CES 2011: What Caught Your Attention?

by Damian on January 14, 2011 · 13 comments

in News

With CES 2011 behind us it is now a good time to try and let all the information overload sink in. As I expected much of the focus was on tablets (of the Android flavor), Sandy Bridge (the next release of the popular Intel Core i platform) and 3D. I don’t know if there was any groundbreaking or revolutionary technologies introduced (and of course Windows Home Server was nowhere to be seen…) but there were a handful that caught my attention:

ASUS Eee Pad Slider:

I will admit that I have been a little bit skeptical about the whole tablet craze. I got my wife an iPad for Christmas though and have definitely found it came in handy (in particular for blogging, responding  to comments, etc…). I have decided that at some point this year I will pick up a tablet for myself. I haven’t decided if I will go with an Android tablet, wait for the iPad 2, or even look at the Blackberry Playbook. The one tablet that caught my attention was the ASUS Eee Pad Slider. As I mentioned I wanted something that could assist with blogging/commenting when on the go or in bed. This tablet comes with a slide out keyboard which is much more convenient over typing directly on the screen, or having to carry around  a separate keyboard attachment. The big question for me will be how much will this keyboard add to the weight/depth of the tablet, and of course the price point (at some point the convenience of a tablet isn’t justified when the price just makes it nothing more then an under powered laptop). Details from ASUS’ website:

Mobile users who want the best of both tablet and traditional notebook worlds will be well served by the Eee Pad Slider. This pad computer not only features a 10.1” IPS touch-screen for finger-friendly use, but also a slide-out QWERTY keyboard for comfortable, use-anywhere typing. It is powered by the NVIDIA® Tegra™ 2, the world’s most advanced mobile processor with a dual-core CPU and NVIDIA® GeForce® GPU for never-before-seen experiences on a mobile device.

Built-in digital cameras on the front (1.2MP) and rear (5MP) of the Slider allow for easy video chat and digital photography while the Android® 3.0 operating system makes sharing photos by internet, email and social media sites a breeze. The intuitive interface provides user-friendly control via the capacitive touch-screen and optional onboard 3G allows for go-anywhere internet access, making the Slider the ideal device for mobile professionals with work-oriented needs.


Asus Eee Slate EP121:

Keeping with the tablet theme ASUS is looking to step it u p a notch with the ASUS Eee Slate EP121, which is a 12.1″ tablet PC running Windows 7, and boasting a solid core i5 CPU (which for me means full support of all my HD content including BluRay rips). A Bluetooth keyboard, digitizer pen, and folio case are also included. A 32GB and 64GB model will be available. The idea of having a full PC in a tablet is enticing, however, I have a few caveats right now that probably make this more a pipe dream then a potential purchase. First off, Windows 7 is by no means optimized for touch (I have an HP Touchsmart PC running Windows 7 at home). Another issue is that only 32GB or 64GB models will be available. If I am going to be running a full blown O/S this is simply not enough space to take advantage of the Slate to the fullest. Finally there is the issue of price. Currently you can preorder the Eee Slate for USD 999 (32GB) or USD 1,099 (64GB). For that price and the inherent limitations I can’t see justifying the price when you can get a better spec’d laptop for less then that. If the tablet form factor is desired then something like the HP Touchsmart tm2t makes a lot more sense. So I was excited when I first read about the Eee Slate, but after digesting all the information I think that unless ASUS drops the price significantly (I am thinking a 30-40% price cut) the Eee Slate won’t be around for long. Details from ASUS’ website:

The Eee Slate EP121 is designed for users who require a highly portable handheld device that can also run standard office software while multitasking with other applications. Powered with an Intel® Core™ i5 dual-core processor, the Eee Slate features a 12.1” LED-backlit display with a 1280 x 800 resolution and a wide 178° viewing angle, making it perfectly suited for both productivity applications and multimedia entertainment.

Windows® 7 Home Premium ensures full compatibility with a wide range of popular applications controlled by flexible input options thanks to the Eee Slate. The capacitive touch-screen responds instantly to fingertip control for day-to-day use, while the capacitive stylus offers fine precision input and control. An on-screen keyboard is also complimented by support for an external Bluetooth keyboard for traditional desktop use.

The Eee Slate is available with 32GB or 64GB of SSD storage (expandable via SDXC), and up to 4GB of DDR3 RAM. All models have 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 3.0, a 2-megapixel camera, plus two USB 2.0 ports that provide full support for a wide range of standard PC peripherals, along with a mini-HDMI port that is ideal for connecting to external displays.

