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CES – Thin, Green, 3D and Pre

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This year marked our fifth trip to CES. We don’t go to display anything, nor set up any business meetings. To us, it’s a great place to get inspired for the coming year and perhaps get a glimpse into where technology is going in the next 18 months. We saw some interesting things and several trends. We snapped a few shots and videos along the way.

Green

There were a lot of companies nodding to the Green movement, nothing too ground breaking, mostly lower power consumption and recycled materials.

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Thin is the new big

In previous years, manufacturers prided themselves on bringing the largest screens possible to CES. But in 2009 gone were the pissing matches of 150″ screens. It seems now that thin is the new big.


3D

3D was everywhere. Nvidia looks to be banking heavily on this with their Geforce 3D Vision. It’s a special video card and when paired with certain 120hz TVs it can turn any content into 3D content. We played Rockband in 3D which looked cool, but I’m not sure how long I could stomach it for, let alone wearing plastic glasses.

All the major television manufacturers were showcasing 3D TVs. I keep reading and seeing how this is the future. I just don’t get it. Sure they’re doing it better than they were 30 or 40 years ago but it’s still way to intense to watch for extended periods and as a colleague of mine mentioned, usually has the producers of 3D content forcing gimmicks and tricks into the shows that will look cool – no thanks.

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Best of Show

OK so its not a consumer gadget but it was unexpected to find something cool at the Brother booth. Brother’s GT-782 Garment printer blew us away. The speed and quality were unbelievable. Unlike traditional silkscreen, Brother’s inks essentially dye the material so the colors last the life of the garment. The unit will cost about $20k and inks run $200 per. The rep was saying if you sell 1500 shirts at $15 it will have paid for itself.


Manfrotto’s multiple personalty tripod

Manfrotto had a beautiful little tripod/steadicam for consumer based camcorders called the ModoSteady. It’ll help you shoot your kids soccer game without all the jitter. I’m told it would go for about $185, a little steep, but hey, it’s from Manfrotto.

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Collaborative laptop from Asus

Asus showed an interesting concept for a foldable oragami-like laptop. It can share resources with other laptops that are in proximity and can be used in a flat binder-like sharing mode. Also from Asus was their Bamboo laptop.

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Digital microscope – making science fun

Celestron had a very cool digital magnifying glass for the stamp lover in you. They also showcased a digital microscope. Incredibly cool.

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Interactive digital signage

There was some nice interactive signage from Samsung. The touch screen Coke machine was a great example of interactive signage.


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LG also had some nice signage displays – again, some touch signs but also this nice ultra wide format.

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Digital photo frames – still terrible

There were a ton of digital photoframes. These ones from Parrot were wireless which was nice but what continues to plague all of the frames still are their low ppi and terrible viewing angles.

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Palm’s Pre looks promising

It wouldn’t be a CES post without a few shots of the Pre. This thing was truly awesome. We almost didn’t get a chance to see it. Palm didn’t have a booth and ran an invite only meeting room with live demos. I couldn’t help but constantly think while the presenter was continually blowing me away “This is a Palm???”. The interface was beautiful, intuitive and scalable. The hardware looked great and the wireless charging was very cool, though it is of course, an extra accessory.

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Beyond 1080p

I thought we’d see a few more 2k, 3k and 4k+ screens. Here is Samsung’s 2K. There was a 4k there too but they were showing upsampled content on it.

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LG’s Prada lineup

The LG Prada phone was there. I was really looking forward to seeing the interface – unfortunately it’s hard to play with when it’s turned off and behind glass. BTW, that watch is a phone too.

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Wireless HD

We’d seen wireless HD in the past at CES – but never uncompressed 1080p. Looked great. We were expecting a lot more in the way of wireless HD but not much was being shown. The Ultra Wide Band wireless can only send 1080p video about 30 feet. Many of the TVs could do wireless but needed to work with the company’s own receivers so you need to buy all your equipment from the same manufacturer.

Hopefully 2010 will have good and cheap wireless HDMI.

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Digital dashes

Bosch had two things worth seeing. The first, can be see here. It’s a 3D (ugh) navigation system. It doesn’t require glasses and used incredibly detailed city models. Of course it was a concept only. The second, were the digital dashes they’re doing for Mercedes and BMW. These very high resolution screens ran silky smooth and read more like brilliant analogue clusters but had menu navigation that would change the displays. Video below.


Gaming accessories were big

These hydraulic racing seats were one of the first things we saw at the show. I had the opportunity to try out the smaller one. The yaw, pitch and rotation angles weren’t as steep as the orange monster but it still gave you some sense of speed. They had the small one also set up to a movie so you get tossed around while watching your favorite Pixar movie.


iTV

The big TV manufacturers were showing off integrated Yahoo! TV widgets on their screens. Built using the Konfabulator platform they’ll eventually bring in various apps and all your social media to your TV. In general, the on screen widgets looked good and maybe another piece of the puzzle for iTV.


No more looking for the remote

Toshiba showed off a remoteless camera based navigation system. Interesting at best as highlighted in the video. This type of gesture based interface has a place, it’s just not like this.


Innovations Showcase

One thing worth seeing every year is the Innovations Honorees. It’s essentially a collection of the most innovative consumer electronics products at the show. A complete list can be seen here. Here’s a small sampling of what we saw.

Belkin’s surge protector with remote

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Eton self powered radio/cell phone charger

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Ooma’s internet connect phone – no service charges or phone bills

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Belkin’s podcast recorder

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Ziotek HDMI cable with bendable memory

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Samsung wireless headset converter (turn any headset to bluetooth)

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Panasonic Link-to-cell Telephone

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h3. Lenovo secure USB drive
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Logitech game pad

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Jon on Roland’s HD-1 Drum Tutor – This thing was seriously cool.

Looking forward to next year already.

Geoff Teehan More posts by Geoff Teehan