CES 2010 Wrap Up

Aron Schatz
January 22, 2010
CES 2010 Wrap Up
CES 2010 came and went. We saw some interesting things but overall, it was another let down in terms of show floor space.

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ASE Labs has been going to CES for four years now. In our previous visit to Las Vegas in 2009 for CES, we found the show had lost the insane crowds and the floor space was bare compared to previous years. Those were tough economic times and it made sense to see that happen.

While it is 2010, the economy really hasn't changed that much, so we expected more of the same from this year's CES. There were many differences in the way the show worked this year than in previous years. One big change was that many companies didn't spend money on show floor space. Instead, they opted to get a hotel suite and invite members of the press or sales partners to a personal meeting instead of doing business on the show floor.

For many companies, this was an excellent use of money. For CES in general, it was a bit troubling. The floor space was cut, even from last year. South Hall 2 was bare and many of the halls were cut off by meeting rooms. The show floor space was again sparse with too few companies crowding the floor.

There was a silver lining with this year's CES, though. The crowds were heavier than last year. It wasn't by much and by Saturday, the show floor really thinned out (and Sunday was dead). What this does show is that people still like to see what's going on and CES can survive if they can bring in the crowds. Hotel rates skyrocketed a couple of weeks before the show started (presumably due to the demand, but probably due to price gouging) which is an interesting sign. Last year, the rates continued to drop till the show started. The hotels weren't packed, though; and there were plenty of rooms.

Another thing about CES that most hotel/casinos don't like is that the technology oriented crowds that come are a bit more frugal with their money. While not all of us are afraid to part with a bit of money for some fun at the casino, the majority of the crowd coming for CES fits into that category.

As for a member of the press, the show still provides a good way to see the companies we report on in one place. It is always good to meet and greet with companies that you cover with reviews. Here at ASE Labs, we hope that CES finds its way through these tough times to regain the crowd gathering muster it once had a few years ago.

In terms of product technology, you couldn't go twenty feet without seeing some new and fancy 3D TV display technology. We here at ASE Labs feel that this technology is a dead end. It might be good for things such as Avatar and movies in general, but we doubt the general public will grasp on the need to use glasses to watch TVs. Plus, many people still get headaches from using this technology.

While there are new products that incorporate peripheral-less 3D TV viewing, those products are highly specialized and require insane restrictions such as the need to be directly in front of the screen at the perfect viewing angle or it doesn't work. 3D TV won't take off until holographic technology is practical. Regardless of how much 3D you put into TVs, you are taking a picture from a 2D screen and faking the 3D.

While ASE Labs enjoys covering industry trade show events, our main focus is to provide fair and objective reviews of consumer electronic products. Our sister publication HardwareLogic covers the enthusiast hardware aspect, so please check out that site as well. If your company would like ASE Labs or HardwareLogic to review a product, please contact us to arrange a sample to be sent for review.

New Input Devices


There were some very interesting technology shown at CES for new ways of handling human input devices. One such device was the Peregrine. This device is a wearable glove that gives you the freedom to have another input device in addition to the mouse and keyboard you currently use. The way the glove extends inputs is that there are points on the glove that you touch to perform a key stroke. Since the device is a normal HID compliant device, it will work in any operating system and you can setup your own macros.


The sensors on the glove (the gray spots) are activated when you touch your thumb to a finger spot (each finger has multiple 'keys') or touching a finger to the pad on your palm. This type of input device is additive in that it doesn't detract your use of traditional input devices such as mice or keyboards. The device is made to wear on your left hand and currently targets programs that can use lots of macro functions. Think about being able to program a long array of keystrokes by a simple flick of the finger. MMO users can rejoice. The glove is simple to use and is intuitive, so your muscle memory will eventually remember the proper positions of the sensors. Think about using this for photo editing software with complex functions. There are many uses for this type of intuitive input device. Plan on ASE Labs getting a review sample soon. We think this is one of the most interesting products to come out this year. There are more, though.


Razer was showing off a brand new piece of technology they are creating with help from Sixense. You probably can't tell from the picture, but the Editor-in-Chief is manipulating a tech demo using two hand-held sticks and they move with total freedom. Think of the Wii remote but better technology. Unlike the Wii remote, this new device using a low strength magnetic field to determine position and orientation of the units. Instead of the Wii's IR and gyro (in the Motion+), these are simple and more intuitive. They work without pointing the device anyway on the screen.

