You may or may not be aware that two weeks ago was CES (the consumer electronics show), the largest consumer technology trade show…in the world. If you are a geek like me, this means your news aggregator was overflowing with blogs concerning the new devices and fun technologies featured. If you are not a geek like me, then it’s still good to know because what happens at this show is usually the trend we see in the market in the months (and years) to come. So if you missed it, below is my super-simplified, bird’s-eye view of what happened. Trust me you don’t want to read the hundreds of articles that have come out since the show started. Your brain might explode. If you don’t care about technology, then I suppose you’ve read far enough. <—-right there.
1. It’s all about tablets and smart phones.
These two devices completely dominated the spotlight. Why? Because these two form factors are really starting to pick up steam when it comes to development. Also because of Honeycomb. That’s the name of Google’s new tablet-tailored operating system. Up until now, Android tablets haven’t had a dedicated OS so all but one (Samsung Galaxy Tab) were not worth the money. And I can’t help but mention that the craze in tablet PCs is very similar to the craze in touch-screen smartphones that Apple kicked off w/ the iPhone back in 2007.
I don’t think anyone anticipated that the iPad would garner so much attention (and American dollars) but thankfully, it did – and so we benefit from all the competition rolling out. If you’ve been holding back on a smartphone or just telling yourself that tablets are needless it’s time to start buying into these devices. They are the real deal.
2. 3D is inexplicably still around.
Did you buy a 3D TV this year? Probably not, and if you did, it was probably on accident. If you stop in Best Buy they are all over the place, but I don’t remember anyone asking for 3D in the home. It’s not even a new technology! Yet, this is what the TV companies are focusing on. Maybe they just don’t get it. 1. You have to wear annoying glasses and they are expensive. 2. Movies already look pretty freakin’ sweet on a plasma/LCD TV. 3. The selection of 3D is not great. 4. The technology only enhances that immersive feeling you get while watching a movie, you know, in the theater. Apparently, this technology is a hit in Japan, but for some odd reason it’s lingering in the US.
3. Kinect not working as intended (or is it?).
It’s amazing what people are doing with the Microsoft Kinect after they’ve hacked it. For the most part, the Kinect and it’s official line of games are passable but this device continues to get tons of press and buzz so long as it’s not actually playing any of it’s games. It’s seems to be a device of innovation. Don’t be fooled into thinking that flailing your arms around in your living room to pet a virtual tiger kitten will somehow be fun because of it.
4. i[whatever] is getting annoying.
I’m so sick of ‘i’ products. Apple is the only company that uses the i and gets away with it because of their immensely popular and quality i-products. But every accessory and gadget company out there that tries to capitalize on the i-trend just ends up looking like a knock-off and unoriginal. Maybe if Apple would shift away from that kind of branding these other companies would too.
5. Variety + competition = we win.
So many tablets. So many smart phones. Because these are not new tech (there wasn’t much of this at CES), you can best be sure that its safe to take these devices seriously. The sheer amount of these things is good for us, the consumers. The more competition there is for your dollars, the more variety and deals will become available.
6. Cable on it’s way out?
Everyone wants to do things via the internet – including watching TV. With the introduction of several new internet TV devices this year (Google TV, Apple TV, Boxee Box, Roku) you might notice a strong desire for people to give up their over-priced cable service. Instead we could live in a world where you paid for the content that you want rather than the content the cable company decides to include in your package. Unfortunately, when a cable company is large enough to buy the studio responsible for creating the content (Comacast bought NBC this year) we might be further off from their grasp then we’d hope.
7. The race to 4G
Maybe you’ve heard of 4G. It’s the next step in terms of download speeds for mobile internet. The phone companies are scrambling to get their networks updated to provide this service for the increasing demand of mobile data via smart phones and mobile computers. But it’s just kind of getting started. SO, if you were going to buy a phone and subject yourself to a 2 year plan GET A 3G PHONE! Chances are, you don’t live in an area that will have access to 4G just yet and 3G service is, right now, at it’s peak. In 2 years when you want to upgrade the systems will (hopefully) be in place and you won’t have to deal with early-adopters issues. 4G and it’s capabilities are more of a concept still, so for another year or two, you should just get all comfy with 3G.
8. Electric Cars
Companies will sell every single electric car they make…but not to you. And honestly, the MPG on current vehicles is getting so good that you shouldn’t feel bad about not being one of the lucky few tree-huggers clamoring for these expensive and impractical electric cars. However, we should be happy that car manufacturers are making big moves towards alternative and clean fuel type cars.