International CES Recap – Tidbits of the Future

International CES 2012 brought on a bunch of questions about relevancy.  If you sell electronics, it must be invaluable.  If you are looking at what’s coming out to help with communications, information and entertainment – its always a mixed bag. With how much there was to see, I’m sure I missed a few goodies, but here’s some tidbits looking into our near and distant future – and some other things we hope will change:

  • One of my favorite sections was the Innovations Hall that was moved from the central lobby of the convention center to within a hall at the Venetian.  It ended up being worth the trip to see some of the cool products that are not only coming up, but are already available.  In a sad way, it was also fun to comment on the descriptions and set-ups as it seemed that whomever typed them and placed products was doing it at the end of a very long day. With fabulous typos, products being placed upside down and items such as a remote for one item being placed with another item it added some gamesmanship and humor in trying to find the next mistake – there were easily more than a dozen to be found.
  • LG had the most mind-blowing large presentation with a wall of screens cycling through phenomenal 3-D content as you walked from the main lobby into their showcase.  Their passive 3D glasses (like those RealD 3D glasses are certainly the most comfortable.  It became quickly clear, though, that the passive 3D experience does not have as great of depth as active 3D glasses.
  • Samsung, Sharp and others touted 4X screens that showed phenomenal resolution 4X that of 1080P, but it just highlighted the fact that we are probably years away from enough content being made in this resolution to make these sets even reasonably worthwhile.
  • Panasonic did a nice job of highlighting the technology advancements they are making via re-engineering refresh-rate technology and plasma technology in general.  The split screens showcased the differences beautifully and it was too bad that there was only a couple of people paying attention to this section as the crowds were elsewhere in the Panasonic exhibit.
  • Sony unveiled a tablet that has two 5.5″ screens that enable users to fold them in half for placement in a coat pocket or purse.  Seems pretty cool from a portability standpoint.  I would just be worried about the extra wear and tear. 
  • Huge convention center rooms diminish the scale of large TVs.  The 80″+ screens looked great, but the way they were placed made them look relatively like my 65″ at home.
  • I was impressed and excited to see a grouping of eco-minded companies represented in the hall adjacent to the Innovations hall in the Venetian that dealt with power sources, recycling and more green electronics solutions.  While their impact might not be big, it was good to see them as I had not seen them at the conference before.
  • Too many staffers have too little knowledge about the products they are presenting.  One example is a staffer in the Microsoft area whose response to a man’s question about the benefits of some laptops and she just told him that they were just the newest models.  She had no idea that the wall of laptops were on display to highlight all of the Ultrabooks that have come out as a PC answer to Apple’s Macbook Air.  If this was Intel and Microsoft’s big push for this show, it’s a shame the staff wasn’t better informed.
  • Every year, I hit the Qualcomm section at just the right time to get the perfect coffee drink that they always provide as freebies…
  • Samsung Mobile also offered free coffee, but their big buzz in the central lobby was the Samsung Note – what they refer to as a smartphone tablet hybrid.  Their hook was having caricaturists draw attendees directly on the devices.  They were only slightly larger than smartphones, so it will be interesting to see how sales go.  Also interesting to see an incorporated stylus in a new product.
  • Samsung presented TV sets that were lightweight and wireless so you can move them from room-to-room as needed.  Interesting concept that might not find many people who care…
  • Dolby set up a theatre to highlight the Dolby 7.1 surround sound on the forthcoming extreme snowboarding film, THE ART OF FLIGHT.  It sounded phenomenal, but its a shame that most people will not be able to hear it in this fashion.

All in, it was a lot of ground to cover in one day.  In some ways I wish I had more time to cover it, but I’m mostly happy that I wasn’t there longer than a day.  Without a doubt, the best showcases were ones that had well-educated staff working the product – regardless of how big or small the brand was. When looking at CES as a barometer of what’s next, it was relatively ho-hum.  When looking at it as a concept vehicle where some parts will be thrown away, there was a bit of promise but we still have a long way to go – and that’s exciting…

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