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CES 2010: The Meh

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Riyad says...

As the technology industry recovers from another Consumer Electronics Show, it’s time for a quick recap of what we saw out in Vegas this year. In the following pages Andy and Gordon will be discussing what we liked at this year’s show, and I’ve got to tell you that it wasn’t an easy list to come up with. That’s not to say that there was nothing worth seeing at CES, but just that a great deal of what we saw was, well, meh!

It’s not that there wasn’t any cool kit being shown off, but I never really got that excited about anything. Take Toshiba’s Cell TV announcement for example – as truly impressive as this product appears to be, it was actually launched last September at CEATEC in Tokyo. OK, so Toshiba was launching in the US at its main CES press conference, while the European press conference that followed (good work Toshiba Europe) also confirmed that Cell TV was coming to the UK. But I still couldn’t shake off the feeling that I’d heard most of it before, because I had.

Then we had the dizzying array of new LED backlit TVs, each with more zones of local dimming, along with ever thinner screens, none of which really got the pulse racing. Add to that the endless posturing about 3DTV taking over our lives and living rooms – but I’ll leave Gordon to cover that.

You only had to look at the PR activity at the show – both JVC and SanDisk cancelled their press conferences, while Netgear really should have since it had pretty much nothing new to talk about. Even the Blu-ray disc association didn’t hold its usual press conference, which either means that everyone has bought into the format (which they haven’t) or that there simply wasn’t much in the way of news.

For me the most interesting stuff was unexpected, like getting to try out prototypes of Shure’s new SE535 and SE425 earphones. These weren’t on the show floor, but I managed to spend some time with Shure’s latest and possibly greatest behind closed doors. Likewise, Parrot’s iPhone controlled AR.Drone helicopter was a breath of fresh air – it may be seen as a novelty toy, but with its integrated camera sending real-time video back to the iPhone that’s controlling it, it’s the closest thing to a real James Bond type gadget that I’ve seen in years.

Of course it’s important to remember that expecting to see groundbreaking technology every year is both unrealistic and unreasonable. It could also be argued that tech like USB 3.0 will have a massive impact on our day to day lives, but it’s not really sexy enough to make a big splash at a show like CES. The best thing I saw at the show was the Lenovo Skylight – it’s the only thing that I got my paws on and thought “I’ve got to get one of these!”. I’m not alone in thinking that either, as you’ll see when you read Gordon’s thoughts in the following pages.

So, after a week in Vegas what have I learned? That the CE industry is desperate to come up with a reason for us to buy new TVs. That apparently TVs can never be too thin or have too many zones of local dimming, and that 3D in my living room is the future. Do I agree with all that? Not really, but time will tell who’s right.

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