Officially kicking off in Las Vegas on January 6th, the annual Consumer Electronics Show
provides a early glance at the latest technologies that, as NPR's Laura Sydell
put it, "most of us can only dream of owning." Gadgets and technologies
unveiled this year include new tablet competitors to be launched
by Motorola, Toshiba and "basically everyone
" but Apple; 3D TV technologies; and 4G wireless technology. Keynote speakers for the event include
Microsoft CEO Steven Ballmer, Samsung President Boo-Keun Yoon, Ford CEO
Alan Mulally and others. As tech reporters eagerly prepare to ship off
to Sin City to cover CES, here's a few of the items that are piquing their
- It's a Good Indicator of 'Economic Outlook Worldwide,' writes Michael V. Copeland
at Fortune, justifying the importance of CES to those who aren't industry
observers. And the early word? "Based on the unscientific measure of
lavish parties being staged and sold-out hotel rooms, the almost $700
billion global consumer electronics industry is feeling good about its
chances for growth in 2011, predicted to be north of 4%," Copeland
finds. While the show's attendance isn't expected to reach record
numbers, "this year's CES will feature around 2,500 companies, launching
20,000 new products, and displaying them across 1.6 million square feet
of space at the Las Vegas Convention Center, an increase of more than
10% compared to last year's CES."
- Those 3D TVs and Glasses The Hollywood Reporter's Carolyn Giardina
dishes on the highs ("growing selection of 3D-ready technologies are
now on the market") and lows (3D glasses may not work across different
brands of TV sets) of the growing number of 3D ready technologies on the
market. Giardina asks, "But why use glasses at all?" Here's what the
near future could look like:
Industry veteran Peter Fannon,
Panasonic's vp technology policy, suggests that glasses-free 3D could
soon come in the form of handheld devices and digital signage--though
not yet 3D TVs."Most manufacturers would say a real no-glasses 3D
experience on a large TV is many years away," he said. "We can demo how
it could work. But it isn't comfortable or an acceptable situation. It
requires [viewers] to sit perfect still [and at a single angle]."
- What Steve Ballmer May Talk About In the Keynote Address Alex Wilhelm
at The Next Web takes a stab at guessing what Microsoft CEO Steve
Ballmer will say in his keynote address at the event on Wednesday night.
Verizon and Sprint Windows 7 handsets, Windows Phone 7 sales numbers, a
new Zune HD, even new Windows 8 material are all possible material for
the speech, Wilhelm figures: "Time will tell, right? The keynote is at
6:30 on Wednesday. Get ready."
- Quirky Things and 'Dark Horses' NPR's Laura Sydell and Fox News' John R. Quain
each peppered their previews with some of the quirkier or less notable
items featured in this years CES. Catching Sydell's eye was the Misa Digital Guitar ("a stringless guitar that has virtual strings and touch technology") and the WheeMe
("a robot that does massage. I don't know about this one. Human hands
just seem so much warmer"). Quain singled out mobile TV ("television
broadcasts that can be received on a mobile phone could become a more
widespread phenomena this year") and in-car services ("Audi, Ford,
Mercedes-Benz, and OnStar will be among the auto companies pushing such
new tech") as his "dark horses" of the event.
- Connected TV (i.e. 'Huge iPads on the Wall') Seattle Times' Brier Dudley
writes that--although tablets get more attention--"far more TVs will be
sold in 2011 ... maybe we should think of them as huge iPads hanging on
the wall." Microsoft is looking to make a big splash in this market to
compete with Google TV (which is having a a few setbacks).
It plans on rolling out a "stripped-down version of Windows tailored
for set-top boxes" that plan to cost around $200 dollars when they
retail later this year. "They'll pose a serious challenge to the new
Apple and Google TV devices," observed Dudley. "The Windows boxes have a
polished and familiar TV-program guide that makes it easy to blend and
navigate both online and broadcast content."
- The Green Guide In an assessment of the greener aspects of the event, Katie Fehrenbacher at Earth2Tech (via Reuters),
notes the energy-efficient gadgets, panel on the connected electric
vehicle, wireless technology (like Energizer's inductive charger) and
other items of particular note to eco-conscious techies. And how green
is the show itself? "CES says it has cut its print production over the
past five years by nearly 50 percent," Fehrenbacher writes. "At the same
time, the researchers at Interactive Media Strategies point out that
'The only real green alternative is a virtual event on your computer,
not a traditional in-person event in a convention center.'"
- Why Doesn't the Event Invite Actual Consumers? Time's Harry McCracken (who also wrote a noteworthy glance back at the 1971 CES event)
observes a curious occurence about the "consumer" event: "despite the
name, you won't find any consumers there." Regular consumers are "barred
from entry" for an event that's mainly for "employees of manufacturers,
retailers and other outfits in the electronics trade, along with
professional industry watchers." It's too bad, he writes, "I suspect
that the show would provide a far more accurate vision of personal
technology's future if it let in the people who are supposed to buy the
20,000 products that will be announced, encouraging them to poke, prod
and provide their unvarnished opinions."
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