Jan 192011
 
Authors: Ryan Gibbons and Glen Pfeiffer

Hello! How about that ride in? I guess that’s why they call it CES. Hahaha. Five geeks running around the convention center together, in Vegas, looking for strippers and cocaine.

Or not. (Though we wouldn’t put it past the group of conventioneers at the restaurant table next to us on the last night, the way they were downing their margaritas –– faster than us)

So what is CES? It’s the annual Consumer Electronics Show, held since 1967 –– one of the largest electronics shows in the world. All the biggest companies (Sony, Samsung, Intel, Microsoft, Motorola, Ford and hundreds more) come to Vegas to announce their new products for the coming year. They give press and industry affiliates the chance to touch and test (but mostly tease) new gadgets, which will, in many cases, not be released for several more months.

Luckily, our lowly collegiate press credentials were good enough to allow us to join 130,000 other people and 2,500 companies at the massive Las Vegas Convention Center from Jan. 6 through 9. We walked miles and miles of show room floor space to learn what’s new, what’s cool and what the big companies think that we should think is cool.

This year was considered by most to be the year of the tablet computer. After Apple’s huge success with the iPad (which, as of Tuesday has sold more than 7.33 million of them), many other manufactures are once again jumping on the proverbial money making iBandwagon.

The most notable was the Blackberry Playbook. With a sleek, buttonless front and completely retooled operating system, this 7-inch black beauty impressed us. In fact, we completely forgot we were working with a whole 3-inches less than we’re used to on the iPad. It was pleasant, right up until we were testing out the awesome integration of Adobe’s Flash player by watching a YouTube video that crashed the tablet to the point of it being yanked from the floor and brought behind closed doors for further investigation. Maybe it’s because the software was still in beta –– or perhaps Apple was right to ditch Flash?

Of course, all the major TV manufactures still refuse to let go of 3D, but this year it looks like they might be on to something. Things are actually starting to look real, it’s being used for more than just crazy piranhas jumping out of your screen, and the glasses are actually looking quite stylish (one of these is a lie. … #3).

Things are looking up; even video games are making the move to 3D. For those who don’t know, Samsung, among others, is rolling out TVs that automatically convert your 2D video into pretty decent 3D on the fly –– it looked better than you might expect, but needs work for pulling layers out of video images of more distant subjects (20 or 30 feet away).

We did spend some time poking our heads into booths that didn’t belong to the major players. We found one company we’d never heard of before called P2i that has developed a method of waterproofing electronic devices AFTER manufacturing! The process basically involves submerging the device in a special gas that binds with the device muscularly to make it repel water.

As part of a demo, a P2i rep submerged in water a piece of paper treated with the stuff, and guess what? It came out dry! They said all the major cell phone makers are testing it, and the technology could be coming to a cell phone in YOUR pocket by the end of the year.

The labyrinth of booths also led us, almost by fate, it would seem, to CTA Digital’s booth. They make accessories for video game consoles, and they like to walk a fine line betwixt functional and useless. We just so happened to test drive a product that fell right in the middle.

The Inflatable Kart for the Wii let’s you play Mario Kart (or any other racing game for that matter) in style. Simply inflate the Kart, set your Wiimote into the steering wheel, and you’re off. Life size Kart of your own. Sure the Karts are probably intended for kids no older than 12, but college students often act like 12-year-olds, right?

In all, we spent four days at the convention (which happily balanced four nights out in the wilds of Vegas) so we didn’t sleep very much. It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it.

Columnists Ryan Gibbons and Glen Pfeiffer did not wake up in the morning feeling like P. Diddy. Comments, questions and burritos can be sent to verve@collegian.com.

Our Favorites of CES

  • “Sony Real D” – of the gazillion 3D demos present on the show floor, the best looking, most stunning, visually sexy award goes to Sony’s ‘Real-D’ technology. Perhaps also having the biggest screen on the floor helped too (it was more than 100 feet wide).
  • Ford’s First Electric Car – The 2011 Focus – Maybe Ford is a little bit behind the electric car game, but hey, so is the much-talked-about Blackberry Playbook tablet compared to the iPad. Every time we consider the concept of electric cars, we think, honestly, how is it that we can land on the moon but not make a super-efficient battery powered engine?
  • Asus’s Future Concepts – In addition to the new, working tech that Asus had on display, they also had non-working mock ups envisioning their products five to 10 years in the future. Of course, they matched every science fiction dreamer’s future –– a single sheet of clear, touch sensitive glass on everything from phones to tablets to computers.
  • Otterbox – Amid 130,000 other participants from around the globe, it was nice for these two columnists to be able to stop at the Otterbox booth and chat with other Fort Collins denizens.
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