NVIDIA Tegra 4 that pleases a lot of performance Android enthusiasts.

HP has taken this formula that was established by the Envy x2 and extended it further for computers that are about exploiting the detachable-keyboard tablet, and this could be a way of allowing the concept to mature while allowing one to choose a computer in this class that suits their needs. Personally, I would like to see HP build out the x2 series with the “Envy” name representing one or two models that represent luxury or performance or a run of business-focused models with the business security needs while keeping the Split and SlateBook lineup.

The Dell XPS 18 is getting closer to the VAIO Tap 20


Dell’s hybrid XPS 18 is a $900 all-in-one PC and an 18-inch tablet  | Engadget

My Comments

Previously, I had written an article about the imminent arrival of the Dell XPS 18 which would answer the Sony VAIO Tap 20 in the desktop bridge computer market. This is a class of computer which looks like an all-in-one computer but the screen can be used as a touch-responsive portable tablet.

Now Dell is having this model hit the American market for US$900 for the economy model and US$1350 for the premium model. From this article, the economy model would come with a 320Gb hard disk and a Pentium processor while the mid-tier and premium models would come with the i3 and i5 processors respectively. As for the RAM capacity, this would come in at the expected 4Gb.

I looked further and found that the mid-tier model would have 500Gb on the hard disk while the premium model would have 500Gb hard disk capacity and 32Gb SSD cache, All the systems have that desireable network setup of dual-band Wi-Fi wireless which is going to be the way to go as the next-generation broadband services come on line.

Product Review- HP Envy X2 detachable-screen hybrid tablet computer


This is the first chance for me to review a touch-enabled Windows 8 computer in the form of the HP Envy X2. This computer comes in the form of a detachable-keyboard “hybrid” tablet  which exploits the Windows 8 abilities. Last month, I had set up my primary desktop computer with Windows 8 and established the Microsoft.com single-sign-on arrangement so I can exploit this operating environment in a manner as it is to be exploited on these computers.

This experience has shown that it is easy to have a common operating experience across a primary computer and a secondary computer such as the HP Envy X2 thus reducing the need to reconfigure both units exactly.

HP Envy X2 Detachable-Keyboard Hybrid Tablet

Price – this configuration AUD$999 / USD$899
Form factor Detachable-keyboard hybrid
Processor Intel Atom Z2760
RAM 2Gb RAM shared with graphics
Secondary storage 64Gb solid-state drive MicriSDHC card reader on tabet + SD card reader on keyboard module
Display Subsystem Intel HD display Display memory in discrete options
Screen 11” widescreen (1366×768) LED backlit LCD
Audio Subsystem Intel HD audio
Audio Improvements Beats Audio by Dr. Dre
Network Wi-Fi 802.11a/g/n single-stream
Bluetooth 4.0 Smart Ready
Connectivity USB USB 2.0 x 2 on keyboard
Video HDMI socket on keyboard unit
Audio 3.5mm input-output jack on keyboard unit 3.5mm headphone jack on tablet
Authentication and Security TPM
Sensors NFC Yes
Operating System on supplied configuration Windows 8
Windows Experience Index – this configuration Overall: Graphics: Advanced Graphics:

The computer itself

Aesthetics and Build Quality

This Windows-8 computer comes in the “hybrid tablet” form factor which has the “system” integrated in the screen and has a detachable keyboard. This would remind you of the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime Android-driven tablet which put this concept on the map.

The HP Envy X2 is finished in a brushed-aluminium finish with metallic-black keys on the keyboard and a black bezel that surrounds the touchscreen. Here, I have not noticed any overheating or other temperature issues when I have used this computer even with viewing video content.

I have also noticed that this computer is built very well and even things like the mechanism to detach and attach the screen had that solid but easy-to-use feel about it.

User Interface

HP Envy X2 Hybrid Tablet detachable-keyboard dock

The detachable keyboard dock

Like most netbooks and small notebooks, the HP Envy X2 is equipped with the shallow chiclet keyboard but the way the Envy’s keys are spaced apart makes it supportive for an improved typing experience. I also admire the idea of having the keys finished in black rather than the same silver colour so they are easier to identify.

The trackpad can become a bit “hair-trigger” at times but it still uses the hold-down square in the top left to enable and disable it. This is a common foible with recent HP laptops and I would like to see a separate switch with indicator used for this function because if you dwell on the square to drag an item, you could accidentally defeat the trackpad.

