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Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Annual CES Summary - 2012

My Annual CES Summary - 2012

This year, Ethans’ school schedule kept him from attending, however, Regina and her boyfriend Bryan, and his friend Matt and I took the rv up for the whole week, and Wendy flew up for the last ‘coupla days and drove back with us. ‘Perfect weather and a lot of fun!

2011 was a rough year. For global civil rights, for the economy(s), for natural disasters, and even for consumer electronics. But the best consumer electronics triumphed, as usual. A year ago I wrote about a new cell phone from Motorola that could dock into a desktop cradle or a “lapdock” and do 98% of all your daily computing.
It came out, and sold well, (I’m posting this on mine), as well as several more "dockable" phones, along with millions more tablets, which are just large screen versions of these hand-held computer "smartphones" (iOS/Android). In fact, tablets out-sold laptop computers this year! So, it is just one more revolution of 2011.

Microsoft is absolutely terrified. 'Remember Microsoft? They made a personal computer, along with Intel, about a quarter of a century ago. And it never did work right. Many screwups and poor performance along the way. In fact, a few years ago they took another giant step backwards with Vista. Remember? Anyway, they are now realizing that they are very replaceable. Very. With Apple surpassing them as the largest electronics company, and Android surpassing the iphone as the most popular smartphone, they are starting to realize that they may actually have to innovate a bit to stay in business. So they got to work and developed a smartphone OS that, for the first time, is actually good! They (smartly) teamed with the world's best phone hardware maker, Nokia, and came up with a great phone! We'll just have to see if it is too late or not.

I hope not. Because more competition is always a good thing. We were all very thankful that AT&T was turned down by the Feds on their bid to buy T-Mobile. We need more cell providers, not less! Oh, and while we're on the subject of computers and Microsoft, 2012 CES debuted a revolutionary new portable computer from Microsoft and Intel called the "ultra-book"! (do you hear the sarcasm?) These new, thin, lightweight, fast, multi-touch, solid state, 20 second boot-up machines perform almost as well as the three-year-on Apple "Air" netbooks (and cost almost as much too)! 'How’s that for innovation? And people say Microsoft is just a me-too/follower company!?! But seriously, isn't competition great? If not for Steve Jobs, Google, and free enterprise, you can just imagine what we'd still be typing on right now!

2011 also marked perhaps the apex of one of the best and worst computer companies. Apple makes the best tech’, but the people have spoken, and chosen the open source Android more often, declaring their dislike for Apple's confining, controlling, "ecosystem" business model. I think 2011, in so many ways, reminded us that “the power of people is more than the people in power”.

Intel and AMD even (finally) jumped into the handheld market with some new processors for phones, helping prove that we ain’t seen nuthin’ yet in the way of palmtop computing! I think in ten years we’ll be trying to remember what a desktop or laptop was. Or who Microsoft was.

All right,... ‘enough bitching! (“my humble opinions”) - So, what was cool this year???....

OLED (“organic light emitting diode) TVs from LG and Samsung with ultra high contrast and less then half inch thin screens, will be in stores by summer but won’t be cheap:

Sony showed a prototype of the first “real” LED TV. Sets labled LED today (inc. the OLED ones) are LCD with LED backlighting. But this demo from Sony called “Crystal LED” has no LCD and no backlighting, just 6 million individual leds (2 million of each red, blue, and green. And it looked way better than the regular lcd tech model next to it! ‘Colors popped! 6 million points of light! Just think, that’s 6 thousand times better than HW Bush’s “thousand points of light”!:

But then there was Sharp’s prototype “8k TV”! Our current 1080p HDTV’s have about 2 million pixels. They say “4k TV” will be our next plateau, (with 16 million pixels) and it will be several years off. But this was a demo of what 32 million pixels will look like when our great grandchildren watch their saturday morning cartoons and cereal commercials someday! It was spooky. We walked up to it and could read tshirts on people in 1000+ crowd shots (no kidding):

Tablets with the latest Android OS (4.0 -“ice cream sandwich”) from as little as $100!:

Samsung showed a phone with a ginormous 5.3” screen which we played with and we actually think it is not too big to fit in your pocket or even hold up to your ear if you can’t find your bluetooth headset. And surfing, reading, and typing on it is a breeze! It just may be big enough to never need a tablet! (which saves you another $30/mo data plan):

Still no confirmation of the release date for the PadPhone from Asus (but I’m waitin’):

Finally,... a good FM headset with bluetooth!! (remember FM?) If you’ve read my ces summaries in the past, you’ll recall I’ve been looking for this for quite some time. I’ve asked in every booth, every year. Finally someone listened! I will buy this when it hits the street. Hopefully my (second pair of) 10 year old, Sony SRF-H4 FM headphones will last till then!):

Let’s see,... There was a 4 foot high, 8 foot wide, 10,000 watt speaker for your ipod: (and, if this wasn’t silly enough, Klipsch had one too!?)

and there was some dumb stuff too.

We stopped and talked with a woman from Boston who was checking out the booths in the south hall. She was in Boston when we ran into her and talked to her:

We also saw Justin Bieber there. Only he was actually there.

Fitness products are still all the rage. I don’t know what these marketers are thinking. (have you seen Americans today? They obviously aren’t interested in fitness crap) ‘Little watches (actually big ones) that tell you if you’re dieing yet from working out too hard. Or keep track of which songs helped you last time to “pump you up!”. Or keep track of where you jogged and when (like you really want to keep track of that?) Here’s one from Sony: and Motorola:
….and another fitness bracelet thingy from Jawbone:

So, there was a little bit of innovation there, as always. However, according to the signage in the booths, every booth featured “INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS” This industry really has to come up with some new buzzwords. We’ve worn out all the good ones. “High Tech” was the last good one, and that was 30 years ago! So, if you have any, let them know. Like I did with my FM/bluetooth headphones. Maybe we can all make a difference in small ways. And take the time to research and shop carefully, and vote with your consumer dollar. Because,...the power of people is more than the people in power!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Our New Year's Day party:

Our New Year's Day Yard Party with 2011 Recap Video/countdown/fireworks: