CES 2010 Wrap-up

Companies showed their wares at this year’s CES, and I spent just two days on the show floor, trying to see as much as I could. Disappointingly, I was hard pressed to find DVRs or any tru2way devices, but there were plenty of other media, mobile, and computing devices to ogle. Here are some of my favorite finds.

Western Digital TV Live

Microsoft was showing off the device compatibility and media sharing capabilities of its Windows product line. This may Western Digital box may look like an ordinary external hard drive, but it’s not. The Western Digital TV Live is a networked, DLNA-compliant device that lets your TV stream video content from the Internet or from your own home network—at 1080p. And it works as a Play To destination for media on your Windows 7 PC. Connect it to your TV and audio systems with HDMI and S/PDIF or with analog component video and audio out. You can also piggy-back up to 2 external USB hard drives for local media storage.

LG Networked Storage

On the server side, LG was showing off Windows 7 certified networked storage devices, including a new Super Multi NAS with Blu-ray re-writer drive. This DLNA-compliant, multi-terabyte server can stream media to players throughout your home, and Blu-ray storage gives you true, lifetime backups for removable, offsite archives.

Archos 9

In what clearly came across as a pre-emptive “me too” move, Microsoft showcased tablet devices—most of which don’t exist yet. This rare exception, the Archos 9, does exist. $550 gets you an 8.9″ touchscreen Windows 7 tablet running the Intel ATOM 1.1 GHz processor. It’s a beautiful device, but at 17mm thick, it seems bulkier than it should and evokes memories of Origami. This is, in fact, Microsoft’s fourth attempt at a portable, touchscreen device (following, the Tablet PC, the SmartDisplay, and the UMPC).

Sony's Dash tabletop Internet device

Sony’s new Dash is a tabletop Internet device for the home that looks strikingly similar to one of Sony’s newer digital alarm clocks (snooze button and all). It’s actually a Chumby in a new suit that—perhaps not coincidentally—can double as an alarm clock. It features a clever design and an accelerometer that flips the screen when laid on its back. It will be interesting to see if people are willing to shell out about $200 for tabletop widgets when this thing comes out.

Flipower USB charger

How do you charge your phone or portable device when you already have two things plugged into the only nearby outlet? Powertech proposes a new solution to the problem: piggy-back on something that’s already plugged in. Just slip the flip-out tongue of the Flipower USB charger over the prongs of your lamp, alarm clock, or whatever, and plug it back in. Voila! The charger pulls juice from the prongs plugged into the outlet then swivels for easy access. Innovative, eh? So much so that it was one of the Innovations Honorees at this year’s show. The manufacturer hopes to have these in retail channels by the second half of 2010.

Sony Ericsson Xperia X10

The Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 is a beautiful, thin Android phone with an insane display resolution of 854 x 480. The interface is fluid and responsive, and the device itself fits perfectly in your hand. Communications—calls, messaging, and social media updates—are aggregated in single, scrollable timeline. Its 8.1 megapixel camera includes smile detection, flash, and face recognition software, and the media applications are just gorgeous. It uses removable microSD cards for up to 16GB of storage.

But don’t go stand in line at your local wireless service provider just yet—this baby is only going to be available through Rogers in Canada.

POLLI-Brick structural blocks

MINIWIZ built its booth with POLLI-Brick—a recycled polymer structural block created from old plastic bottles that are reformed into interlocking blocks. These blocks are fitted together and UV coated to provide a translucent, insulated curtain wall. Installed solar LED lighting adds ambient light to the space and a pleasing visual effect.

It’s not just a concept. POLLI-Brick is being used in the construction of a new building for the 2010 Taipei International Flora Exposition.

LG X300

LG’s X300 is a very thin ultra-portable PC with an 11.6″ display, a 2GHz Atom processor, and SSD storage. Built-in 3G, WiFi, and Bluetooth enable online access and synchronization, including specialized software that allows you to sync and reply to text messages from your netbook. When can you expect to find this on shelves? Uh….

LG thin LED TV prototype

Plenty of folks have been showing thin TV prototypes for the past few years at CES. And while last year LG was demonstrating small OLED TVs on flexible substrates, this year it’s about more practically-sized thin LED displays. Their thin LED TV prototype is so thin, you may be wondering where it is in this picture. It’s the vertical black line dead center—too thin for me to focus on it. The image on this 55″ display was bright and vibrant, but most people were mesmerized by the side angle view, as in this photograph.

Pro-Power Kit with Straight Blade Inlet

Don’t have power on the wall where you want to mount your TV? No problem. DATACOMM’s innovative Recessed Pro-Power Kit with Straight Blade Inlet lets you connect power and media cabling to your TV through the wall. At first glance, this looks a little frightening, but that male plug on the lower plate isn’t hot—it’s basically just an in-wall extension cord. The plate with the outlet goes on the wall where you plan to mount your TV. Then install the plate with the male plug near your equipment and plug it in to your surge protector or power conditioner with an ordinary heavy-duty extension cord.

HD HomeRun CableCARD prototype

Of everything at CES this year, my favorite product, by far, is SiliconDust’s breadboard prototype of the HD HomeRun CableCARD TV tuner. These guys already make one of the best home theater devices available—a network-based ATSC and QAM tuner that works on nearly every HTPC platform, including Sage TV on Linux, EyeTV on the Mac, and Media Center on the PC. This new CableCARD product will split a single digital cable input, decode it based on your subscribed services, and distribute the two signals to Windows 7 Media Center PCs in your house over your wired home network. And they expect to have a product on the market by the second half of the year, at a price point under $250. That’s two networked tuners for about the same price as ATI’s single-tuner CableCARD decoder.

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