Sonntag, 7. Oktober 2012

IFA 2012 Impressions


Right next to the main entrance was the Samsung hall. Yes, they had a complete large hall for their own and Samsung left no doubt, who is the new leader in consumer electronics. After the impressive Samsung hall it was hard to be impressed by anything else on the IFA - but possible.
Though the LED backlight technology seemed to be at the end, Samsung - as well as many others - demonstrated that they can push the limit of the older technology even further. 
The trick seems to be to combine brighter LED's with stonger LED-Filters to deliver higher in-picture contrast, an area where LED technology falls short compared to Plasma or the new AMOLED technology.
So Samsung managed to show some impressive examples of the latest LED-TV's.

This one for example showed Samsungs new Micro Dimming Ultimate with spectacular in-picture contrasts. Many visitors - including me - thought to look at a AMOLED screen.

Bigger is better, here is an impressive Series-8 65'' LED TV and also one with 75'', which they called the largest of the world (but larger ones are shown at LG and Sharp).

The stars of Samsungs hall were the coming AMOLED TV's. The brilliance of these displays is unmatched and even ahead of LG's coming offerings (see below). Unfortunately, Samsung will use shutter glasses for 3D, but at least Samsungs shutter technology improved over time. I tested Samsungs latest shutter glasses and these and the 3D effect were much better than what I am used to from my one year old Panasonic PV50GT30 TV.

Of course, Samsung did not need the whole hall just for TV. As the new leader in smartphones, they showed their whole Galaxy line including the brand new Galaxy S3. But the best gadget of the whole IFA is the coming Galaxy Note 10.1. This is definitely the next gadget I will buy. All these tablets with capacitive touch screen are not usefull as a notes taking devices, for example in meetings. Even on an iPad with a pencil it is more like painting with a brush, than writing with a pen. Already the original Galaxy Note was great for writing, but to small for an overall notes taking device. Now the Note 10.1 is the perfect device and in my opinion the best tablet on the market! Samsung did not only took the Galaxy Tab and added a pen. They putted much intelligence into the software (for example see the Galaxy Note 2 software review from For now, as Apple only brings out minor updates since years, Samsung is the real innovator. One feature I really love is the split screen multitasking as shown on the photo above. It makes it possible to run two apps on one screen in parallel. For my use case as a meeting notes device, I could have the agenda on one side and do my notes on the other. 

Samusung is also a maker of digital cameras. Though they are far from the lead there, they tried something completely new and showed a crossover between a smartphone and a compact super zoom camera. I am not sure what this is good for. It is to big for an every day smartphone, so you will need a separate smartphone anyway. Maybe for the holidays, where you - hopefully - don't use your phone to often and carry your camera with you all the time anyways. Or maybe this is just a new camera UI concept. I don't know what this will lead to, but I like a big manufacturer just to try out something new.

And I want to say thank you, as Samsung is kind to bloggers like me. Free entrance to their SMART Lounge for all bloggers with free WIFI access. Great!


Moving over to Toshiba, they had mostly two new technologies to show.

Toshiba is the first manufacturer to offer a 3D TV which does not need glasses. What I can say is that it works. And it is possible to move in front of the screen without loosing the 3D effect, because the TV captures the faces of the viewers and adjusts the 3D effect to it. If you move fast, it might take a second until 3D comes back.
But don't compare the effect to the better 3D TV's with glasses. It goes mostly into the depth, but objects barely come out of the screen. If you don't like 3D glasses, then this is better than nothing. But if you really want 3D, then look into the LG section of this review.

Toshibas glasses free 3D technology becomes possilble through the usage of super high resolution displays. Though the 3D effect is not so impressive, the images of their Cevo Engine 4K are! For example at the picture with the library, you could get really close to the screen and get an amazing level of detail which makes it possilbe to see every single book in that library. Though this won't make a difference on smaller screens, for display sizes from 55'' and above this will hopefully soon become the standard.


I am always seeking for a MacBook Pro like PC notebook, which means great functionality in great styling and a very solid body.

Lenovo is at least known for high end spec notebooks which could even fall from 1m to the floor and continue to work without problems. Only their design is back from the old IBM days an look as if it has been designed with an axe. Now they presented a new model which looks great, unfortunately it is an Ultrabook (no hard disc) and is made of squeaking plastic. They have it all, but unfortunately not in one device. A high spec Lenovo notebook in a solid body and a design like that, this is something I would spend money at. Maybe next year.


 Panasonic did not have any breaking news, but showed a great refinement of their best TV sets.

