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Infotainment systems, like the MyFord Touch, should help your car act a bit more like the ride in Knight Rider.  (Source: AutoWeek)

The ATI 5000 Mobility Radeon series should bring unparalleled graphics and much needed competition to the notebook sector.  (Source: Electronista)

3D Glasses have been around for a long time, but they haven't gotten much cooler. This is one overblown trend that seems unlikely to take off.  (Source: AP)
Infotainment and mobile GPUs were highlights, while 3D TVs and tablets were almost painfully overblown

The 2010 Consumer Electronics Show, was once again a convention of epic proportions. The show is now all said and done and slowly fading into our memory like a pale Vegas sunset.  However, a few things stand out in particular, in this editor's mind, highlights and lowlights from the show, if you will.

Two Highlights:

In-Car Infotainment
Ford's MyFord/MyLincoln Touch, the successor to the very successful SYNC, is really pushing the boundaries of in car information, entertainment, and communication.  Priced in the mid-range mass market segment, the new system features some truly amazing features like an applications API that can allow for smart phone-driven apps, complete with voice commands and text-to-speech.

Here's how we'd like to see this promising feature employed:
Ford already has the ability to download turn-by-turn directions from an attached phone via Google Maps.  Imagine if you created an iPhone (or Blackberry) app like Urban Spoon that allowed you to select a food type via voice.  Then imagine reading the user each option, reading them reviews/menus, if asked, and then finally allowing a voice selection.  Then imagine the app automatically grabbing directions and directing the user to the location.  All the pieces are there -- someone just needs to put them together.

Also noteworthy were infotainment systems from Fiat and Hyundai Kia.  Fiat's Blue & Me has less features overall, but does pack a nice driving analysis suite, which will likely be offered as an interesting option when the Fiat 500 hits the U.S. shores later this year.  As for Hyundai Kia, its system appears to be the second best solution on the market, but it will certainly be the cheapest.  It may be well behind Ford's offerings in its current iteration, but then again it's just starting out and if its budget price make it a strong competitor to Ford's pricier upgrade packages.  The new system, dubbed UVO, offers the conglomerate a great way to continue to improve the quality of its low-cost vehicles, allowing it to snatch more market share from the stale Honda and Toyota, which are getting left behind in the infotainment movement.

Mobile Graphics
NVIDIA has basically had the laptop discrete graphics market cornered in recent years.  That hasn't always been a good thing, given the abundance of overheating issues in previous generations.  NVIDIA's GeForce 2xxM series of GPUs lays most of these problems to rest, but without competition its maker seems unlikely to be inclined to seriously push its successors' mobile GPU power.

As at least one DailyTech writer games primarily on his laptop, this would be a disappointing state of affairs.  Fortunately, AMD has at last decided to translate its recent success in the desktop graphics segment into a big mobile launch.

AMD is promising that we'll see many notebooks with 5000 Mobility Radeon series GPUs in the next year.  We're adopting a wait and see strategy on this one, but even if AMD can succeed in getting its GPUs on a wider range of notebooks, that would be a tremendous improvement.  There's a scattering of AMD GPUs in notebooks currently offered at Fry's, Best Buy, Newegg.com, and Amazon.com, but they remain scarce.  If AMD could match NVIDIA in terms of models offered with its mobile GPUs, that would be a wonderful accomplishment and very good for competition.

We're always skeptical of big claims, so we're not sure what to make of AMD's claims that the top of the line 5000 series mobile GPU will best NVIDIA's top of the line GeForce GTX 280M.  We like their spirit, though, and we certainly hope that they can deliver on their promises of some excellent drivers.  We also hope they can deliver on their promises of bringing external GPU upgrades to the U.S. market, with the help of partners like Acer.

When it comes to mobile graphics, there's plenty to look forward to, from the eventual launch of a mobile version of Fermi, to AMD planning to aggressively improve its mobile performance and availability.  There's a lot of unknowns, but there's plenty of reasons to be optimistic that we'll be gaming on the go as never before.

Two "Most Overblown":

Three-Dimensional Television/Monitors:
3D was the buzz word on the tongues of every major LCD screen maker.  Even the cabbies were talking about it.  However, this colorful fad ultimately seems like another questionable promise from a technology that has been flirted with for decades, but never fully embraced.

