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Android, ARM & 3D Glasses

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We'll be writing our CES highs and lows later this week, but for now here are our initial observations about the biggest, loudest and certainly craziest show in the technology sector...

Android: you ain't seen nothing yet
If 2010 was a massive year for Google's mobile platform 2011 looks set to be stratospheric. Android 2.3 is being widely adopted by almost every handset maker under the sun and surrounded by such hardware innovation that Apple's fifth generation iPhone may struggle to keep up. Can we expect Steve Jobs to walk out on stage and announce an iPhone 5 that has LTE like the HTC Thunderbolt, is as thin as the 8.7mm Sony Ericsson Experia Arc, as powerful as the dual core LG Optimus 2x, as connected as the Motorola Atrix and pack an eight megapixel camera like the Optimus Black? Maybe some of it, but not all and with an iPhone coming just once a year at a premium price Android could rule supreme.

Equally Android 3.0 looks set to give manufacturers a platform capable of competing with the iPad for the first time. Whether Google should have fractured its platform in two is questionable, but with phones at v2.3 it gives them plenty of time to once again remerge over time. App support will be crucial, as will pricing, and undoubtedly there will be lots of cheap and nasty models floating around, but the tablet war is officially on in 2011.

Intel has a new fight on its hands
Microsoft may have put us through the dullest keynote of our lives, but its announcement earlier in the day that Windows 8 will run on ARM chipsets will herald arguably the greatest chipset battle in tech history. Of course Intel won't go down without a fight and Sandy Bridge is a game changer, but seeing the likes of Qualcomm, Samsung and notably Nvidia get a shot at Intel is extremely exciting. Given the efficiency of ARM's business model and the greater power efficiency of its chips - particularly in the phone and tablet space where Intel already struggles to get a foothold - the threat is undeniable.

Where it may fall down, at least initially, is in terms of compatibility. Yes Windows 8 may be compatible with ARM, but legacy software designed to run on x86 chips is not. Whether software developers need to produce two copies of every title or whether they can create cross compatibility will play a huge role in the adoption of ARM-based computers. After all if there is no software for them, no one will buy them.

3D glasses will die out
3D home cinema remains an extremely niche market at present and manufacturers have realised their only hope of gaining widespread adoption is to dump 3D glasses. Sony and Toshiba demoed glasses free 3D TVs which they claim will be launched before the end of the year. Yes quality was iffy and there remains an uncomfortable need to sit in a "sweet spot" to get the best experience, but it is clearly the future for this so far marmite-like technology. Meanwhile LG showed off a glasses-free 3D display for mobile devices and we already know about the glasses free Nintendo 3DS.

Making a stand for 3D glasses were Samsung, Mitsubishi and 70in Sharp which all showed off 3D TVs in excess of 70 inches and in Mitsubishi's case up to 92 inches. Will size matter? In this case we're not convinced. It's time to take a stand... and preferably on your 3D glasses.

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