The best of IFA 2013: 15 eye-grabbing laptops, cameras, smartwatches, and more

Most years, the IFA trade show in Berlin is pretty boring. In 2013, it's anything but.

An IFA for the record books

Most years, the IFA trade show in Berlin is pretty quiet. Sure, usually you can find a new phone or three being announced there before the holiday rush, but in general it’s overshadowed by the hailstorm of gewgaws at CES, as well as the plethora of products unveiled annually at Computex.

This year is different.

Wedged between the launch of Intel’s energy-sipping Haswell processors and the impending release of Windows 8.1, this year’s exhibition has seen a hard rain of new hybrids, laptops, tablets, and all-in-ones—and that’s just the computery stuff. Feast your eyes on the most attention-grabbing gear of IFA 2013.

Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch

Who says Samsung can’t innovate? The company’s $300 Galaxy Gear smartwatch may just be the most forward-looking example of a wrist-rider yet, with its gorgeous, 1.6-inch Super AMOLED screen, abundant apps, and phone capabilities.

Despite all that, the Gear isn’t perfect—especially if you have small wrists, or if you own any phone other than the Galaxy Note 3. For more, read our wrists-on impressions.

Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Speaking of the Galaxy Note 3, Samsung’s latest gargantuan phablet (it sports a 5.7-inch display) debuted alongside the Galaxy Gear. Beyond being faster, smaller, and lighter than its predecessor, the third-gen Note packs a bevy of handy-dandy S Pen stylus improvements. Check it out.

HP Envy Recline

HP’s Envy Recline all-in-one PCs aren’t your typical AIOs. HP meticulously engineered these 23- and 27-inch bad boys to place the center of gravity in the middle of the screen. That nifty trick means you can pull the computer all the way to the edge of your desk, pivot its screen to any angle, and smudge your fingerprints all over its touchscreen without worrying that the computer will topple into your lap.

That’s pretty spiffy, and the fact that all HP Envy Recline models use Haswell processors and discrete Nvidia graphics is even spiffier. Read all about the new series, and everything else HP announced at IFA.

Toshiba Satellite Encore

For months, the Acer Iconia W3 held the distinct honor of being the only 8-inch Windows tablet around—which stunk, because Windows 8 is surprisingly useful on small devices. No more! The 8-inch Toshiba Satellite Encore not only carries the impending Windows 8.1 update, but is also the first Windows 8 tablet confirmed to be powered by Intel’s tablet-focused Bay Trail processor, and it packs a high-res 1280-by-800-pixel display to boot. As if that weren’t interesting enough, the Satellite Encore will ship with the full version of Office Home & Student preinstalled.

The encore isn’t the only Windows 8 device that Toshiba announced at IFA, though. Check out the full details regarding the complete lineup.

Sony QX10 and QX100 lens cameras

Sony’s QX10 and QX100 “lens cameras” are odd beasts. These big, honkin’ Frankenstein-like creations blend stand-alone camera technology and traditional lenses, and they’re designed to be strapped to your smartphone for taking jaw-dropping pictures on the run. See? Hybrids aren’t just for computing. Check out our hands-on impressions of the smaller, cheaper QX10 lens camera.

Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro

No two ways about it: Lenovo’s IdeaPad Yoga series is already one of the coolest hybrid designs around. So how do you improve upon it? The Yoga 2 Pro is thinner, lighter, and a whole lot prettier than its predecessor, cramming a 3200-by-1800-pixel resolution into its 13-inch screen.

Well played, Lenovo. Well played.

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga

Yes, the IdeaPad Yoga rocks (didn’t we already cover this?), but because it’s part of the consumer-oriented IdeaPad series, some businesses may be hesitant to embrace this especially flexible hybrid. Lenovo’s solution? Slap on a bunch of business-friendly features, beef up the durability, paint it black, and call it the ThinkPad Yoga, rather than the IdeaPad Yoga.

Once again: Well played.

Lenovo Flex 20

Remember the ridonkulously big, 27-inch IdeaCentre Horizon tablet—the one built with family game night in mind? It’s pretty cool, but it also weighs 20 pounds. The Lenovo Flex 20 is basically a shrunk-down, 19.5-inch version of the IdeaCentre Horizon, complete with all the e-dice, strikers, and joysticks Lenovo created for that bigger sibling—but with far less associated back pain.

