The holidays have passed, 2011 is in the rear view, and 2012 is giving us a lot to look forward to. While you may be enjoying all the innovative technology that is offered by some of your holiday purchases, the future has much more in store. Luckily, you don
The 2012 Consumer Electronics Show kicks off this week in Las Vegas, with everyone from the largest manufacturer to the smallest app maker converging on the city’s convention center. but what will we see? More tablets? 3DTVs? Here’s a look at what will be making an appearance at this year’s show, according to PCMag analysts.
Not every hot cell phone will make an appearance at CES given that Mobile World Congress is right around the corner. AT&T will likely talk up its 4G LTE rollout and we’ll probably hear more about the Windows-based Nokia phones. Sprint is also holding an event at the show, but T-Mobile and Verizon are being rather low-key this year. Sony Ericsson, however, is trying to rebrand itself as Sony and is holding a “bewildering array of press events and announcements,” PCMag mobile analyst Sascha Segan said. for more, see CES 2012 Preview: Cell Phones.
Tablets and Ereaders
Save room for dessert—specifically Ice Cream Sandwiches. this year’s CES will include a number of tablets—some cheap, some quad-core, and many trying to be the best Android 4.0 tablet on the market. Acer, Lenovo, Toshiba, and Viewsonic will all be showing off new devices, and Samsung, Sony and Motorola might, as well. the ereader space will likely be rather quiet, since Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Sony, and Kobo just unveiled revamped devices for the holiday season. for more, see CES 2012 Preview: Tablets and Ereaders.
Microsoft and Intel are poised to loom over the computing segment of CES 2012 with a pair of much-anticipated new products—Windows 8 and the Ivy Bridge processor line. unfortunately, neither product will actually be ready for primetime by this week. A Windows 8 beta is expected next month, but an actual release date has yet to be announced. Ivy Bridge, the successor to Sandy Bridge, is expected in the April timeframe. nonetheless, expect both companies to talk up their upcoming PC innovations—at separate keynotes, press conferences, and on the floor. Until then, the name of the game will likely be ultrabook—a new category of Intel-based, ultraportable laptops first announced in May. for more, see CES 2012 Preview: Laptops.
The real reason to buy a desktop is the simple fact that you still need a large screen, a real keyboard and pointing device to do “real work.” Expect new all-in-one PCs, a segment that has grown from an Apple-dominated niche to one of the more profitable PC categories. Windows 8 will also play a role at CES—the OS is optimized to work with ARM processor-powered devices like larger tablets, so the same Windows 8 programs you buy for Windows 8 desktops and laptops will work on Windows 8 tablets, too. for more, see CES 2012 Preview: Desktop PCs.
HDTVs and Home Theater
Consumers have been slow to adopt 3DTVs, a major part of CES 2011, but manufacturers will likely still be pushing the sets this year, with some enhancements in glasses-free technology. but also expect more wired sets, from HDTVs with built-in WiDi to the next-generation of Google TV offerings. Despite a reported slow start in Japan, meanwhile, Sony will likely show off the PlayStation Vita, set to debut in February. and of course, various manufacturers will be competing to display the largest high-definition TVs imaginable. LG has already said it will unveil an 84-inch 3DTV. for more, see CES 2012 Preview: HDTVs and Home Theater.
Given this is the Consumer Electronics show, the focus will surely be on consumer cameras rather than pro models. Expect more mirrorless devices, as well as faster cameras that will speed boot times and reduce recycle time and shutter lag. Like most products at CES, there will likely be a Web-based component, to help you get those photos on sites like Twitter and Facebook. PCMag camera analyst Jim Fisher is also curious how Kodak will fare this year; “to say that the company has had a rough year as of late is an understatement,” he wrote. for more, see CES 2012 Preview: Digital Cameras.
Most of the projectors being launched at the show are decidedly on the small side, yet they’re brighter, and have higher resolution and more features than ever. Most will be pico projectors, which are small enough to fit into a pants pocket, if not a shirt pocket, and include features like Wi-Fi, media player capability, and customized operating systems like Android. CES attendees should also see some new LED-based palmtop projectors—slightly larger and brighter than picos— rated in the 200-500 lumen range. for more, see CES 2012 Preview: Projectors.
What do you hope to see? Let us know in the comments.
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The Lenovo IdeaPad Z480.
LAS VEGAS–Sometimes you just can’t come up with a good angle on how to spin a laptop update.
In the case of the Lenovo IdeaPad Z, G, and Y series updates announced atCES, consider these more of the same, with better graphics.
