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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

theONbutton@CES: MSI X420

MSI’s thin and light line continues to grow with the X420.  This Intel SU7300 powered notebook feels far more sturdy than last year’s X-Slim releases and features a cute chicklet keyboard alond with an ATI Radeon 5430 discrete GPU.  Looks like a sweet (data) ride, but you can judge for yourself in the gallery below.

Neil Berman

Jan 5, 2010 Posted by | CES, Computing, Mobile, News | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

theONbutton@CES: Lenovo U1 multitouch slate-notebook separates itself from the pack

Day One of CES produced an amazing product in the Lenovo U1 at CES Unveiled.  I was blown away by this device, which initially looked like a small notebook until the Lenovo rep pulled the screen out to reveal its dual function as a slate.  There’s a video below, and the details known at this stage are that the slate is powered by a Snapdragon CPU with its own storage while the main notebook body has an Intel CULV doing the driving.  When docked to the main body the whole shebang runs Windows 7.  The Snapdragon-powered slate when on its own runs a multitouch non-Windows OS.

Enjoy the video and the gallery photos, I sure enjoyed taking them :-)

Neil Berman

Jan 5, 2010 Posted by | CES, Computing, Hardware, Mobile, News, Video Features | , , , , , | 1 Comment

theONbutton@CES: CES begins today!

It’s CES week again and we’ll be bringing you the best of the show from sunny Las Vegas.

Stay tuned for updates from CES Unveiled at The Venetian later today, followed by keynotes from Steve Ballmer (Microsoft CEO), Paul Otellini (Intel CEO) later this week. The show floor opens on Thursday.

In the meantime hit the CES category link to see what previous years brought, and amuse yourself predicting what this year’s show will bring. No prizes for guessing that 3D will be everywhere!

Neil Berman

Jan 5, 2010 Posted by | CES | , | Leave a comment

CES 2010 New York Preview


Gary Shapiro, President and CEO or the Consumer Electronics Association

Gary Shapiro and his team presented some interesting info at yesterday’s CES 2010 preview in New York.  Here are some choice inclusions:

  • 2010 holiday spending will likely be down 3% compared to 2009.   By comparison 2008 holiday spending was down 15% on 2007.
  • Overall gift spending is likely to be up 4% but consumer electronics (CE) gift spending is likely to rise by 8%.  Average CE gift spending per person is likely to be $222 this year compared to $206 in 2008.
  • Holiday spend on computers is projected to rise by 17.3% projected for Q4 2009 compared to Q4 2008
  • 80% of consumers are hoping for a CE gift this year.
  • Netbooks have appeared for the first time in the top ten gifts desired by teenagers.
  • We are more likely to see retailers pushing value-oriented bundles of multiple devices and higher margin feature-rich offerings than a flood of basic cheap devices.
  • The explosion of affordable devices in the 7-13 inch spectrum is likely to continue.  These are likely to be comprised of mainly netbooks or e-book readers.  I also expect the new class of Intel’s Ultra Low Voltage CPU powered ultraportables to eat into netbook sales in this class of screen size and weight.
  • 14% of tech enthusiasts and 8% of other consumers own a netbook.
  • 6% of tech enthusiasts and 4% of other consumers have e-readers such as a Kindle or competing devices.

…and there was a funky stat from Gary that more than 1,200 hours of video footage is uploaded to YouTube every hour!

Frank Davis, Ford’s Executive Director of North American Product Development was also on hand to talk about the technology present in the current Taurus, which was announced as the official car of CES 2010.

Monster Cable announced that John Legend will perform at the CES 2010 Retail Awards ceremony.

Happy holiday shopping, keep the economy going y’all :)

Neil Berman

Nov 11, 2009 Posted by | CES, Hardware, News | , , , , | Leave a comment

theONbutton@CES – Windows 7 Beta new features hands-on

If you tried to download the Windows 7 Beta yesterday you may have been part of the huge demand which overwhelmed Microsoft’s download servers.  Fear not, theONbutton is at hand with an exclusive video of many of the new Windows 7 Beta features to help you make up your mind…

Neil Berman

Jan 10, 2009 Posted by | CES, Computing, Microsoft, Reviews, Software, Video Features | , , , , , | Leave a comment

theONbutton@CES – MSI X320 differs from Macbook Air design by providing removable battery?


This is a shot of the underside of the MSI X320, which as we already know looks very very similar to the Macbook Air.  However those of you salivating in anticipation of the X320 release may be even further encouraged by what appears to be a battery release catch.  Thank you  MSI for keepin it real and thinking of great design, real-life practicalities and the environment.


Neil Berman

Jan 10, 2009 Posted by | Apple, CES, Computing, Hardware, Mobile | , , | Leave a comment

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