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OnStar Skype and Internet concept

Looking back through my gigabytes of CES footage, I stumbled across this cool vid that I hadn’t previously posted. There was a handsome new shape Buick Lacrosse at Verizon’s booth that OnStar had decked out with all kinds of gadgety funkiness. The Lacrosse had a built-in Verizon’s 4G LTE modem with tricked out software that allowed the navigation screen to pull data from the Internet such as headlines and YouTube vids. Perhaps even more amazing were the exterior cameras that captured a collision to help catch the perp, and an interior camera for live Skype video calling. It’s just a concept for now, but this all looked pretty much ready for primetime. Here’s hoping!

Neil Berman

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Feb 5, 2011 Posted by | CES, Hardware, Mobile, Video Features | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is the Motorola Atrix a computing game changer?

Motorola Atrix laptop dockOf all the smartphones announced at CES, the Motorola Atrix could have the potential to be a truly game changing device…but not for the most obvious reasons.

Like its newly announced competitors the Atrix sports a dual-core processor, 1080p video playback and a slick form factor. Where the Motorola Atrix stands out though is its integrated Citrix thin client software and built in apps that turn the Atrix into a computer when docked.

Motorola Atrix laptop dock 2What do I mean by docked? There are two Motorola dock accessories for the Atrix. One is a desktop dock with three USB ports, one HDMI port and a charging port. This allows the Atrix to connect to a monitor, keyboard and mouse.

The second accessory is a dumb laptop that has a built-in dock behind the screen. When the Atrix is docked in the dumb laptop, it acts as the brain for the laptop and the same desktop apps become available for use.

What are these apps? Most importantly there’s a Firefox browser with full Flash capability, and since the Atrix is powered by Nvidia’s Tegra 2 platform Flash works really well. There’s also a built-in Citrix app for using the Atrix as a thin client for virtual Windows 7 desktop environments. This is similar to the Citrix Nirvana concept from a while ago, but this time it’s a production device in the hands of real users.

Motorola Atrix desktop dockSince the Atrix connects via HSPA+, the Atrix in connection with the laptop accessory or desktop dock could be a perfect traveling companion for mobile folks who want a lightweight always-connected experience. Plus, since the Atrix can be expanded to 48GB of internal storage, it has enough capacity to store significant amounts of local media and files too.

The docking experience was seamless when I tried it out. When docked, the Atrix switched to show its desktop apps view on the external screen. The phone’s mobile view is also available as a window floating over the desktop windows, which shows text messages and other phone events.

The browsing experience was good, although pages did load a little slowly since AT&T’s coverage within the Motorola booth was weak. Once a page loaded however, scrolling worked fine and there’s a full screen mode as well.

I’m really excited about the Atrix, it’s the thin client I’ve been waiting for ever since I saw the Citrix Nirvana concept device. It will be interesting to see if the Enterprise adopts the Atrix for mobile staff. It would seem to be a perfect companion to a virtualized workplace where users carry the laptop accessory when traveling and dock the Atrix into the desktop dock in the office.

Neil Berman

Jan 7, 2011 Posted by | Analysis, CES, Mobile | , , , , , | 2 Comments

BlackBerry PlayBook hands-on – Update: Now with video!

BlackBerry PlayBookI just scored some hands-on time with RIM’s answer to the iPad: the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet.  Unlike the larger iPad, the PlayBook sports a 7″ screen but a faster dual core processor.  The tablet’s construction feels good, as we would expect from RIM, and the touchscreen’s responsiveness is great.  The bezel is also active, although it will be interesting to see whether or not this is a good idea after sustained use.  I know I hold my iPad along the bezel all the time, and I wouldn’t want it to respond to my hand movements.  For example, to BlackBerry PlayBook 3bring up the open applications view, you swipe a finger upwards on the PlayBook’s bottom screen bezel.

What I saw was a pre-production unit, but the PlayBook’s performance was impressive.  Multiple applications were open and simultaneously active, even in the task viewer.  I would expect that kind of thing would be a battery destroyer, but it sure looked amazing.  The PlayBook seems to be aimed at either being a home multimedia tablet, or an add-on for a BlackBerry.  There didn’t seem to be a mail client actually on the PlayBook itself, and the BlackBerry rep said that the idea is to go to a browser to view email, or view it through a connected BlackBerry smartphone.

