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CES 2010 – Some Thoughts

January 13th, 2010 No comments

logo CES 2010   Some Thoughts

Being a gadget blog, it’s kind of weird not being at the Consumer Electronics Show.  Neither Quang nor I could make the show this year due schedule conflicts.  At the same time, being away from CES gives me a sense of perspective on the show that being submerged in the whirl wouldn’t necessarily provide.  So from 3000 miles away, here’s my take on CES 2010.

Tablets tablets tablets

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HP Slate (image courtesy Engadget)

Everyone showed off tablets.  Windows 7’s built-in tablet functionality makes this viable from an implementation perspective, since that feature is built-in already.  But because vendors are relying on Microsoft to provide a feature set, the tablets are boring.  There’s no product differentiation – sure some are smaller or bigger, fatter or thinner, but from the pictures I’ve seen and the product snapshots I’ve read, there’s nothing really revolutionary about any of them.  In my mind, that further magnifies Microsoft’s increasing irrelevance in the growth of mobile platforms.  The Microsoft keynote was, from all reports I’ve read, boring.  Even with Ballmer’s hyperantics, they really didn’t have much to show.  Right now, the only products they’ve got that’s generating any kind of buzz are Bing and XBox360.  Project Natal is interesting, but it’s a platform that presumes something many XBox360 owners might not necessarily have – room to move. I’d guess that a large number of gamers play in their rooms, and unless you’re wealthy the typical room doesn’t have the space to use Natal easily.  The old handheld controls may be archaic but they also don’t require a ton of space to flail around in.  Show me someone using Natal in a 10’x10′ bedroom with a full size bed, a dresser, bookshelf, desk, and piles of clothes on the floor and I’ll believe in its viability.  Otherwise, I’m guessing it will be destined for a small portion of the population.

Ebook Reader, who’s got an ebook reader?

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Skiff Reader (image courtesy Crave Blog)

At CES 2010, it seemed everyone had an ebook reader.  They were practically giving them away with entry.  Many of the online vids I’ve seen make me less than enthused.  I guess I am just disappointed by their lack of speed.  It shouldn’t be a case where I press a ‘next page’ key and have to wait for the screen to refresh.  I know e-ink is slow due to the technology and its current state, but as those e-ink screens get bigger and bigger, the refresh lag gets more and more disturbing.  The few 8.5″x11″ ebook readers I’ve seen really magnify the response rate issues, and will be one of the key issues preventing fast adoption.  That and publishers’ refusal to change their paradigms.  Did I mention that I saved the publishing industry?

3D TV

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Intel 3D w/o Glasses (image via Engadget)

Too soon.  Too expensive.  Wait til CES 2012.  Plus would you really want to wear those glasses all the time?  And keep spares around for guests?  Annoying.

Mobile Tech

lephone CES 2010   Some Thoughts

Levnovo LePhone (image via Engadget)

Lots of new smartphones.  Lots of new Android-based mobile tech.  There’s going to be an interesting war between carriers and device manufacturers.  I don’t know that the carriers will ever be relegated to dumb pipe status, unless Google is successful in licensing a swath of spectrum and developing it itself.  But carriers will definitely be shifting to more of a partnership model than a “we tell you what to make” model.  Verizon will be the carrier to watch – if they start shifting to a more device-friendly stance, then you’ll know the power balance has equalized.  For all their talk about network access and being able to hook any device onto their airspace, I’ve seen remarkably few devices that actually do this.

Furthermore, as smartphones become more powerful and capable, many single-use devices (navigation, pictureframe, ebook readers, etc) are going to be obsoleted.  I’m just not willing to pay for three or more different devices that are best in class when I can buy one device that does on OK job at all the things I need it to.  Especially as cellphone-based cameras become more powerful and capable, that market is going to fragment into a low end and high end, with little in between.  ‘Good enough’ is becoming the deathnell of many consumer electronics companies that can’t adjust to the times.

iPhone and the unicorn known as the iSlate/iTablet/iPadd/iTouch Supersized

tablet apple CES 2010   Some Thoughts

Mythical iSlate (image via TG Daily)

Let’s face it – CES 2010 really showed the dominance of the iPhone as a platform (if it wasn’t apparent before).  There was basically an expo-within-the-expo with iLounge’s iPhone Pavilion.  But the items identified as Best Of 2010 didn’t really impress me all that much.  The risk with having such an iPhone-dependent area is that the products being displayed are towards the tail end of Apple’s development cycle.  So far, the iPhone timeline tends to be that June/July announces the new hardware version of the iPhone/iPod Touch, followed in the late January timeframe for the latest update to the iPhone/iTouch OS (after CES) followed by Mac-based updates a few months later.  So the products being shown at CES are for a form factor/OS that will soon be previous generation once the Apple announcement cycle starts.  It’s gotta be painful for the manufacturers, since they’re constantly behind the development curve (especially given Apple’s notorious secrecy levels concerning upcoming products and features).

