After last year’s stagnation, this year’s IFA, Europe’s largest consumer electronics tradeshow, marked a significant increase in the number of visitors. The Berlin show pavilions hosted 235,000 curious technology enthusiasts in the first week of September, who witnessed world premiers of several buzz-worthy devices.
Tablets the Talk at IFA
Samsung, a day before the trade show officially commenced, made the most news with an event where only media representatives were allowed entrance. The South Korean company launched the Galaxy Tab, the long-awaited Android tablet that many claim is a serious competitor for the iPad. Compared to Apple’s device, the Galaxy Tab comes with three inches less of screen real estate and weighs only 380 grams, making it much more mobile, even practical because it can be used with only one hand. The tablet comes with the Android 2.2 OS and can be used as a mobile phone as well, while it also includes a front-facing camera for video calls. You can read our initial Galaxy Tab impressions on TabletPCReview.
With somewhat lesser hype, but equal interest of visitors, Toshiba also presented its tablet, the Folio 100, which comes with the Android OS 2.2. Its screen size (10 inches) matches the Apple iPad. However, compared to Apple’s device, it has some advantages as well as disadvantages. Given that we tried out the tablet at the show, you can also read our Folio 100 initial impressions.
During the Berlin show, several other tablets were launched, but they did not cause nearly as much interest as the Samsung or Toshiba units. Thus, ViewSonic presented its ViewPad 100, a dual-boot tablet featuring both Android 1.6 and Windows 7 Home Premium. It comes with an Intel Atom 1.66 GHz processor, 1 GB DDR3 RAM and 16 GB SSD disc, which is typical notebook hardware. The ViewPad 100 would be far more interesting if it had not disappointed us with a dated version of the Android OS and lack of 3G support.
Archos was exhibiting five new tablets with screen diagonals of 2.8, 3.2, 4.3, 7 and 10.1 inches. They run the Android 2.2 operating system and have a number of functions not normally available for that system. For example, the USB host support is an enhancement supplied by Archos to allow the direct connection of external devices via USB. A mouse or keyboard can also be connected to the new tablets, a feature that is not available on other equipment running Android, except the Samsung Galaxy Tab. The new Archos tablets with 4.3-inch or larger screens also have a micro-socket for expanding the memory up to 32 GB, and the 7-inch units and above have a capacitive multi-touch screen.
The new Archos range offers a combination of games, eBooks, social networking and other applications, as well as HD videos and music in a slimline casing. On the other hand, what we found to be a dark display and imprecise touch and movement recognition could hinder these devices.
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