Copyright © 2013, Richard Beaty
The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the ultimate fantasyland for techies. It happens every January in that other ultimate fantasyland, Las Vegas.
CES features the latest and greatest “stuff” … things that were recently introduced … will be introduced in the near future … may be introduced sometime but not anytime soon … and some stuff that may never, ever see the light of day.
MERRIAM-WEBSTER “Geek” definition:
- A carnival performer often billed as a wild man whose act usually includes biting the head off a live chicken or snake
… [OH MY. That’s not me]
- A person often of an intellectual bent who is disliked
… [That doesn’t sound very flattering either]
- An enthusiast or expert especially in a technological field or activity
… [Okay. I confess to that one, at least the “enthusiast” part.]
So, yes, I am a geek. As such, I hope to someday make a pilgrimage to that shrine to geekdom, CES. But to date, all I’ve been able to do is follow the plethora of product announcements on the Internet and tech TV channels on my Roku.
Here are just a few things that appeared at CES 2013.
OLED and Ultra HD TV
OLED and Ultra HD (also called 4K) are two separate technologies.
OLED is a display technology that produces eye-popping contrast. It brings the blackest blacks and super vivid colors to your living room. I couldn’t possibly describe the visual experience of OLED as well as Tim Moynihan of PC World who said, “If you want your face pleasantly melted off by a majestic festival of light, OLED is the way to go.” (What a mastery of words has he). Besides being a “majestic festival of light,” OLED displays are super thin (on the order of 0.2 inches) and can even be fashioned into a curved TV.
It seems like just yesterday that 1080p HDTV became reality. It was even more recently that it became affordable. But 1080p is now yesterday’s technology. Introducing … 4K Ultra HD. Ultra HD has 4 times the resolution of present-day 1080p, bringing out the finest detail. For some on-screen talent, makeup is going to have to get a lot better.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could have both OLED and 4K in the same TV? You guessed it. Two manufacturers exhibited 56-inch 4K-OLED TVs on the show room floor (alas, prototypes only) and others are coming soon. Well, coming soon to fantasyland, anyhow. You’re not likely to find one in Best Buy very soon. Everyone is pretty mum about price and release dates, but LG is saying they’ll have one available in March sporting a whopping $12,000 price tag. Guess I’ll keep watching my antique 1080p LED set for awhile.
And let’s say money is no object, and you’re ready to pop for the 12 G’s to have the latest and “bestest.” Where are you going to find 4K/Ultra HD programming? I first saw an HDTV at a National Association of Broadcasters show (of course in Vegas) in the late 1980’s/early 1990’s. I don’t remember exactly. But, it took over a decade for HD content to make it to the living room. So don’t get too excited about 4K yet.
Tablets – Tablets – and More Tablets
There were a number of slates designed for specific applications. Rugged drop-resistant, weather-resistant models will make great field units. Special gaming tablets offer joysticks and control buttons built into handles. Learning tablets focus on children and education. And, the RCA Mobile TV tablet with its built-in tuner is made for those who want to watch broadcast TV on the go.
Some of the more original tablet products sported the new Windows 8 inside. Of course, the new Microsoft Surface Pro made an appearance, but other manufactures exhibited Windows 8 tablets, as well. Some were the anticipated hybrids with removable screens. But some went way “outside the box.”
One of my favorites is the Asus Transformer All-in-One P1801. This unique device has two complete operating systems, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and Windows 8. So, it can be a classical Android tablet or a full Windows 8 all-in-one computer … your choice at the push of a button. This looks like the perfect tablet for someone who can’t decide what to buy. Actually, it has a much more practical application than that. When running Android, you have access to a great tablet operating system and the massive app library in the Google Play store. But when it’s productivity you need, switch to Windows 8 and you have Office and the complete gamut of Windows programs available to you. It does have one downside as a tablet. Its 18.4 inch screen is going to make it really bulky to carry around.
But here’s one that goes beyond bulky to gargantuan. The Lenovo IdeaCentre Horizon with its massive 27-inch display might more accurately be called a slab, rather than a tablet. But it does have a special purpose. This is an all-in-one computer, which when laid flat on a table, transforms to the old board game of the past … an electronic, touch screen board game. Monopoly anyone?