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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

CES 2011 Summary

note: hit your back button after viewing the blue links as I don't know how to make this thing open them in a new tab for you :-(

CES 2011 was well attended. Almost too well attended. Fri and Sat felt like Times Square on New Years’ Eve! Even though there was 1.4 million square feet of show floor, there were also 140,000 attendees blocking my view of “tomorrow”. But I have 32 consecutive years of experience in navigating and elbowing, and so here’s what I saw:

3D TV. 3D TV. And more 3D TV. (boring! Imho) If 3D TV doesn’t become the biggest thing in consumer electronics (and I don’t think it will), all those exhibitors are going to look pretty silly in a few years having spent so much time and money on this dumb-looking fad.

Tablets. Tablets. Tablets. And more tablets. And a few more tablets. Remember the tablet PC that’s been out for years, were you could draw stuff with a stylus and all? Well Apple decided that we don’t want to draw, that we just want to touch and surf and stuff, as long as it’s thinner, lighter, and boots up fast. So, now that they’ve sold a lot of tablets, everyone else has a me-too version out there. Mostly all running on the Android operating system, and getting great reviews in comparison to the iPad in terms of performance, features, and price. The most popular of these are the Samsung and the Motorola. I don’t quite “get” theses tablets yet. I’m just really not sure it’s the solution to the future of computing. Casual surfing, maybe, but there’s no hard keyboard and the thing needs an easel to stand up. By the time you add those, you basically have a netbook again.

HOWEVER,--- The HOTTEST THING AT THE SHOW, may, indeed, be the future of personal computing!! It is simply a powerful smart phone, with enough speed and graphics resolution to dock at your desk, use a monitor/keyboard/mouse, and provide all of the computing performance we need on a daily basis (no video editing…yet). A dual-core, 1 Ghz processor running Android OS with 1 gig of ram and 48 gigs of memory, and it felt smoother and faster than my netbook that I’ve done all my computing on for the last year. The thing that makes this Motorola Atrix system so attractive is that they made the dock/undock process downright seamless. You can be on a phone call as you walk up to your desk, slide the phone in its dock, and the call instantly switches over to speakerphone, and the monitor displays whatever webpage or other app you were using last. THEN, as if that’s not enough, there’s a laptop-looking thing for it (which is really just a screen/keyboard/battery) that has a little dock on the back of it where you slide the phone into and you’ve replaced the need for a netbook as well! The phone by itself is easy to do most daily surfing on with a 275dpi 4"super responsive touchscreen. My favorite feature of it is the HDMI output cable you can plug into any HDTV and show all your photos and movies in HD (720p)! It comes with a remote control and the face of the phone even converts into a touchpad mouse to navigate through all the phones’ features while on the big screen. Your whole computer in your pocket (all backed up on ext. drives at home). It's what we all imagined would happen one day, but I can't believe it's here already! All your Word docs and spreadsheets with you at all times. All your music and photos and videos and web bookmarks and maps and contacts and email and texts and facebook and skype and calendar, calculator, voice recorder, camera, camcorder, barcode reader, wifi finder,…and , uhm… recipes. Imagine, all your recipes with you at all times! In HD!

I think this could be the total revolution/game-changer we’ve been dreaming of: No more Microsoft. No more big, hot, heavy computers that are always somewhere that you’re not. No more boot-up time!! Android is an open-source operating system. Google developed it when they saw the iphone becoming so big so fast that they were afraid it might become the next monopoly like Windows was for computers. And they were right. Thank goodness (and Google) Android has now become the largest OS in smartphones, and so there are just as many apps for it as there are for iphones. Competition is not just good, it is vital in a free enterprise system.

The Motorola Atrix phone (due out in a couple months) itself is a thin, big screen, every-feature smartphone that looks and acts just like an iphone but with more multi-tasking power, and no big-brother Jobs watching over you, limiting what you can do with it. I played with every app it has, including it’s Firefox browser for hours in the booth and it was so fast, I thought it was in wifi mode, but then I was told it was running on AT&T’s new "backhaul" network! -Welcome to the 21st Century, Buck Rogers!

Roombas. Every major electronics company had their version of a robot vacuum. And they all looked just like a Roomba. This one, I understand, because these things really suck! (to use the vacuum business vernacular) We got a Roomba about a month ago, and I already can’t imagine being without it. It is really effective and hassle free. If you’re considering one before Feb 15th, use savings code CES2011 and get 15% off, & free shipping, which nets down to $212.50.

