Dienstag, 2. Februar 2010

CES: Looking back

The CES with lots of very exiting impressions is over. Steve Jobs kicked off the iPad and created lots of new demand in the tablet space. Not to forget the launch of the Nexus One by Google upfront the show. So its time to sum up and reflect on the things going on.

Again I made the experience, that the exhibition is merely just 50% of the deal at CES. Hundreds of suites opened up some very detailed insights and some NDA only presentations I cannot report on in detail built up this very unique “CES experience”. I cannot consider a similar atmosphere to be possible somewhere else than in Las Vegas.

I will include some contributions of Andreas Würfel - also blogging on www.digitalmissive.com - who was pretty much on the same page with me and really impressed of all the news coming up.

Notebooks, Netbooks, Smartbooks and all the other webpads we saw.

Android has partly made its way. Never saw such a massive collection of Android based sample demos intended to hit the market this year. At the show itself, MIPS, along with DTV system maker Western Mediabridge and chip maker Sigma Designs, showed off an Android-based set-top box. Motorola unveiled the Backflip smartphone; Lenovo announced LePhone (coming to China later this year), and Dell showed off a tablet prototype based on Android. Not to forget the broad amount of samples shown by NVIDIA based on their new Tegra platform and the new star of the scene, Qualcomm inside the Nexus One, Lenovo U1 and some HP prototypes.

Of course, AT&T pledged to launch five new Android devices from Dell, HTC and Motorola in the first half of 2010. Of course, then there was HP's announcement of an Android-powered netbook, as part of HP's exiting Slate line of devices, and a number of other Android tablets are on the way, including from Archos and Notion Ink. To put this in to perspective, US mobile ad network AdMob received over 1 billion ad requests from Android devices in December, showing Android phones are viable ad distribution vehicles, with netbooks likely to follow suit. The bigger question that all of these Android devices raise is what about Chrome OS? Maybe these are just stop-gaps until the Chrome Netbooks and Tablets are ready for the market. Let's see.

Should you ever fly from, let's say, Taipei to Vegas, the new EEE 1005PE would get you there with uninterrupted computing time, sporting an impressive 14 hours of battery life - a first for netbooks of this kind. Asus always tries to keep up to speed and include all actual chipsets offered by INTEL as soon as they become available.

Not to forget INTEL's fist presentation of running smartphone samples by LG and Aava. The LG GW990 is supposed to be available this summer as a real product.

One of the most intriguing new portables this year is Lenovo's IdeaPad U1 "hybrid" laptop with a detachable screen that functions by itself as a wireless, touchscreen Web tablet. In laptop mode, the system runs Windows 7 on an Intel Core 2 and weighs 3.8 pounds. When the 11.8", LED screen is detached and in tablet mode, it runs customized Linux on Qualcomm's Snapdragon processor (the same hardware powering Google's Nexus One "superphone" and the HTC HD2 Windows phone Steve Ballmer showed in his keynote). Lenovo plans to begin selling the U1 on June 1 for under $1,000.

What else?

Connect your laptop to an HDTV without the hassle of fumbling around with HDMI cables. Intel's WiDi (wireless display technology) does just that, using an existing WiFi chip with added software on top. The technology is built right in to the laptop, so that it's one less thing to carry, but you still need a receiver: In this case, Netgear is the only provider of a receiver box solution that will enable WiDi to work with your laptop. So far, three laptops were announced with WiDi technology built in, the Toshiba E205, the Sony VAIO S and the Toshiba Satellite E205. All include a quick-launch key next to the keyboard that instantly brings up the WiDi software to wirelessly port over content straight to your HDTV. And I was really impressed about the goto market speed by INTEL and its partners. I really found a first netbook on sale at BestBuy just one week after the CES first time announcement of that technology. Also the NETGEAR engineers did their very best to make the solution work. I had the pleasure to meet the system developer in person and he was very proud on the result.

Another first-seen-at-CES, Haier demonstrated what it said was the first completely wireless television - yes, even without a power strip: a 32-inch LCD powered wirelessly from up to six or seven feet. The device uses power using MIT developed WiTricity technology. The transmission of electricity occurs through the use of two resonant objects of the same frequency. This allows the transmitted power to react strongest with those objects. The device at the show is one of the final engineering prototypes, meaning consumers would be able to see it in a couple of years. The advantage of a television that doesn't require power cables is that with thinner and thinner sets (think under 7mm from what we saw this week), people are hanging them on the wall -- which then either requires dangling cables or drilling holes in the wall.

A more direct market relevant sample demo was the Skype enabled TV set shown by LG. Shipments are announced for march and may only be available in the US in the beginning. Finally direct communications is getting back to the big screen enabling one to one videocalls with your remote. Telcos are getting caught by CE vendors. Not a real surprise but maybe a first step towards a full disruption of the communications business.

To sum up I would expect the coming months to be very exiting, as lots of new devices will reach the market and address the customer needs for their new digital freedom. The mass market choices will in the end pave the road to success of the one or the other. No one can securely predict who will be the winners. Bets are open. Lets watch, whats going on this year!

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