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Technology Today, CES 2010 Review
by Robert Sanborn


CES has come and gone for yet another year and while you will read all about the huge push to 3D from television to monitors from the giants like Samsung, Sony, and LG and celebrities from Taylor Swift pushing Sony 3D, to Lady Gaga (stylish as ever doing headphones), to John Legend at the Monster concert; it was a pretty interesting show. Of course, my favorite celebrities were the Lamborghini LP640 and Ferrari F430 in the Kenwood booth; I was able to get much closer to those. Another cool booth was Motorola which had these grassy plots in the booth that the suburbanite would die for. Soft, lush, you just wanted to lie down and take a nap.

So, is technology getting out of hand? While the computer is getting into everything we do in our lives, it still is interesting that sitting in front of the boob tube is still the number one wow item at CES.  And this time, it will be in 3D with the CNET Best of CES is the Panasonic 3D HD Model VT25 Plasma television.  If you are into 3D, this will be the Holy Grail… this year.  And yes, you have to have a Samsung BD-C6900; the world’s first 3D Blue Ray Player. Don’t ask the price.

Of course, the OLED televisions also have quite the wow factor, you should take a look at the LG, but maybe in another year or so. One of the things that strike me about CES is that after going to the show, no matter what television you have at home, you won’t be happy, things are changing that fast and speaking of changing, for 2009, the top two global brands for televisions are Korean; Samsung and LG. The next two are Japan’s Sony and Panasonic.

Want to take your TV with you then look at Audiovox Flo TV. http://www.adventflotv.com/flotv/home.do. Take your TV along for the ride they tell you and it is live mobile TV for either in dash or add on units and even a portable unit you can take in and out with you. A ton of channels to choose from and a built in program guide.

Probably the most interesting all around press conference to go to this year was from nVidia.  Everything they were doing sounded interesting and what drives them is what drives, it seems, the rest of us. The fastest growing gaming platform is of all things, Facebook. Farmville has over 78 million users and if you are on Facebook, one of the first things I did was to “hide” the Farmville notices because there were tons of them. One of the best things I like about Facebook is the ability to hide all sorts of things.  Another number they threw out was that 31 billion videos were viewed on YouTube. For the month of November.

You have to go look at their website at: http://www.nvidia.com/object/ces2010.html and you will see some amazing technology. With where they are going, you are going to see an incredibly fast multi processor called the Tegra on all sorts of platforms from Tablet PCs to the next generation of E-Readers that do a lot more than simply reading a book in black and white.  You will see that soon the big notebook and netbook makers are jumping onto this technology for lots of reasons including very low power consumption and brilliant graphics.  It is also very small so look for smaller and sleeker systems. They tell me that you should be able to play 16 hours of HD Video all on one charge.  Can’t wait to take one of those on one of my really long plane rides.

Another technology making some interesting advances this year is in automotive navigation and control.  The good news is that screens are getting bigger, brighter, and have far better graphics of what you used to see. The bad news is that it is getting far more complicated.  According to nVidia, 440 million people will go to a mapping website next year and that drives even more interest in auto navigation whether it be the built in units or the attached GPS systems.  In a deal with Audi, nVidia will be powering all their in dash systems by 2012 and the sample that they showed us at the show was stunning.   You can see it here: http://blogs.nvidia.com/ntersect/2010/01/how-silicon-valley-innovations-improve-driving-safety.html.

Along a similar vein, one of the CES award winners was the MyFord Touch new driver interface launching later this year on select Ford Cars. It uses a combination of two 4.2 inch LCD screens, voice command controls, and an 8 inch touch LCD screen.  Very interesting. You can see it at: http://media.ford.com/article_display.cfm?article_id=31786.

Of course nVidia is into 3D in a big way as they constantly update their top rated graphics cards with their 3D Vision technology.  They tell us that there are 400 new games that have the 3d graphics built in and all ready, there are over 5,000 3D videos on YouTube.   One of their tips was to get yourself a 3D camera like the Fuji FinePix Real 3DW1. Though you will need something that is 3D capable of viewing the pictures on. And of course, you will get to watch an entire cable channel devoted to 3D when ESPN starts broadcasting this summer.  I think what will come first is World Cup Soccer in 3D.

If you are ready for the touch panel monitors like you see on CSI, they are available. I see some 15 to 19 inch models available now for $400 to $700 but look for newer ones later this year.  Kodak’s booth had them mounted flat like a table surface and they had some big ones.