The touchscreen is very responsive and accurate with there being very few issues with hair-trigger behaivour. This is more important if you are using the computer in the tablet mode The screen and keyboard are easy to detach from each other with you just having to move a latch above the keyboard to release the screen. When you want to reassemble the computer, it is as simple as dropping the tablet in to the groove atop the keyboard dock.

Audio and Video

The HP Envy X2 yielded a smooth visual experience for the display, even with the video playback which I did with the SBS On Demand service. Of course there is the glossy display that is common with consumer-market portable computing equipment and can be a problem in bright sunlight.

HP still does their best effort with improving the audio experience but even the Beats Audio sound tuning doesn’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. The only bonus with this detachable-keyboard tablet layout is that the speakers “fire forward” from the screen when the keyboard is attached to the screen. Instead, I would use headphones or external speakers if you want the best out of your music or video content.

Connectivity, Storage and Expansion

HP Envy X2 main tablet unit connected to the charger

Main tablet unit connected to the charger – microSD slot and audio jack

There are two USB 2.0 connections and an HDMI connection on the HP Envy X2’s keyboard dock but the tablet itself could benefit from at least one USB connection. The power is supplied through a special plug which can connect in to a slot on the right-had-side of the keyboard or the docking slot on the tablet itself, and can be confusing for new users when they want to charge the tablet itself without carrying the keyboard dock with them.

HP Envy X2 Hybrid Tablet left-hand side connections - HDMI, USB 2.0 and 3.5mm audio jack

Left-hand side connections – HDMI, USB 2.0 and 3.5mm audio jack

There is 2Gb RAM and 64Gb as solid-state secondary storage but it could benefit from more capacity but this is limited by the design constraints brought about by the tablet design.

You can add on a microSD memory card to the tablet itself or use a regular SD “camera card” with the keyboard dock for storage expansion. This can be limiting if you just want to show pictures from your camera on the Envy’s screen without the need for a keyboard dock.

HP Envy X2 Hybrid Tablet Right hand side connections - SD card slot, USB 2.0 port and charging socket

Right-hand side connections – SD card slot, USB 2.0 port and charging socket

Battery life

There is the typical long-lasting battery that can work well with using the Envy X2 in a portable context but it doesn’t identify whether there is a secondary battery in the keyboard dock to allow the computer to run for a longer time.

Other usage notes

The HP Envy x2 has a digital camera on the back and the front so you can “grab” pictures using this computer, something you could benefit from if you do something like take things apart yet want to create  reference images. It also has the NFC panels on the screen and the back so you could transfer Web links and contact details between the Envy and other Windows 8, Windows Phone or Android devices (Sorry Apple!)

Limitations and Points Of Improvement

HP could offer a variant of the Envy X2 with a 128 Gb SSD and 4Gb RAM as a higher-performance option rather than the simplified “second-duty” tablet computer that this is pitched as.

The Envy X2 could benefit from a regular SD on the tablet rather than the microSD so you can use the digital-camera SD cards when you want to quickly show and use pictures from your digital camera. Similarly there could be a microUSB “On The Go” socket or standard USB 2.0 socket on the tablet so you can connect USB memory keys directly or using an “On The Go” cable without the need for the keyboard.


HP Envy x2 Hybrid Tablet rear view

Rear view of tablet

The HP Envy x2 is positioned more as a detachable-keyboard hybrid tablet computer that runs a regular-computer operating system using a lightweight “regular-computing” processor. This can be useful for those of you who like a detachable-keyboard tablet computer but would like to run the Windows 8 operating environment that you run on your desktop or large laptop computer.

But you may find that the price is too steep unless you place value on a hardy construction and orthodox look and feel for this kind of computer. On the other hand, I would even recommend this to ASUS Transformer Prime users who want a portable computer with a similar form factor yet would like to run the “regular-computer” operating environment.

Interested about the HP Envy x2 that is being promoted on TV? A review is coming soon

Any of you who have watched MasterChef The Professionals lately may have seen some TV ads running for the HP Envy x2 detachable-keyboard hybrid notebook.

This unit is a basic Intel-driven Windows 8 notebook that converts to a tablet by you separating it from the keyboard. It is pitched as something you could use primarily as a tablet yet use the keyboard to do text entry.

