CES Wrapup: Microsoft, Slate, 3D TV and Boxee Box

CES has wound down for 2010.  There were a few nice surprises, e-book readers and 3D television dominated the show and

HP Slate

tablet style computers were present in large numbers.

Microsoft was criticized for having what some considered a lame showing and keynote.  I think they are wrong. While Steve Ballmer does not have the panache of the other Steve, he’s not awful either, though I did feel for the poor sap who was on stage with him to demo some of the cool new Microsoft technology.  While not introducing anything as spectacular as Windows 7 or the next big thing, they did show of polished technology such as Natal and touch.  They showed a ‘slate’ computer from HP that looks pretty good.  It looks like a large iPhone and features a beautiful display.  The screen is large enough to be useful, but not so large as to be unwieldy. The slate style of computer, for me, is an ideal lounge computer.  You can use them anywhere, the couch, the bed, the porch…wherever you wish when you don’t need or want a full fledged laptop.  I find laptops to be a bit cumbersome to use when you are curled up in bed or on the couch, whereas a nice sized ‘slate’ or tablet computer would be ideal. You can watch the Microsoft Keynote here.

Lenovo had the best of both worlds.  Called the ‘U1’, the Lenovo slate is actually the screen component of the U1 laptop.  In its laptop configuration, it is a full fledged laptop computer running Windows 7 Home Premium.  Pop the screen out and you have an ARM powered Linux tablet complete with multi-touch capability.  Browsing a site and you want to download a Windows app, no problem.  Pop the screen back into the laptop and Windows will start an IE session and navigate to the page you were on so you can continue in Windows.  The U1 gives you the best of several worlds: a real laptop, a real tablet, Linux and Windows 7.  Four things in one package.  The product is due out in the summer time frame.  No pricing was announced, but it is expected to be in the six to seven hundred dollar range.  Engadget has a nice write up here.

Palm showed off its Plus line of phones (the Pre Plus and the Pixi Plus) that are going to Verizon as well as talked about some new features coming in February and the 3D gaming aspect of the phones.

Google’s Nexus One phone made a splash.

Ford outlined its new Sync features and Microsoft showed off a different version of Sync for Kia Motors.  Sync is built on Microsoft’s auto platform 4.0 and features universal syncing with iPods, Zunes and any MP3 USB players as well as voice recognition, GPS and other gee whiz tech for your car.  Sync is so good, that I am going to take a long look at several Ford vehicles when I am ready to replace my Infiniti.

Three dimensional Television made a huge splash with most manufacturers showing off 3D equipped sets. Almost all of them require the viewer to wear glasses.  Intel, however, demoed a set that did not require them.  I’m not so sure this is a technology that most people are going to want to dive into.  For one, it obsoletes what they have now, and most people probably are not going to replace those high def sets that they just bought.  At least, not right now.  The requirement to wear the glasses is a huge hindrance. Not only are people not going to want to wear them, it’s just one more thing to have to keep up with, like the remote control.  Something to get lost or broken. 

Blu-3D was also demoed.  It is the 3D format for Blu-Ray Disc.  Hmm…enough said.

BoxeeBox Boxee showed off the Boxee box, a new and cleverly styled set top box that runs the Boxee platform.  Boxee is the software based on XBMC, a media center package originally designed for the first XBOX. It was ported to several platforms, including Windows. The Box runs a flavor of Linux with Boxee running as the shell.  The software can playback video and audio from a variety of sources including USB drives and the Internet.  It comes with a bunch of pre-installed links to Internet video including the Twit.tv stuff, YouTube and other online sites.  The Box is square with one edge cut off so it sits a bit lop-sided.  It looks cool and is tiny so it won’t be much of a distraction on your television.

For a more complete and some hands on reviews, go on over to Engadget (who had the best coverage of all) and take a look.

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