Take your typical electronics store and multiply it by a million. Next, throw in quarter-mile long lines for anything food-related. Add the arrival of the adult entertainment industry, and you pretty much have a feeling for the annual gadget-fest known as the Consumer Electronics Show, (CES to geeks like me) held this week in Las Vegas.
This year’s CES will feature some 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 show.
So, what will basically everyone in the consumer electronics world, except Apple, which doesn’t feel the need to grace CES with its presence – be selling? For starters, tablets.
Already there have been announcements from companies like Acer, Motorola, Toshiba and others that they will unveil their hopeful iPad contenders at the show. It would be nice to see some something from Microsoft and especially from HP, which paid $1.2 billion for Palm and still has nothing to show for it.
Powering some of these new tablets will be a next generation system-on-a-chip (SOC) from Nvidia, that features dual processing cores in a power-sipping package. Better video, more multi-tasking, and longer battery life are the upshot. Will these mostly, Android-flavored machines finally give Apple some iPad competition? If the new, tablet-tuned, “Honeycomb” Android OS from Google works well, they could. What has held most everyone’s tablet efforts up is an operating system that can scale up to a tablet, and compete with Apple’s IOS.
I’m hearing rumors that the same dual-core Nvidia chip technology, called Tegra 2, is also going to power a new high-end phone from LG. Other chip news will come from Intel, which will be showing off the graphics and video chops of its latest “Sandy Bridge” chip. Expect this blazing-fast processor to appear in all sorts of interesting places you wouldn’t normally expect a computer chip to go, as well as more announcements of connected devices powered by Intel’s Atom line of chips.
AMD, is coming to CES with its “Fusion” line of chips. Fusion is going after the lower-end of computing. What that means is for about $400 you are going to be able get a netbook/smartbook/notebook, I never know which term is in vogue now. I’ll see if they are worth a look, and whether the netbook category is really as doomed by the arrival of tablets as I think it is.
Expect the television world to be dominated by two things: various permutations of LED back-lighting, and connections to the Web – via WiFi, built-in Ethernet and a slew of external devices ranging from Blu-ray players to purpose-built boxes. At this point the hold-up to so-called “smart TV” hasn’t been the hardware, it’s the software. It had better be much improved, or we are due for the same connected TV drubbing this year that the Google TV received. Yes, there will be more 3D TV being trumpeted, but honestly, without enough movies and TV to back it up yet, who cares? (and the need for the ‘glasses’ is the worst!)
However not everything is about tablets, chips and light-emitting diodes. How about a pair of ear-buds that actually stays in your ears? That is what headphone maker Skullcandy is promising to debut with its “Fix” line. If they can make that happpen without your ears being torn off then I can wait until next year for the Smart-TV revolution..