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CES 2010: Final Thoughts

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las vegas sign.jpgThe Consumer Electronics show, the behemoth of tech, the Valhalla of gadgetry, has come and gone for yet another year. But this time, rather than arriving with a bang, it slinked into sight with something more like a whimper.

CES 2010 had really had the wind knocked out of it before it had even got into the ring this year. All eyes were already on Apple and their rumoured Tablet in the run up to the event, despite the fact that Apple are traditionally a no-show at CES, instead planning their own top-secret unveiling at the end of January. Likewise, Google delivered a sucker-punch in the shape of the Nexus One, their flagship handset revealed at their own event on the eve of CES 2010's opening.

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To make matter's worse, Microsoft's opening keynote speech (delivered by walking personality drain Steve Ballmer) was pretty darn dull. First a power cut, then a load of waffle on the 2 month old Windows 7, Ballmer hardly seemed to be trying to keep our attention. Though the Christmas release date for Project Natal was welcome news, it revealed nothing new about the device, whilst the partnership with Hewlett Packard for the new Slate device seemed merely like a case of keeping-up with the Joneses. Or should that be the Jobs-es?

But the Las Vegas event wasn't without its highlights. Far from it in fact. Maybe it's the recession, or the generally pocket-pinching mood in the air these days, but for once the most sought after tech wasn't in the realms of dreamy aspiration, but was actually fairly affordable.

Take for instance the brand new 3D TVs on show, of which the Sony BRAVIA XBR-52HX900 (video above, courtesy of Ashley) was the pick of the litter. Finally shaping up to the standards set by its cinema siblings, company reps promised that the average 3D TV will cost little more than a top-end Full HD set. Skype and video calling in many TV sets too will help turn your living room into somewhere the Jetsons could only dream of.

E-readers are also looking to be both big and affordable in 2010. As a comic book fanatic I'd have liked to have seen more attempts at a colour screened e-reader (I'm not including the MSI offering, which is really just a dual-touch screened PC, super-cool as it is). Plastic Logic's Que Pro e-reader looked great though, with a massive, durable screen, and was far lighter than the hundreds of books you'd be able to store on the tabloid-sized device.

There were, of course, tablets aplenty. The dual-booting Viliv P3 may be an underdog in the category, but seemed way more exciting than Microsoft's offering. The offer of both Windows and Android on the same device showed a respect for user choice not often seen in the back-slapping world of consumer tech.

There was still time for fun too. The Parrot AR Drone Quadricopter was fun and fresh, combining real-world toys with augmented reality controls. A little less high-tech but full of retro-chic was the Lasonic i931 iPhone dock/ghetto blaster mash-up. Odd's on its at the top of Flava Flav's Christmas list. And there was still some time for the weird and the plain old dumb, too.

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Though less prevalent than other years, there were some great examples of brand new tech on show that were genuinely exciting. A real head-turner and my favourite item of the show was the Light Blue Optic Light Touch. Using a pico projection engine and a touch sensitive sensor, it'll turn any flat surface into a touchscreen. It works ridiculously well despite still being in the development stages, and has almost unlimited potential.

Some detractors say that, recession or not, CES looks to be on its last legs. It's sad, but not unlikely, when you consider the audiences that companies like Apple and Google can command for just a single product launch. However, for emerging companies like Light Blue Optics CES is still vital to gain some exposure, not to mention the fact that such a prominent date in the calendar forces the tech giants to have made some significant, competitive advances in their gear, year-on-year.

So here's hoping the old dog's got a bit of life left in it yet. Hopefully next year will kick off the recessionary cobwebs and kick the show back into high-tech gear. It wouldn't take much to tempt us back to the City of Sin once more.

Click here for full CES 2010 pre-show, day one, day two and day three round-ups.

Virgin Media to bring TiVo back to the UK

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tivo.jpgBefore Sky+ established itself as the UK's number one digital video recorder it had a serious rival in a product called TiVo. It had much of the functionality of the Sky box - large hard drive, option of pausing live recordings etc - and was already very popular in the US.

Unluckily for TiVo Sky's product caught UK users' imagination and TiVo only lasted a few years in the UK. Well it now seems that TiVo is on its way back to the UK courtesy of Virgin Media.

Next year will see a co-branded Virgin Media TiVo box in the UK with TiVo delivering the middleware and the user interface.

Not a great deal has been offered by Virgin as to how the arrangement will work, however company CEO said "Our fibre-optic network combined with TiVo's capabilities will allow us to offer consumers the most significantly advanced and compelling TV service available in the UK."

In the US TiVo boasts a few features that aren't available in the UK on any DVR, such as the ability to search for shows by actors and the option of accessing music services like Rhapsody though a TV set. It'll be interesting to see how many of them make it to the UK box.

Moto AMP media tablet revealed by OEM Moto

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OEM media tablet.jpgOEM Moto have revealed a few snippets of information on their latest media tablet, the Moto AMP.

The tablet will be running a version of Android (hence the acronym of Android Media Platform), and come in 3.5, 5 and 10 inch models.