Very shortly, I will be receiving one of these units for review as the first of the Windows 8 touch-enabled computing devices of this year and who knows what it will be like as a computer for its application.

Toshiba to introduce the first NFC-capable Ultrabook


Toshiba Satellite U925T is First NFC-Enabled Ultrabook#xtor=RSS-181#xtor=RSS-181#xtor=RSS-181

My Comments

From this article, I reckon that Toshiba has used the Satellite U925T Ultrabook to push themselves ahead of the game by integrating the “touch-and-go” near-field-communications technology in to a portable computer.

One key advantage that I see of this is exploiting the mobile-wallet systems like MasterCard PayPASS and, perhaps, Google Wallet to allow NFC-compliant payment cards to facilitate an online transaction that doesn’t have the fraud risks associated with “card not present” transactions. This would be facilitated by the use of appropriate software that interlinks with the NFC reader and merchant-side software that runs the transaction as if you are paying for the goods at a store using your card and their card terminal.

Similarly, the Android and Windows Phone ecosystem would benefit from this feature through access to the mobile wallets that can be hosted in the NFC-capable smartphones. This can extend to device-to-device file-transfer functions like Android Beam where users could upload pictures and sync contacts and QR-discovered Websites to the notebook from the smartphone.

In addition, the setup routines associated with commissioning Bluetooth or Wi-Fi wireless devices with this notebook can be simplified to a “touch-and-go” procedure if these devices support this functionality. This can then lead to the ability to transfer “extended-functionality” files to the host computer so as to open up advanced feature sets like sound-optimisation functions for headsets and microphones.

What I see about this more is that this Toshiba Windows 8 hybrid Ultrabook is an example of using NFC to demonstrate a synergy between open-platform computing devices. This then simply leads to a breeding ground for innovation.

Internationaler Funkaustellung 2012

IFA LogoThis year’s Internationaler Funkaustellung has been dominated by particular technologies. One was the TV and video class of devices showing some key trends such as displays being greater than 75” and the arrival of 21:9 ultra-wide displays as well as the start of a multi-vendor platform for smart TVs.

Another was the evolution of consumer and small-business computer equipment towards touch-enabled displays due to the arrival of Windows 8 with its touch-centric “Metro” dashboard-style user interface. Yet another trend was the open-frame mobile computing platforms i.e. Android and Windows Phone becoming popular amongst manufacturers and consumers, increasingly putting Apple on notice with their iOS mobile platform. In this environment, the lines of distinction between the classes of device are being blurred as we see the arrival of larger smartphones with 5”-6” screens and 10”-13” hybrid computers that become a tablet one moment and a small notebook computer with touchscreen the next.

I have given less space to the appliance sector in this report as the appliance market is primarily about the “durable” class of appliances expected to last in the order of seven to ten years and there isn’t much of an encouragement to allow customers to improve the appliances’ functionality through options that can be added on at a later stage.

Similarly, most manufacturers who launch camera equipment or printers for consumers or hobbyists would be waiting until Photokina in Cologne which occurs a few days after the end of IFA. This is where the photographic and cinematographic equipment activity across the consumer, hobbyist and professional sectors would be occurring.

Networked Home Entertainment

TV and Video

Three main trends that are showing at this year’s Internationaler Funkaustellung for TVs are the ultra-wide 21:9 displays, screen sizes of 75” and larger for a 16:9 display and 4K screens that have an ultra-high-definition display. LG were even running with an 84” LCD TV that used “Cinema 3D” technology that didn’t require the users to were 3D glasses.

Panasonic were running with 103” 3D plasma and 145” regular plasma TVs. This was while Samsung, LG and Sony ran with 75” and 84” LCD screens. LG’s set also had the new “Cinema 3D” glasses-free 3D vision technology. But Sony were also supplying a projector, a Blu-Ray player – the BDP-S790, as well as professional cameras as their way of creating an ecosystem for the 4K ultra-high-resolution system.

There was the launch of the Smart TV Alliance which LG and Philips (TP-Vision) formed to provide an open platform for the connected TV subsystem. Toshiba had signed up to this alliance along with support from Onigo, Mstar, Qualcomm and Yume system-on-chip vendors. This was also a chance to launch more apps for this platform.

Samsung also used this show to premiere their “transparent showcase displays” which were effectively see-through displays that could run video.

