Sunday, February 14, 2010

CES 2010 Thoughts

Well, another year, another CES. For those who don't know CES is the Consumer electronic Show, the biggest electronic trad show in the US, and one of the biggest in the world. Most Major electronic companies display there, showcasing bith concepsts for the future as well as products slated for release later in the year. For a gadget geek, its one of the biggest events of the years, showing whats hot this year.

While I've never been there in person, I've always eagerly followed the coverage to see whats new, whats hot and what's not. Thanks to technology, there were a surfeit of options available to follow the show, ranging from the very technical to the dead simple, to meet everyones tastes. The best coverage was obviously from the Web properties such as TWIT, CNET,Engadget, Buttorscotch, etc and unfortunately the worst was probably from the Majors . I have to say compared to what the web guys were doing, the coverage by the TV and print media was incredibly bad, with poor overall coverage, lack of research and more attention paid to the snappy headline then the actual content or trends. If alternatives had not been available, I'll probably have been very frustrated.

Speaking of the Web coverage, The guys at CNET and TWIT did an incredible job, broadcast live video online from the show itself, alson with the Podcasts so that we could watch the show as it unfolded, getiing people's opinions as the show went on and how it changed. While both CNET and TWIT broadcast from a stage, the TWIT guys went further, sending a mobile broadcast rig around the floor, streaming live video over EVDO of what was happening, giving us a taste of what its like to be there. On a side note its incrediable to see how technology has changed the field. Trying to do something similar a few years ago would have required millions of dollers, compared to the few thousand it cost them this time.

Now, of the show itself, from the coverage its seems pretty obvious that the big story this year was 3D TV's with Most of the major manufacturers showing of potential or future products. From the looks of it, Manufacturers want something new to get people to upgrade as HDTV penetration has grown to such a large degree. I'm withholding judgement as I've not enjoyed 3D in cinemas so far and feel that anything that requires you to wear special glasses, etc is not going to be as successful.

The other big story was a lot of manufacturers releasing Tablets or slates, to beat Apple's announcement. The tablets ranged in size and shape and ran a variety of Operating systems. Some were running Windows while other were running Android. Others were running custom variants of Linux. In my personal opinion while they were interesting, the key point is going to be price and usability if they want to be successful and beat Apple's iPad. Tablets have been around for nearly a decade, but have not been that successful for a number of reasons ranging from Price, usability, availability and power. If they want to make this category a success they are going to have to have to learn from past mistakes.

More then the standalone slates, the product I found most interesting was the Hybrid Notebook that Lenovo Introduced, the U1. It comprises of a Full featured Portable Windows 7 Notebook, with a Screen that slips off which is a Multitouch Tablet running a Custom Linux variant. They way they've designed it, The browsers on both stay in sync allowing you to continue working on either so that depending on the time and place you can use just the tablet or the full notebook. With a battery life of 8-10 Hours in notebook mode and 5-6 hours in Tablet mode, its looking like a good product. The announced Price which is supposed to be under $999 does make it a compelling product more so if they are able to get the price point even lower. I'll be looking out for its release in Q2 or Q3 later this year.

Another interesting them this year was the plethora of eBook Readers that were on display this year. Withe a wide range of manufactures showing of their own products, its shows how eBook's have become much more mainstream. While there were some interesting announcements like that of the Que, The high price and limited options for it are going to make adoption an uphill task. More interesting was a product from a new company called the enTourage eDGe, a dual screen eBook Reader / Slate. Its an Android Powered dual screen Machine with One screen an eInk display the other a LCD touchscreen. From the looks of it its shows a lot of potential, especially in a academic setting as you have the eInk for ease of reading with the Touchscreen available for making notes, Browsing the web ad doing a lot more. With Products shipping in a couple of months, this is a company I'm going to be keeping my eye on .

Overall the Show wile good, did not appear to have anything too revolutionary, which was expected with the way the global economy has been the past year. Still, as a gadget geek, seeing preview's of whats coming out over the next year is always interesting. Still the overall fee this year was of waiting, especially with a lot of manufacturers releasing Products before of after the show, making the show a bit of an afterthought. The biggest shadow over the show was probably Apples upcoming announcement, and I'll be sharing my thoughts on the announcement in another Post.

So Adios for now.