CES 2010 Wrap Up

Author
Aron Schatz
Posted
January 22, 2010
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36123
CES 2010 Wrap Up
CES 2010 came and went. We saw some interesting things but overall, it was another let down in terms of show floor space.

Page 1: Intro, New Input Devices

Intro

ASE Labs has been going to CES for four years now. In our previous visit to Las Vegas in 2009 for CES, we found the show had lost the insane crowds and the floor space was bare compared to previous years. Those were tough economic times and it made sense to see that happen.

While it is 2010, the economy really hasn't changed that much, so we expected more of the same from this year's CES. There were many differences in the way the show worked this year than in previous years. One big change was that many companies didn't spend money on show floor space. Instead, they opted to get a hotel suite and invite members of the press or sales partners to a personal meeting instead of doing business on the show floor.

For many companies, this was an excellent use of money. For CES in general, it was a bit troubling. The floor space was cut, even from last year. South Hall 2 was bare and many of the halls were cut off by meeting rooms. The show floor space was again sparse with too few companies crowding the floor.

There was a silver lining with this year's CES, though. The crowds were heavier than last year. It wasn't by much and by Saturday, the show floor really thinned out (and Sunday was dead). What this does show is that people still like to see what's going on and CES can survive if they can bring in the crowds. Hotel rates skyrocketed a couple of weeks before the show started (presumably due to the demand, but probably due to price gouging) which is an interesting sign. Last year, the rates continued to drop till the show started. The hotels weren't packed, though; and there were plenty of rooms.

Another thing about CES that most hotel/casinos don't like is that the technology oriented crowds that come are a bit more frugal with their money. While not all of us are afraid to part with a bit of money for some fun at the casino, the majority of the crowd coming for CES fits into that category.

As for a member of the press, the show still provides a good way to see the companies we report on in one place. It is always good to meet and greet with companies that you cover with reviews. Here at ASE Labs, we hope that CES finds its way through these tough times to regain the crowd gathering muster it once had a few years ago.

In terms of product technology, you couldn't go twenty feet without seeing some new and fancy 3D TV display technology. We here at ASE Labs feel that this technology is a dead end. It might be good for things such as Avatar and movies in general, but we doubt the general public will grasp on the need to use glasses to watch TVs. Plus, many people still get headaches from using this technology.

While there are new products that incorporate peripheral-less 3D TV viewing, those products are highly specialized and require insane restrictions such as the need to be directly in front of the screen at the perfect viewing angle or it doesn't work. 3D TV won't take off until holographic technology is practical. Regardless of how much 3D you put into TVs, you are taking a picture from a 2D screen and faking the 3D.

While ASE Labs enjoys covering industry trade show events, our main focus is to provide fair and objective reviews of consumer electronic products. Our sister publication HardwareLogic covers the enthusiast hardware aspect, so please check out that site as well. If your company would like ASE Labs or HardwareLogic to review a product, please contact us to arrange a sample to be sent for review.

New Input Devices

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There were some very interesting technology shown at CES for new ways of handling human input devices. One such device was the Peregrine. This device is a wearable glove that gives you the freedom to have another input device in addition to the mouse and keyboard you currently use. The way the glove extends inputs is that there are points on the glove that you touch to perform a key stroke. Since the device is a normal HID compliant device, it will work in any operating system and you can setup your own macros.

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The sensors on the glove (the gray spots) are activated when you touch your thumb to a finger spot (each finger has multiple 'keys') or touching a finger to the pad on your palm. This type of input device is additive in that it doesn't detract your use of traditional input devices such as mice or keyboards. The device is made to wear on your left hand and currently targets programs that can use lots of macro functions. Think about being able to program a long array of keystrokes by a simple flick of the finger. MMO users can rejoice. The glove is simple to use and is intuitive, so your muscle memory will eventually remember the proper positions of the sensors. Think about using this for photo editing software with complex functions. There are many uses for this type of intuitive input device. Plan on ASE Labs getting a review sample soon. We think this is one of the most interesting products to come out this year. There are more, though.

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Razer was showing off a brand new piece of technology they are creating with help from Sixense. You probably can't tell from the picture, but the Editor-in-Chief is manipulating a tech demo using two hand-held sticks and they move with total freedom. Think of the Wii remote but better technology. Unlike the Wii remote, this new device using a low strength magnetic field to determine position and orientation of the units. Instead of the Wii's IR and gyro (in the Motion+), these are simple and more intuitive. They work without pointing the device anyway on the screen.

When we see novel technology, we are always impressed. Razer seems to be focusing on technology that can change the way many people use computers. What we can see happening with this type of device is a huge improvement to CAD and medical imaging manipulation. Think about using two hands to grab and go through a MRI or a drawing of a house. The freedom and ease of use was incredible. These devices are pretty much prototypes and had some lag (being wireless), but that should go away with time and development. If Razer can release a good SDK and make it work with any operating system (Linux included), this device will find its way into many projects that even we can't think of. We think that Razer is in a good position to really capture the market with this device.

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Razer is also looking to get into the console gaming device area. They demoed a new Xbox 360 controller that was wired and had a few unique features that would give the user a competitive advantage playing games. It has extra buttons below the LB/RB buttons that you can assign to be another button. Let's say you are playing a game that requires the left thumb-stick to be pressed and you keep moving when you press it messing up your gameplay. Map that to one of these buttons and you don't have that problem. In addition, the buttons are quick press and release. We'd be surprised if Microsoft allows their blessing to be an official Xbox accessory. If they don't have official support, they can still release it and just change the Xbox button to another thing and retain all the controls and features. Razer is bringing the competitive edge to the 360.

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They also have a new line of gaming headsets for the Xbox (with voice support). It was encased in glass so we couldn't use it, but Razer makes excellent products and this will probably be more of the same from Razer.

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