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CES Digital Downtown 2008

Digital Downtown opened today at the World Financial Center in Manhattan. This micro CES hopes to get end consumers to fondle cool tech today and their credit cards on the weekend. There were also some product previews of toys not yet available on J&R’s shelves a few blocks away.

The long awaited Gigabyte M528 came up for air on Intel’s stand along with a handful of other MIDs (Mobile Internet Devices).

This 800MHz Centrino Atom powered MID is super-light with a full slide out keyboard. The design is similar to the Nokia N810 and keeps the Linux theme alive with a customized OS loaded with OpenOffice and Skype. The keyboard feels good with a rubberized texture and the light weight (spec is 340g) means you can hold it for a long time without feeling like it’s a brick in your hands.

Whilst the M528 would be an awesomely useful device with Windows XP installed, its limited 4GB SSD means that this will be a challenge. Unlike the EEE 4G which packs XP and leaves room on the side for a 32GB SDHC, Gigabyte’s beauty only provides Micro SD expansion and current capacities are unfortunately small. On the plus side there’s a 3 megapixel camera on the back, a very low res webcam on the front and an 800×480 pixel screen which is a high enough resolution for decent web browsing. An unnamed source suggested that the M528 would ship in the US this summer for around $500.
LG showed off an LED-backlit LCD screen, due out for before the end of the year. It was noticeably more vivid than it’s sister screen and boasts a crazy contrast range of 1,000,000:1 (yes, you read all those zeros right). This gives really black shades of black and a heck of lot more of everything in the middle until you get all the way across the spectrum. (LED model on left in photo, current model on the right.) Pricing is expected to be at a fair premium to the existing model, but we’re not talking OLED megabucks. In fact although the image didn’t give me the wow I got from Sony’s OLED screen at CES, it’s a worthy contender at a fraction of the cost per screen inch. Better still it’s actually a real big screen product in 2008, whilst we’ll probably wait at least a year for large OLED screens to reach production.

Hitachi were showing off their 1.5 inch thin TVs, which we saw in January at CES. They still look great, but don’t hold a candle to Sony’s recent efforts.

With the obligatory customized Scion acting as gatekeeper, Pioneer were the party animals of the show. They brought their country-touring-dome-complete-with-DJ to bang out some tunes, with a funked-out trippy kaleidoscope ceiling.Inside was a homage to all things ICE, but as cool as Smart cars look on European streets they just don’t cut it with a sub in the back.

The show is being held across from Ground Zero, which was the site of the World Trade Center until Sept 11, 2001. For those of you who have not seen Ground Zero, it is now a scene of energetic building activity and will be the future location of the Freedom Tower. The first building to be rebuilt at Ground Zero was 7 World Trade Center, which opened its fifty-two stories in 2006. This is the top of it at 28x zoom (shot with steady hands and without a tripod, I used to be a surgeon – not).

Neil Berman


Jun 12, 2008 - Posted by | Audio, CES, Computing, Hardware, Home Theater, Photo & Video, Mobile, News | , , ,

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