The fact of the matter is simple.  As wonderful as watching your media of choice -- sports, movies, or pornography -- in 3D might be, it still requires you to put on goofy glasses.  Outside the movie theater, this has never caught on in the past (despite repeated attempts), and it seems unlikely to now.  Can you imagine a bunch of guys sitting down to watch a football game, and the party host saying, "Wait!  We've all got to put on our 3D glasses!"?

Such as scene seems pretty unlikely, so that leaves 3D gaming.  Sure gamers might be able to swallow the nerd-factor (its hard to be offended by uncool glasses when you're logging 10 hour runs in Warcraft).  However, in more cutting edge titles many gamers will be unable to use the tech, as it cuts frame rates by as much as 20 or 30 percent.  Final benchmarks remain to be seen, but if early estimates hold true, it seems many gamers will be hesitant to trade their frame rates for 3D glitz.

That leaves so-called "auto-stereoscopic" technologies, still in their nascent stages.  Such glasses-free 3D tech is certainly promising, but currently lack the pop of its awkward glasses-driven brethren, raising questions on their price.  Many models also suffer from image distortion at certain viewing angles.  Clearly this is the more promising approach, but it has a long way to go.

Some analysts estimate that 3D TV revenue could reach $22B USD by 2018.  That could certainly be true if manufacturers throw in the chip on most of their lineup.  However, that still doesn't mean that anyone will be using the awkward TV plus glasses setup.  The 3D chip (unless its of the glasses free variety) will likely sit gathering dust.  You couldn't find a more perfect example of overblown CES 2010 hype than 3D TV.

Tablets:
Tablets, tablets, tablets!!! Okay, we're sad to say Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer didn't cheer that at CES, but he might as well have.  His keynote address focused heavily on tablets, including the HP Slate.

Unlike 3D TV, tablets do hold some serious promise as a niche product, in the short term.  For certain users, particularly those who spend lots of time on-the-go, a light tablet like the HP Slate, Microsoft Courier, or the upcoming Apple Tablet could be a fun an useful tool.  That said, the major focus on them was a bit overblown.

It is hard to see a tablet appealing to the majority of consumers.  Touch input is currently somewhat poor (as touch screens with smart phone-scale touch sensitivity are rather expensive -- you can either multiply the screen cost or scale up at a lower fidelity) on most of the devices we played with.  Even if it can be perfected, typing and input will be slower than on a standard Notebooks/Netbooks.

Tablets may certainly conquer a niche market (perhaps surplanting E-Book readers, like the Amazon Kindle).  However, they're unlikely to storm the business or consumer computing quite like notebooks and netbooks have.  No matter how hard top OEMs try to pitch the devices, it seems unlikely that the majority of consumers will bite.

The Ugly:

CEA and Hotel Security Escort Out Vendors:
If certain vendors' stories are to believed they asked thoroughly when renting rooms at local hotels in Vegas about exhibiting product and holding business meetings, and were told that it was perfectly okay.  After they reportedly had paid in full (and extra for corporate parties), we personally witnessed at least one hotel bowing to the CEA and kicking these vendors out for failing to pay an exhibition fee.

If hotels screwed up on the info they gave vendors, they should have refunded them a portion of the suite rental, corresponding to the remaining booked time.  From what we've heard they've done no such thing, and vendors were left to try to book another hotel, farther away, to carry out the rest of their business.

According to a security guard at The Venetian whom we talked to, these "problems" were abundant, and as many as 30 vendors had been kicked out.  We heard personally from two vendors -- one who got kicked out, and one who paid to avoid it.  We also heard of a third vendor running into trouble.  Ultimately, its hard to get a cold hard number on exactly how many vendors got the boot, but the mess cast a dark cloud over our final day of meetings at CES.

We can only hope that next year hotel management and the CEA do a better job communicating exactly what the rules are and enforcing them from Day 1 -- not selectively deciding to enforce them mid-show.

Were you at CES 2010, or following our coverage and think we missed something?  Disagree on one of our top items?  Feel free to give your picks and thoughts!



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3D TV
By amanojaku on 1/12/2010 10:06:03 AM , Rating: 5
I know a lot of you think it's cool, but one look at that picture was all I needed. 3D TV will never take off if the price to be paid is to look like a NERD!!!

I'm sorry, this is DT. LIKE AN EVEN BIGGER NERD!!! I won't do it!