The PlayBook will share the BlackBerry App World, so I guess we might see dedicated email and other messaging apps coming out for the tablet.  However I’d really like to see some dedicated messaging apps, as well as a promise of thousands of apps coming soon for the PlayBook.  It’s launching in March, and if it’s just going to be positioned as an internet tablet with a BlackBerry hook-up, I fear it may get crushed in the consumer space by the iPad, and the wealth of apps that will likely start coming out for Android Honeycomb tablets like the Motorola Xoom.

Here’s the video of what went down…

Neil Berman

Jan 6, 2011 Posted by | CES, Hardware, Mobile, Video Features | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Steve Ballmer’s Microsoft CES 2011 keynote

Steve Ballmer was on stage tonight for his traditional CES opening keynote. Here are some of the highlights:

Netflix for Kinect is coming in Spring 2011. Hulu Plus for KINECT is coming too.

avatarKINECT: This looks pretty cool. The idea is that KINECT watches you and translates the face recognition and facial expressions it sees into an avatar, that you can use to chat with friends online. avatarKINECT is coming this Spring for free for Xbox Live Gold members.

There are now 30 million Xbox Live members, and a new member joins every two seconds. Microsoft has sold over 50 million 360s worlswide. Over 8 million KINECT sensors were sold in the first 60 days.

Fable Coin Golf is joining Halo Waypoint and Crackdown on Windows Phone 7.

Copy & Paste and app performance improvements are coming shortly. Sprint and Verizon will get Windows Phone 7 devices in the first half of 2011. Windows Phone 7 now has 5,500 apps, with 100 being added every day. There are also 20,000 registered developers for the platform. No sales figures were given for Windows Phone 7, make of that what you will.

Microsoft is selling 7 copies of Windows 7 every second. Windows Live has 500 million users and Hotmail is still the largest email platform in the world. A selection of funky new laptops and tablets were then shown off, which you can check out in the gallery below.  Microsoft had nothing significant to announce in the tablet space, that part of their strategy looks to be sorely lacking.

The next version of Windows will run on Intel, AMD, ARM, TI OMAP, Nvidia Tegra and Qualcomm architectures. We saw the 1080p Ironman trailer running on the next Windows on a Tegra System-on-a-Chip and it was buttery smooth, with the ability to instantly seek within the trailer.

There’s also a new Surface PC with a technology called Pixelsense that turns every pixel into a sensor. Surface is still just for commercial uses, but as soon as I can get one in my living room as a coffee table I’ll be a happier gadgetlover.

Neil Berman


Jan 5, 2011 Posted by | CES, Microsoft | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The lines of CES reflect Main Street’s new found love of gadgets

…and I’m not talking about the ones on my face, which have practically doubled today. Press Day at CES is a frantic run from venue to venue, line to line, coffee to coffee. Every year I swear to skip this day long rush hour next year and each year I rejoin the throngs.

I’m currently waiting for Steve Ballmer’s Microsoft keynote to start at the Hilton Center. It’s still two hours before the event, but there are a few hundred people here already. It seemed like there were a few thousand at Samsung’s event today by the time they shut the doors on the remaining liners citing fire codes.

I’ve been to the last four CES shows and I’m sure this year’s is by far the busiest, at least from a media coverage point of view. The volume of press releases for new products has been colossal and shows no sign of letting up, as you can grasp by stopping by a site like Engadget. Everything from the predictable tablet releases to the bizarre iGrill Bluetooth cooking thermometer has been announced this week. To give you an idea of the volume, I’ve been seeing around ten press releases an hour this week. That is huge.

This intensity is reflected in the amount of people covering CES and the inevitable lines to attend every event. For gadget enthusiasts this is great news. Media representatives are here in droves because Main Street has entered a love affair with gadgets.

The geeks of the 80s suffered, their younger siblings of the 90s were on the fringe, their kids of the Naughties made this stuff cool and any gadget abstainers in 2011 fear falling into the disconnected abyss.

Parents have smartphones, not just to be cool anymore but because Google Maps, Facebook and email have now become part of their own generation’s experience. Seniors homes have a Wii to help people stay active, and young kids wanted the iPad above any other piece of consumer electronics for the Holidays.

The lines of CES are there because Main Street has developed an insatiable thirst for gadgets. Tomorrow when the show floor opens, it will be drinks all round.