Motorola Atrix:

This seems to be the most mentioned product from CES 2011. At face value the Motorola Atrix just seems to be positioned as nothing more then another Android phone to hit the growing market. It will be a 4G mobile phone based off of NVidia’s Tegra 2 chip. Where Motorola looks to set this phone apart from the pack is the optional laptop dock which turns the phone essentially into a Netbook. They are also trying to position it as a mini HTPC with HDMI out and a multimedia dock. The idea of using a mobile phone as an HTPC still seems far fetched to me, but you know something, a guy at work has a Samsung Galaxy phone and has been playing movies off it connected to a TV. The big question with the Atrix will be pricing, in particular for the Laptop dock, which is still unknown. Also, we will need to see how well the webtop app works (which launches automatically when the phone is connected to the laptop dock). Whether or not the Atrix is successful, I think we definitely are seeing a big shift in the way smartphones will be used.

Zotac HTPC/Motherboard:

Being the geek that I am nothing excites me more then some PC hardware. Zotac has announced a few products that look very interesting, especially for the HTPC crowd. First off is the ZOTAC H67ITX-A-E WiFi LGA 1155 Mini ITX Intel Motherboard. If you recall last year I built a Mini ITX HTPC around the Zotac H55 motherboard. The Zotac H67 is the next version, positioned to support the second generation Intel core i platform (Sandy Bridge). Included with the new version is support for HDMI 1.4a (3D anyone), USB 3.0, and SATA 6.0 Gb/s. The only thing that could hold this back from being the ultimate HTPC platform and what may keep me from upgrading my H55 is Intel’s lack of proper support for 23.976fps (you can read more about this at Anandtech’s excellent Sandy Bridge review).

Let’s say that building an HTPC is not your thing, you want a solution right out of the box (where is the fun in that???). Well, the Zotac ZBOX Blu-ray AD03 Plus may be the right choice for you. The AD03 is equipped with an AMD E-350 Dual Core APU, Radeon HD 6310 GPU, 2GB RAM (upgradable to 8GB), gigE, BluRay ROM drive, etc… The only thing that needs to be added is an O/S which is not provided. The Radeon HD 6310 should give support for full playback of HD content (including HD Audio bitstreaming). I am not too familiar with the Radeon HD 6310 as a GPU, and doing a quick scan on the internet yielded mixed reviews about performance. I would wait until the reviews start hitting from the likes of Anandtech, but if the AD03 can do flawless BluRay playback (including 3D and full HD Audio support, as well as proper support for 23.976fps) this could be the perfect low profile HTPC for those who don’t want to go the DIY route. Also be sure to check out Missing Remote for some more information on the Zotac lineup.

Final Thoughts:

So that is just a quick list of a few gadgets that caught my attention from CES. Leave a comment if you have any thoughts on the items above or if there was anything else that you were excited to see introduced.





Article by

Hi, my name is Damian, and I'm tech gadget addict! Although I always had some interest in technology, it wasn't until I got my EX470 and more importantly found Mediasmartserver.net, that my interest became an addiction. My goal, aside from world domination and to see the Mets/Broncos win another championship, is to set up the perfect digital home where all my media is available at the click of a button. When I am not writing for Mediasmartserver.net you can find me over at my blog at http://www.adigitalhomeblog.com or follow me on twitter


{ 13 comments }

Jon January 14, 2011 at 9:12 am

Ceton InfiniTV 6 (love my 4) ,MS Media center embedded ,Sandy Bridge (cant wait for extreme version later this year) , a small but good showing by HDBaseT .. i honestly hope that because available in devices this year

Most disappointing by the MS Keynote .. but i can understand not putting all egg into one basket

Damian January 14, 2011 at 9:20 am

I was discussing Embedded with a few guys on twitter yesterday. I am not sure what to make of it. Having a dedicated media player running WMC without the need for an HTPC would be great. However, the big question I have is exactly what control will the OEMs having over implementing Embedded on their devices. The reason why Xbox360 is not an adequate solution for WMC for me is because the environment is locked down with minimal codec support. Will OEMs be locked in to supporting whatever MS natively adds (which means no support for mkv, HD Audio, BluRay, etc…)? If the OEMs can add full codec support (like a Dune or PCH) and full support for plugins (such as Media Browser) then they would have a killer product on their hands IMO. Hopefully we will start getting more info soon on what the OEMs will be capable of.

jam3ohio (jim) January 14, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Damian–

That Ep121 caught my eye, right up until they mention battery life of 3.5 hours. It is full-on Windows so I could take it on the road and run One Note and Excel and Powerpoint to my heart’s content, and use it at home to watch tv on Media Center, stream from the server using Media Player, etc. etc. I could take notes in a business meeting with that thing, and could leave my laptop Stateside next time I am in Europe. But 3.5 hours is way too short. Now give me Core i5, Windows 7, that form factor and 7 hours of battery life, and I’d pay a small premium over an iPad any day. Let’s see how new Sandy Bridge and Fusion chipsets play out; if these can double battery life, I think I’d buy one.

