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The incredibly late CES report, sort of...

I started this on the first day of CES, got halfway through, stopped. Typed out an update on my iPhone that got lost in the æther somewhere over Las Vegas, and have finally got back to it while killing time at the airport on my way out of town, almost a week later.

So what was at CES this year?

There were three things everyone seemed excited about. 3D TV, eBook readers, and "Slate" PCs. I didn't get much of a look at these last two, and only really got around to the first on the last day or so.

Everybody had a 3D television of some sort. Polarising filters seemed to be the most common way of viewing it. Intel did have one that allegedly didn't need glasses, but you had to stand at the right distance, directly in line with the centre of the screen, so it wasn't the greatest experience. Their other offering, directly underneath it, did require polarised glasses, but ha a similarly restrictive field of view. Stand off to the side, and the effect stopped working, the two images separated, and I felt queasy. (I was admonished for doing this by one of the Intel people, as if trying to watch TV from any angle other than dead on at exactly 8 feet was ludicrous.)

With the 3D TVs, I did a couple of basic tests. Apart from moving from one side to the other to see how wide the viewing range was, I also tried watching with my head on one side, and with the glasses upside down. In most cases, this continued to provide an adequate 3D experience, but I did notice that in most instances, everything looked like it was projected onto stage flats arranged in discrete layers.

With one notable exception. JVC were demonstrating a system in which a polarising film was laid on the screen by hand, so that the left eye saw even rows, and the right odd rows. (This may be how other systems worked as well, but no-one explained it to me except at the JVC stand.) The 3D effect was much more striking than on other screens. This may have been the result of carefully selected demonstration material, but it does show something that they put the effort in to produce a decent demo. They also had 2D content being re-rendered (albeit somewhat passively) into 3D for display. This was also impressive, and showed how you might be able to make 3D work.

In terms of "Slates" and eReaders, the influence of Apple was everywhere. Everyone seemed to be jumping in on the bandwagon, when the supposed band leader hasn't even thought about picking up the baton. Apple are still yet to announce the alleged "iSlate", but this didn't stop Steve Ballmer from demonstrating an HP "Slate" PC in his keynote, and numerous other manufacturers presenting their interpretation. Most interesting seemed to be the Lenovo IdeaPad, in which the screen detaches from a standard enough Windows notebook to become a Linux tablet. Sadly, I didn't get a chance to look at one, despite it being exactly the sort of thing I should be reporting on back at work.

eReaders were also apparent everywhere, although the main problem seems to be the lack of consistency in the infrastructure supporting them. I need to be able to buy my books from any store and read it on any reader, much in the same way people have talked about music for some years now. What's likely to happen is, as with music, Apple (if they announce anything) will have their infrastructure that will quickly dominate, while Amazon will remain popular with the more savvy users.

Anyway, what were my picks of CES? (Everyone seems to be doing it, so why not me?)

Well, first of all, I'd like to acknowledge the USB Star Trek (TOS) Communicator shaped Skype handset. Fully licensed, and retails for about US$50. Being licensed puts it ahead of the X-Wing shaped Remote Control 4-fan helicopter being sold by one guy in a stall in the lower rent booths. It was impressive, but as has been noted on other blogs, likely to be sued out of existence shortly. Anyway, everyone was more excited about the iPhone/iPod Touch controlled ADR Drone, which used a similar fan configuration, but had the advantage of being easily controlled using a Multitouch Apple device.

The most impressive, to me at any rate, stand was the Miniwiz Sed stand. Aside from an interesting collapsible bicycle with a hub-generator and USB charging ports (available with mounts for BlackBerry or iPhone, or even GPS), and a selection of solar and/or wind powered device rechargers, they had a temporary wall made from their own components. Basically, each cell of the wall is a 2 litre cylindrical bottle made from recycled plastic bottles, and with an optional bottlecap mounted LED lighting system, that can be hooked up in series to provide illumination. While I generally have no use for such things, the design is impressive, and deserves to be considered for temporary structures, such as, for example, Convention booths.

Anyway, that's about all. Next I may well type up my tips on attending a convention like CES, if only for my own reference. I don't know if I'll be back next year. Maybe if I can get enough views on this blog to qualify for a Blogger or Press pass so I can get in when it's quieter.

Reader Comments (3)

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27/Feb/2012 | Unregistered CommenterPeuterey Dames

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