s market with new gadgets
board and touchpad with some basic guts. It doesn’t have its own storage or CPU.
But the most interesting products at CES were away from the stands of tablet vendors. Japanese electronics giant Sony unveiled a range of new products, including 3D camcorders, computers and new televisions that don’t require special glasses to create 3D images. Wireless sound systems were also in the mix.
3D televisions that don’t require glasses are in their infancy. Sony – and rival Toshiba – were both brave enough to display those devices at the show. And they worked, but not very well.
The more established forms of 3D TV were on display all over the place and now less remarkable than when we saw them for the first time last year. Accessory manufacturer Monster unveiled a special set of 3D glasses that can be used with any 3D TV instead of relying on those provided by the TV manufacturer. The message was clear: 3D is here to stay and is making its way to your TV, whether you want to use it or not.
Some of the usual suspects were also at the show, up to their usual tricks. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer used his keynote segment at CES to showcase the company’s consumer electronics offerings and new laptops running Windows 7. Along with other Microsoft representatives, Ballmer showed home entertainment centred on its Xbox console and the new Kinect motiongaming system. With Kinect users can control games and media playback, including films and music, by speaking, waving and pointing at the Kinect without the need for controllers or remotes and extending use of the device beyond just gaming.
Ballmer also announced a new version of Microsoft’s Surface touch-based computer and announced Windows 7 will soon be available for portable devices running ARM processors.
Smaller device manufacturers at the show attempted to steal some of the limelight with everything from intelligent ovens to car stereo systems that use your iPhone as the head unit. Those were the real stars of the show when it came to practical technologies and many were unfortunately drowned out by the cacophony of larger manufacturers with big stands, celebrities and fanfare.
However, it wasn’t all practical: in many cases it was just cool. A new company called House of Marley launched a range of audio equipment “in the spirit of Bob Marley”, which included headphones and iPod sound systems all made from wood, hemp and other “organic” materials.
It’s hard to imagine CES getting bigger or more chaotic than it currently is and it somehow manages to grow every year. It’s also surprising that vendors see value in spending millions of dollars to be just another company at the show, where they’ll have to spend millions more to stand out from the crowd. Clearly, money talks. And in consumer electronics there’s more than enough to go around.