ID \\ CES Edition \\ Monday January 11, 2010

Good morning, and welcome to 2010! Hope everyone had a relaxing, fun, and maybe even creative holiday season. For the first Innovations ID, or Innovations Digest of the year we bring you the buzz from this weekend at the 2010 CES. Our very own Neil Hamel attended, and although we can’t bring you even close to everything the show had to offer, we have a brief download of the good, the bad, and the buzzy.

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Your Innovations Team

3D TV :

3D TV is not a myth – I’ve seen it…and I almost wish I hadn’t. Josh Levin, senior editor at Slate summed it up by saying: “Like a headache-inducing cicada, 3-D programming shows up on television about once a decade, only to disappear and be forgotten until whenever it appears again.” 3D TV was the biggest hype leading up to this year’s CES, and also the biggest let down.

There are two types of 3D TV: those that require glasses and those that don’t. 3D without glasses would be the experience of choice, but the experience is bad, at best. The best experience requires the glasses, but I can’t see a consumer doing more than watching a (really) short movie, or playing a video game – even then, 15 minutes in your eyes and head will need a break. This will not be a viable experience to watch everyday TV.

Besides the eye strain, the other problem with 3D TV is you cannot lay, sit, or stand at an angle. To see the 3D “at it’s best” you must be staring straight at it in what is called the “sweet spot,” with or without glasses. The sweet spot is a rather small region and the more you move your head out of it, the worse the image gets. Glasses allow for a slightly larger sweet spot, but nothing that would allow you to lounge and enjoy.

Shelly Palmer of Digital Life summed it up well: “the most important reason 3D is a parlor trick: people don’t care.  There may be a time when consumers demand 3D.  I think that time will be when 13-32 year-old video gamers decide that 3D enhances their gameplay to the point that they won’t buy a 2D game if the 3D version exists.  If that time ever comes, 3D video will have a built-in audience.  Not before.”

The Battle of the Ultra Thin LEDs:

LED is the sweet new technology for TV pictures crisper, cleaner, and brighter than real life – it’s awesome! LEG and Samsung had an exhibition battle for their respective Ultra Thin versions, which you have to see to believe. LG measured in at .92-inches and Samsung declined to list their waist, but claim it is as thin as a pencil (it looks thinner!).

Netbooks, Tablets, and E-Reader’s – OH MY!:

There were more versions of these in all different prices, shapes, sizes, colors, and combinations than consumers will ever know what to do with, and there are way too many questions consumers have to ask themselves to find which one they will ultimately like.

Do I want a smaller dual screen android pc/e-ink e-reader like the Spring Design Alex – an e-reader for tech nerds? Or a larger single screen notebook with both backlit LCD mode and low-power electrophoretic reflective mode, which looks more less like E Ink, like the Notion Ink Adam Pixel Qi Tablet/E-Reader – which has WAY too long of a name. Maybe you want that but a little sleeker, like the HP Windows 7 Slate. Maybe you prefer two separate devices all together like the Lenovo IdeaPad S10-3t and the Skiff Reader, two of the newest and best in class for their respective products.

But wanting separate devices opens up a slew of other questions to answer in order to find the right ones for you. The fact of the matter remains – all tablets, combined with e-readers or not, will be measured against the Apple Tablet – which, at the moment, does not exist. The Apple Tablet is expected to be revealed later this month (some say January 27th) at an event in San Francisco.

Innovations Pick:

My pick of the conference happens to be the combination e-reader, netbook, notepad, and audio/video recorder and player that I would choose – the Entourage eDGe. At just under 3 pounds, 8 1/4 by 10 3/4 by 1 inch (closed), it is lighter than the Macbook Air with slightly bigger displays than the Amazon Kindle – I felt it was the perfect size.

The e-reader side uses e-Ink technology and works with a stylus so you can take notes on the pages as you read, or if you’re in class recording a lecture, following the text, and taking notes in the margins. The color touchscreen is a whole netbook, ready to play movies or MP3s, organize your books, notes, and pictures, or let you instant message your friends. You can view images from the e-book you’re reading on the color display. You can open a virtual keyboard and type instant messages or emails. It also has a video camera to record still images or movies as MP4s or 3GP files. You can also plug in headphones or a microphone or use the built in speaker and recorder to video chat. And because it runs on Android, you can download and run other applications on it.

The lithium ion battery can last up to 16 hours of reading without recharging. One of the big advantages is that the battery can be replaced if it’s ever necessary. And that lets you keep a spare on hand, if you want to have a backup for busy days.

It was the most seamless-ready-for-prime-time experience I had at the conference, and it comes in at under $500 – half of what the Apple Tablet is expected to cost.

For more CES gadget overviews, check out Gizmodo’s The Best of CES.


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