That’s not bad at all, but we expect little updates like these every year: these IdeaPads certainly aren’t out to surprise. because Intel’s next-generation Ivy Bridge mobile processors won’t be available for laptops right away, these IdeaPad updates are indicative of what we’re seeing on laptops that aren’t ultrabooks: small tweaks, nothing fancy.
The IdeaPad Y480 and Y580 are part of Lenovo’s high-end media/gaming series. JBL speakers and an optional TV tuner accompany a 1,920×1,080-pixel-resolution display on the 15-inch Y580. Graphics options include up to an Nvidia GeForce GTX660M GPU. They’ll be available in April, starting at $899.
The IdeaPad Z380, Z480, and Z580 are updates to the Z series we reviewed and liked quite a bit last year. the Zs are midrange in price, full of upgrade options ranging from Blu-ray to graphics up to an Nvidia GeForce GT640M, and come decked in six candy colors. They range in size from 13 to 15 inches, as you’d expect from the model names. the Z series is available in April as well, starting at $599.
Finally, the G480, G580, and G780 are 14-, 15-, and 17-inch budget laptops, but with dedicated Nvidia graphics and Blu-ray options as well. These will be available in June, starting at $399.
Click through to see all the various laptops, but we warn you: they’re not much to look at.
At last year’s Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas, you couldn’t throw your schwag bag across the show floor without hitting a 3-D television or Android tablet. this year’s hottest gadget? It looks like it will be the ultrabook.
Super thin and remarkably light, ultrabooks are expected from all the major PC manufacturers. Tablets aren’t going away by any means, but you can expect CES 2012 to be dominated by this emerging notebook category that’s being heavily pushed by Intel.
Intel, in fact, coined and trademarked ultrabook as a marketing term, using it to differentiate high-performance, ultra-portable, Intel-based notebooks from more mainstream, bottom-feeding notebooks and tablets. Apple proved to the world that this product category has legs via the success of its MacBook Air, and now Intel (and its partners) want a piece of the action too.
Intel says that to qualify as an ultrabook, a notebook must meet stringent criteria: It must weigh no more than 3.1 lbs, be no more than 0.71 inches thick, and provide five-plus hours of battery life. Even more germane to the consumer experience, it must boast flash-based storage, and incorporate Intel’s Rapid start Technology for speedy boot times.
At CES 2012, you can expect to see 30 to 50 ultrabook models from Dell, HP, Toshiba, Acer, Asus and Lenovo, a few of which already have ultrabooks in their arsenals of shipping products. most of next year’s ultrabooks will be in the $1,000 to $1,200 price range, and that’s a problem, according to display Search analyst Richard Shim, who says these devices need to be priced around $699 to appeal to mainstream consumers.
“The challenge is that you’re trying to make a premium product mainstream,” Shim says. “It’s sort of an oxymoron, because as soon as it’s mainstream, it’s not premium anymore.”
Forrester analyst David Johnson says, “Apple has proven that people will pay a premium for style, but only time will tell if that magic can be applied to ultrabooks intended for Windows.”
Although ultrabooks are a response to consumer demand for more tablet-like computing experiences, they won’t be displacing the tablet at CES 2012. “I think ultrabooks and tablets will share dual billing,” Shim says of this year’s CES. “They offer kind of the same experience, so ultrabooks might be the headliner, but tablets are the next act.”
Forrester analyst David Johnson adds, “while the ultrabooks are thin, light and offer instant-on convenience, the tablet will still have a place in the computer bag for reading, reviewing documents, and informal discussions or presentations.”
As far as specs and features announced at next week’s CES, don’t expect any huge changes from the ultrabooks we’ve already seen. Your average ultrabook will have a 14-inch screen, Intel Core i5 processor, and between 128GB and 256GB of SSD storage.
“At this stage, it’s still hardware design and price competition. Who can get thinner, lighter,” Shim says. so, while we probably won’t see any one-pound ultrabooks this year, there are other ways an ultrabook might distinguish itself from the competition.
Manufacturers could use more “exotic case materials and innovative designs,” Johnson says. Samsung’s Series 9, for example, is made of Duralumin alloy, a material that is also used in aircraft manufacture. Battery life, display quality and screen resolution are other areas that ultrabook makers can capitalize on.
Johnson hopes to see a few models built to AMD’s “Ultrathin” standards, potentially based on the company’s new Brazos platform and Radeon HD 7000 graphics. Though, of course, lacking Intel silicon, these models won’t really be dictionary-definition ultrabooks.
