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CES 2010: A Recap of the Event

[tab:Introduction]First off, to get this out of the way, this will most likely be my largest post in a long time, so I divided it up with tabs (seriously, it’s like one of my favorite features now. I’m glad Tosh found the plugin for it, it’s awesome!). Each tab will represent a different category in the nws, starting with gaming and working our way through televisions and then home entertainment and surround sound. After that, I’ll go through the coolest hardware stuff to come through and then end it with random coolness and failness :P.

Anyway, for those of you paying attention to the news that has been falling through during the event, which ended on the tenth, you may already know about most of this stuff, but just in case you might have missed anything, be sure to check the rest of this article out!

Overall, the theme for CES seemed to have been 3D entertainment, in both movies/general entertainment and video games. To point a few things out, fleakitten started an editorial about 3D video gaming and whether or not we’re ready for it.

Last week, Tosh informed us of Sony’s plans to expand the PlayStation Network into other home devices. It seems to be something that a lot of people are curious about and causing a lot of speculation, including whether or not that news was the answer to what this “Premium Subscription” service was. We probably won’t know for sure until June, though, but it would be cool to have a unified platform across multiple devices.

Anyway, to continue through the article, go through the tabs across the top!
Apart from the expansion of the PlayStation Network across many of Sony’s devices, there have been a few other things that came through at CES as well. Eddie informed us that Sony has announced they sold a total of 3.8 million consoles in December alone! They then stepped it up in the competition by being the first home console to demonstrate 3D technology (and will most likely be the only one to be able to do so because of its blu-ray capabilities). There have been mixed reactions to the 3D tech, but it seems to lean more towards positive.

Some folks who may have a hard time using the technology would be those who wear glasses. Since it’s almost impossible for technology to produce the effect without the use of headware, having to look through glasses and then focusing on another object in the distance through yet another lens would cause a lot of optical strain and cause potential headaches with the user. 3D technology will be headed to the PS3 sometime this year most likely, via a firmware update. You will still need to purchase the 3D glasses, though, but some companies will provide them with the purchase of a 3D capable television.

Games being displayed and available to try out the new technology included WipeOut, Super Stardust HD, Gran Turismo 5 (it was a tech demo) and Avatar. CNet explained how the technology played and mentioned how WipeOut, in particular, had some amazing results, mentioning that “the HUD (heads-up-display) felt almost touchable” and that the buildings and background had an amazing sense of depth. IGN says that the 3D effect in Gran Turismo 5 was more subtle but had a great feeling of immersion in it’s own right.

Anyway, with the introduction of the cross-device functionality of the PSN, Sony also unveiled it’s new division, Sony Networking Entertainment, Inc. which will be headed by Kaz Hirai I believe? Anyway, this will allow the wallet and sign in ID to be used on such devices, from televisions to VAIO laptops. Microsoft did a similar thing with their Gamertags being used in Live, Windows Live Gaming on the PC, and Zune, but Sony’s seems to reach far beyond that small circle of hardware.

Going beyond that are things like accessories and even rival devices. With the accessories, as reported Saturday, I brought news of Nyko’s new accessories/peripherals for the Slim model PS3. You can read up on that here.

That’s about it for gaming on the PS3 side. Microsoft actually had quite a bit announced in their own right. To start, not surprisingly, Natal has been confirmed to be ready for launch later this year, which is essentially their answer to the motion control madness that sparked due to the Wii’s popularity, though, I suspect Sony’s combination to be much more accurate and user-friendly. In my opinion, though, it’s still just a niche market and success would be minimal for either platform since that’s more hardware you’ll have to buy. The casual market will go for what comes ready out of the box and at the cheapest price, so the Wii will still be getting more sales because of that.

Anyway, Microsoft also announced the new XBox Live Game Room, which is a 3D arcade where you can use the 3D avatar and play arcade cabinets, similar to PlayStation Home’s bowling area and the random rooms that contain their own arcade cabinets. One thing nice about it, though, is that you can also challenge your friends with the games as well if they, too, are signed into Live and download the Game Room (this requires no firmware update by the way). Also announced was a speakerphone-type thing that connects to the 360 controller and allows for chatting without the use of a headset, but I’ll get to that in a bit.

Not much on the Wii front, though, but Nyko did unveil their new Wand +, which is basically their motion control wand with Motion Plus built in, which is far nicer than having to buy two separate devices.

The PC, on the other hand, had quite a bit announced for it as well, including a few PC/monitor LAN gaming devices and a few gaming-specific laptops, including the Asus R.O.G. G73Jh and the Alienware M11x.