Neil Berman

Jan 5, 2011 Posted by | Analysis, CES | , , , | Leave a comment

CES: The ultimate road warrior workout

Las Vegas strip at nightThe term road warrior gets thrown about everywhere these days. Working remotely, bashing out Powerpoints on planes and running your day from a smartphone are all part of it, but nothing encapsulates the term quite like covering CES.

It’s ironic that while being surrounded by every imaginable gadget at CES, we have to be ultra-judicious with technology choices or alternatively arrange an appointment with a chiropractor in advance. Reliable, light and effective gadgets are essential, as is intimate knowledge of how they work. There’s so much to see in such a short time that the last thing you want is to be dealing with tech roadblocks; it all just has to work, all of the time.

I tend to focus more on specific products, analysis and trends than attempting to cover everything at the show, but even so it can be hectic. For example last year I posted the first video of the groundbreaking Lenovo U1 on YouTube and it all happened in a matter of minutes. The U1 was demo’d at CES Unveiled on the Tuesday before the show, there was a mass scrum to get a look, I fired up my footage on my laptop, turned it into a meaningful video and then shot it up to YouTube. Then on to the next must-see of the day…

All of this would be easy except that a day at CES can easily last 12+ hours with much of that spent standing with all your gear on your back or perched somewhere writing. Plus there are none of the techno creature comforts that exist at home. I normally edit videos on a huge screen using Sony Vegas running on super-fast hardware. At CES it has to get done quicker, using a smaller screen and probably less power.

Last year I relied on a Dell Latitude E4300 to get the job done, and it was great with some room for improvement. Its 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo processor was quick enough but drained the battery in about 4 hours, or faster if I was editing a lot of video. That meant carrying a charger, which added unwanted weight to the 3.5lb-or-so Latitude.

MacBook AirThis year I’ve made the risky choice of swapping the enterprise ruggedness of the Latitude for the unproved portability of the new MacBook Air. I don’t really know how Cupertino’s finest will behave under pressure, but my experience so far has been one of superb battery life and snappy performance. Videos edited in iMovie ’11 render quickly as well. The question is what will happen when it gets thrown into a bag and carried with fifty browser tabs open and a video render executing in the background.

Basically I’m breaking my cardinal rule of making sure I know the hardware inside and out.

But if there are sometimes salvation opportunities if a laptop gets feisty out at CES…cameras are live or die affairs. They can’t fail but they also need to be portable and snapaholic friendly. While there are plenty of DSLR carriers walking the CES floor, I find their weight can make them impractical. Plus they tend to dangle around bashing into people and stuff. If you have a good understanding of light and positioning, I believe shooting well for the Web is achievable using a more compact camera. Carrying a DSLR around all day with a laptop, batteries and other stuff isn’t a recipe for a happy back. Plus you don’t want to be messing around with a lens cap when a crucial moment passes by.

A couple of years ago I used a Lumix FZ18 as my CES camera. It was superbly configurable, had a wildly long and wide zoom lens and was extremely light. It was hampered by weak low light performance so I switched to the Lumix ZS3/TZ7, which has a wider lens if not quite as long a zoom, but does better in low light and is pocket friendly. I haven’t found a better blogging camera so I stuck with it again for 2011. I was hoping the Nikon P7000 would offer the perfect balance between size and flexibility but it’s actually bigger than I’d like due to its viewfinder, and it’s a weighty beast.

All of that normally gets paired up with a MiFi, but this year I’m going to try using Sprint’s Epic 4G as a 4G hotspot. Las Vegas was one of the first cities to get Sprint’s 4G coverage and there were several Clear demos at CES 2010. Now that Sprint’s service has reached wide adoption, this week will be a good opportunity to see what happens to WiMAX when you put a bunch of people using the service heavily in the same location.

Putting this all together, spending an intensive road warrior week at CES makes you realize how companies can now let much of their office space become an expense of the past for those employees who don’t need it anymore. There’s precious little that actually requires dedicated office space these days. We need meeting space for personal contact, data space for servers and storage (which could be outsourced to cloud providers) and limited desk hoteling for working with other people from time to time. Smart companies value productivity and their cost base; this is an opportunity to achieve gains in both, by reducing office space and empowering employees to work in the spaces they find most effective on days when they don’t need to have face-to-face contact with coworkers.

