There are people far better than me who have blogged and written news articles about the International Consumer Electronics Show 2010 in Las Vegas. All I can say is that I have a dozen seriously good next steps from the show (some which I absolutely can't tell you about!) as well as having been introduced to some great new contacts in the entertainment and electronics industries.
Here are my highlights:
- 3D TV. Many premium TV manufacturers have found away of presenting 2D video in 3D by using some complex mathematical algorithms to work out from pan and tilt movement of a scene the various 3D positioning of objects in that scene. The viewer(s) have to wear special glasses in order to see the 3D effect. However I became rather suspicious as I began to see that the screens were only showing CGI-generated video from such films as Ice Age - or in the case of Samsung, a rolling promotional video that they had made up themselves. Sony showed a video of a film shot of guitarist Jimi Hendrix's set at Woodstock which was very impressive, but they (Sony) seemed to imply that this had taken some effort. My suspicions grew when I could not find one 3D TV that was hooked up to receive live broadcast TV.
- All the major TV brands will be supporting Yahoo! Widgets on their TV models with a recommended retail price of $800 (£500) or higher. Such TVs have at least an ethernet socket for a wired cable or USB socket that is compatible with Wifi dongles. Higher-end TVs will have built-in Wifi.
- Video screens are now reaching dramatic sizes - including a 150” / 380cm LCD screen. Other screens are dramatically thin - less than 5mm in some cases.
- TV picture quality has been hugely improved- much higher contrast from blacker blacks to whiter whites, and very realist colour rendition, all naturally high definition:
- Using hand gestures to control your TV rather than a remote control. Using arm “wiping” movements in the air you can change channel or volume. Quite what happens if two people start doing so, or you accidentally stretch your arm up when yawning was not explained...!..:
- Microsoft technology has now reached vehicles! No not anything life-threatening but you can use wifi to sync your music, podcasts and video to your Windows embedded car stereo while it is in the drive or garage (or at least in range of your wireless router):
- A new generation of cheap e-Book readers are coming onto the market - soon e-Books could be as natural to own as the original books. The cheaper e-Books did flicker the screen quite dramatically when turning the page which I found off-putting:
- Mobile phones - all handset manufacturers were present and all have a model that is out to “kill the iPhone”. However there was nothing new here and if anything these models just underlined the importance of our existing mobile strategy. My own opinion is that no handset seemed as good and intuitive as the iPhone - indeed many seemed underpowered for all the graphics they were trying to show on-screen, causing stuttering effects and slow response to finger movements. These models are currently best suited for people determined not to have an iPhone!
- Kitchen devices are making themselves felt; among the more intriguing being this "kitchen-safe" recipe reader, linked to a web site that has more than 200,000 recipes. Download your favourites then use a USB cable to transfer it across to the device - then use it in the kitchen on mains or batteries and keep your computer safely away from all the flour and other laptop-damaging ingredients:
- Electricity in the air - no more cables to connect your electronic device to the mains. In reality you have to plug the mains into a nearby cabinet and it uses the process of electromagnetic induction to power the TV. This idea is more for having no visible cables to power a wall-mounted screen. A variant of this idea is wireless charging. Put a special case on your phone or media player, then just place it on a power mat when you want to top it up - no more wires.
- Convergence - TVs (CES majored on the latest flatscreen TVs) now can play media from nearby computers and from sources such as YouTube and flickr provided you connect them somehow to the network and the internet. Currently I use my Playstation/3 to do this and noted that Sony had added their useful PS/3 menu system - XMB - to their TVs:
- More powerful CPUs, and more specialised processors that do specific tasks and are thus more energy efficient compared to general computing processors that are made to try to do it all.
- Netbooks are the main computer genre of the coming year - getting cheaper yet doing more such as swivelling the screen to turn them into tablet computers. Digital cameras and media players will have Wifi internet access built right in - upload your images immediately to Flickr or download the latest podcast wherever you are.
- For all their public claims by Microsoft that they are 'after' Google. I was very impressed by the quieter manner in which they have gone after Apple too! Apple's iTunes and connected devices (iPod, iPhone, Apple TV) have created an eco-system for media (movies, TV shows, music tracks and podcasts) that will play on any Apple device authorised to the same iTunes account. I have such a system at home and love the simplicity of it all. Well guess what: Microsoft are building their own version of this ecosystem, combining Microsoft Phone, Zune (now a stunning) media player, Windows 7 with its "Play To": Media Player, XBox 360 games console and TV set-top boxes that use a platform called Mediaroom 2. Media on a Windows 7 PC can be played seamlessly through the latest Media Center software through an XBox 360 or Mediaroom-equipped set-top box that could also pick up cable and Freeview channels. The demonstration showed this to work really well and I even loved the calm blues, hues, and shading around the whole new look and feel:
- Zune is now a competent media player with a far better screen (higher contrast and vibrant colours) compared to my iPhone - and, with the right cable, will play HD content in HD on an HDTv screen, something that the iPod Touch / iPhone can't do! Nice touch:
- Intel showed off a range of new processors at CES - including new chipsets that focus on graphics. They showed a large screen-cube of moving mini-cubes that rippled across the screen like waves. Each mini-cube represented a live news article or Twitter entry. Touch the screen and the mini-cube under your finger expanded to reveal the full article. I found the whole display strangely hypnotic...!
I am currently editing a video of CES for internal use, but I'll be making a public version of it (with the secret stuff edited out!) for you to enjoy soon.