Accessory and feature-wise, though, the PC market is also attempting to get into motion control gaming, with this new accessory, created by Razor and Sixense. Be sure to read how that works, if you’re interested in it! Mad Catz’s new X65F flight sticks look awesome as well. They might prove to be an awesome accessory for those into flight simulators (serious, check these out).

Next up, we have news about televisions, so be sure to check the next tab!

Televisions seemed to have been the most talked about item at this year’s CES. Most of which was the announcements of 3D-capable models. Up first was during Sony’s press conference on Thursday night, which showed off their new flagship LED LCD TV, the XBR-LX9000, which features 3D capabilities (the only lineup of Sony’s TVs to support it), as well as Wi-Fi access for services such as Amazon Video on Demand, Netflix and all that (most of which are also available on other models) and can even stream music and video from the home network. The TV also includes a presence sensor, which is basically face recognition and can both turn itself off if no one is in the room for an extended period of time and can even turn itself on when you come in. It also recognizes the position of the viewer and changes sound and video settings automatically for best playback for the viewer and even has a distance alarm to warn those away who are sitting too close to the television. Also built in is a full-array local dimming on the LED lights as opposed to the edge-lit tech of the step-down models. What’s nice about these TVs is that they will be packaged with a pair of the 3D glasses, the only TV brand besides Panasonic to confirm that they will be included.

Not to be outdone, other large manufacturers made a presence as well, including Toshiba, which showed off it’s Cell processor-based television, the ZX900. The manufacturer says that the Cell processor is about 10 times faster than a Core 2 Duo chip in a computer. This TV is loaded with features, including a 1TB hard drive, built-in Wireless N, built in blu-ray player (of which can rip unprotected blu-rays and DVDs to it’s hard drive), and can stream content to and from a home network via DLNA.

It also features Netflix, Vudu, CinemaNow and Pandora capabilities as well, with some of the content being able to be saved to it’s large Hard Drive. Video phone capabilities are planned as well, but apparently, it won’t be through Skype like Panasonic and LG televisions. The panel is also an upgrade from their previous flagship model, the SV670 series, and is much brighter and has 512 dimming zones to reduce the bloom effect. The television is also 3D capable and with the use of the Cell processor, it is also capable of upconverting a 2D picture into 3D as well (no word on how that works). Toshiba also claims that with the Cell doing a lot of the processing in the TV, it can provide for a much better picture in both SD and HD video with highly accurate noise reduction and all that cool stuff :P. The TV also has a 480Hz refresh rate, the highest I’ve seen for an LCD television ever. It also uses a box that communicates wirelessly to the TV where you hook up all other devices, so there’s less wiring to deal with if you, for instance, mount it on a wall. This TV was the most feature-rich TV I’ve come across and suspected price range is around $9,000-$11,000, but it’s not official.

LG had a large showing at the event, possibly the largest for televisions anyway. Their LE7500 series, for instance, is a thin LED-based LCD TV that has basic dimming features with the edge-lit LED panel. Each model comes with 16 dimmable portions of the screen to help produce a clearer picture. It also includes what seems to be standard features now, such as Netflix, Vudu, etc. As mentioned earlier, Skype will also be available on this TV as well (same with a few other lines apparently), though, a camera will need to be purchased in order to use that feature (which is supposed to be around $99). This TV, too, has a wireless media receiver that can connect wirelessly to the TV and can support 1080P video up to 98 feet away, but that device will be sold separately.

LG also showed off it’s new flagship model, the LE9500. This TV, when looking at it, is basically all picture, with little bevel at all (in fact, it could give the illusion that there isn’t one at all really). This will be their only TV with 3D capabilities and use the same shutter-based technology the other TVs will be using as well. The remote is said to be much like the Wii and allow for point-and-click operation of the menu and can even play embedded games with said remote. The television also has the 480Hz refresh rate, a full-array LED panel, THX certification, DLNA streaming, and optional Wi-Fi (via a wireless dongle). In my opinion, this is definitely one of the better ones I’ve read about. These will be hitting shelves in April.

They also showed off their new plasma televisions, their PK750 series, for instance, claims to have a much improved black level, calling the technology a TruBlack Filter. It features much of the same stuff as the flagship model, in terms of interactive content anyway, and also has a 2 inch depth (I remember working at circuit city and flat panels were like 5 inches deep and CRTs were still popular haha). These TVs will be in stores in March. Their best plasmas, the PK950 series, includes the Magic Wand remote just like their flagship LCD, but the feature list is about the same as the 750. You can get one of those this April.

