After a long weekend of Las Vegas fanboy salivating, another year of the Consumer Electronics Show has come to a close. Here are DISCOVER’s choices for the most important storylines among the flood of gadget-philia emanating from the desert.
1. OMG, It’s Coming Toward Us!
Between the unstoppable worldwide phenomenon that is “Avatar” and ESPN rolling out 3D broadcasts for this summer’s FIFA World Cup, 3D is back with a force not seen since the crazes of the 1950s and 80s. The bandwagon has close to universal industry ridership‚ almost every major manufacturer is launching 3D sets at CES this week, the Blu-ray format will support 3D and many gaming consoles should soon follow suit [Popular Mechanics]. But unless you’ve got a big wad of extra cash burning a hole in your pocket, you might want to wait a while before taking the 3D dive, tech experts warn. 3D TVs will come with plenty of sticker shock at first, there won’t be very much content to watch on them… and oh yeah, you’ll still have to wear those stupid glasses.
2. Tablets: Loading, Please Wait
Rumors swirled before CES that Microsoft would show off a new tablet-style electronic display. Not wanting to disappoint, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer pulled out a tablet midway into his address, demonstrating an H-P device running e-reader software. But it was only a prototype, and it couldn’t be found on the show floor [CNN Money]. Apple, too, is supposed to be developing a tablet, though the timetable for the secretive company remains unclear.
3. Wireless Power Wows the Crowd
If you’re among the “it’s 2010 and we shouldn’t need wires anymore” crowd, you may have found yourself giddy with excitement over another of 2010’s hot trends, wireless power. Fulton Innovations garnered particular esteem with its system, ECoupled. ECoupled uses a wireless powering technique called “close proximity coupling,” which uses circuit boards and coils to communicate and transmit energy using magnetic fields. The technology is efficient but only works at close ranges [Forbes]. Another promising system is “Venetial hotel tower” by WiTricity, which operates with “highly coupled magnetic resonance.” As proof that it works, an LCD TV is powered by a coil hidden behind an oil painting located a few feet away [Forbes].
4. Baby, You Can Interface with my Car
Ford took best-of-show honors for the automotive category with its redesigned cabin interface. Ford vehicles equipped with MyFord will get two 4.2-inch color LCDs, one mounted in the instrument cluster and one in the center of the dashboard. The instrument cluster display shows vehicle information such as engine speed, temperature, and trip data, and the one in the dashboard shows audio, phone, and navigation information [CNET]. The Fusion Hybrid will be the main testing ground for this new system.
5. The Swagger Is Back, and so Is the Little Guy
Last week’s Consumer Electronics Show returned to its usual over-the-top affair in 2010, with endless proclamations of how this year will see the return of the industry’s growth. Humbled no more by the global recession, electronics makers pulled out all the stops [CNN Money]. But it wasn’t all pomp and spectacle by behemoths like Microsoft: Popular Mechanics has the best of the small companies at CES.
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Image: Ford Motor Company