Jim

Damian January 14, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Jim,

Ahh, thanks for bringing up, I meant to discuss concern over the battery life. I am not sure much improvement will be made with the battery life, that is one of the drawbacks of a full O/S. Of course we also know that saying 3.5 hours battery life is probably closer to 2.5-3 hours in real world use. I will definitely be watching closely how this one develops (the thought of streaming to WMC in a tablet is very appealing).

jam3ohio (jim) January 14, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Damin–

Check out the battery life testing on Sandy Bridge here:

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2374911,00.asp

That Core i-7 machine (quad core and very nice i might add!) just got over 6 hours in their testing.

At 6 hours with this form factor, Asus has a sale, and at only $200 over iPad pricing, the only thing I miss is 3g. Which I am not using now anyhow, and can get via my phone’s hotspot function.

Can’t wait to see if this kind of performance improvement will come to this form factor.

Jim

Damian January 14, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Jim

Thanks for sharing, very interesting. I agree, a battery life of 6-7 hours could quickly change my mind.

Damian January 18, 2011 at 8:41 am
jam3ohio (jim) January 18, 2011 at 9:27 am

Yup if battery life can hit 6-8 hours with something snappy under windows 7 then I will buy one. Already told my wife, the family CFO, to upgrade the hardware budget for 2011!

Jim

Awake January 14, 2011 at 2:30 pm

One thing that I do not like about slates is the way that you have to have a separate and very expensive phone plan to use them. They do not integrate into your existing phone plan that you are already paying for. The expense adds up very quickly when you have multiple devices that require separate cellular accounts.

The Motorola Atria is a very good step in the direction of solving that issue, where you don’t need a separate bill because you want access to a bigger screen.

The next step is a slate that uses a phone as it’s brains, where you would slide the phone into the bottom of the slate, and you have a large touchscreen system at no extra carrier cost. We are not quite there, but the Atria superphone tells us that we are almost there.

As far as CES overall… meh… 3D everywhere, and nobody really cares… it will be a standard feature in a couple of years, so no reason to get excited or argue about that. And Microsoft again showed that it is utterly clueless in the consumer market, their big thing for the year being the Kinect, which is an accessory, not a full product. The Microsoft phone (I have one and really like it) could have been released 3 years ago if MS had their act together.

Damian January 14, 2011 at 4:13 pm

I think the hope is that you can tether your existing phone, but I do agree that having another data plan is asking much. I have gotten used to using my iPod touch from my wireless network at home, but do find the appeal in having an additional data plan (even if I cannot justify the cost quite yet).

What did you h ave prior to the MS phone, and do you prefer the MS phone over what you had previously?

Awake January 14, 2011 at 6:04 pm

I tried both the IPhone and the Android, and to tell you the truth the all feel about the same. It’s really the ease of use and price that determined the selection for me. You can get 2 Samsung Focus WP7 phones for less than the price of an iPhone4.

As far as use, the WP7 phone has a very clean display, showing at a glance from the unlock screen your message counts, date, time, phone status, etc. It seems designed for people that ‘use’ a phone, rather than people that ‘play’ with a phone. It has a decent FM tuner and excellent GPS. The app selection is limited but getting better, and you can find just about anything that you need for real productivity. You may not have an app to fly a remote controlled helicopter… but I don’t care about that type of app.

TxDot January 14, 2011 at 5:29 pm

The AC Ryan PlayOn Mini2 caught my eye. http://www.mediastreamingstore.com/ has the drooped the price of the current version to $99 with the new version available for pre-order for $119 and they throw in a wireless USB adapter. The new version of their GUI looks pretty nice. I’m hoping the WAF (wife acceptability factor) is high enough to justify getting the Mini 2.

Chris Daly January 17, 2011 at 9:54 am

ANd if anyone wants a player from Mediastreamnigstore.com they can use the coupon code DEAL to knock $10 off the price!

Chris

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