5 biggest tech trends at IFA 2009

Berlin: home of sausages, beer and IFA, Europe's biggest tech conference. But with so many new releases and tantalising bits of technology to comb thr

Apple beaters

IFA 2009 threw up two big Apple fighters – the Sony X Series laptop, super thin and gunning for the Macbook Air, and Toshiba's JournE Touch multimedia tablet.

We saw the Sony X Series first. Weighing less than 640g (Sony wasn't totally specific on that stat), it can claim to be the world's lightest laptop, and it just 14mm thick at its thinnest point.

With a suprisingly bright 11.8in LED screen and a super-compact keyboard which might be a bit punishing on your pinkies. With its ultra-light carbon fibre body and super-slim profile, the Sony X Series is bound to give the Macbook Air a few worries.

Meanwhile, Toshiba's snuck the Toshiba JournE Touch multimedia tablet out. We've been waiting with baited breath for the frequently rumoured Apple Mac Tablet and Toshiba seems to have pipped it to the post. The Toshiba JournE Touch is even going to get its own app store.

The JournE Touch is just 14mm with a 7in resistive touchscreen and a fairly pretty brushed aluminum body. The screen has LED backlighting and the tablet will run Windows CE to start with. The operating system and the slightly unresponsive nature of the prototype's resistive screen left us with reservations but the JournE Touch has serious potential.

It'll hook up to your TV via HDMI to allow you watch HD films in another room, you can grab photos and music from other computers via WiFi and there'll be a range of apps for it. Access to Youtube is already built-in and there's quite a snazzy photo viewer too. Set to cost around €250 when it launches later this year, it's bound to undercut whatever tablet Apple delivers by a serious distance.

3D - from TVs to cameras and gaming

3D was the tech trend getting the industry bods hot under their expensive collars but what we actually saw at IFA varied wildly. The Blu-ray Disc Association confirmed that 3D standards for Blu-ray discs will be set by the end of the year, so it's likely we'll see 3D Blu-ray discs and 3D compatible TVs in 2010 but some firms were more excited than others.

Sony announced its intention to create a 3D Bravia HD TV at CES earlier this year but at IFA 2009, they were actually showing the prototype. Rather than using coloured glasses, it, like Panasonic's 3D TV, uses active shutter glasses. Shutters in the lenses synch with a sensor in the TV to deliver a 1080p picture to each eye. It works well but if you wear glasses you'll need to keep them on to prevent it looking a bit too blurred.

Most excitingly, Sony's plans to bring 3D to its TVs in 2010 also includes 3D content for the Sony PS3 and 3D-compatible Sony Vaio laptops. In terms of gaming, we saw Motorstorm Pacific Drift rendered in 3D and it looked stunning. The Avatar game, a spin-off from James Cameron's forthcoming 3D blockbuster will also be 3D-ready.

Avatar was the big hook for Panasonic who have partnered with the filmmakers to provide the 3D technology they required. Its 3D TV will also use active-shutter glasses. Like Sony's offering, Panasonic's TV will deliver a full HD 1080p image to each eye. Panasonic also plans to bring 3D to its Blu-ray players and recorders and its cameras and camcorders.

Philips told us that 3D TV is "the ultimate dream for consumers" then within the same breath told us we weren't quite ready for it yet. It's prototype doesn't use the active shutter specs favoured by Sony and Panasonic, opting instead for polarised lenses. However, it is working on several methods for producing 3D HD TVs and Blu-ray players but isn't sure if we want them yet: "It is not clear whether consumers are ready yet." The one upside of Philips' reticence is that the movie theatre mimicking 21:9 aspect ratio TV that was altered to show 3D images is set to be with us soon, banishing black bars from movie scenes for good.

Connectivity is still king

Connectivity is becoming more and more important in home tech, rapidly sending us dashing towards day when our houses will be like serene Skynets. IFA 2009 saw two really interesting ways of making your gadgets work together – truly Internet connected TVs and Transfer Jet, an near field communication method for flinging files between devices like phones, cameras and laptops.

TVs from Panasonic, Samsung and LG all showed ways of seeing your tweets, social network profiles and other wonderous web content on your TV while Toshiba showed its media controller software for shunting audio, video, files and pics round a home network.

Transfer Jet, which we first saw at the beginning of 2008, lets you touch devices together to transfer files. It uses RFID chips to send files on contact and is pretty speedy, flinging them across at up to 560Mbps. Sony showed an X-Series Walkman rocking the system while Toshiba had a TGO1 phone and Qosmio laptop working together in Transfer Jet assisted harmony. The first devices with Transfer Jet should be available in Q1 2010.

Thin is still in

Mashing your gadgets through the mangle of modernity is still a big deal for gadget makers with LG showing its super-slim OLED TV and Sony unveiling the Sony Vaio X Series which almost disappears in profile.

Sony has put is OLED plans on the shelf temporarily but LG is set to put out its 15in model in November and reveal a mammoth 40in version next year. But like the shoe buying habits of similarly skinny super models, LG's OLED beauties are going to be pricey. Consider that Sony's only OLED so far, the Sony XEL-1, went for over £2000 in 2007

Blu-ray gets bigger and better

There was a time that it would have seemed utterly impossible but in these post HD-DVD days, Toshiba has admitted that we live in a Blu-ray world. It took the chance at IFA 2009 to announce its first Blu-ray player (the Toshiba BDX2000).

LG and Sony revealed wireless Blu-ray player, the LG BD390 and Sony BDP S760, freeing your hi-def spinner from the tyranny of tangles and adding a host of WiFi wonderment. Both will grab online video from sites like Youtube too meaning you can mix your beautiful Blu-ray pictures with fuzzy clips of monkey butlers falling off bicycles. Samsung's latest bunch of Blu-ray players will also play nicely with Youtube.