Posts Tagged ‘CES’
That’s exactly what I found here on my first day at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where companies like Microsoft, Verizon, Samsung and hundreds of others reach out to both retail buyers and the tech press with some amazing new gadgets and gizmos.
The floor is filled with everything from robot floor cleaners, to motion-controlled PCs, but two categories are dominating the attention of CES visitors: Tablet PCs and Smart TVs.
Research in Motion, the company best known for their Blackberry smartphones, brought their upcoming tablet PC entry, the Playbook, to the CES floor, instantly making it a popular spot for tech journalists.
Of course, the Playbook will be entering a market already made popular by the Apple iPad and the Samsung Galaxy Tab. However, it also won’t be entering the market alone, as nearly 80 different makes and models of tablets are making appearances, or being announced, at this year’s show.
2010 showed that tablets definitely have an audience, but the real tablet war in 2011 won’t just be between makers, but between tablet sizes as well. Models being shown are available in many different sizes, but the predominant are the 10″ (like the iPad) or the 7″ (like the Samsung Galaxy Tab). Each have their supporters, but we’ll have to see over the next year which, if either, will be the more popular size.
The other major category here at CES, Smart TVs, have taken over the booths of any company selling HDTVS. What makes these TVs “smart” is the combination of Internet connectivity and apps, all accessible via a remote control interface. That means your HDTV can play streaming content, like Netflix or CinemaNow, connect to social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, as well as even talk to your PC to share music, video and photos on that big screen in your living room.
This first day at CES has been exhausting, with all the technology to discover, yet it’s pretty exciting to see all the electronics I’ll be helping clients setup as a Geek Squad Agent.
The idea of living room convergence, where multiple technologies come together in the comfort of one room, used to be an often mentioned dream of technology innovators who wanted to accomplish the tasks performed by TVs, VCRs, computers, telephones and more via a single box that could live on a shelf in your house.
The use of the term died out at CES over the years, but recently we’ve begun to see the dream become reality. Last year saw the rise of Netflix streaming movies coming via the Internet to XBox 360s, PS3 and Internet-enabled Blu-ray players. This year, it arrives in the form of HDTVs with built-in app stores that can run games, get weather updates or stream movies directly from multiple network sources.
One of the apps that I saw that I think will make a huge change over time was the Skype app on a few Panasonic and LG HDTVs shown at CES. The technology that allows video conferencing using a webcam and Internet connection isn’t new, but the ease at which it can be performed with an app built into the TV will make adoption and use explode. Could Skype-enabled HDTVs kill home telephone lines more so than mobile phones have?
Another example of convergence is the ease at which Blue Label 2.0 laptops from Toshiba, Dell and Sony can connect wirelessly to an HDTV using Intel’s new Wireless Display technology. A Netgear HDMI wireless receiver connects to the HDMI port on your TV, and setup consists of a clicks on the laptop. Computing from the couch will be easier than ever.
So what’s the future of convergence? Well, check out the video predictions of the Geek Squad Chief Inspector for our guess. Hint: It may involve bionic eyes.
When Best Buy created the original Blue Label line of laptops with our partners in the computer industry, the goal was to create a family of laptops from a range of manufacturers that all had features our customers told us were the most important to them at the time.
These laptops come ready to go for both work and play, with their new Intel i5 processors that were designed to provide plenty of performance in a small package, while still keeping in mind the energy needs of a portable PC. These machines are ready to multi-task, with their 4GB of system memory, and have plenty of space with their 500GB hard drive to keep all the music, movies, photos and programs you need for life on the go.
Best Buy won’t leave you hanging when you leave the door with your new Blue Label laptop, as each comes with a 2-year manufacturer’s limited warranty to help keep that hardware working. Your software is also protected from malicious software with twelve months of installed antivirus protection included. Even setup is a breeze, with thirty days of support from the professional Agents at Geek Squad also included.
Probably the most striking thing about the new Blue Label laptop family is the inclusion of Intel’s Wireless Display technology. What this does is allow you to cut the cables, and easily stream the display output from your laptop to an HDMI-capable TV using a wireless receiver supplied by Netgear.
With all the video content available through your computer in this broadband-enabled world, it’s a very compelling feature. Imagine easily sending that video out to your big screen TV across the room with just the press of a button, while your laptop is within arm’s reach from the couch.
Exclusively at Best Buy
The Blue Label family of laptops will be available exclusively through Best Buy starting January 17th, but if you’re in Las Vegas for the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show, you can catch a sneak peek now.
With 2010, we see netbooks take a few different paths toward maintaining their dominance of the portable computing market.
Battery life is always a concern for those users that are always on the go, and netbook manufacturers are looking to help out with devices built from the ground up to use as little power as possible and wring out as much as 11 to 14 hours of run time from a single charge. Less time connected to a wall outlet means less time stuck in one place.
The other portability development we’re seeing is even thinner netbooks, designed to be slim enough that keeping one with you at all times becomes a serious possibility.
For some netbook users, it’s entirely acceptable to sacrifice some portability and battery life in exchange for more powerful, on-the-go, netbook performance. More powerful processors, with multiple cores, are being combined with improved video cards to make it possible to play hi-definition videos with fewer issues, or even take in some (still light) 3D gaming.
While not every netbook user needs a more powerful netbook, these beefed up devices will help make more processor-orientated tasks, such as quick edits of SD video, something of a possibility for when you absolutely need to get them done on the go.
The wealth of different options becoming available will really help the product category become more mature, and help bring about more choices to fit the specific needs that potential buyers need for their highly portable digital life.
As a Geek Squad Agent who helps clients set up their new technology in-home, I’m struck by two equally important factors that seem to create those successes: “engineering” and “emotional response.”
While a product doesn’t have to be perfect to be a success, it does need to work well enough to accomplish the task it was purchased to perform. Of course, even tasks that may seem simple at first glance can require amazing amounts of engineering and design work before the product is considered for shipping.
Consider some of the new digital photo frames that can display photos sent to them via an email address unique to that individual frame. They have to be able to connect to a wide variety of home networks and internet broadband services. They have to be able to accept a number of image file formats, along with other unknown combinations, such as image quality and hidden file data. And the frame has to do this with a user interface simple enough to be operated by owners with wildly varying technical skill levels.
If a product isn’t produced with enough engineering care, it’s not going to function well enough for that customer checking it out in their local Best Buy to purchase it. Of course, that product is only “half-bought” at that point, because there’s the other factor to consider.
Once someone has answered the question, “How would I use this product?” their next question is often, “Why would I use this product?” To use the example of that networked digital photo frame, one emotional response could come from the potential happiness they could create by giving the frame to their parents so they can remotely upload new photos of the grandchildren easily.
It’s that picture in that client’s head of how they will feel if they own a product, how it will impact their lives on an emotional level, that can quickly turn a potential purchase into an actual purchase. We are often, after all, creatures of emotion.
The New Year brings with it new things to be excited about, like new friends to meet, new places to visit, new experiences to have, and new goals to reach. For a Geek Squad Agent like me, it also means new technology. And in January, there’s no better place to see that new technology than the International Consumer Electronics Show.
As luck would have it, I’ve been drafted to attend this year’s show. So, as we begin a brand new decade and as I begin packing my bags for Las Vegas, here are some of the technology categories I’m excited about seeing on the conference floor.
2009 marked the year when eBook readers reached enough critical mass to go mainstream, and this was proven true throughout the holiday season. Barnes and Noble couldn’t ship their new Nook reader quick enough to meet demand, while Amazon reported that eBook sales outpaced printed book sales in December.
However, the race is far from over in 2010, as several companies that announced upcoming entries in this growing eBook market last year are likely to be showing off their new readers at CES. I’m really looking forward to seeing how each of the different brands push the technology in ways to separate themselves from the pack.
As an avid reader, I’m also excited by the possibilities of how eBook readers can impact the current print market, possibly making expensive or hard-to-find books cheap and easily available to everyone. I’m also hopeful that eBooks may be the next evolution of our local newspapers, allowing them to continue without the high cost of ink and paper.
Last year was also the year that smartphones became more than just a convenient way for business people to get their work email. The market practically exploded with new entries and platforms, and it only seems to be accelerating as 2010 begins.
As smartphones become more common for so many different types of users, so too do the apps they run. It’s amazing how often I find myself using my own smartphone as a portable computer, with web browser, high speed Internet, word processor, GPS and gaming software wrapped in a package small enough that I can toss it in my pocket while on the go.
I expect to see not only a large number of upcoming phones at the show, but also a huge growth in the number of accessories that allow you to use those smartphones in new and creative ways: like health sensors to aid in getting the most out of your exercise routine, or car audio interfaces to make use of that built-in wireless Internet connectivity.
I have to admit, I’m a little skeptical about this category, if only because it sounds almost too good to be true. 3D television sounds more like a science fiction fantasy along the lines of flying cars and weekend trips to the moon. But while the other two aren’t quite ready yet, we may actually get to see 3D HDTVs in our living rooms in 2010.
I’ve heard some really good reviews from others that have seen examples of the technology, so I’m pretty excited to see how well the current hardware works. It may sound like hyperbole, but 3D could really be as big as the leap from black and white to color TV if it works well.
The Real World of the Living Room
As much as the technology geek inside me can’t wait to see all the amazing engineering on display on the CES show floor, as a Geek Squad Agent who goes into the homes of clients every day to set up the technology they’ve purchased, I’m especially excited about getting a look at products that will actually make it into living rooms this year.
I know that it’s not always the most technologically advanced products that make their way into the homes of consumers, but rather the technology that those consumers connect with in ways that make their lives better. It’s the technology that makes you go “wow” that ends up on your shopping list, and I’m hoping to see what electronics in this year’s show stand out when looking at it through that lens.
I can’t wait to see the future of “wow” at CES 2010.
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