CES 2009: Half-time Report

Author
Aron Schatz
Posted
January 10, 2009
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14178
CES 2009: Half-time Report
CES 2009 reflects the situation that started in September of last year. It is really telling of where the world stands now.

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Photography done by Steven Susman

Intro:

ASE Labs has gone to CES for the past few years. This year is quite different. When the global economy started to really tank in September, it was widely thought that shows such as CES would suffer. The first thing to get cut is advertising in any budget and CES is a big advertisement for companies.

The first sign of things to come was a change in hotel rates. Over the past few years, hotels in Las Vegas would charge a very high premium during the week that CES is held since the crowds usually pack in and it is better than peak season. Hotels are usually filled to capacity and the casinos are brimming after the show.

In October, hotel rates started falling dramatically which signifies that people are cancelling their plans to travel to Las Vegas for the show. ASE Labs had two editors out at the show this year and both of them paid less than 30% that they normally would on the same time years before.

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The image above shows a typical part of the show this year. What is unfortunate is that the crowds have diminished greatly and the floor space was much sparser than previous years. Even though official estimates say that there would be less than 10% less than previous years, on a casual observation over the last two days showed about a 50% drop in crowd size. Last year, it was difficult to walk the show due to the crowds. This year, the empty space and the lack of attendance really makes the show easy to complete is much less time.

This is the first year that ASE Labs will be able to finish the show in three days. Normally we would have to allot time for all four days and coverage would still be missing from pieces of the show. This alone shows the huge difference in the show this year.

It is really telling about how much companies and individuals are suffering or just plain worried about spending money. Even companies that were at the show were subdued from last year. Even though ASE Labs is happy to cover the show, it is with a sad note that we can condense the coverage into two or three articles. Innovations this year were sparse and 2009 may bring evolutionary improvements, but don't expect anything radically different for some time.

Since we saw so many companies, we will be providing a subset of a few for the first article on CES 2009. We welcome all the companies we spoke with to keep in contact with our editorial staff during the year to arrange review samples which is how readers will find out about the products being shown at CES in an objective way. We strive to give all companies access to ASE Labs' reviews so please do contact us for a review.

Will It Blend?

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Everyone has seen the Blendtec videos on Youtube featuring Tom, the CEO of Blendtec, using his industrial strength blender to chop and destroy various items. It was a great experience to meet Tom in the flesh since he is a great and charismatic person. He believes in his blender technology and it is always nice to see someone be very enthusiastic about their product as Tom is.

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Blendtec's blender destroyed this 12 foot tape measure and the spring attached to it. That is 24 feet of metal chopped into little pieces. It was quite a sight to behold.

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Even the wooden rake was no match for the Blendtec Blender. Tom managed to chop the rake into toothpicks in about 7 seconds or so. If you need a blender and don't want to be worried about it breaking, buy a Blendtec blender. Thanks for the great show, Tom.

Antec:

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One of the highlights of the past two days was the meeting with Antec. Antec is the type of company that continues to strive to be better than the rest and everyone that ASE Labs saw proved that goal. Antec was showing their products in a suite at the Wynn and while there weren't that many products being shown, Antec knows the value in a good presentation. Shown in the above image is a concept case that hopefully will come to market. It has a new drive cage that accepts both hard drives and optical drives in the same cage. This is an improvement over having to remove the cage to install an optical drive.

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Antec is releasing a new Skeleton enclosure for the mini-ITX form factor. The Skeleton looks like an amazing design and would be great for any enthusiast (there is a full sized ATX currently on the market). The ITX size continues the "open space" approach to computing and it looks like an excellent product. It will come with a high quality and high wattage (more than 200 watts) power supply.

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The Nine Hundred 2 is coming out soon and incorporates features from many cases that are on the market. The new revision looks like an excellent improvement and ASE Labs will feature a review soon of this new case. Gone are some of the strange features of the old Nine Hundred (like the strange thing on the front top). If you don't own a Hundred series case, this might be the one that pushes the envelope.

As a side note, Antec gave one of the nicest and most unique gifts to the ASE Labs editors. It was not technology related but it was a piece of blown glass from China and it is something that separates Antec from the rest. ASE Labs thanks Antec for the time given to us.

Lunch@Piero's:

Like last year, Pat Meier hosted a press only event at Piero\'s. Not only is Pat a very nice person, her company represents VIA entirely and VIA had some interesting products. Visit Pat Meier Associates for more info.

Dr. Mobile FreeStyle 1300n:

VIA's big thing at Piero's was the new sub-notebook style FreeStyle 1300n. It features the new VIA Nano CPU running at 1.3GHz. It has a 11.6" screen which is an excellent size and the resolution is 1366x768 which blows any netbook out of the water. It also has integrated 3G networking options. Sooner or later, all devices will come with built-in wide area wireless support and the companies will finally offer plans that make sense for multiple devices. The 1300n is a step up from current netbooks and ASE Labs would welcome the opportunity to review one.

Random:

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There were a few other things. HP is getting more into the peripheral market and their products look good. Heavily on the show floor was cell phone chargers and we have a few companies interested in having reviews done. Sapphire had a suite and was showing off their latest graphics cards and hardware. Sapphire makes great products and hopefully ATI/AMD continues to make improvements to their product lines. Mini projectors and digital picture frames built-in with picture scanning capabilities all were shown. Samsung actually had a big setup with tons of TVs. Pretty interesting stuff, but nothing truly innovated or highly unique.

It is really a shame about this year's CES. Hopefully 2009 will be nice to technology companies that are currently weathering the storm. The companies that started exhibiting at this year's show might be a bit disappointed and really should not consider this normal. Hopefully, CES won't go the way of PC Expo. The economy really needs to change and once it does, CES should pick back up to normal.
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