If there’s one thing an intensive week at CES teaches you, it’s that the mobile model in one form or another works.

Neil Berman

Jan 3, 2011 Posted by | Analysis, CES, Guides, Rants | , , , | Leave a comment

Holiday 2010 gadget gift trends

Gary Shapiro

Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of the CEA

At today’s CES Unveiled event in New York City hosted by Gary Shapiro, the Consumer Electronics Association gave us its view of this year’s upcoming holiday gift trends. So if you’re planning to buy a gadget gift for someone and you want to know what’s going to be hot this year, read on…

The percentage of consumers planning to buy gadget gifts is up marginally, although overall holiday spending is not yet projected to be back at 2007 levels yet.

A new laptop is the most wanted gift on adult gift lists this year. The iPad is the number two most wanted gift and eReaders sit at number three. Consumers are planning to spend $232 each on average on gadget gifts, so I guess some receivers might end up with their third choice.

For the second year running the CEA expects video games consoles to be the most purchased CE holiday gift.

70% of gift buyers are planning to look at gadget products even if not planning to buy one, compared to 66% in 2009. I guess that means we just love being around gadgets, even if we’re not buying them!

Black Friday is increasing in coverage and spanning throughout November, and some ads and events already happened in October.  The event is also becoming international, with events noted in Brazil and Israel.

Bundling is going crazy with uber bundles and varied assortments. This will be the year to get a good deal on replacing all the TVs in your home in one shot.

Verdine White

Verdine White of Earth, Wind & Fire

The CEA’s 50% rule: New technology moves half its volume in the holiday season. CEA reckons 3D TVs, tablets and Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect could be well positioned for this. If this rule end up applying to iPad then that could push full year iPad sales towards 10 million units.

The CEA estimates that around eighty tablets will be launching in the next nine months and fifty tablets will be on show at CES in January. We fear only around ten of those will actually be decent.

Earth Wind and Fire is doing the CES party this year.  Sweet.  Verdine White was on hand after the announcement.

Neil Berman

Nov 9, 2010 Posted by | Analysis, CES | , , | Leave a comment

CES 2010 BlackBerry coverage

As you can see from my recent posts I had a busy week at CES.  In addition to all the news I covered below I was also on the BlackBerry beat for BerryReporter.  You can see all my BerryReporter CES posts including videos here.

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

Jan 17, 2010 Posted by | CES, Hardware, Mobile, News, Video Features | , , , | Leave a comment

theONbutton@CES: Asus adds new Republic of Gamers gear

Asus is getting serious about gaming.  Really serious.  To save you reading about just how serious they are, watch this video where Asus’s Product Manager for Republic of Gamers talks me through what’s new for CES 2010.

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

Jan 10, 2010 Posted by | CES, Computing, Gaming, Hardware, News, Video Features | , , , | Leave a comment

theONbutton@CES: Samsung’s incredible booth show

Samsung and LG have incredible setups at CES this year, but Samsung really steals the limelight with its amazing booth entry show.  Check out the video for a front row seat, which also includes some ridiculously thin TVs and of course lots of other juicy tech stuff.  Video above, gallery below.

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

Jan 10, 2010 Posted by | CES, Computing, Hardware, Home Theater, Photo & Video, Mobile, Video Features | , , | Leave a comment

theONbutton@CES: MSI introduces new X-Slim and Netbook models

MSI has gone from strength to strength in recent years, and while its initial X-Slim range was judged to be a little flaky the company is hoping to change that with its updated 2010 models.  MSI has also been showing new netbooks here at CES and you can catch their latest X-series and netbook models in the video above, including the new X350, X420 and X6xx laptops.

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

Jan 9, 2010 Posted by | CES, Computing, Mobile, News, Video Features | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

theONbutton@CES: LG booth walkthrough

LG and Samsung both have colossal booths at CES this year, each of which feels like being in a mini-village of technology.  Here’s a walkthrough of LG’s floor space.

