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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

CES 09 Overview - Part 4

Now for all the other products at CES, many of which you'd never expect to see at a show of this kind.
  • I stopped by the Microsoft booth and played with a few displays. Everything was running Windows 7 and I must say, as a life-long Mac owner-lover, it was actually pretty nice. I can't say that I ever got deep into the operating system, and most displays were locked into specific routines, but everything ran pretty smoothly.  We'll see.
  • A product called MyView was pretty interesting. Basically stylish video eye glasses that connect to just about any device with a video output, they were a pretty good way to look at any handheld device. There were a lot of different style to choose from too.  Keep an eye on this one.
MyView Video Glasses

  • The big feature with hand-held video cameras this year was 60 to 70X zoom capabilities, although this was on the back of a standard def camera in some cases. Can't figure that.  Why even build an SD camera these days?
  • Digital picture frames were bigger and better than ever, with sizes up to 32 inches and higher resolution than what was previously available.
  • This was a big year for flashlights, for some reason. Flashlights with MP3 players (for those cops with time on their hands, I guess), flashlights with cameras, and even a flashlight with a digital video recorder built into it. I really want one of those emergencies when the cable is out.
Flashlight with DVR
Just what the world needs
  • Universal/NBC had a booth there for some reason, complete with a live broadcast from financial reporter Maria Bartiromo. Sony also had a full Jeopardy stage with about a 250 seat audience section. Wonder if they ever filled it?
Jeopardy At CES 09
Yeah, this will pack them in
  • There were more and more personal therapy products, from CO2 monitors in cameras to electronic pill minders to lots and lots of message chairs. I personally don't know of anyone with a massage chair in their home but by the number of manufacturers on the floor offering them, you'd think this product is a must-have for every living room.
CO2 Monitor In A Camera
For the environmentalist in you

Now to the bit more obscure products for a CE trade show.
  • I saw a 200 watt fuel-cell driven generator, which was nice from a new technology standpoint. It will set you back $15 grand, which is not so nice from a "How do I spend 100X more than I need to" standpoint.
  • There seems to be a comeback of wood cabinetry, with 60's-style long wood consoles abundantly available for your every A/V need. This is a stark contrast to the sleek modern plexiglass look predominant in shows past.
  • Lots of interesting chairs (non-massage) for your living room, from genuine theater seats (traditional or plush) to some really hi-tech gaming chairs complete with motion just like at Disneyland.
Plush Theater Seats
For that intimate gathering in front of your 150 inch TV

Motion Gaming Chair
For when the game alone is not enough
  • There was a section in the Sands with traditional kids toys. The most interesting of these was Mattel's Mind Flex, which allowed you to actually move some very light weight objects with your mind (wouldn't have expected this from Mattel). Wonder what the minimum IQ is to use this?
Mattel Mind Flex
Sorry, bad photo
  • Robots were big again this year. Large, small, mid-size, they were all there and mostly did nothing, except for that one that's a vacuum cleaner. That had a pretty good sized booth by itself so millions of homes I'm sure are being robotically cleaned these days.
6 Legged Robot
What's this thing do besides look like a mechanical spider?
  • And of course a CES show just wouldn't be a CES show without a Schwinn bike display. This year they were showing their electric bike, complete with batteries from Toshiba. Pedal for 4 hours and get 1 for free.
Many of the above products were found in the Sands Convention Center, which has become the center for crappy, me-too products from the also-rans of Asia. Unfortunately we've returned to those days at CES where you could probably skip a great deal of the show and not really miss anything. We've also returned to the days (at least at the Sands) when every other booth has the same version of some kind of phone, appliance or borderline quality CE product that takes up more space than it will ever contribute to anyone's well-being (other than the manufacturer and distributor). It's just like the pre-tech boom days, which is the best reason to now skip this show at least every other year. Don't worry, you won't miss much that will change your life.

That's it. It's a big show and I was only there for one day, but hopefully you've gotten a pretty good overview of the coming trends and non-trends for consumer electronics for 2009.

Next up - The NAMM show is later this week and we'll have some reports from Anaheim, as well as some video.

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