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Technology Today - CES 2013 Preview

By Robert Sanborn

Is it January already?

No but one of the tasks in getting ready for the International CES (formerly Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas is figuring out who I am going to be seeing in such a short time. I actually spend five days out there at the show and because there are so many companies spread over such a wide space, you can’t see it all. So, I create a list of companies, events, and people to visit based partly on what I need to follow up from last year, to really cool things we hear rumors about, to hints of neat products that make it to my mailbox. Some of the mega booths out there are worth visiting just to see the current lineup of all their products; like Samsung, LG, Panasonic, Canon, and one of my favorites from last year, Audi.

This year, expect them to use 1.87 million square feet of exhibit space to showcase over 3,000 exhibitors. This doesn’t include all the private meeting space taken up companies and mini-show producers.  This is the equivalent of over 32 football fields, including end zones. In 2012, there were over 156,000 people attending CES.

We saw the big splash made in 2012 by the LED televisions; 3D technologies, and the iPhone 4S; hints of faster networking speeds over wireless; and I found a company, Catalyst, that made a waterproof phone case that came in really handy this past summer.  In computers, it was the “Utra-Book”; a fast, sleek, and lightweight notebook and all of the Android tablets out there. If you wanted to get some work done, you got the notebook, otherwise for simple net surfing and email; go with a tablet. And of course, the “Cloud” was everywhere with five gigabytes of free storage from Apple, Microsoft, ATT, and a ton of other companies out there. Have you ever really tried to store five gigabytes of information in the cloud? It will take you days to get it uploaded, and don’t even think about it if you are still using DSL.

But enough about 2012; what looks good for 2013.

More connected goodies for your home.  Cable companies want to keep you glued to your television and so you will see much more interactive technologies available. Was watching a show on the USA network the other day and the bottom of the screen was filled with twitter feeds about the show and cast.  Wireless will get faster in the home to stream those videos to everything from your TV to your computer to your tablet. More of watch what you want when you want.

Since the latest round of products from Apple are out already, look for a ton of accessories for the iPhone and iPads. One of my favorite stops is Golla; they have some pretty cool traveling bags and the like. To protect your gear, look for names like OtterBox, Case-Mate, G-Form, LifeProof, and the Joy Factory, among a ton of others.  The phones may not be that expensive but you have to keep them for the two year contract is what bothers me so I keep my phone protected.

Everyone has headphones. Whether it is over ear, in ear, around the ear, you probably have a set or two or three. In fact, nearly any piece of portable electronics you get, probably came with a free set and for people that actually enjoy listening to their music, the upgrade path is endless and CES is the place to look and to try them out in some pretty noisy conditions.  In fact, I went looking for headphones to kill the noise and over the past few years have come up with some very nice quiet solutions from companies like Sennheiser, Able Planet, Audio-Technica, and Monster to just name a few. You will find them all at CES.

Because I like things quiet, I will also look for quiet computers and parts.  And you have to search to find them in a show that is mostly consumer electronics. And, they are hard to find. In a show that has thousands of exhibitors, finding the few that relate to computers is getting tough. The good news is that the floor often is divided into Pavilions where you can find like minded companies. CES also provides a very good searchable website so if I am looking for case manufacturers like Antec, In-Win, or Fractal Design, I can quickly see whether they are on the floor or not.
For just looking at cool stuff, you can’t beat the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center where the automotive industry is usually parked. Just to see all the cool things they do to cars and trucks make the trip over there worthwhile. Lots of people will be there taking pictures. One of my favorites will be seeing the Lamborghini at the Kenwood booth.

The 2013 International CES is also all about awards and you should take a look at the CES Innovations Awards.  These are the products that their panel of judges feel are the best in class for new products introduced this year.  They select products in about 30 different categories and some are definitely worth looking at. On the Sunday before the show opens, they have a “Best of CES” event where they try to show off all of the winners in one small ball room and it is a zoo. You can hardly walk around, much less get close to a table to see what they have so you have the advantage by looking at the website. In fact, I use the web to see which ones I really want to try and take a closer look at. And sometimes, it works.

Monday before the show opens is what they call Press Day. This is where the big companies like LG, Samsung, Panasonic, and Casio to name just a few, show off what they are doing before roughly 7,000 press people in sometimes, very small ball rooms.  They run two or three concurrent events lasting about 45 minutes all day long so you do get to hear from quite a few companies. Sony does it a bit different having theirs on their 2500+ seat stage in the middle of their booth on the show floor. Tuesday, the show officially opens.

All of the major publications will also be covering CES and one of the ones to watch is cnet. You can read their CES coverage at http://ces.cnet.com You can also catch a lot of coverage on the blogs and of course, my favorite is the MCC (Monthly Computer Chronicles).

Robert Sanborn


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