We spent last week at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and once again we're amazed that these companies were able to produce products that make us want to chuck the gadgets we just bought a month ago. This year's show was noticeably more upbeat than last year's recession-riddled convention, and with good reason—the tech future looks bright and, well, three dimensional. We couldn't turn a corner without bumping into some dude with 3D specs on. But that wasn't the only trend that had the show floor buzzin', we gathered our notes and put together the five coolest tech trends we saw this year. If you want to be up on what you'll be using in the next couple months, do yourself a favor and read below...
E-Readers aren't going anywhere. Amazon's Kindle and Sony's Reader may be running the game at the moment, but if CES was any indication, they're going to have a lot of heavy competition in 2010. We saw formats to suit each and every type of consumer, next gen screen technologies like Marisol and PixelQi that make the current crop of paper replacements seems straight up stagnant.
• With a 6" EPD (Electronic Paper Display) screen, and a 3.5" touchscreen LCD screen powered by a power 624Mhz processor running Android, the Alex by Spring Design (left) may be just the e-reader for us. You can browse the web in full color using the touchscreen like you were using your phone. You could even watch video clips and listen to music on it, although we're not sure why you would want to. Nevertheless, this is one of the best e-readers we've come across yet, including the Kindle. Especially considering their deal with Border's Kobo e-book store.
• If most e-readers are just too small for you, the Skiff Reader (right) should be perfect. Clocking in with an 11in screen, the Skiff is big enough for Snooki to use as a blanket. They plan to introduce the Skiff Service which will allow users to directly download magazine issues, books, newspapers and blogs from a variety of sources.
#4. 4G Powered Devices
During his keynote speech, Intel CEO Paul Otellini said: "Smartphones truly embody personal computing. Wireless connectivity is critical and 3G is great, but it's not fast enough. 4G technologies like WiMAX are needed to deliver on the promise and potential of these new devices." Well, duh. Cell phones are getting faster and more complex while wireless connectivity innovation seems to creep along slower than Eli Manning rushing for a first down. Thankfully, CES showed some promise for the future of on-the-go internet.
• While Intel was showing off its developments with WiMax, Sprint stole the show with their Overdrive router (pictured above). The little black box gives off a WiFi signal, based on a Sprint 3G or 4G signal, usable by up to five computer for instant internet anywhere. Awesome.
#3. 1 Ghz Smartphones
We've said it before: There will come a day when your mobile phone is no longer your mobile phone, but your mobile workstation. It may sound far fetched with the current speed of phones and the current screen size limiting the amount of work you can actually accomplish on the go. But all that's a-changing. This year, we saw what could only be coined as super smartphones. Phones with screens big enough to hold all the hate Minka Kelly's gonna get from all the jealous Hollywood chicks, and processors fast enough to do properly do things companies have been claiming their phones could do for a year or two now.
• One could argue that Google's Android was a bigger discussion this year, but we already knew Android was going to take off, we were just waiting for the right handset. Google's official phone (what some would call the gPhone) may be that handset. The Nexus One (left) wasn't announced at CES, but it was still talked about more than the Patriots loss. Sleek, and nice to hold, this phone has everything: a 3.7" WVGA (800 x 480) widescreen AMOLED, accelerometer, 5 MP camera, a microSD slot (32GB limit), digital compass, WiFi and everything else you'd need out of a phone.
• If you haven't noticed, HTC is killing it. They built the Nexus One, and they've also built what is possibly the best Windows Mobile phone ever: the HD2 (left). Powered by a 1 Ghz processor, the HD2 sports a gigantic 4.3 inch screen—it's huge. And beautiful. Making it even more attractive is HTC Sense, a special user interface that, according to HTC is "a holistic experience that focuses on making phones work in the most intuitive way." All that means is it makes Windows Mobile nearly as easy to use as an iPhone, which is an outstanding achievement. Clap for 'em.
While the rumor mill churns waiting for Apple to release their much talked about tablet, other companies tried to get a jump on Jobs by dropping theirs at CES. Expect a slew of other companies to drop a tablet this year.
• HP and Microsoft teamed up on a tablet that they're dubbing a Slate (left). It looks like a color Kindle that's supposed to have the portability of a mobile phone with the power of a PC. It wasn't the Microsoft Courier that everyone was hoping for, but it shows some kind of promise.
• The most interesting tablet of the show was, by far, Lenovo's IdeaPad U1 Hybrid Notebook (right). At first glance, it looks like a regular notebook with an 11.6" screen. And it is: it runs Windows 7 and is powered by an Intel Core Duo processor. But remove the screen and it transforms into a tablet that runs Linux and is powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon processor! That's two completely different computer and computing experiences for $999. Amazing.
#1. 3D Everything
Like it or love it, 2010 is going to be the year of 3D. Just think of Avatar as the launch party. Whether it was televisions, cameras, or video games, all the big manufactures (Sony, Samsung, LG, et al) were showing off what their vision of the three dimensional future will look like.
• Panasonic grabbed CNET's Best of CES award for their TC-PVT25 series plasma TVs. The set is basically a 3D capable version of their awesome TC-PV10 TVs. Unlike Magnetic 3D's TVs, you'll need a set of 3D glasses to enjoy. They also previewed their upcoming 3D Blu-Ray player as well as their $21,000, dual lens 3D camera. Whatever it is you want to do in 3D, if you got the dough, you'll be able to do it.