Technology Today - January 2012
CES 2012 First Look
It is January in Indiana and it is cold and icy. I recall saying those same words last year and again, it is in the 20s and we have some snow on the ground. I left Las Vegas when it was sunny and 60 degrees and it was a bit of a shock coming back to this weather. This year, they tell me, that there were over 140,000 people covering 1.8 million square feet of exhibitor space, the equivalent of 35 football fields. That is only what the show organizers tell us but it seems I nearly spent as much time off the show floor seeing exhibits as I did on the show floor, it was that spread out.
My take on the top five themes of this year’s Consumer Electronics Show would be:
3D Television - only bigger and brighter with more content.
Tablets are everywhere but will they unseat Apple’s iPad.
Cloud Computing – if it isn’t connected to the cloud, why not?
Social Networking connecting in ways you never thought about.
The iPhone has reached critical mass of desirability and usefulness.
The CES press day still shows me how much of a zoo this business is. The huge amount of bloggers and video journalists make seeing what goes on at CES quite easy as even before the show starts, there are tons of people uploading content to the web. Troll YouTube for CES2012 and you should find a treasure trove of material to look at.
The first event of CES is the Unveiled event where CES shows off the products from companies that it considers the most innovative. They have categories from home appliances to outright silly innovations and you can take a closer look at all of them on their website at: http://www.cesweb.org/awards/innovations/2012-innovations-honorees.htm
What struck me as interesting of the list was the ability to turn a wall outlet into a USB charging station. Several companies are doing this. Ford has a new ap to allow you to control your Ford automobile remotely and from Liftmaster, you can control your garage door automatically as well. What is next, start the car, open the garage, and move the car to the front door?? But seriously, it is about time advances in technology came to something as simple as the automatic garage door opener. In fact, with Liftmaster, you can also get an opener that has a battery backup to let you open your door when the power goes out. Even cooler is that ap that will allow your iPhone to open the door and I can see it very useful when a family member shows up but doesn’t have a key to the front door and you are going to be later than you thought. www.MyLiftMaster.com
Sony and HTC were the winners of the tablet and smartphone categories but you know, this landscape is changing so quickly that by the time you think about getting a new one (if you haven't gotten the iPad or iPhone yet), it will change and there will be a ton more of them out there. I liked the new Lenovo tablet and LG phone from what I saw.
I have been looking for the holy grail of chargers for my electronic devices and so far haven't really found what I need. Part of the reason is that when you charge these devices and then throw them in your bag, what happens is that they, like most rechargeable devices, loose their charge over time and are dead when you really need them. Boostcase was an interesting alternative, it snaps onto the back of your iPhone to give it an additional charge. There are also a ton of solar options out there as well from single stand along smart phone chargers to those that can power a refrigerator in the wild. Check those out from Goalzero.com. Haier is a huge manufacturing conglomerate from China but they were showing off a sound bar to go with that flat panel high definition television you have. Their slim sound bar looks cool, and is supposed to give an incredible sound for under $400.
One of the events surrounding CES that I find fun to go to is the Start Up Debut which brings together a number of companies just starting out. There were several at this year’s event that bear mentioning and looking into. These are companies that haven't gone to market yet but look promising to me.
Travel DNA, www.traveldna.com is a travel site that you build a profile on and it builds travel plans based on your needs, style of travel, and preferences. The demo looks very interesting in that it learns how you like to travel and plans accordingly. If you give it your frequent flyer mile or hotel accounts, it will also make suggestions on how to use your miles and take advantage of the rewards you can earn.
HipGeo, www.hipgeo.com is a traveling tracking blog site for your trips and traveling. Imagine uploading your geo-tagged photos to the site and having it map where you are traveling. It allows you to create your own blog site of your travels and so allow just who you choose to see it. Think of it as a Facebook site for travelers. While you travel and take your pictures, you can wirelessly upload them to the site and give it a running commentary as you travel. You can also log on from a computer and upload traditional photos as well.
WeVideo, www.wevideo.com is a different wrinkle on video sharing in that you not only share the video via the cloud, you edit it via the cloud and share the editing of the video. Upload your video, and then you can designate who else can edit it and make changes. Can't do it simultaneously, but by using a generic looking video editing layout, and by that I mean that it is easy to use and intuitive for anyone that has edited videos in the past, you can have multiple people sharing the work of editing videos. What is even more surprising is that it is fast because they use a means of having you edit a low resolution version of your video to save bandwidth while applying those changes to the high definition video you uploaded.
Finally, something my daughter will love from www.walls360.com. A really cool material that is printed in most any size you want with most anything as the source material so you can use your own uploaded art work to copyright material that they have licensed. It is then precut into small shapes that can be peeled and applied to nearly any wall surface including paint, paper, glass, metal, and fabric. It is easy to remove and reapply and leaves no trace on the underlying surface.
My computer buddy Bruce loves big watches so I get a chuckle when I see what some companies are doing with micro tablets on the wrist. One company was taking an Apple iPod Nano and putting watch bands around it and another, from Italy, has what is called the i’M Watch; about the same size as the iPod with 4 Gig of onboard memory, an Android operating system, and what is cool, it gets its power, sound, and data transfer all through a specially cooked headphone jack on the unit. You can access it through your iPhone via Bluetooth but there isn’t much battery life. In pre-production and will be selling for $299 and up.
I mentioned needing a new charging system for my iPhone and may have found just the perfect solution at ReVolve USA, www.revolveusa.com a maker of echo friendly hybrid charging system for the iPhone. A multi charging device with a solar panel backup looks to be an excellent choice. You charge it from multiple sources such as AC outlet, auto plug, or via USB; you can also charge two devices at the same time from the unit and it comes with the plugs you need for over 3000 devices. About $79.
Surfing the internet while you are traveling can be very difficult when you are worried about the security on the computer you are using and here is one option that might make a difference. Surf Easy, www.surfeasy.com is a USB based browser that ensures that nothing gets left behind on the host computer when you finish your browsing session. Put the USB stick into the computer, log into it, and your browsing is safe from there on. To make it even more secure, it has its own browser password and login application so that when you point to your bank or other secure site, no password is exchanged via the keyboard for added protection. Available in February for around $60.
The Kodak Picture Saver scanning system is not inexpensive. But what it does for a shoebox full of photographs is amazing. The gal showing it to me took a bunch of photos, plopped them into the hopper, and wow, it scanned each one nearly perfectly. And did I mention that the photos were all different sizes and shapes, some thicker than others. If you have a need for scanning a lot of photos, get one of these starting at $1995 it will scan at 30 pages a minute.
If you want to see some really cool speakers for your computer or home, look at Edifier at http://www.edifier-international.com . This is one booth that I have always enjoyed seeing at CES just to see the styles and designs that they come up with. They are usually a CES Innovations award winner and this year’s Spinnaker speaker system is no exception. Though my favorite was something new, dual cone style speakers and a sub-woofer that looks like a piece of art.
Another booth I enjoy looking through is Golla, the makers of bags for everything from cell phones to tablets and computers. An interesting and unique Scandinavian style all its own. Available at Best Buy and Target.
If you got yourself a new flat screen monitor, I think I found the sound bar just for it. Sonic Emotion Absolute 3D has a technology that gives you 3D sound without scattering a ton of speakers throughout the room. At their booth, they were showing off the technology with the Audiosource S3D60 sound bar (around $249 at Amazon) that sounded absolutely wonderful. And if you want that wonderful sound to go, download the “Headquake” app for your iPhone and you can then get that sound on the go and it was really cool. Instead of the sound bouncing from one side to the other, it floats around you.
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