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CES 2011 - Highs And Lows - David Gilbert

David Gilbert writes:

Highs


Lenovo IdeaPad U1 Hybrid
Without doubt it was tablets that dominated CES this year. It was a mixed bag with some good (PlayBook) and some bad (ViewSonic 10s) but one which really caught my eye was the unique take on the tablet/netbook dilemma from Lenovo. The Lenovo IdeaPad U1 Hybrid combined a tablet and a netbook in one - but in a very stylish way. The netbook was a slim, light device running Windows 7 Home Premium. However with the flick of a switch at the base of the screen, a slim but solid tablet emerges instantly switching to run an Android-based OS. The portability of the tablet combined with the functionality of the netbook makes the IdeaPad U1 an intirguing prospect. The only down side to it is a lack of connectivity on the tablet with only a headphone jack and Sim slot to speak of. We will have to wait and see if we get our hands on the IdeaPad U1 in this part of the world but it could point toward a trend for the future and I for one would welcome such a trend.

House of Marley
Nothing adds a bit of excitement and glamour to a technology trade show like celebrities. At CES this year we were overwhelmed by celebrities including Lady Gaga and 50 Cent who were in Vegas to throw their respective weights behind various products. But there was only one who really made us smile and that was Bob Marley's son, Rohan Marley. The cheerful Jamaican was in Vegas to promote his House of Marley sustainable audio products based on the “one love, one world” philosophy made famous by his father. Among all the technology craziness it was great to see a person who loved what he was doing and brought his infectious sense of humour to everything he did. More of this please.


Lows



Lacklustre Announcements
CES is hailed as the pinnacle of the consumer technology world and as such should be the place where all the world’s latest and greatest technological advancements are announced. This year however seems to have been lacking somewhat in the announcement department. Looking back over the years we can see real ‘new’ products coming to the stage for the first time at CES - the camcorder in 1981, the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1985, the Xbox in 2001, the Blu-ray disc in 2004 and more recently 3D TVs. CES has always been the first stop for big product unveiling.

This year however, we got new versions of products rather than any actual new products. Also the keynote speeches and major press conferences seemed devoid of any actual news. Steve Ballmer talked about the Kinect for half an hour for God sake before going on to tell us something we already knew – that it was getting into bed with ARM. Where was Windows 8? At another ‘major’ announcement, Intel ‘revealed’ Sandy Bridge in all its glory – but hang on a minute, weren’t the Sandy Bridge CPUs on sale even before we got to CES?

Even the new tech term to emerge from the Show, the superphone, is just marketing bumf to get us to buy a new phone. No it seems as if tech manufacturers (the larger ones at least) are content to bring out bigger/faster/smaller/cheaper/thinner/shinier versions of technology that already exists. This of course is fine and there were some truly exceptional pieces of kit on display, but where were the hoverboards, the flying cars or the talking robots we are all craving? Ok, so maybe I was expecting too much but something new would have been nice is all I’m saying.


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