“Ultimately, the real value will be when you complement that with software, and Windows 8 will help with that,” Shim says.
Windows 8 won’t be shipping until mid-2012 at the earliest. this means ultrabooks won’t really begin to shine until later this year and early next year — we’re just in the “build-up phase” right now, Shim says.
Johnson says Intel’s 22nm Ivy Bridge processors will drive a new crop of Ultrabooks towards the middle of 2012. we could also see “retina”-quality displays up to 2880×1800 resolution arriving toward the end of the year. Other updates to expect: higher-capacity Lithium-Polymer batteries and ever larger SSD capacities becoming available as new models are released.
What about desktops and high-performance notebooks in 2012?
“There will always be a segment of the audience looking for higher performance systems,” Shim says. “Just like with cars, there’s guys looking for muscle machines and hot rods.”
The Viewsonic ViewPad E70 brings ICS to the masses. If you can deal with the low resolution.
LAS VEGAS–You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs, and apparently the same goes for bringing Ice Cream Sandwich to a sub-$200tablet. At least for ViewSonic. The company’s ViewPad E70 offers an ICS experience for less than $200, but made a few sacrifices to get there.
The E70 sports a 7-inch screen with a 800×480-pixel resolution. That’s two-thirds fewer pixels than most 7-inch tablets, which usually house 1,280×800-pixel screens.
And you can definitely see the difference in quality. Text on the E70 looks “pixel-ly” with distracting aliasing visible around the edges of icons.
That’s not to mention the narrow viewing angle that doesn’t do the screen quality any favors. also, ViewSonic went with a single-core 1GHz CPU as its brains and only includes 4GB of memory for storage.
Still, for the price you get front and back cameras, Mini-HDMI, Micro- and Mini-USB (for power), and a microSD card slot, which supports up to 32GB of expanded memory.
Look for the ViewPad late in the first quarter. while I commend the company for getting the tablet down to such a low price, after Asus’ announcement that its Tegra 3-based, quad-core MeMo 370T is coming for $250, I’m starting to wonder if even $170 for the E70 is low enough.
Intel on Wednesday started shipping the latest Atom chips for netbooks, an important step to sustain growth of the low-cost PCs in the wake of the tablet onslaught.
The dual-core chips, part of the platform code-named Cedar Trail, bring better battery life and overall improved performance to netbooks, Intel said in a statement. top PC makers, including Hewlett-Packard, Acer, Lenovo, Toshiba, Asus and Samsung will ship netbooks with Cedar Trail chips beginning in January starting at US$199.
Intel has doubled graphics performance on the chips while reducing power consumption by up to 20 percent compared to Atom predecessors introduced two years ago, the company said. the new chips will help netbooks provide up to 10 hours of battery life on one charge, Intel said.
Intel introduced the Cedar Trail chips ahead of the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas Jan. 10-13. Intel is expected to talk about its latest chips for smartphones, tablets and PCs at the trade show.
Cedar Trail chips are an important step in Intel’s efforts to improve netbooks, which have been hurt by growing demand for tablets such as Apple’s iPad. an Intel spokeswoman said that while device makers can put Cedar Trail chips in tablets, most of the company’s customers are opting for Intel’s upcoming Medfield or Clover Trail tablet chips for tablets.
Intel is retaining a positive outlook for netbooks, despite the threat from tablets. while netbook shipments have dropped in the U.S. and western Europe, the market is growing in developing countries such as India and China, Intel said.
The new chips allow netbooks to play back high-definitions and support for HDMI (high-definitiion multimedia interface) ports on the chipset will allow netbooks to be hooked up to high-definition TVs. Other features include wireless display technology to beam PC images wirelessly to TVs.
The new chips include Atom N2600, which runs at 1.6GHz and draws 3.5 watts of power, and the N2800, which runs at 1.86GHz and draws 6.5 watts of power. Intel in September introduced Cedar Trail chips for low-cost desktops.
