Posts Tagged ‘Consumer Electronics Show’

Tablet Mania: Why The Tech Industry Thinks Their Time Has Finally Come

January 22, 2010

Here’s a story I wrote that gives some perspective on the long and mostly disappointing history of tablet computing.

The Next Big Thing, 20 Years Later
The tech industry thinks the time is right for tablets, thanks to lower prices and friendlier features

By Spencer E. Ante

If there was a land of misfit gadgets, the tablet computer would be one of its oldest residents. The tech industry, though, refuses to give up on these slate-like portable PCs. Tablets from Hewlett-Packard, Dell, and others were some of the stars at this month’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, while the buzz around Apple’s long-awaited entry into the market, due out this spring, is already deafening. “The industry understands better how people can use tablets,” says Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies Associates.

Yet PC makers have been trying to sell consumers on the utility of tablets for decades—with little success. In 2001, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates predicted that tablets would be the most popular form of PC sold in the U.S. within five years; in 2009, they made up less than 1% of the market, according to estimates from research firm IDC.

The first generation was doomed by a combination of big price tags, short battery life, and clunky interfaces. Tablets’ capabilities have since evolved, as have the tastes of consumers. Portability is paramount, and the latest crop are lighter, boast longer battery life, and better screen technology. Software is more sophisticated, too, and Web connections have improved. “The timing is right for this,” says Philip McKinney, vice-president and chief technology officer of HP’s Personal Systems Group. “We wouldn’t go into a market that we felt wasn’t going to be widely adopted.”

Read the rest of the Bloomberg BusinessWeek story here.

The Coming E-Reader Shakeout

January 12, 2010

Fresh from his first Consumer Electronics Show, here’s my colleague Doug MacMillan’s new story about the growing number of electronic reading devices:

Johnny Makkar is intent on buying a digital book reader. Yet he won’t consider any of the more than two dozen new devices introduced in recent months, many of them at the just-completed Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. For Makkar, a resident of Fairlawn, N.J., with a background in marketing, only two manufacturers will do, and one has yet to unveil a reader. “I want the e-book buying process to be as effortless as possible,” says Makkar, 26. “Only Apple or Amazon are going to be able to provide that.”

Standing out may prove challenging for many new entrants to the market for e-readers, expected by Forrester Research to double to 6 million devices this year. “Half the e-readers that have been announced [at CES] won’t be around a year from now,” says Forrester analyst James McQuivey.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Did Anything Happen at CES?

January 12, 2009

2009 was going to be an off year at the Consumer Electronics Show no matter what. First, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who gave the keynote speech for many years, ended his reign of CES keynotes. Second, the damn economy dashed a lot of people’s hopes for attending the show.

I’ve never been to CES actually, and have never been a big fan of the show. But I always pay attention to what goes on, if for no other reason that it’s a good table setter that gets me thinking about the potentially big trends for the year.

So did anything of consequence happen this year? Nothing earth shattering. But it seems like there were a few things of note, according to this blog post by the folks at Colorado venture capital firm The Foundry Group. Most of the action seemed to be centered around TV innovation. It’s nice to see that a 60-year-old technology still has legs.

But 3D on TV? C’mon, people. It feels like the 1950s all over again when the industry gets excited about 3D.

# Don’t buy a television for the next 6 months. This is certainly counter to what retailers and producers would want us to say, especially given the current state of the economy, but all the major brands are introducing exciting technologies in the first half of 2009. The TVs are thinner (some less than 1mm!), brighter (LED backlighting rocks), faster (240mhz refresh rate) and offer superior contrast ratios (1,000,000 to 1 and even higher).

Next to the best of today’s generation of panels, there is no comparison. Having been to CES a few years in a row, this year seemed to demonstrate the biggest improvements on imaging. If you don’t buy a TV in this generation, hold on a couple of years until OLED TVs are commonplace and then sit a back and look at the best displays we’ve ever seen. For now, we’ll geek out on LED backlit generation two screens.

# Everyone is trying to make things easier on consumers. It only took 20 years or so, but consumer device manufactures, both large and small are finally focusing on the consumer experience. Maybe this is the effect of Apple’s entrance into the consumer device ecosystem, but this year, in particular, showed many instances of deep thinking about usability.

What was of particular interest to us were some of the startups that attended the show and instead of presenting groundbreaking technology, rather have executed on current technologies to bring the consumer a needed digital solution with the ease of use never seen before at an unexpectedly low price.

# 3D on TV. Full HD TVs and projectors that have incredible 3D-images (glasses needed) are now consumer available. Clearly the amount of content available will drive how popular these devices become, but the technology is really impressive to experience. We played a VW racing game in 3D and would have been happy to sit there all afternoon, or at least until the inevitable headaches set in. There was also a prototype of a 3D TV that didn’t require the viewer to wear glasses. It was pretty rough, but cool at the same time.

We have our doubts that the entire universe of content will ever go 3D, given how different the production tools and processes are for live-action movies and television. However, for media like video games and CG animated content which are largely “3D native” already, there should be less of a hurdle to create appropriate 3D content, and probably better justification from a user-experience perspective as well.

Read the rest of the post here.