An Electric World


Yesterday – at CES – was a madhouse. It started out badly, with me missing the Intel press conference where the company announced a new family of processors that will bring the sort of computing power Hollywood harneses to your laptop. The problem with CES is that getting around Vegas during it is like swimming upriver fy dressed. For one thing, the shuttle I took from my hotel (ironically entitled the “Express”) took an hour to get to the convention center. My hotel is about two miles from the convention center. So that was a silly amount of traffic. There was a near-riot on the bus, with passengers brainstorming better transportation ideas: Segways, bikes, hoofing it, a competent bus driver.
Inside the convention center, the crush of humans was even more intense than the crush of cars out on the street. The Las Vegas Convention Center is massive but it was completely packed with humans, gear, and enough LCD monitors to shame the set of Blade Runner. The booths were massive, too. Someone described the Intel booth as a “village.” The Microsoft booth next door (where I played with the beta of Office 2010 (that’s a link to a free download of same) on a variety of snazzy computers – purse sized netbooks, Viliv tablets, stylish desktops, and more) was like its neighboring village.

Microsoft boasts a Microsoft Auto booth this year, featuring in-dash computers running Microsoft products. The Samsung booth was like a sprawling metropolis and, just as if I was in Korea, I was asked not to take pictures. (I pointed to my press pass, though, and they bowed graciously and let me snap away.)

It is a wild, wild world here where everything plugs in, flashes from an LCD screen, blares music, and live streams to the Internet. I spent the first week of 2010 complaining that we don’t have robots and flying cars. This week, I feel like I’m living in the Jetsons 2010 I was told to expect.
Before I head back to the crazy-electric world of consumer electronics for more meetings, I want to share a couple of highlights that, so far, strike me as interesting:

There are lots of ebooks on display from companies I’ve never heard of. They are cute, often inexpensive, and varied in terms of how you get books onto them. But there are a surprising number of them. I’ll have photos more for you soon.
Intel announced a launch of an app store for netbooks that will be very sweet for all of you who get by, on the fly, with a tiny netbook (like I am right now.) These online stores will be branded by the netbook seller (so if you have a Dell, you’d shop at the Dell app store.) But Intel has a Beta store here where you can go right now and download tools to run on your netbook.
Intel also showed a new mobile processor – called Moorestown — that promises to deliver high-speed processing in tiny, mobile devices. I’ll explain this – and some of the gadgets I saw that run on it — in more detail when I can find a quiet corner to write in.
I saw lots of great bags, gadget covers, and netbook sleeves. Again, when I get a minute, I’ll bring you a roundup with lots of photos.

Over in the International section, was a China at CES micro-show. There I found some very cool stuff that will, hopefully, start showing up on store shelves here in the US: Rubber keyboards that roll up, artwork for the home with integrated LCD displays, (above) and lots of mobile gear.

Stay tuned. I’ll have more for you later.

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