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Sets of tablets were announced in late 2010 that were going to be shown off at the upcoming International Consumers Electronics show in Las Vegas. Seeing as how I was going to be speaking at the CES 2011 convention, it would be a perfect time to visit the different manufacturer booths to learn more about the Motorola Xoom, Research in Motion’s Blackberry Playbook and the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Also excellent was that I was going to be visiting one of the most concentrated groups of consumer electronics enthusiasts, buyers and manufacturing people in the world, to discuss the pros and cons of the devices. So Samsung and I thought it would be a great time to test out a Galaxy Tab 7″ with Verizon 3G service.The Galaxy Tab 7” with Verizon 3G service was picked over other service options. this was done so that I could see how Verizon was going to stand up to the crushing amount of people coming to Las Vegas and CES trade show in January. I own an original iPad with WiFi, which I use a Verizon MiFi to access the Internet. I put the iPad away during the entire amount of testing, to see how Google’s Android 2.2 (Froyo) plus Samsung TouchWiz (User Interface) could keep up. Activation was quick as it took less than four minutes, from verifying of the 3G data service, to the sync of my Google account. I noticed instantly was how much smaller, lighter and more convenient a 7” tablet was over the iPad to carry around daily. the two cameras on the Tab was a nice addition over any iPad model that was available at the time.
After activation and synching was done, I went through the software settings panels to see what was different with this model of Android 2.2, that I was familiar with from my usage of many other Android devices, including T-Mobile’s MyTouch 3G. An exciting option I found while spelunking through the settings was 3G to WiFi sharing.
This was great because now I could test computers, cell phones and cameras. one of my first tests with the 3G to WiFi sharing was in a sub level of the Flamingo hotel in Las Vegas during a social media event. the Tab had acquired half signal in what was essentially a concrete basement, good for any device. the sharing option was easy to turn on with a few taps. the WiFi service icon in the title bar at the top showed that the Tab had changed modes. I shared the service with an iPhone 4, iPhone 3G and a MacBook Pro running 10.6. all devices worked via the sharing service, in a room with about five other WiFi routers or devices blasting out signal. Three of us used the sharing service via the Tab at varying times and were Tweeting with different apps and the official Twitter website with an auto updating at reply window. Tweets were being sent and received smoothly for an hour. I tested the sharing service on an iPhone 4 and Blackberry Bold throughout my many visits to the packed CES exposition show floor. To give you an idea of how well it worked, there were at any given time about 30k plus people at CES running around with cell phones with WiFi turned on blasting signal everywhere. Turning off the sharing service was easier than turning it on, which was done by swiping one finger down from the title bar and deselecting WiFi sharing mode.
Over the next few weeks after testing the Tab at CES and various events around Las Vegas, the Verizon service worked in many places that my iPhone 4 from AT&T or my T-Mobile phone didn’t acquire signal. Testing was performed with the two embedded cameras. the camera on the back had the best resolution with a noticeably bright LED flash. the flash provided enough light when the subject was close, however the quality dropped off after a few feet in low light conditions. Typically on tablets or cell phones these days, the cameras that face the front are several megapixels less in resolution. there are a lot of reviews out there that will talk about how many megapixels are in each camera but in this review, I wanted to talk about how the pictures looked from different lighting conditions. I have included a few pictures from the device on how they performed.
Aesthetically, the Samsung Tab 7” was pleasing with a slick black back for the Verizon model and a white colored back comes on the Sprint version. I used the device to view YouTube videos, download apps via the Android Marketplace, read news via several different apps and Tweet with the official Twitter or Seesmic apps. one feature that is worth its virtual weight in gold is the included Swype text interface. It is a big fast forward in how people enter text into mobile devices. I’ve used Swype on cell phones before, but this was the first time on a tablet computer. once you are used to working with Swype, going back to hunting and pecking text into mobile devices seems so 2000 and late.
People reading this review want to know how the Tab compares to the Apple iPad 2 and Motorola Xoom. I’m leaving out RIM’s Blackberry Playbook as I was not able to be hands on testing with the device. the iPad 2, which I have used for a few hours, is almost a completely different kind of tablet computer from the single core processor Tab, running at 1GHz, which is enough to run apps and games like angry Birds. I downloaded the full version of angry Birds on the Tab and I was able to finish all levels before the testing period ended. Anyone who has played angry Birds knows that is a lot of time spent holding any device. I enjoyed holding the Tab over holding the iPad, iPad 2 and Motorola Xoom for lengthy periods of time. the Xoom, iPad and iPad 2 feel weightier than the Tab. To everyone I showed the Samsung Galaxy Tab to, including social media professionals, publicists and people who didn’t own a smartphone, they liked it. all of them were able to use a few apps within about a minute from turning it on. most of them saw angry Birds and were playing it with ease. People like technology because it’s cool and sometimes they include games to catch their attention long enough to learn how to use its other functions. At its current price point the Tab has a bigger potential market for those who are considering buying a tablet or smartphone and for those who want a bigger screen.
