In-Depth

CES 2012 Tech Wrap Up: The Good, The Bad and the Weird

With CES in the books for 2012, we present you with some of the winners, losers and head scratchers of the show.

The International Consumer Electronics Show is the place where consumers and press get their first glimpses of upcoming technology, gadgets and electronic toys. Every year manufacturers wheel out what they think you won't be able to live without in the near future. Some end up as crowd favorites, others tend to fizzle out and some items just leave you puzzled as to who would actually purchase it.

With CES in the books for 2012 (it wrapped up last week in Las Vegas), we present you with some of the winners, losers and head scratchers of the show.

THE GOOD: OLED's Bigger Picture in a Smaller Frame

While organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology has almost been the standard fare in high-end smartphones and tablets in the past couple of years, the technology is spreading its wings to large ultra-thin televisions.

Both Samsung and LG presented the crowd with two 55-inch monitors utilizing  OLED display (previous OLED televisions on the market have been very small, with LG's only other OLED option coming in a 15-inch monitor). While providing an incredibly detailed and clear picture, the benefits of OLED technology is the size and weight of the devices.

LG's entry, the 55EM960V, which won CNET's Best of Show 2012,  is less than 0.15 inches deep and weighs around 16.5 lbs., which is more than less the weight of a typical LED television on the market.

However, don't expect to see an explosion of OLED sales once released sometime in 2012. It's estimated that LG's monitor will run for around $8,000.

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Attendees take a look at LG's 55-inch OLED TV -- the largest OLED television at the show. Source: LG

THE GOOD: Ultrabooks' Next Phase

Intel's line of ultra-thin, high performance laptops made their debut on the market in October of last year. Featuring the Sandy Bridge i5 and i7 processors, and weighing less than 3 lbs., these laptops are seen as Intel's attempt to sway the average consumer away from tablet devices and back to PCs.

CES 2012 featured the next wave of Ultrabooks, which included devices running on Intel's improved Ivy Bridge line of processors, PC/tablet hybrids, and one that looks to take the crown for the thinnest laptop on the market (Acer Aspire S5).  

This year's show proved that the race is definitely on to see who can produce the lightest, thinnest laptop that still provides all the functionality of a PC.

And many, including Laptop Magazine, think Acer's entry tops them all. The 13-inch Aspire S5, which Acer says is the thinnest at 0.59 inches thick, also only weighs 2.9 lbs. It also features the ability to completely wake up from sleep mode in 1.5 seconds.

 

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Acer's thin Ultrabook was a crowd favorite at this year's CES. Source: Acer

THE BAD: Microsoft Limps Away from CES

Going into this year's show, Microsoft announced that CES 2012 would be the company's last. Including in that would be the fact that this would be the last time Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer would make his yearly keynote.

So, did Microsoft leave on a high note by pulling the curtain back completely from Windows 8 and Windows 8 tablet devices, announce a follow-up to its profitable and popular Xbox 360 or present something new and different that caught the crowd for a surprise? No, no and no.

Instead, we got a marketing pitch (high in promise, low in details) on why Windows 8's Metro will be a game-changer,  Microsoft's continued effort to finally get some consumer attention from Windows Phone 7 devices and some news on a Sesame Street game for the Xbox 360 (seriously).

The only juicy nugget to come out of Ballmer's speech was the announcement that a version of the Kinect, the company's motion sensor add-on for the Xbox 360, will be coming to Windows on Feb. 1. However, some of the wind was taken out of the announcement sails when the device was confirmed to arrive $100 more expensive than its console counterpart.

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Microsoft's Steve Ballmer took the stage to present the company's last CES keynote. Source: Microsoft

THE BAD: Research in Motion Needed a Lifeline

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion didn't have the best 2011. Its PlayBook tablet has failed to make a splash with consumers and its smartphone line continues to drop in overall market share (its total OS usage shrank to 11.0 percent in the third quarter of 2011).

It needed a big CES, something that would have the crowd still discussing its relevance. Whether this means a complete fundamental change of the company or the announcement of a new "wow" factor device, RIM could not phone this one in.

Instead, it announced a new OS for the PlayBook and BlackBerry.

On the tablet side, the new PlayBook 2.0's biggest change is that it now includes an e-mail and calendar client for BlackBerry users (something that should have obviously been in the first model).

While the company is now having somewhat of a fire sale on the devices ($300 for the 64 GB model), it may be too little/too late to capture the interest of the consumer market when there are cheap tablets like Amazon's Kindle Fire and Barnes and Noble's Nook Tablet that are hundreds of dollars less and operate on different forms of the  Android OS -- which has the level of developer support that RIM could only wish for.

As for the upcoming BlackBerry 10 OS, the only details we were given were the name and that it will only run on one device, code-named "London." That's it.

THE WEIRD: The Future of Transportation? Nope

Wishing you could unicycle your way to work without the hassles of pedaling?  The Solowheel, showed off at this year's show, may be for you.

According to the company's Web site, "The Solowheel is the smallest, greenest, most convenient 'People Mover' ever invented."  The electrical one-wheeled vehicle is controlled by your tilting body and stays upright thanks to a gyro stabilizer.

While this looks fun (for about five minutes) in a novelty sense, I'm not quite sure the world is ready to commute via motorized unicycles. And the world isn't ready to spend $1,795.00 on a device that will pretty much just be a toy.

THE WEIRD: Eye Asteroids

It's Asteroids. Controlled with your eyes.

 

About the Author

Chris Paoli is the site producer for Redmondmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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