The rejuvenation of the tech scene at this time of year is heralded by one of the oldest and largest trade shows on the circuit, with Germany taking centre stage for Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin – known simply as IFA.
At IFA 2013 ITProPortal witnessed the unveiling of the Sony Xperia Z1, realised that convertible laptops are here to stay, and learned that no-one is impressed by Samsung's Galaxy Gear.
This year we're looking forward to seeing the year's developments in wearable tech. And I'm not just talking smart watches. This year we're talking infrared thermometers, Bluetooth home cinema speakers and something called the "D30 Smart Skin".
All the news will of course be here on ITProPortal - just check out our IFA hub for all of it.
Wearable, dareable tech
And it's the latter that's piqued our interest. D30 is a smart, rate sensitive material, meaning that the harder the impact on the garment, the greater the resistance to the force. The company aired one of its first creations to the world back in 2006 at the Winter Olympics, when the US and Canadian ski teams wore D30's soft armour. The product range now extends to the motorcycle, sport, footwear, electronics, military and workwear sectors.
According to the D30 website, the smart materials in their raw state flow freely when moved slowly, but on shock, lock together to absorb and disperse energy, before instantly returning to their flexible state.
D30 is exhibiting its Smart Skin at IFA, so I'm looking forward to seeing it in action and potentially wearing it if I'm allowed.
A new Lumia looms
If you had to define my relationship with my Windows Phone (now my ex) it'd be a complicated endeavour. I've heard though that these much maligned smartphones are less erratic these days, making them more agreeable companions. At IFA, Microsoft is expected to unveil the follow-up the widely acclaimed Lumia 1020.
Kinect, the motion sensing technology seen on the Xbox consoles, is expected to appear on the sequel to the 1020 – codenamed McLaren. Internally, the Kinect technology is known as "3D Touch" or "Real Motion", and I'm keen to see if it enhances the smartphone user experience. Users will reportedly be able to answer the phone by holding it to their ear,
Microsoft has also been developing technology that detects how the user is holding the phone, so if lying in bed say, the device will automatically block the orientation switch. Kinda cool.
Samsung takes Note
Forgive me for not getting to this sooner, but probably the biggest launch at IFA 2014 is the debut of the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, a phablet that we'll be eager to catch a glimpse of. Will the screen reach the 6in mark? The original Note, the Note 2, and the Note 3, were 5.3in, 5.5in and 5.7in, respectively, so it'd make sense to push the phablet's display size even further.
Rumour has it that Samsung's new tablet may have a curved, wraparound screen. We'll be expecting a version of Android 4.4 as the OS with Samsung's custom TouchWiz UI running on top.
There's also the Galaxy Mega 2. This big size/mid spec phone could also have a 6in screen, if you believe the rumour mill, and it could be a great option for phablet lovers who can't afford the Note 4. It'll be great to compare the two side-by-side at IFA, if the Samsung team does indeed bring the Mega 2 with them. Below is a leaked image of the Note 4 courtesy of GSM Arena.
The Xperia Z3, plus a little brother?
We can also look forward to the unveiling of the Sony Xperia Z3 – the follow up to the Z1 and Z2. With speedy performance, a good camera and some decent Sony extras, we were impressed with the Z2 at ITProPortal, and leaks suggest a small rise in spec for the Z3, plus a much needed upgrade to a 1080 pixel display.
As if all this wasn't riveting enough though, Sony will apparently launch a 4.5in little brother for the Z3 called the Z3 Compact. The idea harks back to the Z1 Compact, which was launched alongside the Z1 and packed a punch for a device of its size. Word on the grapevine is that the little guy will have a 2.5GHz processor, 2GB RAM and a 20-megapixel camera. See a leaked image of the Z3 below.
Panasonic's white goods
Finally, I'm intrigued to see what Panasonic comes up with for its "smart kitchen appliances" and "connected home entertainment" – both mentioned in a press conference invite. Reports also claim that new cameras could be unveiled with wireless connectivity or interoperability with other smart devices.
So what will impress? What will fall flat? Check our IFA hub for all the action.