Thursday, January 11, 2007

Another Year at the Consumer Electronics Show

It's January, and that means it must be time for another CES show. I have been going to either the defunct COMDEX or CES almost every year since the late 90s and have seen quite a few changes in technology during those years. The shows have also changed a lot as well.

The best of times was during the height of the tech boom when I saw the B-52s live; Mrs. Director and I danced in the mosh-pit just a few feet from the lead singer. These days the best I could do was stand in front of a giant, strange statue of an Airborne mascot. How the mighty have fallen.

But I don't go to these shows for the entertainment. Okay, I am there a little for the entertainment. But I am also there for gambling keeping up with technology trends, networking, and catching up with old friends (I hooked up with both Business Pundit and Rorscach. I missed Glenn).

So what did I see in terms of technology? There wasn't a whole lot new in my opinion. The iPhone was at MacWorld, not CES, and actually that is more a design triumph than a technical one (all the features in the iPhone can be found in other personal electronics). What I did see was the following:

  • · The biggest emphasis at the show was on flat panel technology, something of a constant for the past three years. The latest push is now 1080p (progressive), which all the manufacturers had prominently displayed. All of the manufacturers also had 100” or slightly larger screens on display in their booth, all of which were quite impressive (imagine a single monitor that is nearly as tall as you and twice as long).

  • Games were also a big deal a the show. After all, once you have your huge hi res TV, this is one of the things you can do on it. The graphics of the latest Xbox and Sony systems are jaw dropping they are so close to reality. The Wii, however, is a lot more fun with the action controller and is now on my shopping list (more so since I think it is something my five-year old will really enjoy).

  • Blu-Ray was probably the third largest theme, with all sorts of DVD players and recorders on the floor. There is a big push with the hi-res TVs, and I have to admit seeing hi-res DVD on a giant hi-def TV is great experience. HD-DVD was also around, but it seemed dwarfed by Blu-Ray.

  • The only thing “new” in cellphones was video/TV. However, most of the demos showed very short clips of 10-15 seconds; the memory just isn’t there yet in the cellphone and real-time over-the-air transmission is still in development.

  • I thought it was interesting that interiors of both an airplane and a subway car were in competing booths at show. Personal technology is being used in more places and integration of your personal communicator/communication device into places you visit and travel is going to become more common

  • There were the usual booth babes (mainly in the automotive area) and entertainment (the "Blu-Ray Brothers", sang songs almost as good as the Blues Brothers - and they looked EXACTLY like Jake and Elwood). But the most clever "entertainment" in my opinion was at the Qualcomm booth where "archaeologists" were digging up "ancient technology".

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