Overall

CES 2010 seemed more upbeat than CES 2009.  All in all, however, it seemed that this CES as good a one to miss as any.  Nothing really revolutionary seems to have been announced, and the elephant in the room was definitely Apple’s pending Jan. 27th announcement of its Jesus tablet (if that’s indeed what they are going to do).  Apple’s got a LOT of pressure to deliver something truly revolutionary, which is in a way a really sad testament to the state of consumer electronics.  So many companies out there vying for a piece of the consumer dollar yet only one company is consistently able to deliver something that people seem to want.  Why do Microsoft, Dell, HP, and the like even have R&D budgets?  They should just slavishly copy Apple.  Oh wait, they already do.  Even Google, which is trying to do something revolutionary with Android and Chrome OS, is going to get bogged down by their total lack of understanding of the consumer space.  Looks like it’s going to be an Apple world….

Categories: CES, Editorial Tags:

Pacemaker Pocket-Sized DJ Tonium P666

May 7th, 2009 No comments

I love music and used to DJ at a local college radio station (WKDU) in Stockton, New Jersey. Unlike my fellow DJ’s I never liked carrying around luggage of records and CDs. I love the iPod and iPhone but even their interface is limited in how you interact with the music. When I went to CES 2009 I got to demo the Pacemaker Pocket-Sized DJ Tonium P666

pacemaker dj Pacemaker Pocket Sized DJ Tonium P666

Pacemaker Pocket-Sized DJ Tonium P666

It functions basically like 2 micro digital turn tables so you can mix and scratch your downloaded music (legally right?). The Pacemaker has two seperate audio channels so you can play two tracks by side.  I was never good at beatmatching. If you aren’t either, you’re in luck, the beatmatching is easily done by the click of a button. The Pocket DJ also comes with world class audio effects and crossfader to spice up your mixes.

pacemaker software Pacemaker Pocket Sized DJ Tonium P666

Pacemaker Pocket-Sized DJ Software

You can even save your mixes and edit them with their free desktop software Pacemaker Editor. Once you’re done, you can upload them to their online community and share it with everyone. Doesn’t everyone have their own social network these days?

The price to DJ ultra-portability doesn’t come cheap though. I was a bit shocked of the price the $499.99 price. But if you are a professional DJ, the Pacemaker will pay for itself. No more bad beatmatching that breaks people’s legs while they dance on the floor unless you plan on playing NSYNC on a Goth/Industrial night.

Tonium P666 Pacemaker Pocket-Sized DJ System, 60 GB Pacemaker Pocket Sized DJ Tonium P666

FEATURES

  • Auto beatmatch – Instantly sync tempo and phase of two loaded tracks by the click of a button.
  • Timestretch – Alter and set the tempo of a track +/- 100% without affecting pitch/key.
  • Pitch speed – Alter and set track tempo +/- 100% and pitch/key +/- one octave in parallel.
  • Bend speed – Nudge a track into phase.
  • Beat graph – Visually monitor relative drifting in tempo and/or sync.
  • Loop – Create synchronized loops on the fly; set and adjust in-point and/or end-point, split from in-point or end-point, double from in-point or end-point, exit loop and re-loop. One loop per track will be permanently saved until altered.
  • Reverse – Flip playback direction
  • Cue play – Play track from cue point and revert to cue point when releasing cue button.
  • Cue control
  • Vinyl pause – Track is halted in a vinyl-like pause letting you scrub, search and define cue point.
  • Headphones crossfader – Dynamically adjust what channel blend to listen to in the headphones.
  • Effects control – Hi-cut/Lo-cut, Wah and Crush, to +/- 1.0.
  • Beat FX – Add and adjust two-parameter audio effects Echo, Delay, Trans and Roll to dry/wet + 0-100% and Time at 1/8, 1/4, 3/8, 1/2, 3/4, 1, 3/2, 2, 4, 8, and Reverb to dry/wet + 0-100% and size to + 0-100%.
  • Key – Temporarily adjust the two-parameter function Key; transpose a track key +/- one octave in increments of halftones, and/or tune a track pitch +/- 100% one halftone.
  • Kill-all – Instantly mute or re-engage activated audio effects.
  • Effects crossfader – Optionally incorporate +/- 100% Bass or +/- 1.0 Filter effects into the crossfader.