Sharp made a small appearance, showcasing their four-color filtered 68 inch LED television, the LE920 series, claiming the 4 color filter, which adds yellow to the usual RGB setup, allows for over a trillion colors, claiming it allows for “more sparkling golds, Caribbean blues, and sunflower yellows.” The TV cabinet itself is only 1.6″ deep as well. It also has the Aquomotion 240 technology, which gives it a 240Hz refresh rate (though it’s only about half of a few high end models from other manufacturers). The television is also Energy Star Version 4.0 compliant, which will be the new ES standard this May.

Next up we have my favorite brand of TV, Samsung. Though despite me having issues with the one I own, an $11 fix to replace a couple capacitors, I love their picture quality!. We’ll first talk about their flagship LED-based LCD TV, the UNC9000 series. Apparently, this TV is in the ultrahigh end of the spectrum and is the top of its class. The remote control itself is a 4-color touchscreen that can control a multitude of functions, including showing broadcasted television on its screen while you watch a movie on the TV. Yeah. It has built in Wi-fi and infrared technology that allow you to both the TVs interactive features (including a full on-screen keyboard) and other devices. You can also browse content via DLNA on a computer through the remote as well.

The TV itself is also the thinnest for its size, even thinner than the LG mentioned earlier. This is mainly due in part to the circuit boards and TV tuner being built inside the pedestal (does that mean it’s not wall mountable?). It also has internet capabilities, using Samsung’s Internet @ TV and can even run multiple apps. The TV also has a 240Hz refresh rate, 3D capabilities, and 2D to 3D upconversion. It would be nice if it had the smooth-as-silk 480Hz refresh rate, though, but given the quality of Samsung televisions, it’s no biggie. Also shown was the step-down UNC7000 series, which has a lot of the same features, minus that awesome controller and the ugly white body.

Samsung also showed off it’s standard LCD TV, the LNC750 series, which, too, has a 240Hz refresh rate and can also run Samsung apps. It’s the replacement for the popular LNB750 series from last year, but the interactive features and the 4-legged stand are the main differences. As for their plasmas, they showed off the PNC8000 series. This TV is about 1.4 inches thin, has a Real Black filter, dejudder processing, is 3D capable, also does 2D to 3D, and also runs the aforementioned Samsung apps.

Panasonic has also made a showing this year, showing off 3D technology, and will include 3D goggles much like the Sony televisions will. Their flagship plasma model, the TC-PVT25 series won CNet’s award for the best TV at the show, is to be released later this Spring. It will be among the first TVs with 3D capabilties and can handle full 1080P 3D. This TV, though, requires the players and devices to send the 3D information to the TV, which, at present, no device is capable of doing (though, the PS3 may be the first), but the 3D effect is believed to be the best and purest form of 3D out of the show’s linuep. It also includes Skype capabilities, VieraCast interactive suite, THX certification, and Infinite Black Pro with a 5,000,000:1 contrast ratio.

I’m going to skip over details for the next couple brands, but Vizio showed off its XVT Pro models, which include LED technology, 3D and apps; and ViewSonic also made an appearance showcasing their XX00LED series HD televisions.

Apart from that, there are also devices to enhance one’s home theater, including Netgear’s Wifi Direct device (Wifi Direct information can be found here), D-Link’s Pebble digital player, and Cisco’s Telepresence for home, but for more specific Home Theater information, be sure to check out the Home Theater tab!
[tab:Home Theater]
With the buzz around 3D in this year’s CES, it’s no surprise that that has trickled down into the Home Theater department as well, with most of the big manufacturers showing off their new Blu-Ray players with 3D built in. Through a firmware update, the PS3 is said to get a 3D update as well, even claiming that it can do full 1080P 3D, but that remains to be seen. Outside of that, though, here’s what we’ve got going for the standalones from each manufacturer.

Sony showed off it’s 3D capable Blu-Ray player lineup, with their BDP-S770. The unit has HDMI 1.4 (which requires a 1.4 compatible cable as well) built in and also has access to the Bravia Internet Video platform, which includes the usuals like Netflix, Amazon VoD, YouTube, Pandora etc, and to access that, the unit has both ethernet and wireless built in, so connection to the network is convenient and easy. It’s also DLNA compliant so streaming content from a connected PC is also possible. The step-down model, the BDP-S570, drops 3D but keeps most of the streaming and multimedia options, as well as the HDMI 1.4.