Panasonics last year series of Plasma TV's, especially the high end VT30 series has been voted to be the best TV sets in the world from many magazines and sites. If you are among the best, it is not easy to improve even further. But Panasonic did it. They took last years Top models like the excellent GT30 and VT30 models and enhanced them in many aspects. The most visible enhancement is the even more improved black level. This is mostly done by reducing the plasma flicker even further. I compared the PV50GT50 to what I know from my one year old PV50GT30 and can confirm, that this is significantly better than last years model. One other area where Panasonic has improved, is in the even extremely good motion compensation which has now upgraded to 2500 Hz intermediate frame creation.
So nothing spectecular, but these are probably the TV sets you might want to buy this year. The AMOLED TV's are either not available or if they are then at prices around EUR 10.000,- which is not a mainstream price. So if you are about to buy a TV this year, one of Panasonics high end plasma TV's might be the right choice for you.


Compared to Sonys role in consumer electronics, their hall has been a little uninspiring. Maybe the thing is, that Sony has so many different products, that for any given product category there wasn't much space and barely any news. So they had a large area for digital cameras, but only days ahead of the Photokia they did not show any new products. There was a big Playstation area, but everything there was also already known.
Toshiba presented a 3D TV without glasses, Sony did vice versa. They showed 3D glasses that did not need a TV because it has two mini screens built in. The good thing about it is, that it worked in general. But the quality was low. Maybe, if you want to watch 3D movies in a plane for any price then this is the right product for you.

Like Panasonic, Sony did not show any completely new technologies like the koreans did with AMOLED. So Sony worked on improving of the good old LED backlight LCD technology. And they could demonstrate impressive looking pictures based on that.

When I first saw Sony's Intelligent Peak Backlight TV, I though that this is also an AMOLED screen, or already one with Sony's coming TrueLED technology. Extreme in-picture contrast and no visible halos. Depending on the price, this might be an alternative to AMOLED for the next years.


Starting in the Samsung hall, it has been hard to find something more impressive on the whole IFA fair. The LG hall was one of the last I visited. When entering the hall, the first thing you get are polarized 3D glasses, as LG's leading Cinema 3D technology has been their main theme at the IFA. But the first thing to notice are LG's new AMOLED TV's

Like Samsung, LG showed high contrast demos which looked amazing. Samsung's AMOLED seemed even a bit better to me than LG's, due to the different technologies. But don't get me wrong: even if Samsungs AMOLED might look even slightly better, LG's version of AMOLED also looks absolutely stunning.

And the best thing about LG's AMOLED TV's are, that LG will combine them with their Cinema 3D technology, which is absolutely amazing compared to shutter LED. Even for the classical LED backlight LCD's, it seemed that the 3D effect became even better compared to my last years 47LW5590. 

LG also knows how to build big screens, here is a 84'' model with Cinema 3D.

But the following gets my personal

Best of show award!!!

This was the most impressive consumer electronics demonstration I have ever seen! LG assembled a 24 x 7 grid of Cinema 3D TV's, combined to show a gigantic picture. The 3D objects were flying in the room as if I could touch them, this was absolutely stunning. Saving the best for last, just before leaving I watched the whole demo three times before I could move on.


When leaving the IFA, I got the feeling that someone is trying to tell me who's fair this is. But though the Samsung hall was absolutely impressive, my best-of-show award goes to LG. An LG AMOLED Cinema 3D TV is definitely something I will buy ... in a few years when the prices went down. The next device I will buy is definitely the Samusung Galaxy Note 10.1.
But in Summary, it was impressive how much the Koreans took over the fair and pushed back the Japanese.
It was fun, I will return next year and will again post my impressions here. In the meantime wait for my coming Galaxy Note review, maybe sometimes after Christmas, when the prices probably will drop.

Donnerstag, 17. Mai 2012

Samsung Galaxy S2 vs. Canon compact camera comparison

The camera of the Samsung Galaxy S2 is that good, that I did a few comparison shots with my Canon compact cameras, a Canon Powershot SX230 and a S95.

left SGS2 - right SX230

It is quite amazing, how close the SGS2 gets to the SX230. In the sky, the smaller dynamic range of the SGS2 becomes visible. And in 100% view, the SX230 shows more detail. But for a phone, this is quite a good picture quality.

left SGS2 - right SX230

Here it gets even better. You have to look very closely to see, which one is from a phone and which one is from a compact camera.

left SGS2 - right S95

Now this scene is very difficult for a compact camera and would be so even for a DSLR, so I took the S95 instead of the SX230. Of course the SGS2's photo lacks a bit of the drama which the S95 could catch quite well. But hey, this is comparing a phone's camera to one of the best compact cameras ever made. And though you probably would not print a poster from the SGS2's shot, it is quite a good picture.

