While Microsoft decided to make their presence at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas their last, and Apple chose not to exhibit at CES this year, that didn’t mean thousands of others stayed away. CES 2012 was not complete without technological newness. Here’s five newbie-gadgets that I thought were noteworthy:
Mobile computing, at least the kind that has keyboards, has progressed over just the last 5 years from notebooks [laptops] to netbooks to ultrabooks. After Intel revealed last year that it was putting new processing chips inside these ultrabooks, made them 4/5 of an inch thick, combined elements of netbooks, tablets and notebooks, and priced them around $1000—give or take a few hundred, depending on the features—companies like Dell, Samsung, and HP began showing off the new machines at CES 2012.
Inspired by Apple’s MacBook Air—whether these thinner, lighter machines will sell, never mind work—as good as the other types of mobile computers that are around, remains to be seen. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if by next year a unique enough market for ultrabooks establishes itself.
No way would you pay $79 for an ice cream sandwich that can be had for a fraction of that price at your favorite convenience store. But you could pay that much, perhaps slightly more, for a tablet that uses Google’s new Ice Cream Sandwich [code name for Android 4.0] operating system.
Chinese firm Ainovo showed off their Novo7 Paladin tablet to Engadget's Brian Heater at the CES, and while there's nothing high-end, in terms of video display or the lack of a camera or GPS, he wrote that it's good for casual gaming and watching YouTube videos.
Ainovo's website says theirs is the first tablet to make use of the Ice Cream Sandwich OS. It list-prices the Novo7 Paladin at $89, and the Basic [with the front and back cameras] at $99, and has not yet made available their Swordsman and Legend tablets. With a 7-inch screen, built in WiFi and 3G networking, the battery power for their tablets can last anywhere from 6 hours, if you're playing a game, to 25 hours if you're listening to music, to as much as 300 hours if on standby. Storage is 1 GB internally, but can be up to 4 with an external drive, though there has been talk of expanding that to 8.
It wouldn't surprise me if Ainovo were to develop a tablet that takes advantage of 4G wireless.
While a $79-$89 tablet could be a low-end way to have an Ice Cream Sandwich, Google's Android 4.0 made its presence known at CES through other exhibitors, ranging from LG's Spectrum smartphone to Lenovo's forthcoming IdeaTab K2 tablet, as well as its also-forthcoming K91 Smart TV.
Whatever the device, the Android Market is going to want to provide as many apps for those as Apple's AppStore does for its iPhones.
As the idea of "Connected TV", where you enjoy the Internet on a TV screen instead of a PC monitor, continues to establish itself, it's even attracted the attention of two brands looking to reinvigorate their respective identities.
No sooner did Justin Timberlake help take the floundering Myspace out of Rupert Murdoch's hands last year than he and his backers struck a deal to have their content featured on forthcoming HDTV sets manufactured by Panasonic.
Panasonic's VIERA brand of widescreens, with their inclusion of MySpace and its music-intensive content, along with other content and applications, is the kind of "connected TV" that does not need a set-top box or PC, though Internet access is required.
Timberlake said that the Myspace deal with Panasonic was "the evolution of one of our greatest inventions, the television" that adds a social networking experience in a real-time context by allowing viewers to chat with each other about what they're watching on TV while they're watching. While Myspace/Panasonic isn't the only "connected TV" partnership out there, it does give two brands that haven't been prominent lately a chance to re-establish themselves in a new forefront.
Motorola debuted its new Droid Razr Maxx smartphone at the CES, which looks kind of like its Droid Razr that came out last year, with the big exception that its battery will have a 21-hour life, which very well could be the longest of any device. The smartphone will be available soon through Verizon Wireless, which means Droid Razr Maxx could very well fit in with Verizon's LTE transmission standard, said to be the best in the business. Now if only Verizon were to play catch up and fill in those isolated gaps where LTE isn't yet available.
I don't want to say all these were my favorites, but if price mattered, as it sometimes does in times like these, I think the Ainovo Novo7 seems to be the most interesting of this list. But you can also make a good case for ultrabooks as well, once they reach certain price points.
Don't those Internet-connected devices get more interesting year after year?