RE: 3D TV
By Bal on 1/12/2010 10:17:53 AM , Rating: 2
Its only a matter of time until the weighted contact lenses are polarized. Someone got the patent already. The nerd factor goes away then. Hell you could wear them all the time and any display that polarized 3d going on (such as an add near a store as you walk down a street) would be 3D.

Just give it time, minority report was a lot closer to reality then people imagine. They are close to the whole streaming adds near stores to your devices as well.


RE: 3D TV
By Basilisk on 1/12/2010 11:24:04 AM , Rating: 2
Neat... then the Nerds can recognize each other anywhere! And everyone will be able to recognize them in strongly polarized places -- like the beach, skiing or sailing! [In the first instance, one of their "polarized" iris's will appear black to one of your "polarized" eyes (and the other iris will be black to your other eye; in the second instance, the iris covered by a polarizer orthogonal to the ambient light will appear darker.]

I'm unsure that having half the light available to each eye is a win at night -- although I vaguely recall that someone originally thought of polarized headlights (or front car window?) as a useful idea (for reducing glare?).

Anyone know what way theater glasses are polarized? (Horiz/Vert? Or 45 degrees left and right?)

I haven't paid attention to 3D TV, but I expect polarized 3D TV is a looong way off: that implies dedicating half the pixels to each polarization -- unless someone has a switchable-polarization film I've never heard of -- with extraordinary alignment requirements and issues. So, maybe you need contacts that blank (go black) on response to TV cues? :)


RE: 3D TV
By splint on 1/12/2010 5:20:26 PM , Rating: 2
You can't ensure the orientation of a contact over an eye, so 3D contacts would most certainly use circularly polarized filters -- one left-handed, the other right-handed. In this case, you can go to the beach no problem.


RE: 3D TV
By Calin on 1/13/2010 7:12:51 AM , Rating: 2
The ambient light is not totally polarized - as a matter of fact, most of it is not polarized - so you won't lose half the available light.
On the other hand, when there IS only polarized light, you lose all of it if your polarization filter is orthogonal with the existing polarization


RE: 3D TV
By jabber on 1/12/2010 4:41:29 PM , Rating: 2
I take it you've never worn contact lenses if thats what you are refering to?

I can just see the number of eye injuries and infections soaring just so folks can watch a crappy 1950s gimmick.

Guys, its just a way that film execs can get more bums on seats for crappy movies that didnt test well with preview audiences.

This tired old gimmick is not an advancement in movie technology.


RE: 3D TV
By Oregonian2 on 1/12/10, Rating: 0
RE: 3D TV
By pwnsweet on 1/12/2010 9:47:42 PM , Rating: 2
colour blind people can still see every colour by the way...


RE: 3D TV
By Oregonian2 on 1/15/2010 1:39:08 PM , Rating: 2
P.S. - I've been into 3D photography for thirty years. It can be done very well and I like the "gimmick" quite a bit. It has "caught on" for many for quite some time.


RE: 3D TV
By jkcheng122 on 1/12/2010 10:50:37 AM , Rating: 2
I don't understand all the hate for the glasses, how cool do you need to look when you're just sitting there watching TV? Not to mention everyone else watching the same program will be wearing one too.


RE: 3D TV
By Hiawa23 on 1/12/2010 12:11:25 PM , Rating: 3
I am fine with regular & lcd HDTVs, & I really don't see 3d Tv or gaming having mass appeal especially if the price is outside on most people's pockets, & I can't see myself reaching for my 3d glasses everytime I fire up the PS4 or Wii3 Xbox 1280. I saw Avatar in 3-d, which was cool but also saw the regular version, & that was fine, 3-d did not add anything or make the movie any better for me. Infact, after watching it I was saddened that I paid to see it a second time as the reular version was good enough as my tastes went.


RE: 3D TV
By Lazarus Dark on 1/12/2010 8:19:23 PM , Rating: 2
I don't understand the hate either. I even wear glasses and don't really mind the RealD glasses on top of them. I plan to get prescription polarized soon though. Personally, I don't really plan on doing the shutter glasses thing. I'm waiting for cheap polarized projector for my theater room, then I'll just stick with polarized glasses. It's also a lot easier to buy several extra polarized glasses for guests than it is to have several extra shutter glasses.