Next up is Samsung. They, too, showed off their 3D capable blu-ray player, the BD-C6900. Though, details are scarce on the product, it is thin in design and has a transparent cover, built-in wifi, access to Samsung’s Internet@TV and the Samsung Apps mentioned in the TV section, as well as a few streaming options like Netflix, Pandora, Vudu, etc. and also has Twitter support. Samsung also showed off their extra-thin blu-ray model, the BD-C7500, which is barely 1.1 inches thick. Though it doesn’t have 3D capabilities, it does have built in wifi and access to those streaming options. It’s also wall mountable and has a “nature-inspired” wood grain finish. Also shown off were their mainstream models, the BD-C5500 and 6500, both of which meet the Energy Star 4.0 guidelines.

Panasonic also showed up with their own version of a 3D player, with their DMP-BDT350. The player comes with 2 HDMI outputs, “PHL Reference Chroma Processor Plus video processor”, VieraCast, wifi ready (requires dongle), and inputs for an SD card and a USB device. This includes 2 HDMI ports because most receivers only go up to version 1.3, so one is used to send video to the TV (v1.4) and the other to most current receivers (v1.3), which is very smart on their part. Beyond that, though, Panasonic also announced a new portable blu-ray player, the DMP-B100. It features an adjustable 8.9″ LCD screen and has an SD card slot built in and is capable of decoding TrueHD and DTS-HD audio. The step up 500 has a 10.1 inch screen, but has built-in wifi and VieraCast capabilities.

Pictured is last year’s BDX2000

Toshiba also entered the 3D fray with their new model, the BDX3000, as well as the step down models 2700 and 2500 (which don’t have 3D support). Besides the 3D support, there is said to be a few other features on the 3000 that will be announced at a later time, but it also has built in wifi, on-baord HD audio decoding, streaming options, and all tht stuff, with each step-down model taking away no more than 2 features each really. This isn’t bad, considering they were once the largest supporter of the failed HD-DVD format.

Pictured above is LG’s flagship blu-ray player, the BD590. It doesn’t have 3D support, though. Apparently, LG is waiting for 3D to gain popularity on the market before they come out with one, but this will be a feature-rich blu-ray player. First off, it has a 250GB HDD built in, so you’re able to rip CDs and create a music library on the player itself (as well as being able to store photos). Gracenote handles artist and song info automatically as well. It has a bunch of streaming options, including being able to purchase Vudu movies and storing them on the built in hard drive. The player is also DLNA compliant, allowing streaming from a personal computer, and also has built in wireless. Given the fact that most receivers out there are HDMI 1.3, and 1.4 and 3D will require purchase of a compatible television, this might be the player to look forward to this year, especially since the stereoscopic 3D technology hasn’t even proven its worth on the market yet! Also shown off were the step-down models, the 550 and 570.

And lastly for standalone players is Sharp, who showed off their Netflix-ready Aquos Blu-Ray players, the BD-HP70U and BD-HP24U. They both have the same feature set, such as high def audio decoding and low power consumption, but the 70 has better build quality. Both are designed to compliment their Aquos line of televisions.

Denon was there with a really cool AV receiver, the S-5BD. It’s a receiver and blu-ray player built into one unit, but also comes with three HDMI 1.4 slots as well, and an SD card slot. It’s only a 5.1 channel receiver, though, but it does have dual zone capabilities and can decode HD audio sources, as well as having Dolby Pro Logic llz capabilities. According to CNet, it may have limited appeal since the control layouts are pretty bad and the blu-ray player is relatively bare-bones.

Panasonic and LG both had sound bars at the show. Panasonic showed off the SC-HTB1, which has a HDMI 1.4 return channel. LG LLB915 wasn’t talked about in any press releases, but it has a built-in blu-ray player, and two HDMI inputs (and one output), a wireless subwoofer, built in wifi, LG’s NetCast streaming suite, and is DLNA compliant, all with 430 watts of power.

Beyond that, another popular item are the HTIBs (Home Theater in a Box). These are the complete home theater solutions for those looking for something relatively easy to set up. Sony, Samsung, Panasonic and LG were all on hand with new models, all of which have blu-ray players, with a few showcasing 3D. Sony had the BDV-HZ970W on hand, which has 3D capabilities (they also showed off a couple step-down models as well). Panasonic’s SC-ZT2 features wireless speakers and 3D pass-through, and they also showed off other models in their new line of blu-ray HTIBs. Samsung showed off three feature-rich HTIBs, including the HT-C6730W, while LG’s HTIB, the LHB975 and friends have a ton of streaming options and HDMI inputs, and many other features (be sure to check it out).

