CES – TV’s, Cool Phones, and Out of the Ordinary Gizmos

I'm finally back from CES - what a HUGE show!  There were 2,700 exhibitors spread over all 3.2 million square feet of space. Its the biggest show Las Vegas has each year and the whole town is full of technology folks.   I spent a total of about 10 hours walking the show floor and I didn't have time to see everything but some things stand out.   Here are some notes and some pictures from the show... enjoy!

Big, flat panel TV's where simply everywhere, Sharp, Panasonic, Toshiba, Sony, LG, etc. etc. all had dozens of TVs.  There were companies I had never heard of such as Hisense, which private label TV's for many other companies.

Even Westinghouse is manufacturing TV's again!

There were also lots of projectors - the most interesting to me is Samsung's new tiny 640x480 Pocket Imager. Its really tiny and produced a sharp image from its DLP based projection engine. 




It worked well for 4:3 TV and power point presentations.   Given its small size, its not very bright (they demo was in a tented area), but it was respectable.


Of course, the big news was really big TV's.   Many companies have large TV's (60 inch+) including LG.Philips has a 100 inch LCD.  However, Sharp Electronics takes the grand prize with their 108 inch LCD TV...

Note how my Cannon Powershot A710 (no flash) had no trouble catching the fast moving video frame on the Sharp Aquos.   All the major TV manufacturers are promoting technology that makes high motion video much sharper - the demos where really stunning (sorry I don't have a photo).

Of course, there were a gazillion cell phones - they were everywhere where and came in all shapes and sizes.  My favorite was the LG Shine and I think the most interesting was the SoftBank 911SH (a rebranded Sharp phone).  Its not a tiny phone, by any means, but its not really intended to be as its designed for watching TV - it has a built in Tuner (which didn't seem to work well at the show).

The thing that makes this phone quite interesting is its rotating screen.  The mechanism is really smooth and intuitive and when rotated, the phone was quite natural to hold and watch. 

The video demo was really good which isn't surprising given the Sharp Aquos screen.

The phone has a SD card slot and other sites talk about this, but the SoftBank representative was a vague about the video formats it would support, and wether or not it could record TV, or what kind of DRM it would support.

That being said, it looks like this phone would be killer for as a Microsoft phone running some media center software (I wonder if it has enough CPU power and RAM....?)

Next, do you want to go retro?  There were at least four companies selling record players - yes vinyl record players.  Many of these were in combination with a CD player, burners, radio. The highest quality products were those from Crosley.  They also sell "vintage" phones, radios, music boxes and digital juke boxes.  Their products are extremely well made (and no doubt expensive).  I was particular impressed by the woodwork.

Their other products are also quite nice. I particular liked the Traveler Turntable.   It looks 100% vintage. 

Interestingly enough, there were some other "new vintage" items as well such as 40 channel CB radios from Cobra, and a reel-to-reel tape deck. Note that the tape deck has a CD player (I wonder why it isn't a recorder?).   I don't believe the tape deck is really from RCA.

The Corbra representative told me that their CB radio business still runs at about $40 million dollars a year (gross) and is one of their most profitable business units.    He also mentioned that the overall look of their CB radios is identical to the ones they sold in the 70's - this is intentional and due to customer feedback, particular from tuckers who wanted the old look of the original CB radios.

There were some other very interesting things as well such as this Meade telescope and automatic mount (a mere $150,000).  I overheard a couple of the Meade guys talking and the sold two of the mounts at the show.... amazing.

Both the mount and the telescope were very impressive and - to my novice eye - are extremely well made and engineered.   Just a few years ago these would have been considered fine scientific and professional instruments.     Today, they are targeted at the high end semi-pro market.

 The Cobra folks also had another set of interesting gizmos - speed camera detection devices.   These really don't detect speed cameras, but they function as radar detects for speed cameras in Europe and especially the UK.  These devices are small and use GPS and a database to provide a warning when you are driving in range of a speed camera.  Corbra (and several other companies) provide a subscription service that updates the location database.    Its about three British Pounds a month for the subscription.


Well, we live in a science fiction world - Iris scanning has long been a staple of movies and books and its been predicted anecdotally on the web for years.  We'll, its here now for real.  LG is selling "large numbers" of its Iris scanners to large data centers, banks, governments and other entities that need high physical security.   

What I found interesting about this product is that its well... a product.   This technology is well out of the lab and prototype stage and (as I'm told by the LG rep) is reliable and robust.  Indeed, the scanner itself was very well built and had an institutional feel I would expect from a high end security device.

This scanner is a 3'd generation design and includes facial recognition as well.  

We'll... that's enough CES info for one post!  I have some pictures from the 409,000 square foot North concourse that was packed full of Car audio gear - its just amazing.   I'll post some pictures from that part of the show in a day or two.

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