The 5 inch model was displayed, offering an OLED capacitive touchsceen with multi-touch functionality capable of playing 720p video. The Moto AMP will feature an 8-megapixel camera, Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity and room for SD card expansion.

Via: Pocket Lint

Archos 3 Vision video review

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Archos's rather cool eight gig touch screen personal media player has now hit the stores. Here's what we made of it back at its launch in August.

obama-speech-cloud.jpgYou can tell it's the 21st Century. The good folks over at ReadWriteWeb have broken down the full text of Barack Obama's inauguration speech yesterday into a tag cloud using Wordle.net. The results are interesting - "nation" and "new" come out on top. Click for embiggening.

Just for fun, they've also analysed the speeches of Bush in 2005, Clinton in 1999, Reagan in 1981 and Lincoln in 1861 and 1865. You can see the clouds after the jump, but it's quite interesting to see how much Bush relied on the word 'freedom' Reagan on 'government' and Lincoln on 'constitution' first, and then 'war'.


At CES 2009, Dan got his hands (or eyes?) on Vuzix's Wrap 920AVs that I was getting excited about here. They're every bit as awesome as promised, apparently, but Dan also managed to wheedle out a price from them - they're looking at $399 (£274), and a 'summertime' release (for the US, presumably).

Vuzix

Related posts: Next-gen Vuzix VR glasses will be unveiled at CES | Vuzix Wrap 920AV audiovisual goggles - the full, actually quite awesome, details

This beauty is the new Sony WALKMAN X range - featuring a 3" OLED touch screen to make videos look marginally better than they have ever looked before. Although they won't look very good when you've had your fingers all over the screen for six months.

The X1050 and X1060 both feature digital noise cancelling technology, FM tuners, the 3" 432x240 screen and come with 16 or 32GB of storage space. Here's a big photo of it, as it's rather pretty. That's not my music. That's someone else's music.

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The WALKMAN X is even packed with a wi-fi chip and custom BBC iPlayer tool for watching telly wherever there's some wireless broadband to nick, plus it'll do YouTube and play MP4 videos, WMVs and H.264 material. Sony says you'll be able to have a WALKMAN X in "spring 2009" - and we think quite a few people will be taking it up on that offer.

There's more like this on our vast CES 2009 mega-page.

vuzix-wrap-920av.jpgWe've just been given the full details on the Vuzix 920AVs that I posted about on Friday, and gosh, they look more exciting than I had anticipated. Remember how I said that they seemed to be the non-interactive version? They're not - there's an option to fit them with a "6-Degree of Freedom tracking sensor and/or Stereo Camera Pair".

That means that you can mix images from in front of you with virtual content. Imagine looking down a street, and seeing little markers come up from famous buildings saying what they are, or the ultimate Sat-Nav system which can tell which way you're looking and show you which way to go with a line on the road.

mintpass-mintpad-wi-fi.jpgThe global gadget development arms race to see who can fit the most stuff into the smallest, whitest box has taken a dramatic turn today, thanks to this clever little everything-in-one miniature... digital... wi-fi... thing.

You can write on it, browse the internet on it, listen to music on it, take photos on it, watch films on it and, most importantly of all, get it out of your very smallest pocket or the change compartment of your wallet and impress people with it by showing them all of the above.

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Maplin has announced its latest portable gadget, ideal if you don't want to miss telly while on the go.

The set can receive both analogue and digital channels, committing 1,250 of them to memory (should you be able to find that many channels) for quick recall.

bbc_iplayer.jpgBBC's iPlayer has been one of the runaway successes of the last few years, with viewers queuing around the block to download and re-watch, or catch up on, TV programs and radio shows from the past week.

The BBC has just announced, however, that programs downloaded from the iPlayer will now be viewable on any device which support Windows Media DRM, which will include the Sony Walkman E and S series, Archos 605 Wi-Fi and Internet Media Tablet, the Philips GoGear 52xx series, Samsung YP-P2 and YP-Q1 and Nokia N96. Phew. I'm exhausted after all that linking.

The BBC is building a list of compatible players, so if you're in doubt as to whether your device will be supported, you should check that first. There won't be any streaming malarky either - you'll need to download the programs from your PC and then sideload them to your PMP.

BBC iPlayer (via Broadband TV News)

Related posts: Now you can listen to iPM on iPlayer on iPhone, iirc | iPlayer marches on: catch-up TV service coming to Nokia N96

rockbox-3.0-skins.pngIf your ideal evening is installing something, realising it doesn't work very well, trying to reinstall it again then taking it all off and putting the original version back on before eventually getting to bed with very sore eyes at 3.47am, you're well within the target demographic of Rockbox and its custom MP3 player firmware.

Upgrading older iPods (up to fifth-gen, but not the Touch) and numerous models by Creative, Sandisk and the likes of Archos and iRiver, Rockbox 3.0's main boast is adding OGG and FLAC playback support to these common players, also opening up locked devices for easy use as an external HD...