In general, the SGS2 offers a very good camera replacement for all the situations, where you have just your phone with you.

Mittwoch, 16. Mai 2012

Samstag, 28. April 2012

Fujifilm Finepix F770EXR review: testing for corner softness

Last year, the Fuji Finepix F550EXR has been beaten by the Canon PowerShot SX230hs  in my test. In between, Fuji brought a small upgrade with the F600/660, which should solve the problem of too dark movies in low light. But  problematic lens construction remained the same since the F300, and so did the problem with the border and corner softness.
This year Fujifilm released the new F770EXR which brings a new lens, a 20x zoom with 25-500mm. Such extreme zoom ranges are usually at the expense of image quality, so the expectations regarding image quality has been rather low. But despite the even larger focal range compared to it's predecessor, the first shots I saw on the internet, looked quite promising, much better than what I knew from the F550EXR.

A first test with a hedge demonstrated a significantly better result than last year with the F550. The corner and edge blurring is only minimal and for a zoom lens these are absolutely normal. The very good SX230 is not better in that area even zoom lenses of system cameras that cost more than the F770 alone are not free from it.
So this has been a very encouraging first test. Fuji got the main problem of the last F-generation under control, so I am looking forward to further testing of the F550.

Sonntag, 1. April 2012

Apple iPhone 4 vs. HTC Incredible S camera comparison

I had an HTC Incredible S for a few days. It is not the right phone for me. The displays black value is too high, more a gray than a black. And though it feels solid, I personally consider it as too heavy. It is in the same class as the popular Samsung Galaxy S. Compared to the Galaxy, the software of the Incredible is much better. Samsung decided to stop updating the software of the Galaxy, unfortunately the last release of the SGS firmware has been a buggy and laggy one. HTC on the other hand became the vendor with the best software support even for older devices. So my first step has been to upgrade the firmware to Android 2.3.5 with Sense 3.0, and Android 4.0 ICS is already announced. A big compliment to HTC.
In general, I consider Sense as the most polished variant of Android. Nearly everything looks better then on stock android.
But as I also had an Galaxy S2, there is no reason for me to keep the Incredible. This is not a fair comparison, but if you once get used to the speed, brilliant display and great camera of the S2, there is no need to use the Incredible S until you get it really cheap and are not willing to pay the extra money for the SGS2.
So I did not write a complete review for the Incredible S, but I want to share a few comparison photos and videos with you.

All HTC phones before the Incredible S are well known for their crappy cameras. Though HTC phones had their strengths, like the mentioned high software quality, the cameras where just rubbish. The Incredible S has been the first HTC phone with a stronger focus on the camera. And the result does not look too bad against the iPhone 4, instead some pictures of the Incredible s look better than the iPhone 4 shots. And the iPhone 4 which has been known for its good camera for quite some time. The Incredible's camera is not great, but at least average.

Incredible S video

iPhone 4 video

Comparing the video results of both phones, without going too much into detail it's a draw in my eyes. Depending on where you stop the video, you will see some parts are better on one phone and vice versa.

To sum it up: if you are looking for a phone with a very good camera, then go for a Galaxy S2, iPhone 4S or Nokia N8. If you are instead looking for a phone with a good software, the camera is not so important for you and you get a good offer (not more than 60% of the SGS2 price), then the Incredible S might be worth a try.

Samstag, 17. März 2012

MWC 2012: WTF, only messy new phones???

Looking back Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2012, I was wondering if my next perfect smartphone has been launched. But what: as soon as I get interested in a new phone, it takes my not more than 5 minutes to find an annoynace or even a complete showstopper.

Hey, makers, why it is so hard to design my next phone?

The Xperia P looked quite promising on first sight. On second sight, I noticed that it has the USB-connector on the top left side. WTF?!? Hey Sony, did you realize how a car mount for this would look like. And with a 1350 mAH battery on a 1GHz dual core you probably would require charging whenever possible. But the showstopper for me: no micro-USB support, only 16 GB memory on board. Maybe in Japan, you'll always have constant 3G connections everywhere, even in subway tunnels and on the countryside. But here in Europe, we do have quite a lot of places with suboptimal network capability, so we'd better have our favorite music and movies with us.
What a shame, as the Xperia P also has my beloved camera shutter button. So what would be needed to make me buy the P?
  • Micro USB slot
  • USB connector at the bottom
  • and to make it perfect: a hardware menu key.
HTC's new One line also looked promising. Finally HTC realized, that many smartphone users demand better cameras than the crappy things HTC used in the past. But again: no Micro-SD slots. Forget it. The free extra space on Dropbox is nice, but does not help outside of 3G areas.