Now for smaller items, such as speakers and stuff like that, Klipsch has these new LightSpeakers, which plug into lightbulb socket (yes, you read that right) and have a dimmable LED light source, as well as a wireless transmitter that sends sound to the speaker and a remote to control radio frequency (the transmitter also has a minijack to RCA cable to connect portable audio devices). Blackfire Research also has wireless speaker solutions for phones and computers, 3M’s updated Pico Projector, Iomega’s updated Screenplay line, the Popbox HD streaming solution, boom box and shelf systems by JVC, the new LaCinema Mini HD, Seagate’s FreeAgent Theater+, and a few NAS servers (from Promise, Buffalo, and QNAP), and the Boxee Box. Also shown were projectors from Samsung and ViewSonic.

That does it for the stuff that might have some sort of root in gaming, seeing as audio and video are integral to the gaming experience these days. From here on are going to be gadgets outside of the theater room, but are still cool in there own right, so if any of that is interesting, continue on!
Given the market for digital cameras, there was a time when most camera brands used proprietary media for storage, such as Compact Flash, Memory Stick, and whatnot. Well, now it looks like SD has finally become the overall media to be used on cameras from here on (apart from like HDD camcorders and all that), as Sony and Olympus have finally dropped their proprietary formats for that of the SD. SD also has a new type of SD card, the SDXC (Extra Capacity), which was announced last year, that will work with cameras from Panasonic and Canon that support the format. These SDXC cards can handle up to 2TB of data (I remember when 1GB was a big deal…) and transfer speeds of up to 300MB/s. According to CNet, these card slots will be backwards compatible with SD and SDHC cards as well. There are some improvements to other media types as well, but I’ll mention those in a bit.

A lot of the new cameras also have far improved sensors (BSI CMOS). Also, most cameras are now able to record video at, at least, 720p, with a few doing 1080i (point and shoot cameras mind you). Going through everything, you can tell SD camcorders are a dying breed now, with HD camcorders taking over most of the market these days. Anyway, let’s get on to some more specific camcorder information.

Samsung and Canon seemed to make the biggest headroom in terms of camera news, but I’ll start with Canon. First off, Canon only had 2 SD camcorders on the showroom floor, which were the FS300 and the FS31. What seems to be happening now is that the SD camcorders are losing tons of features, attempting to sway the market into the HD era. It definitely seems to be working! Both models have SDXC-compatible slots, but the 31 has 16GB of flash memory. Going beyond that, Canon also showed off a few HD camcorders, the HF M series, which are their mid ranges. They all have 15x optical zoom, as well as a touch screen for things like spot focus and adjustments. Apparently, they also have much better image stabilization as well. They are all XC compatible, but the 30 and 31 have built-in flash memory (with the 31 having a total of 32GB). They also had their new HF S series on hand, their model numbers going from 200, to 20, to their high end model, the 21 (biggest differences, again, being available flash memory). They all feature an electronic view finder, 3.5″ touchscreen, 10x lens, and the latest image stabilization technology. Too bad the lowest price starts at $999 :P. They also showed off their entry-level HD camcorders, the HF R series.

Samsung had a decent showing as well, also providing consumers with SD camcorders in their SMX-F series, which record video at 60i, have a 52x optical zoom, and scene recognition and face detection. They only support up to SDHC cards, but the 43 and 44 have built in flash memory as well. Their HMX-H series features the aforementioned backside-illuminated CMOS sensor, a 20x zoom, 2.7 inch touchscreens, and 720p time-lapse recording. Model numbers range from 200-205, with the only changes being internal memory. The new HMX-S series feature wireless support (well, except for the 10) and built-in memory. The ones with wireless are DLNA enabled and can wirelessly send video to televisions (most likely if they support the feature as well). They include 3.5″ touchscreens, 15x zoom, MPEG4, able to do 720P at 60fps, and optically stabilized lenses.

Sony and Panasonic didn’t have much of a presence, but Sony did upgrade their line of HD camcorders this year. Most of them will support both MemoryStick and SDHC. They also feature the BSI CMOS lens, and a Golf Shoot mode that records 22 frames of a golf swing, from the 1.5 seconds before the ball is is, plus an additional half second afterward (it does so by recognizing the sound of the ball being hit. Most of the cameras also have a GPS feature, but further down the product line, a lot of features were dropped and screen sizes start becoming smaller. There’s quite a few there and a lot of different features for each, so the link may worth be looking at.

