CES Review

The Consumer Electronics Show has concluded in Las Vegas, launching a number of new technologies and providing insight into important technologies of 2010. The three product categories garnering the most attention were 3D HD television, tablet and slate computers and ebook readers, and smartphones and superphones.

Last year’s CES saw the introduction of the 3-D TV, and this year saw its proliferation. Nearly every television manufacturer at CES was demoing what they claimed was the best 3-D Hi-def TV. 3-D TVs perform like regular hi-def televisions, but have additional 3-D capability. When in 3-D mode, viewers are required to don 3-D glasses to enjoy the immersive viewing experience. Cable TV companies are rushing to deliver 3-D channels and content to watch on this new generation of television. For example, both ESPN and Discovery are in the process of launching 3-D TV networks. Manufacturers are hoping that the introduction of 3-D technology will spur television sales, while analysts are wondering if the public is even interested. The Panasonic TC-PVT25 series 3-D TV won the best in show award in the TV category at CES.

Most everyone knew that ebook readers would be hot at this year’s CES, but I doubt anyone anticipated how hot. Dozens of ebook readers were launched last week at CES, including four from Samsung, two from Interead, six from DMC, 2 from Jinke, and others from Fujitsu, iRiver, Entourage, Spring Designs, Skiff, Plastic Logic, Hanvon, and others. Two ebook readers distinguish themselves from the crowd. Both the Que from Plastic Logic and the Skiff Reader from Skiff are marketed as ebook readers for business professionals. They feature large touch sensitive e-ink displays for viewing newspapers, periodicals, and business documents in both Microsoft Office and Adobe PDF formats. The Que will also connect to Microsoft Exchange servers for viewing email and calendars.

Slate PCs have emerged as the headline grabber in the personal computer category. While these devices were being referred to as Tablet PCs just a few weeks ago, the Apple rumors about a new iSlate device has everyone referring to their tablet as a slate – including Steve Balmer, who introduced Windows 7 running on a Dell “slate” computer. The slate design is much like an ebook reader, such as Amazon’s Kindle, but utilizes an LCD display rather than e-ink, and includes PC and Internet functionality. Lenovo took the Best in Show award in the Computer category for its IdeaPad U1 Hybrid. The U1 looks like a sleek Windows 7 notebook, until you remove the display, which functions as a slate computer running Linux.

Last year, Palm earned most of the attention at CES with the unveiling of the Palm Pre. This year, Palm once again wooed the audience with new versions of the Palm Pre and Pixie, a partnership with EA Games to develop mobile games for its devices, and a new software development kit for the Palm Web OS that should generate a lot more applications for its devices. Palm handsets are available to Verizon and Sprint subscribers, and AT&T announced that it will soon carry two handsets running Palm’s Web OS. AT&T also announced the adoption of five new smart phones based on Google’s Android operating system, including one from Dell. Many are seeing this as an indication that the iPhone may soon be expanding beyond AT&T’s network. Just Prior to CES, Google unveiled its own handset named the Nexus One. The Nexus one is a high-end Google Android phone, with the distinction of being sold and supported directly by Google at www.google.com/phone. The Nexus One is currently designed only for the Verizon network. Google refers to the Nexus One as a superphone, rather than a smartphone, due to its powerful processor and applications. Analysts and vendors are picking up on “superphone” and using the term to describe other powerful handsets on the market.

Other technologies getting attention at this year’s CES include:

  1. An in-dash touchsceen computer system from Ford named Mytouch
  2. Touch enabled computers and netbooks like the new HP Mini 5102
  3. Smartbooks, smaller than netbooks but larger than smartphones; these tiny Internet-connected notebooks typically run a Linux operating system on an ARM processor
  4. The first devices utilizing the new USB v3.0 – now external drives can be as fast as internal drives!
  5. And Samsung’s notebook with a transparent see-through 14 inch OLED display

While many new and exciting devices were unveiled last week at CES, tech companies and enthusiasts are waiting expectantly to see what Apple will unveil at its January 27 press gathering.