To learn more, see our full coverage of the PCs Lenovo announced at IFA 2013.

Ricoh Theta panoramic camera

This long, thin, $400 panoramic camera gives you a 360-degree shot of whatever action is happening around you—it’s kind of like a Google Street View camera for everyone. We’ve had a chance to try it, and it’s just about idiot-proof.

Sony VAIO Flip

Sony’s new VAIO Flip laptops feature a clever rubber hinge that runs across the middle of the display back. You can flip the screen into a traditional laptop position, facing the keyboard, or flip it the other way to sit on top of the lid, and suddenly it’s a tablet. The concept is similar to that of Lenovo’s Yoga, but whereas the Yoga’s keys are exposed at the bottom of the machine in tablet mode, the Flip’s keys hide under the lid—a big plus.

Another big plus is the VAIO Flip’s attractive screen. The 15-inch model rocks an eye-melting 2880-by-1620-pixel resolution, while the 13- and 14-inch models have 1080p displays. Read all about these aluminum-clad beauties and all the other PCs that Sony announced at IFA.

Panasonic TC-L65WT600

This year, 4K televisions abound at IFA, even though nobody is buying them yet. The one you see here is the Smart Viera TX-L65WT600, Panasonic’s first foray into Ultra HD. Toshiba showed off a 50-inch 4K TV of its own—one of the smallest ever announced—while Samsung unveiled plans to broadcast 4K TV signals via satellite thanks to a partnership with Eutelstat.

The HDMI Licensing group, meanwhile, announced an amped-up HDMI 2.0 spec that finally passes 4K video at a full 60 frames per second.

Panasonic Toughpad 4K

It’s a 20-inch tablet. It’s a 20-inch tablet with a 3840-by-2560-pixel resolution. It’s a $6000 20-inch tablet with a 3840-by-2560-pixel resolution—and just two hours of battery life.

So basically, the Panasonic Toughpad 4K UT-MB5 is a ridiculous monument to business-focused excess. Need we say more? (We did anyway.)

Asus Transformer Book Trio

It’s a Windows laptop! It’s a dock for a Windows desktop PC! It’s an Android tablet!

No, seriously—the Asus Transformer Book Trio is all those things, hence its name. Asus takes hybrids to new highs (or is that “new lows”?) by packing a Haswell processor, 4GB of RAM, and up to 1TB of storage into the base unit, in addition to cramming an Intel Atom Z2760 processor, 2GB of RAM, and 64GB of flash storage into the detachable 11.6-inch display. The base carries an adapter for the cutting-edge 802.11ac Wi-Fi protocol; the display makes do with plain ol’ 802.11n.

Don’t be shy! Read up on all the new hybrids and laptops that Asus announced.

Asus Zenbook UX301

Asus’s Zenbooks have been paragons of compact computing ever since the first days of the Ultrabook, and the latest editions appear ready to keep that reputation going strong. The Zenbook UX301 and UX302 each sport supertough Gorilla Glass 3 displays. In addition, they pack fourth-generation Haswell processors, backlit keyboards, and adapters for blistering-fast 802.11ac Wi-Fi.

The Zenbook UX301’s spec sheet is almost as alluring as its exterior, thanks to the machine’s 2560-by-1440-pixel display resolution and the option for 512GB of SSD storage (in a lightning-quick RAID 0 array, no less).

Belkin Linksys EA6900 Router

The Belkin Linksys EA6900/Smart Wi-Fi AC1900 router is noteworthy for a few different reasons—and no, I’m not talking about the ludicrously lengthy name. It’s the first Linksys router released since Belkin gobbled up the brand, and it supports the new 802.11ac Wi-Fi tech that Asus has been hurriedly building into its IFA 2013 laptops.

What does that mean? It means the router is theoretically capable of physical data-transfer rates of a whopping 1.3 gbps—assuming that 802.11ac is built into the receiving device, too, of course. Senior editor and networking guru Michael Brown has all the nitty-gritty details about the Belkin Linksys EA6900.

Today's Best Tech Deals

Picked by PCWorld's Editors