As for Panasonic, they really didn’t have much of a showing, with only one improved HD camcorder line in the HDC series. They have 25x zoom, but they all do support the SDXC cards. The HS60 has a 120GB HDD, though, as well as the card slot. They also feature touch screens and wind filters, but overall, Panasonic had quite a disappointing showing.

Now for the point-and-shoot and SLRs. Sony showed off a new mid range dSLR (that will not be available in the US), which is basically a stripped down version of the A550, is the A450, which has a smaller fixed screen and possibly fewer other features as well. They do have a megazoom camera (10x) with a GPS feature (DSC-HX5V). It also has a back-illuminated CMOS sensor and a compass. It also upports HDMI out and can record 1080P video in AVCHD. It also features TransferJet technology, which shares data between two devices with the technology that are within an inch of eachother. This camera definitely has a lot of cool stuff in it. The DSC-TX7 is also shown, which has improvements to the older TX1.

Samsung made official their NX10, which has interchangeable lenses (but they’re proprietary). Despite being announced for a Spring release, details are still short, but 18-55mm f3.5-5.6, 50-200mm f4-5.6, and 30mm pancake lenses are planned for release for the camera. The new CL and TL cameras have a 7 degree tilt on its base so it angles up when placed on a flat surface (I actually think that feature would be useful). Both cameras are feature-heavy and also have more comfortable and natural feeling shutter buttons. They’re also 14 megapixel, can shoot 720P video and have HDMI connectivity. The CL camera has wifi and DLNA support (as well as Bluetooth), while the TL cameras have touchscreen panels.

Canon updated their budget PowerShot cameras this year with their A490 and A495. They have 3.3x zoom and a 2.5 inch LCD. Beyond that, they’re very basic. The A3100 and A3000 dropped the AA battery for rechargeable lithium to keep their size down. They, too, are basic, and have a 2.7 inch LCD and a 4x zoom. They’re still relatively cheap, though, with the 3100 going for $180.

Casio was on hand as well, with their high speed pocket camera, the FH100. The camera comes with a back-illuminated CMOS 10.1 megapixel sensor. The camera can shoot 30 9MP images at 40fps, so it’s definitely fast. It can also shoot 1,000fps video at 224×64 resolution. They also have a bunch of features for low-light conditions as well as mini-HDMI support and 720p video, with a 3 inch LCD. Their EX-Z and EX-H cameras come with the Dynamic Photo feature (no one is sure what that is haha) and are capable of creating motion images in burst shots. Progressively better models have larger screens, more zoom and better battery life.

Kodak also popped in with the Slice, which is a very thin camera with a touchscreen interface. They also have 2GB of internal storage. It’s able to capture 720p video at 30fps as well. You can also tag people in photos and sort them by who is in the pic as well, and with the photo tagging, it will automatically tag those people when you upload them to Facebook, Flikr, YouTube and Kodak Gallery as well.

Outside of the main cameras, there’s also a few other devices worth checking out. FaceVsion announced their Skype-certified HD webcam, DXG has plans for a sub-$200 3D camcorder, Casio’s digital picture frame that adds different artistic effects to photos, Canon’s wireless transmitters for their SLR line, Sony’s “Bloggie” camera, Navteq’s 3D laser mapping, Kodak’s waterproof pocket camcorder, a new 70-200mm lens by Canon, and Liquid Image’s Ski Camera.

Coming up next, we have portable music and video players!
[tab:Portable Music and Video]
Going through the announcements, it appears that the majority of portable music circled around new headphone designs and concepts as opposed to new devices, but there were still some that did happen to show up.

Iriver is supposedly turning heads with it’s new Smart HD PMP. The device features a 3.5″ touchscreen LCD and includes features such as a voice recorder, wi-fi, web browser, a calculator, FM radio, music (of course), and a bunch of supported video formats (from MKV to H.264). The device is able to “transcode most HD videos down to the screen’s 480×320-pixel resolution” according to CNet, but they are unsure as to whether or not the device will have a TVG-out function to take advantage of even using high resolution video. No word on when, or if, it will be releases stateside, but it will be on sale in Korea at the end of the month.

Phillips has announced the fat guy mocker, Activia, which is a portable mp3 player that selects songs by their tempo in accordance to the body’s movement (using the device’s accelerometer). This can be used standalone or as a complementary device to Phillips’ DirectLife. Yeah, I could get one of these, but I’m a big guy and I don’t know that many slow songs :P.