When we see novel technology, we are always impressed. Razer seems to be focusing on technology that can change the way many people use computers. What we can see happening with this type of device is a huge improvement to CAD and medical imaging manipulation. Think about using two hands to grab and go through a MRI or a drawing of a house. The freedom and ease of use was incredible. These devices are pretty much prototypes and had some lag (being wireless), but that should go away with time and development. If Razer can release a good SDK and make it work with any operating system (Linux included), this device will find its way into many projects that even we can't think of. We think that Razer is in a good position to really capture the market with this device.


Razer is also looking to get into the console gaming device area. They demoed a new Xbox 360 controller that was wired and had a few unique features that would give the user a competitive advantage playing games. It has extra buttons below the LB/RB buttons that you can assign to be another button. Let's say you are playing a game that requires the left thumb-stick to be pressed and you keep moving when you press it messing up your gameplay. Map that to one of these buttons and you don't have that problem. In addition, the buttons are quick press and release. We'd be surprised if Microsoft allows their blessing to be an official Xbox accessory. If they don't have official support, they can still release it and just change the Xbox button to another thing and retain all the controls and features. Razer is bringing the competitive edge to the 360.


They also have a new line of gaming headsets for the Xbox (with voice support). It was encased in glass so we couldn't use it, but Razer makes excellent products and this will probably be more of the same from Razer.

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HDTV Mounting


Philips has a new mounting system called Simply Straight and it is one of the most innovative products we've seen in a very long time. This is the type of product that you ask yourself why wasn't this done before. It is a simple to use HDTV mounting system consisting of an elliptical track that you screw to the wall and mounting brackets that hold the TV. The TV can then slide into the elliptical wall mount and is easily straightened from the same mount. Think about it this way, you don't have to worry about squaring the wall mount with a level or anything. You screw it in by eye and do the fine tuning while the TV is on the wall. Simple as that. It should cost around $70 which is a great price for this product. Seriously, buy it now. It works and is a perfect example of engineering done right.


Philips also showed off their wireless HDTV system. It can take a multitude of inputs and pump them over a wireless link. It is uses a non-standard band of 6GHz (if our memory serves) and can't go very far from the base station. It will probably be useful in the same room where you have the electronics in a closet and the TV mounted on a wall where cables just won't work. This kit will be expensive but there was no noticeable lag on the demo unit.


One more Philips product that was interesting was the Activa. Along with that, they have a music player that plays music according to the rate you are working out. The Activa is a whole wellness device and comes with a service for a few months that includes a "trainer" of sorts to motivate you and push you in the right direction. The cost after the initial trial is fairly reasonable (around $10 or so per month), but the device isn't released yet so we will hold off judgment until seeing it in action.

Laptop Power


We appreciate products that get the job done at a size that is reasonable. Power adapters for laptops have long been big and bulky but Antec turns that wisdom on its head by coming out with a compact 90-watt laptop power adapter. Normally, these high wattage adapters are large but Antec designed a product that is easily portable and this is why Antec is a company that many people watch when they make new products.


Antec also makes portable laptop stands. This one fits in a briefcase and gives you a nice angle to use a laptop on while your on the road. It also elevates it so you aren't heating up your lap while using the laptop.


Antec is about to release a new case series called Dark Fleet. It has a few nice features like the embedded 2.5" drive hot swap drive bay which is perfect for those new boot drive targeted SSDs. The normal bays are reconfigurable with different mounts for different size drives and the PSU can be mounted on the top or bottom of the case. We'll have a review of the DF series when it is released.

More Stuff

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And there are a spattering of other products that caught are eye, but aren't really cutting edge or are all that interesting. Energizer is investing in solar portable technology and it is good to see a battery company doing this. We'll have Energizer reviews this year on ASE Labs.

We found this year's CES a bit of a let down compared to the large show in 2008. We hope 2011 will push the show to the large size it once was. It was nice to not finish the show in two days. Maybe the economy will finally turn enough to make this happen. One can hope.


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