CES 2010: The Bad

The Bad according to...

Andy - Lots of concepts, no vision!

Despite Tegra 2's obvious promise, nearly all the hardware that used it was utterly forgettable. This wasn't just a Tegra 2 problem, either, but a more general one to do with tablets in general.

It looks pretty, but why should you buy one?

Or is that slates? Hell, who knows? One of the more irritating trends of CES was simply keeping up with the language used to describe tablets/slates. Microsoft is clearly keen on 'slate' as the catch-all term for such devices, hence Balmer's near obsessive use of the term throughout his keynote (which was very boring by the way) and the demonstration of HP's effort.

Unfortunately for Microsoft, simple repetition doesn't define a category: hardware does. So, despite a great deal of hot air from many quarters, it's hard to discern what a tablet or slate is and why anyone should buy one. At best these are really portable media players with browsers, more akin to the Archos 5 or 7 Internet Tablet's, rather than anything more lofty and ambitious.

With the possible exception of Lenovo and its Skylight, which is a smartbook rather than tablet or slate anyway, very little in these burgeoning product segments made a purposeful point aside from: "what do you think of this?"

Gordon - 3D TVs

Flying in the face of industry opinion, I have to say I just don't get 3D TV. That's not to say I don't get real '3D TV' - I don't get the appeal of this version of 3D TV that manufacturers are trying to force down our throats.

Of course, from a marketing perspective it makes perfect sense: find something to make users upgrade their High Definition TVs (most of which have never had a high definition source such as Blu-ray or Sky HD) and stamp out piracy. But is the value proposition good enough?

From what I saw at CES 2010 I'd say an emphatic no. For all the talk of dual 1080p sources for each eye, we are still looking at the same strap-on-your-specs technology which has been available for decades. We are also still talking about pseudo-3D where a bunch of two dimensional flat surfaces are presented to the viewer at different depths. I've said it before and - having now seen 'the future' of these panels at CES - I'll say it again: the effect is akin to a glorified pop-up book.

Worse still I found the effect of 3D to dumb down the viewing experience. Whereas with 2D you are free to look all over the screen, with this incarnation of 3D the image is only vibrant where the mock-3D effect is occurring. This means you are at the mercy of a director saying "Look over here! Now look over here!" It puts your eyes on rails. True holographic 3D? I could get behind that (literally) in a heartbeat. This stuff? It is Jaws 3D with more pixels.

On the plus side, standards are in place and there will be no repeat of the Blu-ray/HD DVD farce that ensued in the disc market. Prices aren't likely to stay prohibitively expense for too long either, so everyone will get the chance to make up their own minds soon enough. Personally, I'm calling this 'Nintendo Wii syndrome': you'll see it, be blown away by it, wonder how you ever lived without it, then soon abandon it without a second thought. Betcha!

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