The buzz from CES Unveiled

5 January 2010 by Steve Blum
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CES Unveiled was the usual mob scene. Maybe even more so this year. But its a good first look at what has the buzz and what doesn’t.

 Lenovo tablet computer becomes a laptop
Lenovo was the only computer maker showing a genuine tablet computer at the event. And its a beauty.

It’s really two computers in one. The tablet runs on a mobile processor and has good, basic functionality. It docks into a laptop-like device. In fact, when it’s docked, it is a laptop.

The tablet becomes the screen and the laptop unit powers it with a full-on Intel processor and a keyboard. People were stacked three, four, sometimes five and six deep trying to get a look.

 Entourage’s e-book reader
E-book readers were surprisingly hard to find, but there were a few. Marvell had some cool reference designs.

One was a dead ringer for a gizmo I’ve been waiting years and years to get: a wafer thin tablet maybe 15 cm by 20 cm, that I’ve been lusting after ever since I first saw one on Star Trek Deep Space Nine.

Entourage was showing a dual screen model. It opens like a book and has an e-book screen on one side and a smaller computer display, suitable for video and multimedia on the other.

The set top box business is losing its pizzaz. Not in terms of product – the user interfaces and on-screen navigation keep getting better and better – but in terms of it representing something cutting edge. Everybody knows you can get TV on the Internet, and you don’t need cable or satellite to get all the movies and television shows you want.

 Marvell’s Deep Space Nine
 reference design
The two best STB products on display, the Popbox and D-Link’s Boxee unit, seamlessly integrate social networking functionality so you can watch TV with your friends, no matter where they might be.

The unexpectedly hot category was small projectors. Palm-top devices that let you watch TV or whatever from your mobile phone or share a video quickly were being demonstrated by 3M and Microvision.

Sharper Image was showing a prototype home projector that’s supposed to start selling for $149 in August. These small, inexpensive projectors are based on LED technology that will only get better over the next two to three years. The days of the $1,000 video projector are numbered.