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Reports from CES 2011, looking for things that might matter for real people, not just technology buffs.

I knew that coming to CES looking for things for "normal people" would be a difficult task. Overall, I'm relatively pleased since I have some items mentioned in my previous reports that actually warrant some serious further investigation.

I heard from several people that there was more energy on the show floor this year than in the past couple. That's a good thing, and perhaps that's a reflection on the economy potentially recovering.

However, were there any truly eye opening products or demonstrations? Things that I really felt were both revolutionary and applicable to the masses any time soon?

No.

But there was some interesting stuff, without a doubt. And lots of it.

Here are a couple of the more ubiquitous...

3D - Again

3D is nothing new - many of us now regularly watch 3D movies in local theaters. 3D TVs are also not really that new, having been a major part of the hype surrounding last year's CES.

This year's the same - only more so.

I've never seen as many different 3D TVs, headsets and vendors as I did at this year's CES. If I'm not mistaken I even saw 3D technology being demoed in cars.

Sony's display was perhaps the largest - I think it's safe to say that they've gone all-in on 3D TV, and with Playstation, games as well. They had some truly impressive demos across the board. Perhaps the most promising was their 3D camcorder - it's pricey, and it'll be a while before we can get our hands on it, but it does seem to deliver on the promise.

If 3D was everywhere, it seemed that large format video displays and TVs were everywhere else. Huge and ubiquitous, large format TV screens are getting amazingly thin. For those of you not on a budget this might be the most likely thing to show up in your home later this year.

For me, home 3D holds a lot of promise; done well it can be stunning. But unless you have money to burn I don't think it pays to be an early adopter; there are too many unknowns and random issues to work out. For example Sony demoed a glasses-less 3D TV, but I have to say I wasn't impressed. For 3D to really take off, ditching the glasses would go a long way - but it's also a long way off.

On the other hand, 3D World of Warcraft at the nVidea booth was ... interesting. Smile

Tablets? What Tablets?

I'll admit it: I'd hoped to find the iPad killer. Or at least the iPad alternative.

I didn't.

I have nothing against the iPad, and I may well end up with one at some point, but with so much invested in Windows technology and software it would make more sense for me (and I suspect many others in a similar situation) to find a Windows-based tablet or pad computer.

From what I could tell the answer remains: not yet. I didn't see as many as I was hoping, and what I did see didn't really excite me.

Surprising, given that it's now a full year that the iPad's been around.

I suspect that Android based devices may well be a more immanent solution, but those are also few and far between right now.

Caveat: CES was huge and crowded - I can't claim to have seen every possible contender. Hopefully I missed the one that would have spoken to me, as I sincerely want it to exist.

My Biggest Take-away

It's not really new, but I had it confirmed for me: it may be called the consumer electronics show, but it's not at all about today's consumer. CES is more of a showcase for the new technologies and ideas that we'll be seeing develop - or wither - over the coming months and years.

As a speaker at the Sony booth stated as he demoed the upcoming Sony cameras, both still and video, both with or without 3D: these are amazing times to be a photographer.

That's actually true for the entire industry.

But I can't also help but feel that there are even more amazing times ahead.

Article C4705 - January 8, 2011 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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7 Comments
Roger Johnson
January 11, 2011 8:23 AM

I am glad you set out the notion of a pad that those of us using Windows can buy without feeling that we are giving in to second best.
There is no reason why Windows users can't demand as good as or better.

Susan Scott
January 11, 2011 10:36 AM

Thanks for a realistic review of CES. I've been fully expecting to find a decent Windows based tablet after reading the hype on techy websites about what was seen at CES. It is very helpful to read a "real" person's impression of upcoming technology. So many tech magazines and websites gush over their advertisers products it is hard to trust their opinions.

Jason N
January 11, 2011 11:03 AM

I too can't wait for a good windows tablet. The problem with it is that we basically want a laptop computer in tablet form, with all of the required power therein. In that way our needs can never be met by something to close to the iPad. Microsoft needs to look at making an extremely light version of their O/S, but then perhaps it won't run the programs that people need/want. It's a very tough place to be.

whs
January 11, 2011 11:49 AM

I think the most significant news was that Windows8 will run on ARM processors. That will allow them to take over the world. In 2011, five Billion ARM processors were shipped.

Jeff
January 11, 2011 11:55 AM

You can do many things very well on a tablet that use the size/weight advantages of the tablet. Once you have manipulated data with your fingers on a tablet surface you realize that it is truly a different device and requires a different approach with its Operating System. Windows is mouse/click oriented and is not a good fit for a tablet. If you modify it to work well in a tablet environment then it will not be Windows any more and will lose many of the applications that make Windows so universal.
The iPad is no more a Windows competitor than Kenworth threatens Ferrari. They are both great, but designed for different environments. Just having wheels and running on the road does not really make them similar. Putting Windows on a tablet is like trying to put Ferrari's powerful engine in a truck - might be possible, but why?

Tom Dees
January 19, 2011 8:35 AM

One must have perspective, focus, and restraint when it it comes down to the new gizmo's, gadget's, iphone this & ipad that. Apple and all other retailers is after one thing, and one thing only, your pocket book, credit card, debit card and what ever is left in your checking account! When the new iPhone come out, my daughter stood in a cold Atlanta rain for three hours to get her and my son-in-law the new phone @ $300 apiece. That was to just get a voucher to get it! Only to find out att was only giving one voucher per customer...Waite for supply & demand to catch up, the bugs worked out, & the price to come down! As far as I'm concerned, 3D is still a gimmick...

Alex
December 21, 2011 3:40 AM

Leo, I've just come across this article, and thought to let you and the others know (hope you'll find it useful :)) that recently Dell launched their Windows (7) based tablet PC 'Dell Latitude ST Tablet' (http://www.dell.com/uk/business/p/latitude-st/pd).

Wouldn't be able to tell much about the device itself as I don't own one but would appreciate if anyone who does can at least share their experience on using it.
I really hope it will turn out to be a reliable Windows-based tablet.

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