Jan 11, 2010

CES 2010: The Best & Worst

This year, we had miles of booths lining the halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center, Hilton Hotel, and Venetian Hotel with 3D LED TV's, Tablets, eBook Readers, media players, and so much more on display. I walked through all of the halls and endless rows of booths to find us the hottest tech gadgets for 2010.

Okay friends, so good stuff or bad stuff first? Let's go with the good.

Best of CES 2010

1. Samsung LED TV's
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Out of all the LCD manufacturers present at the show, Samsung's new LED TV stood out from the rest. The contrast was simply brilliant, and the colors were vibrant. Their TV's image quality was a whole new viewing experience for me.

Samsung LED TV's come in sizes as thin as an iPhone--check out the photo above. SEXY. With the right price point, I can imagine their TV's being the hottest selling TV for 2010.

2. D-Link Boxee Box
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The D-Link Boxee Box was my personal favorite device at CES 2010. Based on the Nvidia Tegra 2, this media player rocks a processor capable of playing all of our 1080P/720P MKV rips. Not only that, the user experience is based around social networking, so we can share comments on what we're watching, connect with friends via Twitter, and stream a whole bunch of online video. The User Interface was smooth, HD graphics, and very slick menu and controls. Also, the remote is innovative where on one side, there are arrows and selection buttons, and on the flip side is a qwerty keyboard. This is how a media-player-done-right should be.

Boxee Box - $199
Tegra 2
3 USB ports
Coming to us in May of this year.

3. Nvidia Tegra 2
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The ICD ULTRA Tablet, pictured above, is running Google Android with 1080P/720P HDMI output, 6 hours of HD movie play time, Adobe Flash 10.1 HD, and weighs in at less than 1 pound.

I tried many Android powered devices at the show. The Nvidia Tegra 2 seemed to have the strongest processing capabilities when compared to the competition. The user interface was snappy. I liked how I could click on an App, or browse the UI, and it would open up instantantly. The ability to play Adobe Flash 10.1 is a huge plus because the user can now visit a website, with Adobe Flash embedded, and the Tegra 2 powered device will be able to play it with full hardware acceleration.

I will look forward to a Tegra 2 powered cell phone with Internet, e-mail, WiFi, e-Book Reader, App Store, 3D UI, camera, MP3 player, and optional built-in Swiss Army Knife.

4. Panasonic 152" Plasma TV

BIGGER IS BETTER. 152" of beautiful Panasonic Plasma viewing pleasure. The glass in the screen is manufactured in one piece. I had to switch camera lenses, to an ultra wide lens, to take the photos above.

Priced out of range for most of us but still cool to see. $100,000+

Worst of CES 2010:

1. e-Book Readers - Underperforms
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e-Book reader galore! The readers had slim profiles, newspaper-like screens, excellent battery life, and easy to use controls. The problem I have is with the e-Book readers' limited functions, cheap hollow plastic feeling, flimsiness, and flickering screens when turning pages. I cannot imagine consumers having to carry around their laptop, smart phone, AND a limited functioning e-Book reader. What about browsing the internet, email, viewing photos, Facebook? Okay, I get it, it's convenient for consumers to download books from a single device, but isn't that what our smartphones are for?

After throughly using these readers, I now seriously doubt the supposed popularity of the Amazon Kindle, and I predict these e-Readers will not catch on for 2010. Instead, tablets with good software support will catch on. I'm looking forward to the Apple iSlate.

Anyway...if you still must have an e-Book reader, the Que Proreader stood out from the crowd with it's unique form factor, black glossy exterior, ultra-slim profile, and flexible screen. The price-point may be something to consider though with their 4GB model at $649 and 8GB model at $799.

2. 3D TV - Overhyped
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Firstly, the TV manufacturers haven't yet adopted a 3D standard, so before you go out and spend $10,000 on a 3D TV, the 3D format may be subject to change, and yes, that is the price tag for most of these 3D TV's as of today. Secondly, will I be cross-eyed after viewing a 3D TV from hours of watching?

Seriously though, watching TV in 3D did not wow me because the images looked computer generated, unnatural, and the image quality looked bad. The Sony 3D TV performed the worst out of the bunch. Also, for me, having to put on glasses to watch 3D TV is not convenient, which makes the experience worse if you already have prescription glasses. Well, since this is an emerging technology, I can imagine later generations for improved 3D TV viewing.

3. Personal Internet Viewer
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What can I say here other than having an advanced alarm clock that can do Facebook, Pandora, and Youtube is nice and all, but that's what my smart phone is for. I would pass on these Personal Internet Viewers and buy an upcoming Smart Tablet.

4. Pico Projectors
Before going to CES, I was in the market for a Pico Projector. The Optoma Pico Projector's small form factor made it portable, and with the LED technology the image quality sounded promising. As you can see in the pictures, the presentation size was disappointing--the screen size of the projector was modestly larger than the size of the netbook driving the display. Even in optimal lighting conditions, the image quality was poor and brightness was sub par.

Final Thought

Although some of these new technologies may or may not be adopted by the public, the ideas driving these technologies may show up in future consumer products. So who knows, we may have 3D TV's with holographic displays without the need for 3D glasses, or a VOIP smart phone with all inclusive user features. Wouldn't that be great? I'll be looking forward to innovation this year.

If you'd like to see all of the photos taken at CES 2010, please visit my flickr set.

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