Move over, HD: 4K is the new hotness in townWhen one says high-definition display, you probably still think 720p or 1080p. But there's another contender that delivers even crisper, clearer, and more life-like images: 4K displays, which have four times the resolution of 1080p screens. This fairly new technology hasn't yet caught on, and 4K hardware and content are only barely starting to pop up. Take for example Sony's first 4K home theater projector — announced last year and showcased at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), it's now available for purchase by anyone willing to plunk down $26,000 for it. Read more...
Trying to follow CES breaking news coverage is like that episode of I Love Lucy where Lucy is working in a chocolate factory and the conveyor belt carrying the candies keeps moving faster and faster. It's stressful, confounding and, ultimately, can't be done.
Here's a product. Here's another product. Here are 50 products. The quantity of products introduced is expressed in yards, and even football fields.
Did you read the skinny on skinny TVs and skinny laptops? How about phones that control lamps and air conditioners at home? Android gadgets, iPhone accessories and cameras galore. Most of the coverage focused on what gadgets can do, rather than how we interact with them -- which, to me, is the most exciting news.
Missing in all of the coverage was the Big Story of CES this year: The future of human-machine interfaces has arrived at last.
Futurists -- including Yours Truly -- have been predicting for years that the future of all computing and miscellaneous gadgetry involves the addition of these three user interfaces to our desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile phone devices:
3. In-the-air gestures
But wait, you say. These interfaces have been around for years. And that's true. But there's a big difference between a technology that's available passively and enjoyed by a few power users, and a technology that's so widespread that it changes culture.
Of course, Apple mainstreamed multitouch interfaces in 1997 with the iPhone. It's attempting to do the same with voice via Siri on the iPhone 4S, with mixed results.
Microsoft has semi-mainstreamed in-the-air gestures with its Kinect for Xbox 360. Read more...
For a touch-based interface, it was awfully hard to get hold of. Microsoft's Windows 8 OS was shown on a handful of prototype ARM-based tablets at the Consumer Electronics Show this week, but almost no one was allowed to try it out.
Nvidia had three Windows 8 tablets in its booth but they were all behind glass. Texas Instruments showed a Windows 8 tablet in a meeting room off the show floor, but a reporter who asked to try it was told that wasn't permitted. Qualcomm, the third vendor of ARM-based chips working with Windows 8, wasn't showing it at all.
Representatives from all three companies said Microsoft has placed tight limits on how they can show Windows on ARM. It's apparently taking no chances that people might have a bad experience with the software before it's ready for release, which could harm its reputation.
"I think they're being a little measured because they want to make sure that when people finally see these things that it's a good experience. They have to get it right," Mike Rayfield, general manager of Nvidia's mobile business unit, said in an interview. Read more...
Samsung had a robotic floor sweeper at CES that's equipped with a camera and speaker. The electronics maker wants you to think about its potential.
Let's say you're at work and you connect, via an app, to your Navibot floor sweeper. You can adjust the camera position on the unit, as well as control its movement via the controller. By shifting the camera's position around the room, this leads to the discovery that the dog is asleep on the couch. Your next step is to shout into your tablet's microphone "bad doggy" -- and presumably the dog will jump off the couch once it hears your voice coming from Navibot.
The Navibot that was demonstrated as CES is an upgrade from earlier versions. Pricing was not yet available.
This Samsung sweeper also uses the camera to map the room for navigation.
But there is another category of drone-like devices that rely more on human controls and may find a place in the workplace and home, if you can get past their seemingly out-of-body experience.
In the ocean of vendors at CES, was Mantaro, a Germantown, Md.-based firm that's selling a device that doesn't sweep floors, but could act as your physical substitute at a business meeting. Read more...
Cashing in on the ultrabook excitement at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Lenovo has rolled out four of its own slimmed-down models, including one geared specifically for the enterprise.
Lenovo, which released its first ultrabook -- the U300S -- last October, worked on filling out its ultrabook offerings here at CES this week.
On Monday, Yang Yuanqing, Lenovo's chairman and CEO, unveiled the IdeaPad Yoga, the company's hybrid ultrabook that can be flipped around to look like a tablet computer. Lenovo followed that news by releasing three more ultrabooks: the IdeaPad U310, a 13-in. ultrabook, the IdeaPad U410, a 14-in machine, and for enterprises, the ThinkPad T430U. Read more...
Microsoft executives earlier this week hinted at lowered expectations for Windows revenues in the fourth quarter of 2011, citing data from research firms that point to a stall in PC shipments at the end of the year.
On Tuesday, a pair of Microsoft executives referred to contractions in PC sales in the fourth quarter during briefings held at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES). As Microsoft regularly notes in its calls with financial analysts, revenue from the Windows group is tightly tied to sales of new PCs.
"If you look at third parties, they were kind of, call it, mid-single digit expectations [of growth] for the PC market, if you go back to October," Bill Koefoed, Microsoft's general manager of investor relations, said Tuesday at an event hosted by JP Morgan. "IDC and Gartner and some others kind of lowered that.... I think they were kind of at minus 1 as they updated the PC market forecast in December."
Koefoed, who attributed part of the decline in PC sales growth to floods in Thailand, which limited supplies of hard disk drives, anticipated even more of a drop. Read more...