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CES. Official Day 1

The day started the way every single CES starts for at least 8 years I attend the show with a huge line to the missing in action shuttle from the hotel to the Convention Center. Every year the show starts suddenly for the organizers, charter companies and the drivers. As a result I had to split the cab three way and even then the road to the show took about an hour in traffic.

This year the crowds seem a little bigger than during the disastrous CES 2009, but it is clear something is wrong once you look at only 10 people or so standing in Starbucks line. Many of the exhibitors are missing; many of what seemed to be permanent fixtures are no longer there.

Today, I decided to see how the technological breakthrough, changing the fate of humanity, works and stopped by Toshiba booth to see a demo of their Cell TV 3D technology. The large number of people wearing strange glasses around me initially told me that Im at a Star Trek convention, but, unfortunately I realized that yesterday, out of modesty no doubt, Toshiba did not mention the 3D glasses required to watch their 3D Cell TV. Maybe they just did not think it is possible and decided not to mention it, because it is a pretty much common knowledge that you need 3D glasses to watch 3D image. Whatever the reason, right around the corner Chinese TCL, who apparently has no clue about the laws of physics, was showing exactly that full 3D TV without any glasses. This, my friends, is amazing. Unlike Toshiba Cell TV it does require specialized 3D content, but personally between heavy and ugly glasses on my face and a movie studio having to redo their products I choose the latter.

TCL, who for the last few years owns Alcatel, also presented a couple of phones: OT808A and OT-880A (Chinese are never tired of number 8). The phones are relatively basic devices, with OT-808A oriented towards young women who text a lot the phone has an interesting look and it is a flip phone with full QWERTY keyboard. OT-880A on the other hand is a touch screen slider with QWERTY keyboard. Nothing special at the first look, but at the right price point there is no doubt these phones will find a taker.

One of the first companies I visited today was Oregon Scientific. I always liked the weather stations, the alarm clocks and other unusual stuff with great design they make and wanted to see whats new for 2010. This year the company launched a new line of products for energy savvy consumers among other things just plug your refrigerator into Oregon Scientific Wireless Appliance Manager and you will know just how much money keeping milk fresh costs you per day. Dont know if it will make anybody to turn their fridge off overnight, but there probably will be curious people who will buy it. Al Gore, for example.

The more obviously useful device is TV Standby Killer a cool name, BTW. The $29.99 unit makes your TV shut down completely even when you used your remote to put it into a Standby mode and brings it back to life once you turn TV on. The company had no numbers for me, but on the surface it does seem that something like this should more than pay for itself within a reasonable amount of time.

Next on the list was a roundtable where Samsung top brass was telling the press all kinds of stories about monitors. The heated discussion between one of the present press core members and Samsungs management about why LED TVs are called LED, but not LCD-E was fascinating, long and boring, especially considering that this is already existing market term used by all manufacturers and asking Samsung at this point of time to change the name they call the products they have 75% market share of in the US is like asking health insurance companies to start caring about people.

Gabriel Stricker, Googles VP of Communications and PR was present there firsthand today, not just on a video as he was yesterday. His (and mine) presence was warranted by the more detailed eBook discussion because somebody in Samsung decided it makes full sense to have the same panel discuss computer monitors and eBook at the same time and place. Well, who am I to complain the eBook does have a monitor of sorts, so I guess it may fit. In any case, I had an opportunity to play with it firsthand and while the game was pleasant it did not last long within a few minutes I managed to point my stylus onto WiFi setup menu and eBook lost the network. Interestingly enough, losing a network resulted in a constant search for one, without any regard to any other buttons pressed or areas of the screen touched. The eBook wanted the net and it could not care less if I wanted something else. Later the problem was solved, but in a meantime I can report that the build quality is very good, the ergonomics are great and typing this article in Korean (see the pic) on that keyboard is a bitch.

Another interesting question raised during the discussion was whether the expected emergence of the various tablets and slates will compete and possibly kill off the eBooks? The answer from Samsung was No, because it is much easier to read e-paper than it is on an LCD screen. While it is difficult to argue with this point, I have to say that all the netbooks and now tablets appeared for one purpose only to save money and weight for the travelers. As somebody, who walked for 9 hours today with a computer on my shoulder I can only sympathize, but as a frequent traveler I can hardly imagine anybody wanting an extra device in their bag.

If you want to know, Google did not give Samsung exclusivity and Samsung will allow loading books from other sources as well, so the union exciting both parties so much has little substance.

Palm announced another US carrier added to its two product product line both Pre and Pixi will now be available through Verizon Wireless. To please the new and much bigger partner, Palm added WiFi to Pixi and increased the memory capacity to 16GB on both devices. WebOS will receive another update in February including Flash and will be available to current Palm Pre and Pixi owners using Sprint network.

And last, but not least I did get my hands on Motorola Backflip today. A dual impression on one side, it is a good looking, fast phone, featuring a track pad similar to one used on laptops. On the other hand, the keyboard on the bottom is kind of strange, I cannot understand if it bothers me. By the way, the phone does not run on Android 2.1 due to Motoblur used in it, it only can handle Android 1.5 at this point of time. It will be updated to 2.1 further along the lines once Moto has prepared the updated version on Motoblur.

Michael Savuskan (msav@mobile-review.com)
Translated by Oleg Kononosov (oleg.kononosov@mobile-review.com)

Published — 09 January 2010

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