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CES. Day 2
And so began my last day at CES. The return ticket was in my pocket and check out was done. In two days I saw almost everything I wanted and met almost everyone I wanted as this year show was much smaller than in 2008. It was about the same as in 2009, but this year it was clear that many people did not pull out at the last moment and everything looked much more organized. Where last year the “sitting areas” appeared in the middle of the most expensive places to exhibit, this year a lot of the floor space was either cut off by the curtains or used as “meeting places” – small, mainly appointment only temporary offices rented out to companies big and small for much less money than the show floor. At a couple of spots I even saw temporary massage parlors, something inconceivable in previous years considering the cost of real estate at the show.
I started by visiting HTC Meeting Place, where I was demonstrated the not so smart HTC Smart. Probably, in order to prevent leaks of the newly announced products, HTC employed the old and true divide and conceal (or was it conquer?) tactic – the phone was there, but somebody else had a battery from it, so there was no way to turn it on. I imagined how somebody somewhere in the building is explaining to another reporter or a customer that right now they can only show a battery, because somebody else has the phone. Well, at least the battery cover was in place, but I expect this major security breach will be fixed the next time and the third person will walk around with it in his pocket. Asked why the dumbest phone HTC ever made was given a name Smart, Mr. Eric Lin, HTC’s Online Communications Manager, managed to communicate to me offline that this is the smartest phone most people would ever need. No argument there, he is absolutely correct, although this does not answer the question really.
Next I passed by the NAVTEQ booth. The company demonstrated a very impressive thing on top of a VW that they use to take 3D pictures of everything the car is driving by. Only a driver needs to be in the car and he does not need to do anything but drive – everything else is done in the NAVTEQ office once the data is collected.
I was given a presentation of a pedestrian navigation with “Discover Cities” feature allowing mapping your way through the landmarks, transport networks and streets of major cities (see the video). This is what navigation will look like on Nokia phones within the next year or two – very impressive indeed. I was also given a folder with press releases, company history and the list of major clients. The information was very useful as I learned that Aston Martin, sold by Ford to Prodrive in early 2007, is still a part of Ford family (I guess Prodrive returned it under warranty and/or Satisfaction Guaranteed part of the contract at some time) and DaimlerChrysler is alive and kicking. I just hope that the maps NAVTEQ makes have fresher data on them.
And talking about navigation, TomTom released a new, simplified unit called Ease. According to the company, the idea behind it is to make life of morons some call customers easier, because it is a One Button solution and morons some call customers cannot handle anything with more than one button. Well, it is still not really a one button solution and I think the actual idea is to tap into an even lower end market with MSRP of $99.99. It will likely retail on $79 - $89 level and will clearly attract users new to PND experience. I think this is a really good business plan, so I want to give TomTom another brilliant idea absolutely free: start offering Zero Button solutions selling for $5.99 with limited coverage area. To add coverage, customers could order another software package as needed. In addition, these new PNDs could be absolutely environmentally friendly, giving the company a PR boost and helping to save the Earth. They could be printed on paper and called TomTom Maps.
On a lighter note, the Greatest Designer of All Times and Peoples Christian Audigier, a.k.a. Ed Hardy, just could not keep his immaculate taste out of the Consumer Electronics market. Now, the lucky fans of this Artiste will be able to own (for a lot of money) pieces of Real Art for their cellular phones and even laptops. The Bling just got to a whole new level and, to think of it, some people still are not aware they can get much further than diamond encrusted pimp and hoe grillz for their teeth! Ed Hardy forever!
On an even lighter note, one company (let’s not call names, these people have families to feed) made two mistakes. First, they paid a royalty to Car & Driver magazine to sell cellular phone accessories under C&D brand. I have a great deal of respect for C&D and read it for 20 years or so, but is it really known for Bluetooth headsets or car chargers? What’s next, Laz-E-Boy processors? Boeing eye drops? Second, probably realizing its own stupidity, the company prohibited to make pictures of the products openly demonstrated at one of the largest trade shows in the world. Well, there is no such thing for Mobile-Review as “You can’t take pictures” unless we are asked nicely and given a reason for it, so enjoy these amazing, market redefining marvels of technology.
As I wrote in the last article, the TCL’s 3D without glasses looks great. Today I’m giving you a short video to look at it firsthand. Frankly, it does not look as good on a video as it does live, but check out the last 30 seconds or so when the coins are falling – this is when you can see it in its best.
At the humongous Sony booth the company demonstrated the newest line up of VAIO notebooks among other things. The new S series as well as updated Z and F series feature Transfer Jet technology, allowing high speed wireless transferring of data between a computer and a TV, for example. The refreshed version of W and the all new Y series notebooks are light, powerful and expensive. More expensive models now run on Intel Core processors.
I also got to play a bit with Sony Ericsson X10. The interface looks sweet, the screens and menus fly and the fingerprints on the screen look made in HD. It will be a shame if SE kills this phone sales with high pricing as priced right it could be a model giving the company a so much needed boost.
Last, but not least, while market leaders are busy developing iHelicopters, a small company from Michigan called Got2Be wireless, is the first to come to the market with Text-to-Speech and Speech-to-Text emails and text messages in installed Bluetooth hands free car kit. The kit will read you your emails or messages in your car out loud and allow answering them by voice. No longer do you have to wait to post that “I just saw a huge accident!” Tweet, you can now do it right there in traffic without causing another one of these huge accidents. The functionality looks amazing and we plan to do a full review to see if it works as well as it looks.
Others stayed at the show until Sunday afternoon or even longer. I, having spent 3 full days walking the huge halls of Las Vegas Convention Center, caught a Red Eye home on Friday night. I probably did not get to see 70% of what was exhibited due to the lack of time, interest or knowledge as even reduced in size by economic conditions this show is so big, no single person can see it all or need to see it all. It is the largest event of the year for great many people and businesses in Consumer Electronics and I would not miss it for the world. For me it was not the first show, but it was the first show I had a chance to look at the industry from the whole new perspective. Good bye CES, I’ll see you next year.
Published 12 January 2010
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