The pricing for the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7” 16GB with 2GB of internal memory is currently being sold at Verizon for $199.99 with a 2 year activation, Motorola Xoom for $599.99 with a 2 year activation and iPad 2 16GB is $629.99 with month to month service. a WiFi only version of the Tab is on it’s way to market with some electronics outlets taking preorders for around $350. if you’re in the market or want to dip your toes in this new wave of consumer electronics, the least expensive and a fun option is the Samsung Galaxy Tab.
Peep the following for the technical bits about the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Starting with the cameras, it has a 3MP rear-facing camera, auto-focus, flash and a 1.3MP front-facing camera. For video is has a 3MP rear-facing camcorder with DivX HD video playback. To use the web it has a HTML Browser with Adobe Flash 10.1, WiFi 802.11 b/g/n flavors, Google Services including Gmail, Google Talk, YouTube, Google Calendar, Google Search, Google Maps with a fun 3D like tilt shift option to see depth when viewing satellite imagery and thousands of apps available on the Android Market. It has a bilingual user interface featuring English and Espanol. It is compatible with DLNA or Digital Living Network Alliance via AllShare. Widgets including the AccuWeather Clock, Daily Briefing, News and Weather are included. It includes all of the standard level communications tools like alarm clock, world clock, calendar and memo. It is compatible with text, picture and video messaging with threaded messaging, consumer and corporate email. For Bluetooth it is compatible with the following profiles; Object Push for vCard & vCalendar, SPP, BPP, A2DP, AVRCP, GAVDP, AVDTP, and AVCTP. It has a 7” touch screen with a 1024×600 WSVGA TFT LCD display supporting up to 16M colors with a 6-Axis Motion Sensor and Accelerometer. Keyboards available are the virtual QWERTY with Swype and Samsung keypad options. the official battery usage time is up to 780 minutes or up to 500 hours of standby time. I noticed that using the WiFi sharing via a 3G connection, the battery lasted about three hours. Finally, the Samsung Galaxy Tab has a Cortex A8 Hummingbird processor running at 1GHz with 2GB of internal memory and 16GB microSD card that is pre-installed. It can be expanded up to a 32GB microSD.
Thanks goes to Samsung for sending me this device to test and I hope to bring my readers more reviews of technology in the future. all is in an effort to help you decide on what to buy, with all of the technology available.
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Toshiba will launch its first tablet computer in late June in Japan and at around the same time in global markets, the company said Wednesday.
With the tablet, Toshiba will kick off an attempt to gain a 10 percent share of the global tablet market by 2013, said Masaaki Oosumi, president of Toshiba’s digital products and services unit, at a Tokyo news conference. the company is one of the oldest and most well-known names in laptop computers, so its entry is likely to further raise competition in an increasingly active market.
The tablet PC, which is based on the Android 3.0 operating system, was first previewed at January’s International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, but the company did not announce a launch date or price at that time. (A video version of this report, including shots of the Toshiba tablet, is available on YouTube.)
It will cost around ¥60,000 (US$730) in Japan. Overseas pricing was not disclosed.
The tablet has a 10.1-inch screen and will run on Nvidia’s Tegra 2 processor. the LED-backlit screen has 1280 x 800 pixel resolution, and the tablet will be equipped with front and back-facing cameras, and connectors for USB, Mini USB, HDMI and an SD Card slot. Networking will be via 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1. it has 16 gigabytes of storage space and 1 gigabyte of memory.
It will also have a removable battery pack, and Toshiba will offer a long-life battery as an option. Typical battery life of the tablet was not disclosed.
In Japan, it will be marketed under the “Regza” brand name that Toshiba uses for its flat-screen televisions.
Toshiba becomes the latest of Japan’s major electronics brands to enter the tablet market. NEC has launched a tablet aimed at vertical markets and Sharp’s Galapagos tablet is an Android-based e-book reader with web browsing ability.
Sony is also developing a tablet PC, but the company isn’t saying much about its plans. It’s due sometime later this year.
A month after the tablet PC launches, Toshiba will begin selling a laptop PC with a screen that can produce the illusion of three dimensions without requiring the user to wear special glasses.
The computer, which will form part of its Qosmio range, has a thin lens in front of the display that can aim a slightly different version of the computer’s image towards the user’s right and left eyes. such lens systems sometimes require the user to sit in a certain place to get the 3D effect, but the Toshiba laptop uses a camera to track the user’s eyes so it can dynamically adjust the 3D image.
Toshiba didn’t announce a price for the laptop or launch details outside of Japan.
Martyn Williams covers Japan and general technology breaking news for the IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn’s e-mail address is
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