At this point, I don't see 3d being mainstream any time soon. I hear too many people say it doesn't matter to them. And really, the investment isn't worth it for the limited content that will be available this year. We can expect, what? maybe ten or fifteen 3dBlurays by Christmas? Maybe in 2011, the content will be there. Personally, I'll never watch Avatar in 2d ever, it's 3d only for me, and I can't wait for a proper 3dBluray version of Coraline, I miss the 3d version of it.

Then again, no one thought Bluray would become mainstream either. Everyone thought it would be the realm of enthusiasts only. But as of this recent Christmas, nearly half of everyone I know has a bluray player or PS3 and most others say they intend to adopt this year sometime. The main problem for 3d is content. When a fair amount of content is available, we may well see it take off after all. I mean... does anyone really think 3d won't be the norm in the next ten to twenty years? 3d is just another step of progress.

Just wait until the 3d iPhone. Then every idiot and his brother will want 3d.


RE: 3D TV
By HighWing on 1/13/2010 6:00:18 PM , Rating: 3
Here's your reason.
quote:
The fact of the matter is simple. ... Outside the movie theater, this has never caught on in the past (despite repeated attempts) , and it seems unlikely to now.


The main point being the bold part. This has been tried many times in the past and quite obviously it has never taken off. I've been saying this every time a 3d tv article comes out.

Now if you want a more practical reason for "why" here's just a few to get your started;
1) you say you don't mind, but seriously consider this, would you really like having to put on special glasses "every" time you sit down to watch tv?
2) what do you do when you loose those glasses?
3) parties, friends, guests come over and you don't have enough glasses for everyone....now what?
4) you brake them just before a show/move comes on you want to watch and you have no spares!
5) ever watched 3d show/movie without those glasses, it doesn't work too well.

Right there are some all too common problems for why 3d tv with glasses will never become mainstream. Sure there are a lot of big names backing it. But as long as glasses are required it will just become a passing fad/gimmick that will quickly loose it's momentum for one/all of the reasons above and more.


RE: 3D TV
By inperfectdarkness on 1/12/2010 10:51:02 AM , Rating: 3
you seriously thing that every aspect of 3d technology is going to change except the glasses? ROFL!

expect to see 3d glasses become available in styles from ray-ban to oakley.

just because the glasses they hand you in the theatre are fugly as snot doesn't mean that they HAVE to be that way.


RE: 3D TV
By therealnickdanger on 1/12/2010 11:24:02 AM , Rating: 1
Exactly, it won't be long before celebrities are sporting gem-encrusted, $4,000 Versace 3-D glasses to premeires. It will take off. The sheeple can't resist, even if it means getting a second mortgage on an ARM.


RE: 3D TV
By mead drinker on 1/13/2010 4:53:34 PM , Rating: 1
No shit. Anyone ever heard of Opera glasses?


3D is Awesome!
By McGixxer on 1/12/2010 11:09:29 AM , Rating: 2
I think any 3D hater on here has not seen Avatar in 3D. Seriously, there is a reason this movie mas made over 1 billion USD in under a month and part of that reason is the amount of people that watched it in 3D and came out of the theatre going "holy crap that was awesome!"

And this August Walmart will be selling 3D Vizio TVs. If walmart sells them, itll probally take off with DirecTV launching a few 3D channels this year.




RE: 3D is Awesome!
By Yeah on 1/12/2010 12:19:56 PM , Rating: 2
I certainly agree with you. I just saw Avatar this last weekend. They handed out 3-D Glasses that looked just like sunglasses. Black frame, Thin.. nothing like the pictures above chosen for this article.

On a side note, QVC had a big blowout of Mitsubishi 3-D Capable DLP 1080 Flatscreen projection TVs just before Christmas. I picked one up for our family, I couldnt beat the price for a 65" .. like 1300 in payments. I am sure many other people purchased one also. So with many homes capable of 3-d, it could very well kick off much more than some of you think.


RE: 3D is Awesome!
By geddarkstorm on 1/12/2010 1:05:29 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, I had the same glasses when I went to Avatar in 3D. It was quite cool, though it gave me a headache. I don't think I'd want to use 3D in daily life. It's like going to a carnival. It's fun for a day or two, but if you had to work there, it quickly loses its charm.


RE: 3D is Awesome!
By The0ne on 1/12/2010 3:37:29 PM , Rating: 1
Avatar's visual is beautiful, no doubt about that, but it doesn't actually make full use of the 3D capabilities. There are other movies/shows that offer much more "interactive" 3D experiences. Hitchcock had a movie, watch it if you can. Disney has Captain Neo which will have you grabbing at objects. Avatar has, well...nothing except to be in 3D.

