My second day at CES began innocently enough. Day 1 wasn't very stressful; my most difficult moment was being pinned between other media at the Lenovo booth during “CES Unveiled”.If today's events were just a 'microcosm' of tomorrows, I am in for a long day....
I began Day 2 by attending Huawei's press event. Huawei used this event to showcase their latest handset, the Huawei Ascend P1. Touting itself as the slimmest handset on the market IN THE WORLD, the Ascend measured a thickness of 6.68mm. Huawei stated they were able to achieve this by utilizing new molding and injection techniques, selecting Corning Gorilla Glass to provide the screen, and "customized" components. I was able to ask Huawei President Richard Yu if, by “customizable”, he meant specially manufactured ICs that were lower in package thickness than what their competitors were using and that Huawei had a special relationship with its chip vendors. Mr. Yu clarified that they had selected state of the art components to lower the overall thickness. The most interesting portion of the event came from the admission by Mr. Yu that Huawei was developing their own ICs for LTE and 4G baseband. Effectively competing with Qualcomm and Samsung in the chip space. Wow! More information on the Huawei Ascend can be found here at EE Times.
backside of the Huawei Ascend
Next up was the Intel press event, which I was attending in the hopes of any news regarding the much-maligned Intel 22nm Ivy Bridge processor. The presentation started with some disappointment as presenter Mooly Eden quickly skirted over the processor roadmap. We were shown a detailed floor plan of the Ivy Bridge and then moved to the theme of his presentation - Ultrabooks. Though I found the Ultrabooks to be generally interesting, based on their lightweight and thin design, what really piqued my interest was a demo of the HP Ultrabook using the Intel 22nm processor! Finally, a product that was showcasing the first processor to use Intel’s innovative, but seemingly difficult to manufacture, tri-gate 3D process technology. With all the rumors surrounding the Ivy Bridge’s difficulties, I was afraid it wouldn’t see the light of day any time soon. The demo did not disappoint as an HP rep was able to showcase the processing power with a computer animation demo of a highly-detailed ogre designed on the HP Ultrabook. The Intel presentation ended with 50 lucky press members looking under their chairs and winning a new Toshiba Ultrabook. I was not one of them. (I never win anything).
Shortly after the Intel event, I made the trek to Netgear’s press conference. Netgear followed the theme of full out wireless connectivity, introducing products to follow their research that the number of “broadband households” (homes with 6 or more wireless devices) increased by 70% from 2010 to 2011. Netgear revealed a handful of devices that included a media storage router (a 2 TB DLNA-enabled router that also acts as a media back-up), the NeoTV streaming player, a universal range extender, a home theatre and gaming 4 port WiFi adapter and a software service called “Netgear Genie” that serves to manage all the wireless devices on your network. What made this entire presentation interesting was Netgear’s emphasis on ease of implementation. It seemed as though every product was essentially plug-and-play, making it easy for even the computer illiterate to set up a wireless home to stream media freely.
Next was the press event with the most star power thus far at CES. Panasonic pulled out all the stops to discuss their latest products and innovations. Ed Begley Jr. was brought on stage to discuss Panasonic’s involvement in clean technology. This included their solar panels and power management systems and Panasonic’s newest division – Eco Solutions. To emphasize the growth of the 3D HDTV market (a market which Panasonic estimates will move 7 million TV units by the end of 2012), US soccer star Brandi Chastaine along with a pre-taped message from sportscaster Bob Costas announced that the 2012 Olympic Summer Games would be broadcasted in 3D on NBC in partnership with Panasonic.
The big reveal, was Justin Timberlake coming on stage to announce his partnership with Panasonic and his latest acquisition, MySpace. A new version of MySpace was introduced that emphasized the use of the social network to share, discuss, and stream media. Time will tell if Mr. Timberlake has the golden touch in reviving MySpace to its former glory.
Justin Timberlake introduces the new MySpace, partnered with Panasonic
Nokia used their press event to reveal their latest Windows-based tablet, the Lumia 900. Unfortunately, I was a little disappointed as I was hoping the Lumia 900 would be the first of the Windows 8-based handsets with dual-core processors. The Lumia 900, though very responsive in hands-on testing, still uses Windows 7.5 and a single-core processor.
The Lumia 900 side-by-side with the Galaxy S2
Finally, the last press event of the day featured Sony’s attempts to top Panasonic’s celebrity-filled announcement. Sony began their press event by announcing the European and US release dates for the Playstation Vita. The Vita, available in Japan since December, will be available in both markets on February 22nd. This announcement was underwhelming to me considering that TechInsights took it apart back when it was first released. Sony also announced that Sony Ericsson will now be Sony Mobile Communications and with that announcement came the first handsets to fall under that new banner, the Xperia Ion (coming soon to AT&T) and the Xperia S (to be released in March). To punctuate their involvement in 3D viewing technology, Sony revealed a 3D trailer of Men in Black 3, which was then followed by the introduction of the movie’s director, Barry Levinson, and the film’s star, Will Smith, to discuss Sony’s involvement in the film with their 3D cameras. Sony introduced new home theatre products such as the 4K Projector and their latest in the line of Bravia televisions. Sony closed their event with a performance by Kelly Clarkson and let the press go hands-on with their newest devices. I took the time to play with their newest tablet, the Tablet P, a dual-screen tablet that uses one screen as a control system for the other.
Sony’s latest wares on display
In between these events, I attended press events from Samsung, Pioneer and Nvidia. My general observation is that there are a lot of journalists here in Las Vegas. Every press event was a battle to find a seat and some events required lining up over two hours to get into. Numerous media were turned away from the Samsung, Nokia, Panasonic and Nvidia events. CES should look into a larger venue for next year so that attendees aren’t rushing from press event to press event in the hopes of garnering a spot in each media room. All in all, it was a long day. I can only imagine what tomorrow will bring as the show floor opens and the general public joins in on the madness. I’m sure it’s going to be an experience!
You can view some related videos from CES by EE Times, a sister company of TechInsights.