The Best of IFA 2011: Giant Smartphones, New Takes on 3-D, and More

It's an entirely different kind of gadget lust felt when you know that the thing you're drooling over is dogged by the horrid words "Europe Only," or "U.S. release details pending." Here at PopSci, we get that a lot, but never is it more palpable than the one time a year we cross the pond for the annual IFA electronics smorgasbord in Berlin.

This year's IFA is just wrapping up, which means it's time to look back on the whirlwind of the last few days: what looked great, what didn't, what got us excited, and which technologies we're most excited about. The big themes this year were convergence, new ideas about 3-D, and thin everything--two of those three are represented in the Samsung Galaxy Note pictured above. Stay 'til the end for a couple show-floor sights that turned more than a couple heads.

Click to launch our guide to the best of IFA 2011.

Improv Electronics Boogie Board Rip

It's been well over a year since the adult MagnaDoodle that is the Boogie Board guilted us about all the tiny scraps of paper we tear through. But what paper had on the Boogie was that a list or note -- or really really awesome Marvin the Martian sketch -- when done on paper was something you could save. With the Rip, that's all been taken care of, on a small amount of onboard flash memory, the slab can now save and recall all your mid-meeting epiphanies (a couple hundred of them, in fact). It can also sync with a computer over USB, and in doing so invert the color scheme from white-on-black to black-on-white.Corinne Iozzio

Dyson DC41 Animal

No vacuum-not-sucking Dad Jokes. I'm trying, really. Dyson says that it's new ball-driven DC41 Animal is better at grabbing messes off hardwood floors than a pair of white socks. That's because its lip rests closer to the floor than any other vacuum, so pesky flecks don't up and escape -- especially when the Dyson-signature inner funnel-cloud-of-a-turbine gets things all whipped up.Corinne Iozzio

Samsung Galaxy Note

Oh Samsung, what the happy little Galaxy family you have, now cross-bred and all. The 5.3-inch Galaxy Note appears to be the lovechild of the much-lauded Galaxy S smartphone and the equally-praised Galaxy Tab 10.1. Complete with stylus input courtesy of the new so-called S-Pen, I hypothesize it's also a distant, far-removed great-great-cousin of the Palm Pilots of days gone by.Corinne Iozzio

Sony HMZ-T1

A bit of mild skepticism is natural when someone hands you a visor that looks like something out of Star Trek and tells you that it's unlike anything you've ever seen. The idea of pressing two OLED screens up against your face the next time you fire up a PlayStation seem a little, um, shall we say clunky? I'm with you. Or I was until I wrapped this thing around my skull. This visor is the closest thing to real-life 3-D I've seen; and we've seen tricks like this a lot.Corinne Iozzio

LG Scanner Mouse

Scanning sucks, am i right? It's a clunky piece of hardware you probably use so rarely you wonder why it's even there. Your mouse, though, you pretty much can't live without that right? Meet our friend the LG Scanner Mouse, which runs its illuminated image sensor over documents as you swipe it across pages, tracking movement and the image as you go and re-assembling it on the computer screen. Oh, and text is editable, too. Pretty sweet.Corinne Iozzio

Phillips Dual View TV

There's a lot more to be done with an LCD screen fast enough to refresh at the speeds needed for 3-D renderings -- especially if you've already gotten people over wearing the glasses. Much like Sony's new PlayStation Display, Phillip's dual-view screen uses alternating flickers to give two videogame players their own, full-screen point of view. Their set uses less-clunky polarized lenses: one polarized to match up with frames 1,3,5,7,9... and the other to match with 2,4,6,,8... And on a super-wide 16:9 display, that's a lot of real estate to yourself. (I should also mention that LG has a similar setup, but it crashed while we were passing through, oops.)Corinne Iozzio

Panasonic 3-D Prototype

We've become more or less accustomed to having the option of shooting our own 3-D these days. Even so, the more affordable of a person's options are still pretty damn pricey. It's my personal hope that Panny's new dual-lens shooter will help change that -- without skimping on quality, that is. The pocket point-and-shoot, which I could only admire through glass, has 4x optical zoom with folding optics and starts as shallow as f/3.9, which ain't tooo shabby compared to the competition.Corinne Iozzio

Haier Crystal TV

Ever since Haier showed off a prototype fully wireless (no power or video cables needed) HDTV at CES in 2010, I've made a point to swing by and see what they're up to whenever my feets hit that squishy trade-show carpeting. They did not disappoint, showing off a 22-inch transparent OLED panel -- the stuff kitchen and store windows only dream of.Corinne Iozzio

LG Pentouch TV

One word: Pictionary!Corinne Iozzio

Samsung MultiView MV800

We've seen tricks (get it?) like this before, but this one makes a ton of sense. Two years ago, Samsung debuted the idea of a front-facing screen on a camera to end the era of nostril shots for good. The flip-out touch OLED on the MV800 does the idea one better. How else could I have composed such an ever-looping camera-taking-a-picture-of-a-camera-taking-a-picture-of-a-camera-taking-a... shot?Corinne Iozzio

Russel Hobb Mini Classic Toaster

My rye is faster than your rye!Corinne Iozzio

Gear4 Angry Birds iPod Dock

I don't know about you, but this feels like a dangerous situation to put your iPhone in.Corinne Iozzio

Sharp Kick-Off

Sharp and adidas make one gigantic soccer ball. New product announcements? Not so much...Corinne Iozzio

Haier Mascot

Holy crap! That's the best-looking 3-D I've ever seen! Oh, wait, it's just a carnie in a box. Good paint job, though.Corinne Iozzio