How To Have A Web 3.0 Website

May 1st, 2009 No comments

Just when you think you are up to date with the latest technology platform running Web 2.0 principles. Web 3.0 is now upon us. In fact, this entire post is written with Web 3.0 technology while I was in bed.

Just what is Web 3.0? Well beyond the usual content management, social networking and widgets that weere introduced in Web 2.0, this is really about mobility and integration of devices.

GadgetMETER.com is built on the WordPress blogging platform and uses a plugin that renders the pages to various mobile devices.  If you view www.gadgetmeter.com on your iPhone, this website will be rendered very appropriately. I highly recommend having your own hosted WordPress installation rather than using wordpress.com or blogger.com because essentially, you own your own site and can install additional plugins without restrictions relatively easy.

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Web 3.0 Example - Our own GadgetMETER.com site

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Web 3.0 Example - iPhone 4G Post

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Web 3.0 Example - Website Pages

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Web 3.0 Example - Website Categories

Mobile Plugins
There are various free WordPress plugins to convert your site for mobile devices. Feel free to experiment and install it. There is usually a few configuration you can do (but not required). These plugins detect the devices and renders the proper theme with managed content. GadgetMETER uses a combination of WPtouch: Mobile Plugin + Theme for WordPress, WPhone Admin Plugin, and WordPress iPhone App by Automattic, Inc.

Once you have the plugins installed and activated, just visit your site on a mobile device like the iPhone.

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Web 3.0 Example - WPhone Admin

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Web 3.0 Example - WPhone Admin Menus

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Web 3.0 Example - Write Your Post

To capture photos and upload to WordPress, we use the WordPress iPhone App since the web based mobile WPTouch doesn’t allow file uploads (yet).

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Web 3.0 Example - Upload Your Pictures

Now, save your draft and go back to WPTouch and set the version type (draft, scheduled, published) or assign an author

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Web 3.0 Example - Assign Author

Using Web 3.0 is an absolutely wonderful experience. We will be live blogging at CES 2010 using the iPhone capturing photos at booths and uploading it here. We also have a Twitter Plugin that updates our twitter tweets automatically whenever a new blog post is updated. Another feature of Web 3.0 is write once, publish everywhere.

WEB 3.0 FEATURES

  • Integration between mobile devices, Web, and Internet
  • Even easier to use
  • Write once, publish everywhere
  • Portability
  • Usability

Another example of a Web 3.0 website is my personal site www.quangly.com. (yeah, yeah, it’s a shameless a-hem, plug). It uses the almost exact principles and plugins of GadgetMETER.

The new Sony Style/Comcast Labs store

March 22nd, 2009 1 comment

I know it’s rare that Philadelphia gets to be in the spotlight of the tech world but when you have the largest cable company in the country in your home town, sometimes things work out.  When I heard that Sony and Comcast were opening a new showcase store in the Comcast Center, I figured I had to check it out.  So here’s the scoop!  All the pictures in the post are linked to full size images in the below gallery.  Check out the full size pics – most of the pictures are landscape, and they look funny when viewed in their compressed state in the post.

p1010921 168x300 The new Sony Style/Comcast Labs storeThe Comcast Tower itself is an imposing site.  It’s the first LEED-certified office tower in Philadelphia and is currently the tallest building in the city.

Inside are two really cool things.

p10109071 168x300 The new Sony Style/Comcast Labs store

p10109061 168x300 The new Sony Style/Comcast Labs store

The first is a giant sculpture called Humanity in Motion by world-renowned artist and sculptor Jonathan Borofsk.  It features a series of life-sized statues of people moving across the vast space that is the interior entryway of the Comcast Center.  The sheer size of the interior is hard to capture on film – I was craning my camera almost to vertical to capture these images.

The second is the Comcast Experience, which is the largest four-millimeter LED screen in the world.

p10109201 1024x576 The new Sony Style/Comcast Labs storeSpanning 83.3 feet wide by 25.4 feet high, the 2,100 square foot video wall brings spectacular original programming to visitors 18 hours a day.  The images have to be seen to be believed.  The pictures don’t really capture how high resolution the screen really is.

p10109191 1024x576 The new Sony Style/Comcast Labs storeComcast projected the Obama inauguration on this thing – apparently it was like being there (except warm).  If you’re ever in the city, definately check it out.  OK enough filler – lets get to the meat!

