As usual the annual International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas had a cornucopia of new products on display. The crack team hear at CDN and IDG has looked at most of them to give you our top five likes and dis-likes from the show.
So here goes.
Likes: The 3D experience
I have to hand it to Samsung at this show. In terms of an end-to-end play I think they wrapped it all up with what they did at CES from new TVs, home theater systems, eBook readers, partnerships with Dreamworks and Google. Samsung’s LED 9000 TV is a screen so thin it would make Paris Hilton envious. The display features a 3D processor, which was a big theme at this year’s show. The South Korean-based vendor also opened an App store for its connected TVs, Blu-Ray players and other devices that will see applications such as AccuWeather, Blockbuster, and Netflix along with games available for your flat-screen TVs. The Samsung app store will also be open, which means developers can now expand their minds beyond the handheld screen size. The sky’s the limit with this one.
Likes: Tablets versus e-readers
A friend of mine loves her Kindle from Amazon, but I wonder if she will have a change of heart after looking at the new tablets that were on display at CES. More than 40 e-readers will be available this year, but users will have to weigh the pros and cons of the tablet PC and function as an e-reader with brilliant LED colour screens.
Intel showed the first smartphone based on its upcoming Moorestown platform for mobile devices at CES this year. The GW990 smartphone will be made by LG Electronics and ship during the second half of the year. The smartphone has a 5-inch screen that can play back 720p high-definition video. The screen supports multi-touch input and includes a camera in the front and back. The phone runs the Linux-based Moblin OS. LG last year said it adopted the Moorestown platform for a device, though it didn’t provide further details. Other device makers such as Nokia have adopted the Moorestown platform, but have not announced products. The smartphone will be capable of running multiple applications at once. The Moorestown platform draws up to half the power in active usage mode and up to 50 times less power in idle mode compared to its predecessors.
Likes: Motion-sensing technology
Any time you can display futuristic technology it’s a winner for me. A small Israeli start-up called PrimeSense showcased a motion-sensing interface for computers and TVs, which may also have an application for the gamers out there.
PrimeSense’s gadget enables users to manipulate the PC or TV by using their hands or fingers. For example, your finger can scroll down menus or TV listings. The company embeds this technology inside TVs, Blu-Ray players and other set-top boxes as well as computers and gaming consoles. The PrimeSense system uses a sensor-camera that sits above the screen and projects a beam of light, at a wavelength close to infrared, to build a 3D map of the people and objects in a room. When a person activates the device by thrusting their palm out towards the screen, the system locks onto that person and puts them in control.
Likes: A new kind of school text book
The dual-screen Entourage eDge is aimed squarely at the education market, and the company’s deal with textbook makers like McGraw-Hill underscores its emphasis on students. Scheduled for release next month, the $490 eDge has a clamshell design (that can flip to be used as a book or as tablet) and dual displays, a 9.7-inch E-Ink and a 10.1-inch LCD.
The LCD side runs Android software, customized with applications for annotations and sharing content, and it comes with a stylus for the tablet LCD side (but you can navigate the tablet side with your fingers, too-just push a little extra hard because of the touch screen overlay).
There’s a functional and large on-screen USB keyboard, but the company says it’s not intended to replace a netbook. The three-pound eDge will work with an external USB or Bluetooth keyboard if you want to type a lot. It comes down to what you are going to use the device for. With both ePub and PDF support, the device holds appeal for both education and business users, and carries the price of a well-powered netbook (or the cost of its primary competitor, the Amazon Kindle DX).
And, now for the stuff we did not like too much.
Dis-likes: Where was Apple?
Apple likes to think they are a consumer operation, so why were they not at CES. Pundits believe that the colour touch screen tablet notebook that is scheduled to be available in April will blow end users away. But, Lenovo may have stolen Apple’s thunder by showcase its U1 at the CES months before Apple’s launch.
However, Lenovo’s U1 is targeted for release in June 1 of this year.
Dis-likes: Pocket Camcorders/Flip imitators
The Sanyo Xacti VPC-CS1, the Sony Bloggie HD MHS-PM5 and the Kodak PlaySport: All of these are thin handheld HD video camera all imitating the Flip model from PureDigital, who was recently acquired by Cisco Systems. The PureDigital Flip was innovative. These products from Sanyo, Sony and Kodak are nothing but copycat devices. Where is the innovation from these supposed innovators of technology? Sanyo does this all the time so I don’t really mind the Xacti that much, but Sony should be out in front of this instead of lagging behind. As for Kodak, they missed the printer boat by about ten years and now they are hitching at ride on Flip’s success. I don’t see these products have too much traction in the market place. People like the Flip too much to consider these also-rans.
Dis-likes: Greenpeace at CES
Not your household CE brand for sure, but they are an important part of our industry and lets face facts IT and CE have not been the best at removing harmful carbon emissions. Therefore, Greenpeace said that four well-known brands have missed an important goal for phasing out toxic chemicals from their products.
They are: Samsung, Dell, Lenovo and LG Electronics. Each has pledged to rid their products of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and brominated flame retardants (BFRs) by the end of 2009 but have delayed this until 2011 or beyond, said Greenpeace. The toxic chemicals have the potential to damage the environment and harm human health and their elimination has been a major goal of Greenpeace’s quarterly “Guide to Greener Electronics.”
Dis-likes: Ridiculously small notebooks
I admire any company’s ingenuity and innovation. But sometimes IT vendors take things too far. Case in point, Litl’s Webbook. When you first look at it you’d think it is another netbook or maybe something similar to Entourage’s eDge product, but the company is calling it an Internet appliance. The Litl’s Webbook has a keyboard, but no optical drive, one USB port, 2GBs of flash memory mainly for the operating system. What the Webbook is asking users to do is bank their entire computing existence online through cloud-based applications and services, which is fine but at $700 a pop I think users can opt for two netbooks and get the same thing, just with more power and features.
Dis-likes: Lady Gaga’s hair and new job
What’s with the hair-do? CES is a sort of coming out party for celebrities who want to cash-in on some vendor’s over-inflated marketing budget. Take for example: Lady Gaga, a.k.a Stefani Germanotta, is a superstar singer who’s best known for the song Poker Face. At CES, Polaroid employs her a its “creative director”. If it is anything similar to Viking Components naming hall of fame baseball player Reggie Jackson their new director of business development then I would take this job with a grain of salt. But, Lady Gaga was not the only celebrity at CES. Other include: Taylor Swift, Drew Carey, Tommy Lee and Bette Midler.
With files from: Melissa Perenson, James Niccolai, Nate Ralph, John Davison, Tony Bradley, Tim Moynihan, Matt Hamblen, Agam Shah, and Martyn Williams.