Netbooks and E-Readers are all over the place this year. Same with some really interesting iPod docking stations that can connect the poor compressed audio you have into really incredible sounding speakers.

According to Intel Customer research, 39% of consumers play a game once a week; 27% edit photos; and 18% edit videos. What it means is to think twice about getting a Netbook next time you need a computer.

What it seems that people are really wanting in a desktop computer, besides something far faster than they are replacing, is something smaller and quieter. On the quiet front, look for the Eco ALC from Cool It Systems, www.coolitsystems.com.  A very quiet water cooled radiator for your computer in a small form factor for those smaller cases (or the larger ones if you prefer). Will be around $75.

Ok, a couple of really cool things I saw at CES.  For external storage, you can’t be InWin’s Na. nothing comes close. http://www.inwin-style.com/website/pd/pd_detail.php?iw_lanid=0&iw_name_id=7&iw_pd_id=15.   It is about $60 but oh, so cool looking.  They also have some very nice looking cases for your home computers as well.

http://www.klipsch.com/na-en/, won an innovation award with their LightSpeaker System and you should take a look. For around $600, you get two each of an LED light and speaker that can be accessed and used remotely and in some cases, no installation is needed, just replace the current light bulb.

Eton, www.eatoncorp.com has a Red Cross Blackout Buddy that is a plug in night light and emergency light at the same time, about $15. That was cool, what was and wasn’t, was their backpack clip on emergency radio/light/weather radio Scorpion that charges by solar, hand crank, or DC; it is weatherproof, and heavy. About $50 later this spring.

Victorinox, the Swiss Army Knife people, is coming out with yet another really useful pocket knife combination tool that includes encryption via a fingerprint reader, a pointing laser, and a presentation remote unit via Bluetooth called the Presentation Master; coming April 2010. http://www.swissarmy.com/MultiTools/Pages/Product.aspx?category=presentation+pro&product=5301PMG16&.

Liquid Image, www.liquidimageco.com has some pretty neat looking Camera Masks.  Take digital images while you go snorkeling and swimming.

How about the idea of turning any surface into a speaker? Tunebug, www.tunebug.com creates its sound when you place it on a surface. They have a patented SurfaceSound technology that will turn many surfaces into a flat panel speaker. Didn’t believe it till I heard it. About $70.

Eye-Fi, www.eye.fi gives you an SD Memory card with a built in Wi-Fi transmitter to allow you to upload your cameras images to a website while you are traveling. No need to take the camera home, plug it in, transfer images to the computer, then upload to the web. Eye-Fi does it for you.

I have always loved going to the Casio press conferences not only to see all the really cool electronics they are coming out with (how about the EXFH100 super slim - super zoom camera) but also the ideas that their top guy, Kazuo Kashio, comes up with. How about a digital picture frame that turns your photographs into works of art ? Go take a look.  Something else that will make anyone who needs a projector happy is a new line of Mercury Free high brightness projectors, the Green Slim Laser and LED hybrid light source that generates up to 3,000 lumens with a life of something like 20,000 hours. And, since there is no major heat source, instant on and instant off. That is a wow item.

Green is in this year with a lot of companies talking about their sustainability efforts, power saving efforts, and so this will make an impact going forward which is great news.  Even Greenpeace had a presence at CES so go take a look at their Guide to Greener Electronics. http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/news/green-guide-14

you are also going to see lots about new rechargeable batteries, charging systems, portable power, and one of the more interesting ones was true green power from Miniwiz at www.hymini.com.  Power charges that use solar and wind to generate power so if you are out for a bicycle ride, you can use either to recharge those batteries and power your cell phones.

Another category we see a lot of improvements in is the area of Home Monitoring and security. One example was from D-Link with their Home Monitoring Starter Kits coming 2nd Quarter. It is wireless, IP Based, and is a pretty good start in keeping your home safe and secure. http://www.dlink.com/ces2010 Another is their home Energy Monitor Starter Kit. This is something you connect to an appliance to monitor how much energy is being used, and wasted.

Finally, if you want to see what the folks at CES thought were the best things to see, then take a look at the Innovation Winners at CES: http://www.cesweb.org/awards/innovations/2010honorees.asp.

Happy New Year

Robert Sanborn is a technology analyst for PC Lifeline. You can reach him through the net at robert@pcll.com




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