Here’s the main signage for the Sony Style/Comcast Labs store.  Pretty impressive right?

p1010913 1024x576 The new Sony Style/Comcast Labs store

Unfortunately, that sign is located in the middle of the store (which is basically a hallway with a cul-de-sac where Sony set up some stuff.  The Sony Style/Comcast Labs experience is, to put it mildly, underwhelming.  There’s a Sony Style store in nearby King of Prussia (home of the second largest mall in the country) which is much more interesting.  This “showcase” feels really small in comparison.

p1010909 1024x576 The new Sony Style/Comcast Labs store

I’m pretty sure I missed a part of the store that’s off to the right of the picture above.  There’s no real “layout” to the store, so I’m going to excuse myself for that oversight – I think a lot of people will end up missing it.

p1010908 1024x576 The new Sony Style/Comcast Labs store

The picture above is where you first gaze upon the store – you come down the stairs into the entrance to the Food Court and off on your right is Sony Style.  There’s not really any big signage to indicate that this is there.  Instead of something really fancy to draw the eye, you walk down into a display of…

p1010910 1024x576 The new Sony Style/Comcast Labs storecameras.  Yea, I know – thrilling, right?  There are some other gizmos and geegaws, plus an area to try out the various VAIOs.  Check out the VAIO-P – that thing is totally cool.  And tiny!

p1010914 1024x576 The new Sony Style/Comcast Labs store

My son is a tad over 4 ft tall.  His hands look normal sized against that keyboard.  And the screen resolution is actually not bad at all.

p1010916 1024x576 The new Sony Style/Comcast Labs store

Finally, there’s a section dedicated to the PS3.  Nothing special to write home about here either.

p1010917 1024x576 The new Sony Style/Comcast Labs store

All in all, we were through the place in about 10 minutes, and that was with taking pictures.  I can’t see how it can host more than a small handful of customers – the lunch crowd at the Food Court would probably overwhelm the staff.  I’d post more pictures but about this time was when the nice employee came over to tell me that photos aren’t really encouraged.  Oops.

And I checked out the DOCSIS 3.0 connected laptops.  Yes, they’re fast but not so fast that I was in awe.  It’s about equivalent to being on a hardwire network connection.  I’m wondering if they hadn’t really turned that on yet because the place just opened on Tuesday.  I’m hoping it will evolve over time and become more of an “experience” but I’m not holding my breath.

The Phone Watch by LG

February 22nd, 2009 No comments
lgs 3g touch water phone2 The Phone Watch by LG

The 3G Touch Watch

It seems that science fiction and action movies have paved the way for the phone watch by LG. This watch is a touch screen that premiered at CES 2009. The phone includes a built-in camera for video telephony. It also features 7.2Mbps HSDPA network support and Bluetooth connectivity. The screen on the phone watch is a more 1.43 inch touchscreen. It is also water resistant for you water fanatics. Music folks, you won’t be disappointed. It can play MP3 through the built in small speakers.

Via Gadget Spy

Categories: Cell Phone, CES, Electronics, Gadgets Tags: , , , ,

Does Size Really Matter?

February 18th, 2009 No comments

Here at GadgetMETER we recently featured Panasonic’s new 103 inch television.  As it turns out, the 103 inch plasma screen tv is not the biggest one.  Panasonic one upped themselves with a 150 inch version.

Before all of you out there with your average sized 36 inchers start to get self concious, it is important to note that it is improbable that the 150 incher will be available for sale to the public anytime soon.  So, there really is not need to feel ashamed or embarrassed about having a smaller television.  Besides, you would have to wonder where a TV that large could be kept.  It is unlikely that most people have enough room in their house, and on their walls to accomodate a 150 inch television.  Even if you could, you would have to watch it from the back yard in an attempt to preserve your eyesight.

Just to put things in perspective, check out the pictures and see how the size of the TV measures up against the average sized man.

Panasonic%20150%20inch%20TV Does Size Really Matter?

Panasonic 150" HDTV

Categories: CES, Gadgets Tags: , , ,

Touch “Air” Hockey on Plasma TV

February 18th, 2009 No comments

Endgadget publicly unveiled what could be the first of a new range of innovative table games.  Panasonic unveiled a new 103 inch plasma T.V. which utilizes the multi-touch technology allowing users to play “air” or table hockey.

The plasma TV market got a bit smaller recently as technology companies Vizio and Pioneer announced that they were done competing in the Plasma TV market.  It seems that Panasonic has just begun.  The huge 103 inch television is almost double the size of any “normal” TV for sale today.  Adding in the multi-touch technology makes the TV almost seem like a grossly oversized smartphone.  Perhaps, they will add other “smartphone” games to these TV’s in the future, as an extra perk for buyers.

What does this mean for the future of the table gaming industry?  Should we expect Panasonic Multi-Touch Billiards or Foosball anytime soon?  Don’t count on it…But keep your eyes peeled for more innovation.

Categories: CES, Electronics, TV Tags: , , ,