r av­a­ganza

s mar­ket with new gadgets

Finweek English Edition - - TECH TRENDS - SIMON DINGLE si­mond@fin­week.co.za

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.

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