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IFA 2012 - What to Expect From the Show

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The IFA 2012 conference kicks off next week in Berlin on August 31. It's a huge show, and just about every big name in the consumer electronics world goes there to big-up off their latest wares. But what should we be looking out for? Here are our top picks.

A boatload of Windows 8 tablets and Ultrabooks
If there's going to be a big trend for this year's IFA conference, it'll be Windows 8. Whether it's tablets or laptops, we're expecting a boatload of the things.

In on the action are Asus, Acer, Lenovo and Toshiba. And, of course, Microsoft.

The best-known Windows 8 tablet that has been officially outed so far is the Microsoft Surface, the "official" early doors Windows 8 tab. It uses an intriguing tactile keyboard case that is intended to let the tablet double-up as a laptop. If the keyboard is no good, though, it'll be sunk. We have our doubts - the thing looks a bit like an iPad Smart Cover, rather than a keyboard.
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What's worth looking out for is the Asus Transformer stab at a Windows 8 tablet. Asus's Transformers use modular physical keyboards that are on-par with those of a small laptop.

Windows 8 tablets will come in two flavours, RT and full Windows 8. RT devices are the lower-cost offerings, and could sell for as little as $300, making them competitive with the Android-powered Google Nexus 7. Exciting times.

Windows 8 Ultrabooks and full-size laptops are perhaps a little less exciting, likely to be iterative versions of the devices we've seen running Windows 7 over the past 12 months. But who knows? We'll be back with all the details as they're unveiled.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 2
Probably the single most anticipated product headed for its official unveiling at IFA 2012 is the Samsung Galaxy Note 2. It's an updated version of the original Note, the device that popularised the awkward term "phablet", a mix of phone and tablet.
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What's it all about? The screen will be a little larger, the Wacom digitiser layer a little more advanced, the CPU a more powerful quad-core model and - possibly - the display higher-res. It's an impressive combo. We'll be back with a full hands-on next week.

Sony Xperia T, J
Sony is going to run out of letters in the alphabet, the way it's going. This year we've already seen the company renovate the Xperia line with the Sony Xperia S, U and  P, but the range is set to expand with the T and J models.

The Sony Xperia T offers a 4.3in 720p screen, 16GB of internal storage and a dual-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon MSM8960 CPU. This makes it pretty similar to the current Xperia S model, although an uprated 13-megapixel EXMOR camera sensor is on the cards.

The Sony Xperia J is a lower-cost model in the Xperia range, with a 4in screen and relatively low-powered 800MHz processor. Like the Huawei Ascend G300, it shows you don't have to pay top dollar to get a nice big screen. Predictably, though, it's not an HD display, instead rocking a 480x 854 pixel resolution panel.

Sony Tablet S mk 2
The first Sony tablets came in two flavours. There was the sensible tablet S and the slightly mad, dual-core Tablet P. It's no surprise that out of the two, it's the S that's getting a second model.

It keeps the "fold over" design of the first Sony Tablet S, but is much slimmer, and is made of aluminium rather than plastic. One key criticism of the previous version was that it felt a bit plasticky, but that should be fixed this time around.

Other rumoured specs include a 9.4in screen - a little smaller than the norm - Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich OS (possibly Jelly bean by launch), Tegra 3 processor and both HDMI and USB sockets. It sounds like a versatile little tablet, but it'll have to be priced aggressively to compete.  

Gaikai goes mainstream?
Not familiar with Gaikai? It's a game streaming service, a bit like OnLive, that was acquired by Sony back in June for a cool $380 million.

It's possible that Sony will unveil its plans for Gaikai at IFA 2012. Thus far, President of Sony Worldwide Studios Shuhei Yoshida has said to VG247, "we’ll be able to talk more about our plans in the future." Could the future mean next week?
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The potential for Gaikai is massive. It could let you play PS3 games on your Sony TV, tablet and smartphone. However, Yoshida also seemed to suggest that broadband speed and reliability need to increase before the Gaikai dream can become a reality.

HTC tablet, S4-powered phone
Whatever happened to HTC? It was once the king of Android, but now it seems to have become Samsung's back-up dancer.

HTC may unveil its second UK stab at an Android tablet at IFA 2012, following on from the largely unsuccessful HTC Flyer. The company hasn't confirmed it'll show off the tablet at the conference, but a spokesperson has said that it is coming to the UK. No details have been revealed, but it will supposedly have a "unique selling point". We're hoping for a candy floss maker.

HTC's first S4-powered smartphone is also expected to be outed at the show.

New TVs - bigger, smarter

Much of the TV tech likely to show at IFA 2012 will be things seen before at previous tech shows - OLED tellies, Sony's Crystal LED and more glasses-free 3D sets than you can throw a pair of 3D specs at. Samsung will also be showing off a number of TVs running Angry Birds - which will be available from its Smart TV platform.

On the set-top box side of things, you can expect to see a number of additional Google TV boxes appear, including potentially Samsung's first effort.

We'll be back with a barrel-load of IFA 2012 coverage next week.

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