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

Jan 9, 2010 Posted by | CES, Computing, Hardware, Home Theater, Photo & Video, Mobile, News, Video Features | , , , , , | Leave a comment

theONbutton@CES: SonyEricsson Xperia X10 hands-on

Hmmm…SonyEricsson smartphones.  Products with so much promise which just sometimes don’t quite hit the bullseye.  The company has been trying to make its mark once more in the smartphone market with the Xperia X1 and now with its latest release, the X10.  In moving from the X1 to the X10 SonyEricsson has also switched from Windows Phone to Android.  I spent some hands-on time with the X10 this week and it certainly looks and feels great.  The spec sheet is also good, with an 8.1 megapixel camera, screen resolution of 854×480 and geo-tagging.  There’s only 1GB of onboard memory but the X10 does support Micro SD cards so you can get another 32GB in there.  Will this be the one to reignite SonyEricsson’s market share?  Video above and gallery below…

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

Jan 9, 2010 Posted by | CES, Hardware, Mobile | , , , , | Leave a comment

theONbutton@CES: enTourage eDGe eBook & internet dual screen tablet

Of the many, many eBook readers at CES the enTourage eDGe is a genuinely innovative design.  Employing a two screen design like several OEM concepts, the eDGe is a production device powered by a Marvel CPU running Android.  The left screen is an e-ink eBook reader and the right screen is an internet browser and Android application interface.  There’s USB connectivity, onboard sound and memory card support.  The current version of the eDGe does not support flash video, which would surely make it a killer media platform, however this is in the works for future releases.  Enjoy the hands-on video demo above and gallery below.

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

Jan 9, 2010 Posted by | CES, Computing, Hardware, Mobile, News, Video Features | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

theONbutton@CES: The CES 2010 gallery part 2

Here are some more of our best shots from Vegas to feast your eyes upon…

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

Jan 9, 2010 Posted by | Audio, CES, Computing, Gaming, Hardware, Home Theater, Photo & Video, Mobile | , , , , | Leave a comment

theONbutton@CES: Viliv N5 ultra-mini mobile PC

It seems that Viliv thought the existing UMPC acronym wasn’t descriptive enough for the N5, so they’ve added the word ‘mini’ to make, I guess,  UMMPC.  Curious names aside, the Viliv N5 is an amazing looking device and packs a fully featured PC into a clamshell design weighing under one pound.  The Viliv N5 features an Atom Z520 processor, Windows 7 and a 4.8″ screen.  It’s headed our way this year and I want one!

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

Jan 7, 2010 Posted by | CES, Computing, Hardware, Mobile, Video Features | , , , | Leave a comment

theONbutton@CES: Intel shows off Core i7 3D gaming

3D is everywhere at CES and Intel was busy showing off a Core i7 3D gaming rig earlier today.  They think this is going to be big, and frankly if there’s a good use-case for 3D in the home then gaming may well be it.  I caught up with Intel to find out how it all works, check out the video above for the discussion and demo…

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

Jan 7, 2010 Posted by | CES, Computing, Gaming, Hardware, News, Video Features | , , , , , | Leave a comment

theONbutton@CES: The CES 2010 gallery part 1

Start salivating now, here are the the shots from the show floor so far…

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

Jan 7, 2010 Posted by | Audio, CES, Computing, Gaming, Hardware, Home Theater, Photo & Video, Mobile | , , | Leave a comment

theONbutton@CES: Ceton Quad Tuner discussion with Microsoft

The new Ceton quad HD CableCARD tuner for your HTPC is here, and to prove how real it really is I spent time with Microsoft talking about it today.  As a reminder this PCI Express beast offers four CableCARD HD tuners for simultaneous quad channel recording in an HTPC using Windows 7 Media Center.   All the gory details are in the video below, and yes, this thing really is as great as it sounds.  HTPC enthusiasts rejoice!  So check out the video and then order the largest, fastest hard drive you can find.

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

Jan 7, 2010 Posted by | CES, Computing, Hardware, Home Theater, Photo & Video, Microsoft, Video Features | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

theONbutton@CES: Archos 9 tablet is smooooooth

I got some hands-on time with the Archos 9 tablet today and it is a seriously cool device.  Running Windows 7, the Archos 9 feels great in the hand, looks amazing and is sure to win many fans.  On the downside it was a little heavier than I would ideally have liked and would probably be tiring to hold after some time.  Additionally the 9″ touch screen, while responsive, cries out for a large finger-friendly interface rather than the standard Windows 7 front end.  Although it does have a usefully large on-screen keyboard.

Video above, gallery below…

Neil Berman

www.theonbutton.com

Jan 7, 2010 Posted by | CES, Computing, Hardware, Mobile, Video Features | , , , , , | Leave a comment

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