LG had used this show to launch their 21” Personal Smart TV which is the same size as most computer monitors and introduces the concept of the smart TV to the kitchen or the spare bedroom. This also has the Cinema 3D glasses-free 3D setup. As well, they launched the EA93 which is a 29” smart TV with the new ultra-wide 21:9 aspect ratio. They also demonstrated a 55” OLED TV which is 3D capable and brings to the large-screen TV the same kind of display that most HTC and Samsung smartphone users benefit from.

The Smart TV Alliance had been launched at this year’s IFA by LG and Philips. Here, Toshiba had joined the fold and a few system-on-chip vendors in the form of Onigo, Mstar, Qualcomm and Yume provided support to the platform. There also intend to be more apps launched by this alliance.

Network Audio

Denon’s latest package hi-fi system, in the form of the D-109, is network enabled and consists of the DRA-F109 stereo receiver (65watts per channel at 4 ohms impedance) as its hub and a CD player in the form of the DCD-F109. But this has an audio-focused network media adaptor in the form of the DNP-F109 which supports AirPlay and DLNA local network media playback and access to Internet radio and Last.FM. Both the CD player and the network media adaptor have walk-up connect-and-play for iOS devices and USB memory sticks via USB ports. You may be able to use it with the speakers you prefer or buy it with a pair of the SC-F109 2-way bass-reflex bookshelf speakers.

Sony is also running with the STR-DN1030 home theatre receiver which has integrated Wi-Fi and access to content via the home network. Similarly, the content can come via DLNA or AirPlay-enabled network sources or you could push the content from a mobile computing device or a laptop via a Bluetooth A2DP link.

But one main class of audio equipment that is showing through from a lot of the manufacturers at this year’s show are the speaker docks that aren’t necessarily designed just to work with the Apple iPod and iPhone. This is due to the popularity of the Android smartphones and the tablets. These either use Bluetooth A2DP connectivity or connect via the home network using AirPlay or DLNA network protocols. Most of these will have the Apple Docking connection for use with the current crop of iPods and iPhones.

Computing Trends

This year has become a key year for launching portable computing devices that can work in some cases as sole computing devices or mainly as secondary computing devices and it has been driven by the maturity of the Android platform and the launch of Windows 8.

Mobile Computing

The IFA, like other consumer electronics shows, bas become a huge presentation environment for open-frame mobile-computing devices like smartphones and tablets.

Samsung have use the IFA to premiere their technology including creating a special press event close to that show. Here, they launched the Galaxy Note 2 which is the second generation of their Galaxy Note phone-tablet bridge product. This one has improved processor abilities and runs the Android Jelly Bean operating system. It is styled like the Galaxy S3 and has an improved S-Pen stylus that is many years ahead of the 1990s-era PDAs. It is available as a 3G or 4G variant depending on the market.

Now Samsung has answered Nikon’s Android-based camera with their Galaxy Camera which uses Android and has the high-grade optics.

They also have released a multimedia player known as the YP-GP11 but better known as the Galaxy S WiFi 5.0 . This is again styled like the Galaxy S3 “iPhone-killer” and has a 5.8” screen. In my opinion, it could put the Apple iPod Touch “on notice”.

There is the Galaxy S Duos which is a dual-SIM variant of the Galaxy S2 and Samsung are also releasing an LTE-capable Galaxy S3 to the German market in October.

If Samsung has got some new Android hardware going, HTC is sure to answer them with a few prototypes. As well, Sony have run some more of the XPeria smartphones with one known as the XPeria Mint having a 13 megapixel camera and a 4.3” screen while powered by a 1.5GHz S4 processor. They also launched the XPeria TX which has a 4.55” screen, S4 processor, 1Gb RAM and 16Gb storage expandable by a microSD slot and driven by the Android Ice Cream Sandwich operating system.

Haier haven’t been quiet on the mobile-phone front with their Phone PAD 511 which is another Android Ice Cream Sandwich smartphone that has a 5.3” screen. They also fielded the Pad 711 “coat-pocket” and 1012 tabletop tablets that again run Android Ice Cream Sandwich,

Regular readers have noticed me review the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 10” “business” Android 3.0 tablet but Lenovo have released two tablets to this show. One is the IdeaTab S2 110 which is a 10” hybrid answer to the ASUS Transformer Prime. This one runs Android ICS and Bluetooth 4.0 Smart Ready but is available with 4G wireless broadband. They also released the IdeaTab A2107 which is an Android ICS “coat-pocket” tablet that is equipped with 3G, Bluetooth 4, FM radio and WiFi. Toshiba also fielded a 10” Android ICS Tegra-3-powered tablet in the form of the AT300.

