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February 02, 2007

Back from CES

It was a hectic week at CES with teaming hordes from all over the planet surging through the exhibit halls like lemmings without GPS. In case you’ve never attended, this amazing extravaganza, it just about takes over the entire town occupying every square inch of the giant Las Vegas Convention Center and all of its North, Central, and South halls with major players such as Microsoft, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba, and more, all strutting their stuff, some with monster exhibits and stage shows, viewing booths, and private meeting rooms.

If any single company dominated the show, it had to be Microsoft with a major presence inside and out touting its products, especially the imminent release of the new Vista operating system and Office companion suite. They even had tents outside the convention center for the overflow.

The North Hall is more or less devoted to automotive technology featuring highly customized vehicles completely filled with speaker systems, GPS, and video screens. I swear, some of those cars could propel themselves with the sound blasting out of them—a possible solution to the energy crisis, but I don’t know how we would contend with the noise pollution. I still have a headache from the penetrating sounds pervading that venue.

Moving farther north, next door, the entire Hilton Convention Center is consumed by small booths in blocks organized by countries, mostly Asian. Frankly, I found this area a little tedious. All the exhibitors are hopeful that a WalMart or some other big box buyer will stop by and place an order for a million or so units. The endless offerings of MP3 players, headsets and headphones, cables, HDTV screens, and GPS units begin to blur into a numbing sameness.

I must say that, as a handheld enthusiast, I was disappointed in the paucity of new offerings at CES. Of course, Palm announced the release of the Treo 750. Samsung dominated the show with giant posters everywhere, on buildings, on buses, on taxis, and throughout the exhibit halls. Both are great units, and I am testing them now for review.

Then too, i-mate announced that it would now market its unlocked PDAL and JAQ3 Windows 5.0 devices in the US. Both are small and handy GSM quad-band Pocket PC phone editions. I expect to have these units for a full review soon too.

My spirits lifted, however, on my last day when I attended a private meeting with HTC to review their current models of Pocket PCs and Smartphones. At this meeting the publicist unveiled four new units that took my breath away. With these exciting, new units on the horizon, things do not look quite so bleak for the introduction of new product.

A mile south of the Las Vegas Convention Center the Sands Convention is also almost entirely consumed by CES with one exception: The Adult Entertainment Industry Convention. That show certainly attracted a different audience with its huge posters and blatant adult content.

Actually, the adult entertainment industry has always been on the cutting edge of digital technology to drive the delivery of its products. As I understand it, they were among the first to figure out how to do online bankcard transactions and how to deliver video content online. Now it seems they are promoting downloads paid for by the minute from which you can select your favorite parts, without having to bother with any foreplay, or whatever pushes your buttons. Of course this content will stream to PDAs and cell phones as well as part of a greater distribution system.

As an archaeologist, I appreciated Qualcomm's creative contribution with the construction of an archeological site complete with partially exposed artifacts in the deposit. Staff decked out as archaeologists discussed the evolution of digital technology with visitors. A treasure map directed visitors from the outmoded technology in the midden to the contemporary iterations in other parts of the massive exhibit. They could have used some pointers from a real archaeologist, however, but it was fun and creative.

If there were any unifying theme to the show, it was the concept that you could have all of your media wherever and whenever you want on integrated devices and wireless distribution systems. I have selected six of my favorite items from CES to share with you, which will follow in subsequent posts. I hope you will not be disappointed at the lack of porn content, however.

Posted by conradb212 at February 2, 2007 06:36 PM


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