Personal portable sound. My favorite topic. ‘Ever need a small, ultra-portable speaker system to play your tunes on, but everything you’ve tried sounds weak for how bulky it is? Get this. I mean, get this, don’t just understand this. It rocks! (promo code ces11 gets you 25% off for the next 2 weeks). Then, on the never ending quest for killer headphones I have three heart-felt endorsements: For high-end ($300), best-sounding-ever (possible orgasm-inducing), ultra-comfortable headphones consider the B&W’s P5’s. For high-end (~$240 street price) ear buds with 3 modes of active noise cancellation and a talk-thru feature (for when you want to hear someone quick without taking out your buds), check out Sennheiser’s CXC 700’s. And for mid-priced (~$70), very good ear buds with a tangle-free cord and ipod control, you’ll love Logitech’s new 500vi’s.

Still no talk about why music isn’t being sold on Blu-Ray Discs. ? A no brainer, if you ask me. The format is already there, why don’t they use it? 5 or 7.1 24 bit, HD audio at 96 kHz (or even 192 kHz). With supplemental video at 1080p. One disc concept for music and movies. Isn’t that what we’ve always wanted? It’s here. Let’s use it. Wouldn’t you re-buy some of your favorite old albums (Dark Side, etc.) if it was remastered on a heavenly sounding format, with some bonus video as well? The music industry is suffering terribly. This could totally re-vamp it. Why not try it??

There were some cool electric micro-cars there from GM/Segway/a china automaker that drove themselves. There was a Tesla Model S there. –‘Whatta car! That’s the $50,000 pure electric luxury sedan (pictured with us drooling in tent booth) that will be out next year with a 300 mile range. There was a GM VOLT there in the GE booth. That’s the plug-in hybrid that hopes to sell at over $40,000, and is a complete gas engine car, as well as a complete electric car, on the same chassis. Built by General Motors. Imagine what the incidence of repair rate that vehicle will have. And that’s the car that is supposed to save GM? ? We’re getting a Nissan Leaf, pure electric (expecting delivery any day now.- signed up for it in April!?) I wrote a little poem/rap thingy that I’m trying to memorize to recite at parties, etc.:

Pure electric cars are pure logic. Think about it.

No pistons, no valves, no oils, no salves. No gas tank, or transmission, no tail pipe, or Co2 emissions.

No radiator or hoses, no manifold, and no noises! No Gas Pump, Oil Pump, Water pump, or crankcase sump.

No air filter, oil filter, fuel filter or fuel injector. No piston Rings, spark plugs, ignition coils, or engine lugs.

No belts, no alternator, starter or regulator. No Backfiring, or dieseling, running rough, or tune ups.

No more water in the fuel tank, or rusted manifold bolts, no more broken muffler mounts, or big repair bill jolts.

No more stopping for gas, no more pain in the ass. 300 less moving parts, as dependable as a shopping cart!

Instead of going for emission tests, I think the electric car is best. Instead of 15 cents a mile for fuel that’s causing wars, it costs just 3 cents a mile for energy that can be made by the sun, or the wind, wave power, hydro power, nuclear or geothermal.

Sure, it only goes 100 miles ‘till you need to find a wall, but most days I go just 99 miles is all.

If I really need to cruise, like on over to LA, I just go visit Hertz, and rent me a Chevrolet.

‘Hope yall come around to my thinkin’, and stop spending your weekends tinkerin’, to try keep your gas car runnin’, just get an electric and start funnin’.

We need to save the planet for our kids’ kids, so let’s just start with something of ease, try a car that’s green and simple, I think you’ll find it’s a breeze!

There were other interesting things at CES 2011 including: bicycle-riding robots, 4-inch-cube PC’s, a well-thought-out cell phone panic button service, clip-on micro camcorders, cute Casio camera, fur lined sinks, and some dumb stuff too. I know I’m just a wild and crazy guy keeping track of all this silly stuff, but as Ron Popeil says: “if you can find a little device, at a reasonable price, and just set it and forget it…” And if it helps you through your daily life, or even just entertains you a bit, then it’s worth it. And the creator of the gadget feels fulfilled as well. So here’s to all the inventors, and to all the “early adopters” brave enough to step up and try these things out. May the circle never be broken (nor the gadget!)


  1. See to solve the new link problem.

  2. Why, god, why, did they have fur-lined sinks?

  3. They didn't have fur lined sinks at ces. I lied. It was an homage to the wildly popular Steve Martin comedy album "Wild and Crazy Guy". Silly stuff, but it's what we called comedy in '78. Give it a listen if you get the chance.