Monday, January 11, 2010

Dredging The CESpool For Cool

So, I'm back from Las Vegas with a lighter wallet, no voice, potential liver damage and some decent business prospects. Good show, good times. I've aways contended that it's hard to get perspective on the entire beast that is CES when you're on the ground, living it... but for what it's worth here are the things that I thought were cool, interesting or notable from the slice of the show I experienced:
  • First, props to the nurse at the First Aid Station at the Las Vegas Convention Center, who by virtue of providing me with an isopropyl soaked towelette was ultimately much more helpful rectifying my latest BlackBerry Bold trackball crisis than the charming yet useless folk in the RIM booth.
  • 3D TV is way cooler than I expected, especially the full HD version (1080p in both eyes). But, it is still hard to fathom kickin' it in active 3D glasses along with 22 of my closest friends during a Superbowl XLV, or a Superbowl L party for that matter. I think Samsung is on to something with the glasses-less solution. The good news in the short term is that excitement around this niche should make that sweet non-3D 55" LED set I'm coveting much cheaper.
  • Thanks Nokia booth guy for the great demo of the N900. Slick device. I particularly liked the social networking topscreen widgets (like MotoBlur) and thought the Flash 9 enabled browser was awesome. Now go and get yourselves a carrier subsidy you sillies.
  • Slates, tablets, eReaders galore... some like the Kindle except better, like Plastic Logic's Que proReader, and some that are more rich media friendly the the HP slate. There's a lot of froth and fear in this product sector that I'm convinced (and reliable sources I spoke with agreed) is about to be defined (on Jan 27th) by Apple.
  • I'm happy to report that based on the balance of parties there's evidence to suggest the AVN is virile of spirit (if not of revenue) in the face of potentially withering challenges that industry faces from an onslaught of free digital services and its cultural destigmatization. Didn't get to spend any quality time at that show, but I did get to attend one of the aforementioned parties courtesy of some cool folk at Gawker, and I was gonna say it didn't suck at all, but...oh never mind....
  • Android, Android, Android... the exuberance continued into the show following Google's Nexus One event last week. The fact that Flash 10 was announced to be coming to Android browsers didn't hurt. (Hopefully this will push Apple over the hump with Adobe). On the Android handset front I heard some strong positive buzz from industry insiders about the Sony Xperia X10 device (see demo below), that will unfortunately sell like 2 units in the US if the SE can't get any carrier love.
  • I like to say I'm into architecture, so I thought my mind would be blasted by the newly opened City Centre property... but no so much. I felt that it took some modern concepts from a dream team of kick-ass designers and plugged them into a tired LV model (set back hotels, promenade mall, etc.). Instead of feeling original and exuberant, it felt formulaic and strangely anachronistic given its embrace of super-premium Eurotrash retailers and it's cookie-cutter (though dark) casino. On top of that, several locals I spoke to expressed hatred for the already notoriously crap attitude of the staff. I did have an Eric Schmidt sighting there on Friday, which felt as much like a check-the-box as the property itself.
  • Samsung blew it on the mobile front by not showing their highly anticipated Bada S8200 featuring their Bada OS (yeah! another smartphone OS?). I think they had the most impressive booth at the show, but overall I must say their handset selection made me long for another Red Bull (without Vodka this time).
  • Unexpected superawesomeness in the form of the Schlage LiNK demo in the RIM booth. They have system where you can use your BlackBerry (or, presumably, any other web enabled phone) to remotely access and activate your door locks, temperature controls, lights and remote cameras in your house. While my initial thoughts tended toward hijinks, in retrospect this system may be one of the more useful innovations demonstrated at the show.
  • Lenovo had some bad-ass looking netbooks, including the tabletesque, capacitive screen S10-3t. But you know, in terms of netbooks that Nokia Booklet 3G that was deployed all over the Nokia booth maybe the netbook eyecandy du jour.
  • There was a lot of excitement about the Boxee Box (made by D-Link) that allows consumers to access the internet content on their TVs without a computer. Uh, er... wasn't that called WebTV? I'm not convinced I should be excited.
  • Sprint's Overdrive 3G/4G portable hotspot device has a lot of Verizon's MiFi but faster. However, it's not even worth considering in LA til almost 2011, when their WiMax network rolls out here.
I'll add more if I think of them... in the meantime I'd love to hear what impressed you. Let me know.

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