Samsung also showed off a few models. The YP-H1 is a device with a touch screen (man, these seem pretty popular nowadays, I still prefer physical buttons, though) on a transparent AMOLED display (which makes the whole top portion invisible to the point where you can see the display through the back of the device even). It does have physical buttons for holding and volume control, though. It also includes Samsung’s DNSe 5.1 technology, so it supposedly has excellent audio playback. In terms of audio, it supports MP3, WMA, OGG, FLAC, AAC, M4A, WAV, and MP3HD; as well as video (MPEG4, WMV, H.264, Xvid, and DivX). It will have 16GB of memory. Samsung also introduced the W1 player. Like the DirectLife and Activia, this one monitors your health as you listen to the music. It supports MP3, WMA, OGG, FLAC, AAC, M4A, and WAV audio files, as well as MPEG4 and WMV video, and also includes an FM radio. Also on hand was the new Tic-Toc, which is aimed at Tweens.

Microsoft’s Zune HD also made an appearance. It’s not because of a new device or anything, just a future firmware upgrade which will include XviD support. The Zune’s SmartDJ will also be making its way onto the device, which sorts songs by music type, style, etc. and builds playlists based on that criteria. It actually works pretty good, seeing as I own a Zune myself and the SmartDJ is already on the software side.

As far as headphones go, there seemed to be more of those than MP3 players. Monster showcased a couple themselves, in collaboration with Dr. Dre and Diddy. First up is the Diddy Beats. It features nice aesthetics and are rather pleasing to the eye (they definitely don’t look cheap) and also come with Monster’s ControlTrak module, which allows it to control iPods, iPhones and some Blackberrys (also has buttons for answering phone calls). Monster also showed off the Beats by Dr. Dre Spin headphones which are aimed at DJs who need to listen to 2 different audios, and allows for the earpiece to flip up and back for more comfort, as well as each earpiece having it’s own jack. This, too, also includes the ControlTrak. Also on hand was the Beats Solo.

JayBird also showed off some of their own earbuds, the BlueBuds. First of all, they’re very small. The right earbud also features call answering capabilities, volume control, etc. Apparently, it’s for use with the iPhone. They also have adjustable ear loops and are, for the most prt, wireless with the wire resting across the neck (it connects to their device wirelessly via their proprietary Apt-x).

Shure also had their own earbuds (again, a trend I don’t care for; I much prefer the comfort for fully enclosed headphones) with their SE535 and SE530. These are higher-end headphones (that will cost from $300 to $500), so they do have amazing sound. They are slimmer than the models they replace, and they have removeable earpieces that can be replaced if they happen to break.

Sennheiser teamed up with Adidas to update their sport line. There are 4 models in all, each with extensive sweat and water resistant capabilities.

Sony showed off their new noise canceling headphones, the MDR-NC300D, which are another earbud style, which is a first for Sony to use it’s technology on these kinds of headphones (it used to be just the fully enclosed ones). They come with a control module that controls volume, settings, and has a “monitor” function. Sony claims they will have a 98.4% noise cancellation ability and include 7 sets of ear clips for fit.

Other than that, there are some other devices manufacturers had on display. Slacker Radio for Blackberry 3.0, Audio-Technica’s new USB turntable, the Sony Dash, the Altec Lansing VS4621 2.1 sound system, their inMotion Compact iPod system, an updated Mickey for iPods by Blue Microphones, and the Entourage Edge.

In the next tab, random cool gadgets and technology will be discussed.
[tab:Other Gadgets]

First of all, I’m really glad I’m about done with this article haha! This year’s CES was rather busy (or, at least, it seems so since I’m covering it :P). There were a ton of cool gadgets, but I went through them to find the coolest (in personal opinion of course). To kick things off, on an HP laptop, USB 3.0 was demoed by transferring the same photos onto both a 2.0 and a 3.0 device to show the difference in transfer speeds. 3.0 is incredibly fast! Looking at the above image, it’s about 2x faster. There were also devices that will have 3.0 ready, a couple hard drive kits as well as a card for PC and one for a notebook as well. Very cool.

LG showed off the DP570MH, which is a mobile DTV player, and also comes with a built in DVD player.It has a 7 inch 480×234 resolution screen and can also display jpeg images as well. DTV sounds pretty cool, being able to watch broadcasted television on DTV channels while driving and/or using public transportation.