As for accessories, there was the Tivitzen Pico Galaxy DVB-T tuner for Android mobile devices. This device is directly connected to the host via its microUSB, and works with the Tivitzen app to bring through broadcast TV to the phone or tablet.

Regular home computers

Due to Windows 8 being “released to the manufacturers”, every computer name was running computers that make best use of this operating system. One form factor that was very common was the “hybrid” tablet-laptop computer. These had the computing power, touchscreen display, primary and secondary storage in one battery-powered unit which could be clipped to a keyboard which, in some cases, had extra battery power for the computer, just like the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime which defined this form factor. These could be set up to become a Windows 8 tablet one moment or a fully-fledged clamshell notebook computer with a proper keyboard at another moment.

A few examples of this class included the Samsung Series 5 which uses the S-Pen stylus and is driven by Intel x86 microarchitecture.

There were also some “convertible” notebook computers that could be folded to become a tablet one moment or a classic notebook computer. These converted by one pulling out the keyboard from under the tablet or swivelling the screen horizontally in a frame rather than swivelling the screen vertically. Toshiba and Sony fielded two examples in the former “pull-out keyboard” type with the Sony VAIO Duo 11.

Of course, most of the portable units were of the “ultrabook” form-factor, typically thin and light, being equipped with up to 256Gb solid-state storage as the main secondary storage and perhaps having an SD card reader for removable storage.

Toshiba’s example of this was the Portege Z930 successor to the Z830 that I previously reviewed. This came in two configurations – one being equipped with an i5 processor, 4G RAM and 128 solid-state storage while the other cam with an i7 higher-speed processor and increased RAM (8G) and solid-state storage space (256Gb). Toshiba had run the Satellite U945 14” low-end model as well as the Satellite P845t that capitalises on Windows 8’s touch abilities.There was also a Satellite S955 “thin-and-light” laptop in the mix as well.

Acer’s latest Ultrabook example is the Aspire S7 which comes in an 11” or 13” variety and both of these have Ivy Bridge processors, 4Gb RAM and 256Gb solid-state storage.

Sony was launching the VAIO Duo 11 hybrid portable computer which has an 11” touch screen, and slides out from tablet mode to be a laptop. It is also equipped with front and rear cameras, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC like Android Beam and has the essential stylus support.

Some of the computers even used the new 21:9 ultra-wide display with the Toshiba Satellite U840W having a 14” display of this ratio and 6Gb on the RAM and 500Gb hard disk / 32Gb solid-state secondary storage. This would be having the same height as the regular 13” Ultrabook but being wider. But Samsung had also released a Series 9 13-inch ultraportable with a “Retina-like” ultra-high-resolution (2560×1440) screen. Similarly, every manufacturer ran a series of touch-enabled all-in-one desktop computers that capitalised on the touchscreen user-experience that Windows 8 provided. Examples of these include the Acer Aspire 5600U / 7600U all-in-one lineup.

Dell were running a lineup of XPS touchscreen-enabled hybrid computers with the XPS 10 being a 10” Windows 8RT hybrid that uses ARM microarchitecture. This is in addition to the XPS Duo 12 which is a 12” hybrid that works with Intel architecture and runs Windows 8. They were also using this event to launch an XPS touchscreen all-in-one desktop similar to the Sony VAIO J Series that I reviewed previously.

One of the new computers that HP were launching to capitalise on Windows 8 was the Envy X2 hybrid which has a detachable keyboard.


There hasn’t been much on network infrastructure hardware for the home because most of this would have been launched at CEBit in March.

But Devolo had launched the dLAN LiveCam which is an IP surveillance camera that connects directly to a HomePlug AV network segment. This would yield increased video reliability due to the nature of HomePlug AV network technology.

As well, Toshiba had launched their first home-network NAS in the form of the Canvio Personal Cloud. As expected for the consumer NAS that is on the market, it would be able to work with dedicated iOS and Android apps so one can transfer data to and from a tablet or smartphone.


What I see of the Internationaler Funkaustellung 2012 is a focus on consumer / small-business portable computing for mobile and regular operating platforms; and the development of larger and wider displays which use a high pixel density that makes images look closer to a classic photograph.