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Susi Weaser writes...
Cowon aren't necessarily a company you go to first for media players, but they've got some lovely looking players prepared to tempt you over. Both the L3 (right) and the S9 Curve (left) are touchscreens, and the S9 features an AMOLED screen. This means an ultra thin, ultra bright screen, but with minimal power consumption, which could explain the 40 hours music playback.

The other device, the S9, has a 3.3-inch LCD screen and an acccelerometer, for automatic adjustment to landscape for video. Both units will feature a TV tuner, and support Apple lossless and True Audio codecs.

Most importantly though, they're per-ty.

Click here for even more IFA coverage

(via ShinyShiny)

Related posts: Philips launches SA52 PMP in four and eight gigabyte varieties | Sony to launch new E series Walkman for the mini-PMP market

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We've already previewed Philips' 4GB GoGear SA52, and at last two models are available for the buying.

Both sporting 2.8-inch QVGA colour screens, they'll happily play back all your digital music and video files, and (thanks to Philips' FullSound technology) will even attempt to enhance those poorly encoded MP3 files you've been hoarding.

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I do so love it how the world of technology is converging and the newly released Archos 5 and Archos 7 portable media players are perfect examples. The idea behind these two handhelds is rather iPod Touch. I'm utterly loathed to continually reference Apple in comparisons but it's a good place to start with this one. The difference here is that Archos are offering something a little larger and more luxurious.

The Archos 5 and 7 come with 4.8" and 7" TFT LCD touchscreens that begin to separate the electronic sheep from the old digital goats. They resolve at 800x480 pixels that can display up to 16 million colours but I'll believe that one when Archos can name them all.

twinbird.jpgI can think of a few places where watching a film isn't really appropriate - and one of those is one metre underwater. But that's the market that the TwinBird DVD Zabady is going for.

Yes, you can take this under the waves for a maximum of 30 minutes - just enough time for a sitcom rather than a full run-through of Jaws. Once under there, you can access TV on the 7-inch screen (if you can get a signal), watch a DVD or access audio/video/photo files via the SD card slot.

Heading to market in Japan, no price as yet.

TwinBird (via Akihabara News)

Related posts: Portable round DVD player and Simon separated at birth? | iRiver SPINN - coming to the UK this August, with new DAB tuner powers

round_black_dvd_player.jpgThis black portable round DVD player is reminiscent of that childhood classic electronic memory game, Simon, but in fact it has a 3.5-inch TFT screen, DVD and MP3 playback, SD card reader, and video and audio outputs for connecting up to other equipment.

I'm not sure if the manufacturers made the unit round so that it seemed bigger, when really they should've invested a bit more money and made a rectangular one with a bigger screen. Who knows?

go-view.jpgSo there I am, sitting at my desk eating my chicken and cheese club sandwich trying not to drop slices of heavily mayoed tomato onto the keyboard when what should turn up in my inbox in a rather casual manner but the announcement that the Sony PSP video on demand service, Go!View, has just gone live? Indeed, just like that.

So, if you own a PSP and are averse to video piracy, then right now this minute you can get yourself over to the Go!View site, register for either a subscription or PAYG package and, er, go view, is how I believe the marketing goes on this one.

iriver-spinn-uk-august-with-dab-radio.jpgWe were, like, all about the iRiver SPINN when it was revealed during January's CES 2008 gadget EXPLOSION - and now the silvery thing has an actual UK release date.

It'll be out here in August and, for the UK market because we're so special, we're getting an enhanced model complete with fashionable DAB tuner. We'll no doubt also get a very, very special price as well. Special as in more than the rest of the planet.

The SPINN was impressive enough to begin with, what with it packing 4, 8 or 16GB of memory, a 3.2" 480 x 272 AMOLED screen, fancy little spin wheel for easy navigation and Bluetooth 2.0 for dumping your media on it with. It'll handle MP4 and WMV movies, with the battery giving you five hours of film watching or four hours of DAB listening - but a decent 25 hours if you're using it for standard MP3 playback.

(Via Crave)

Related posts: The Clix+ | iRiver SPINN

texas-instruments-pico-mini-projector.jpgAwesome. Just what we need. Another XXXXing way for XXXing inconsiderate complete XXXing XXXXs to XXXXing invade our XXXXing personal XXXXing space while on the XXXXing bus. Or on the XXXXing tube.

As if the tinny sounds of MP3s ringing out of cheap Chinese speakers everywhere you go nowadays wasn't bad enough, Texas Instruments is about to UNLEASH HELL - and bring fully-functional projection cameras to mobile phones before the end of 2008.

John Van Scoter, company senior vice president of TI's projection business, reckons that companies are already building devices using the TI Pico projector - and they'll be ready to ruin public spaces across the developed world by the second-half of this year.

Is anyone free this weekend? Only we're going to spend it building a robot and a time machine, to send back in time to 1929 to assassinate the founder of Texas Instruments and stop this LIVING HELL from ever being released upon society.

(Via DigiTimes)

Related posts: TI Pico heralds DAWN OF TERROR | Sunview PMPP with PROJECTION :(((

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