Oh did I mention the Hitchcock movie was done way way way back when some of you weren't even born yet? :)


RE: 3D is Awesome!
By Oregonian2 on 1/12/2010 6:31:22 PM , Rating: 2
One of the more famous 3D-haters (Ebert, the movie critic -- one of the famous "two thumbs up") recently wrote an article how he absolutely loved the 3D in Avatar.

Pigs do fly.


RE: 3D is Awesome!
By Strunf on 1/13/2010 7:53:16 AM , Rating: 2
I've seen Avatar in 3D and quite frankly I would enjoy it just as much if it was in 2D... there was NOTHING 3D in it worth to be mentioned.


A typo has Hassled the Hoff.
By Chris Peredun on 1/12/2010 10:02:32 AM , Rating: 4
The first caption should read "Knight" Rider.

And I'd rather have Super Pursuit Mode than voice-activated dialing, personally.




By therealnickdanger on 1/12/2010 11:26:21 AM , Rating: 2
I dunno, I was watching some KR the other week. SPM isn't as cool as I remembered from my youth:

http://www.hollywood-diecast.com/kitt%20super%20pu...

I'll take the dialing feature. LOL


AMD's big claim...
By Amiga500 on 1/12/2010 11:18:08 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
We're always skeptical of big claims, so we're not sure what to make of AMD's claims that the top of the line 5000 series mobile GPU will best NVIDIA's top of the line GeForce GTX 280M.


It would be very surprising if the equivalent of a 5770... which is nearly a 4870... does not best a GPU which is effectively a slightly handicapped 8800GTS.

I wouldn't call it a big claim myself :-)




RE: AMD's big claim...
By Targon on 1/14/2010 9:51:41 AM , Rating: 2
I would say that people should be skeptical of how big the market share will be, not the speed of the parts.

Remember, AMD came out with the 5870 which IS the fastest single-GPU part out there. Due to the delays in NVIDIA getting Fermi out the door, AMD may have a refresh ready that will beat it.

So, the real question is if we will REALLY see more Radeon graphics in use in desktops and laptops that are sold. Will manufacturers be willing to put Radeon graphics into Intel based machines in the low end, or are the "special discounts" for putting the crappy Intel graphics into machines too good to turn down?

Unless you really look hard, it is very very difficult to find an Intel based computer with integrated graphics that doesn't use Intel graphics for under $800.


Fermi and V.Clone
By Mitch101 on 1/12/2010 10:32:01 AM , Rating: 2
Would have liked to have heard more about Fermi officially but I hear they had NDA. What I did hear which was interesting to me is that Fermi's mid line will arrive before the top end. Which makes more sense as Mid line sells more than top end. The downside I heard is Fermi runs very hot after all its a big chip.

For me the best item to come from CES was VClone.
http://ww2.iomega-web.com/vclone/

There are so many times I wish I had my home PC with me and VClone will allow that. All you have to do is own an IOMega hard drive.




By Lazarus Dark on 1/12/2010 6:41:53 PM , Rating: 2
While the auto companies try to shove more distractions in the car... I mean "infotainment".

I really wish they would mandate manual transmissions, personally. You can't be trying to juggle all these services while trying to row the gears. Heck, I don't even listen to the radio anymore since getting a manual cause I need to hear the exhaust.

I wish people would just stick to driving while in the car. Put a tv in the back for the kids with headphones and pay attention to the road, You're raising my insurance rates with all these distractions!!




By SciTech on 1/13/2010 9:52:03 AM , Rating: 2
It seems many of you expect that all TV programming and all DVDs/Blu-rays will be 3D only. Of course this isn't going to happen. The notion of ALWAYS wearing glasses while watching TV or a movie is absurd.

What WILL happen is from time to time special programming will be aired in 3D and blu-rays will come with 3D capable versions or perhaps a seperate version of the movie all together.

People will then occassionally sit down as a family or what have you and watch a 3D movie or show. It will not be a 24/7 thing nor will it be forced upon consumers as such because it wouldn't be accepted at all. It will simply be an extra feature that will find occassional use.

Like it or not people go to IMAX to experience 3D, and to have that OPTION at home WILL draw consumers.




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