Monday, January 4, 2010

Looking forward to CES 2010

The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) will be held in Las Vegas this week, and more than 100,000 people are expected to turn up to see 20,000 new products and even more old ones. It's still the main focus for the global electronics industry, though Google is expected to announce its Nexus One phone on Tuesday, before the show opens, and Apple will announce its iSlate/Tablet/oversized iPod Touch/whatever at a later date.

One of the main battles will be the one I reported through the second half of last year: between Intel-powered netbooks (which are selling like hot cakes) and ARM-based smartbooks (which barely exist, yet). The Intel-powered netbooks will take some big steps forward with the use of Intel's new Pine Trail chipset -- several dozen new machines are expected. But there should also be the chance to see some working smartbooks with ARM Cortex chips running one of the plethora of Linuxes.

Touch-screen tablet computers are also expected to appear again. Firms have been trying to flog them since the GridPAD, which -- pre-Windows -- ran Microsoft MS DOS, and the WebPads of the late 1990s. Microsoft has had several goes at the market with PC Companions running Windows CE, the Tablet PC edition of Windows XP, and its Origami design, without selling significant numbers. But it might be an idea whose time has finally come.

Following the success of Amazon's Kindle ebook reader -- another idea that goes back more than a decade -- I'm expecting to see lots of ebook readers. In particular, MSI is expected to show a twin-screen model. I'm also expecting at least a couple of companies to try ebooks with colour screens, which look attractive but can greatly reduce battery life.

Yet another old idea, 3D, could also get some traction. There must have been some sort of 3D TV shown at practically every CES in the past decade. Thanks to the recent success of 3D movies, there should be even more this year. How many will reach the shops and be bought by grateful punters is another matter, but the market can't really get any smaller.

But the real fun of CES is finding the oddball products you could never have anticipated. Of course, almost all of these disappear without trace. However, if you were only going to report the sort of Windows-based PC that's actually going to take the vast majority of the PC market, it would be hard to justify going to CES….

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