One of the coolest things I’ve seen? Samsung’s OLED ID card system. This is just plain ridiculously cool. The cards have a wafer-thin OLED display that, when in contact with one of those card readers, shows the person’s rotating head and is great for security purposes. How resistant is it to impact and bending, though? It’s definitely something out of the future, for sure.

e-books and digital readers all seem to be popular these days, and LG, who seems to be all over CES this year, wasn’t going to be soft on this deal! Behold, the Skiff Reader! It’s the same size as an 11.5″ piece of paper and has both 3G and wifi capabilities. The resolution of the screen is 1200×1600 pixels and allows for easier reading and more of it on the same page. It would be really useful for newspapers and magazines, as well as books, of course. It is also only about a quarter inch thick. It also uses LG’s new Metal Foil technology, which is more durable and flexible than what every other reader uses now.

There were also a couple cool remote controlled vehicles, including this one, which seemed to be quite a popular showpiece. It’s called the AR.Drone helicopter by Parrot. What makes it ridiculously cool is that it uses your iPhone or iPod Touch to control it, with the device sending this helicopter wifi signals to control it’s flight. The helicopter itself is computer stabilized. You tilt the controller (your iPod/iPhone) and use the touchscreen to adjust it’s altitude. Yeah, I need to change my pants, too. Too bad it will cost around $500. It also only has about a 15 minute flight time on a 1 hour charge :(.

DigitTronics showed off their RCX4 Star Stryker, which closely resembles that of an X-wing stroight out of Star Wars (I was going to put Star Trek on there and piss the nerds off :P). It will cost about $400, but it uses 4 blades (much like the AR. Drone) which will give it more lift and control. It seems to fly pretty well, too.

Another really cool thing is RCA’s wi-fi powered charger. It’s called Airnergy and it converts wi-fi signals into useable DC output (!!!). The charge time and all that is dependent on how close the device is to the wifi signal, but this is definitely an idea to use energy that would otherwise go unused a lot of the time. Currently, the technology is still being worked on, and they plan on expanding the technology to create OEM replacement batteries for cell phones and other devices, which is definitely one of the coolest things from CES. The newest device, which has a USB mini plug, will go on sale later this year for just $50…

And finally, Pure’s internet radio devices will also be coming to the US. Of which is the Sensia, which features a 5.7 inch color touchscreen. It has built in wifi (you can also hook up via ethernet by using an optional dongle), apps for weather, facebook, Twitter, etc, ability to organize playlists and favorites, 3.5mm input for external devices like MP3 players, and uses the Pure Lounge to get access to their own radio stations and all their proprietary goodies. They’re pretty feature packed, so be sure to check out the link! The Sensia will be released for around $350.

I skipped over computers and all that (gaming ones are in the gaming section, though) because there was a lot there (you can check CNet if that really interests you, though) and most is generally of no real importance. Anyway, the next section I’m going to dedicate for a few potential fails (read: potential).

Way back in the gaming section, I mentioned the speakerphone headset for the XBox 360. It is being created by Nyko and is pretty unconventional. On paper, it does sound pretty cool, though, being able to use the earpieces for more traditional chat, as well as being able to close the earpieces, via magnetism, and use the speaker and mic as a speakerphone of sorts. I see this as a potential fail because there are a lot of people out there who use headsets and it picks up a lot of background noises. The problem I have with this is that speakerphones tend to be overly sensitive when they pick up sounds, and someone is bound and determined to use it while gaming, creating ridiculous sound pickup and causing a lot of echo effects for those who use headsets but have voices come through the TV. For private chatting between 2 people on one end of a conversation and 1 on the other, though, this would still be a nice touch.

Next up is one of the stupidest ideas unveiled at CES. This one deals with “connected cars” or cars with internet capabilities (they apparently use your mobile device’s web service for the function, though). What is the point of having internet on the in-dash display? Maybe if you’re looking for directions and don’t have a GPS, but most people would probably use it to do ridiculously stupid things like updating their facebook status (“I’m currently going 70 on the I10 LOLZ”) or even looking up YouTube and pornography. Yeah, real smart move car manufacturers!

This isn’t really a potential fail, but hilarity could definitely ensue! Garmin announced it’s Voice Studio, which, for some of it’s devices, allow users to record their own voice on direction readouts. The scenario CNet gave made me giggle 😆 :

I can see all kinds of ways that this could be dangerous in the wrong hands. I could confuse my parents by swapping the audio prompts for left and right; replace all of the voice prompts with Samuel L. Jackson quotes; or prank my friends by replacing only one of the prompts with a random swear word

Sounds like the kind of stuff I would do :P.[tab:END]
*Most photos courtesy
Well that about does it there. If there’s anything I missed or other cool things that came through, be sure to shout it out in the comments! Also, this is by far my longest post ever haha. Hopefully next year, I can actually go to the event!