[Community of A/V Enthusiasts]
This being my first CES, I had no idea what to expect. Sure everybody told me it was going to be huge and overwhelming, but I know now you can never be too prepared for the nerd overload present in the Las Vegas convention center. Luckily, I count myself as a full fledged member in the gadget lovers nerd community. I had my most comfortable shoes on, my official CES backpack and my elbows ready to wiggle my way into the coolest demos.
The buzz word this year for TV's was "Smart". While I consider myself a somewhat capable "intellectual" (and I use the word "intellectual" VERY loosely), I'm not sure what to think about a TV that is striving to be smarter than me. Well, after visiting my first booth at Marvell (makers of a chip that powers Google tv) I'm convinced that a smarter tv is going to make my life much easier and possibly more sedentary. Google tv is featured in a lot of the new tv's. What it does is is it seemlessly integrates web browsing, program guides, youtube, etc onto your tv. Type in "Charlize Theron" and BOOM, you get google search results on her, links to buy her movies on amazon, or the ability to instantly view her movies on Netflix or Youtube. PRETTY COOL!
Of course, the theme at CES is "big", so it was hard to not walk by and be floored by the wall of TV's Panasonic had on display at their booth. The gamer inside of me was drooling over the notion of 50 of my friends battling with each one having their own individual screen on the "wall". One can dream...
Of course, like everybody else, I love all of the pops and whistles of the new OLED televisions and the larger and larger high resolution displays with passive 3D glasses, but my real interest is interacting with my tv's and gadgets. Sharp was the first booth that caught my eye with a true interactive tv. An exhibitor was "painting" directly on the touch screen using both fingers and a stylus. Mind you, this was a television, and not a monitor, per se. We're talking 55 inch and gorgeous! While this can seem gimmicky on the surface, I could see a few applications that could be helpful for presentations or entertaining friends at home.
The Sharp booth was also where I saw my first 4K television. While it was spectacular and definitely noticable on its own, I was annoyed by the fact that Sharp was trying to compare the higher resolution by comparing it side by side with a 1080p television. The 1080p television was CLEARLY a poor 1080p televison on it's own. Come on, SHARP! The 4K looks great on it's own merits! You don't have to use trickery to drive home your point!
SHARP more than made up for it, though, with the display of the worlds first 8K tv. The detail was astounding on this thing! A small crowd was gathered around it gushing at the cherry blossom video they kept looping. It's still a ways off for the consumer, but it's exciting to see where things are going.
With the Playstation 3 already being fairly well established, SONY is ramping up their push for the new PS Vita handheld. While I'm not much of a handheld gamer, I do like that fact that you can start a game at home on your PS3, pause it, and then continue your game on your PS Vita. The platforms are so close now that it's becoming difficult to tell the difference between a handheld gaming device and a home console. This certainly is helpful for those unavoidable ahem... bathroom breaks, during my marathon gaming sessions.
I was drawn to a developing long line and noticed it was for the SONY 3D gaming headset. The headset consists of a pair of goggles you put on with built in headphones. In theory, it seemed like a cool idea, but I was sort of disappointed by it. I don't like that fact that your periphreal vision lets you see what's going on around the edges of the headset. It was very distracting. If I'm going to be immersed in a virtual world, I want to see ONLY that world. On top of that, the 3D wasn't very good and the headset wasn't very comfortable. These things need a little work, I think.
Speaking of "Immersing" yourself into your theater, I AM a fan of my kicker system at home. Call of duty is my "go to" game at home and I'd be lost without the "kick" I get in the butt when I fire off an RPG. Unfortunately there are times when I can't game in front of my full home theater so I'm forced to game in the comforts of my "alternate" home theater in my bedroom. With no room for a couch, I use a stand alone chair to sit on. Normally that would mean I'd miss my RPG "kick", but Earthquake comes to the rescue with their kicker system that attaches directly to the base of my chair. This thing is every bit as powerful as any couch kicker system. Now I can bring my battlefield to any room in my house.. Make war, not love!
There's no doubt that Microsofts Kinect has kicked open the door for gesture based interfaces. While I do have one, I still think that it's in its infancy and has a ways to go before it becomes the "must have" interface that I think it will eventually be. I think the true importance of Kinect up until this point is that it has opened the door for people to run with the idea of gesture based television. Primesense is an Israeli based company that to me, had the brightest and most well thought out gesture system at the show. With such organic, natural gestures as simply pinching your fingers together to pull a tv show out of a channel guide displaying all channels in real time or waving goodbye to exit the page, the system just felt very intuitive and easy. They had a few games, a fitness program, and a very artsy dancing animation that added pscyhadelic shapes images to a booth model dancing in front of the tv. The whole system was rather impressive and I think was the best example of where this technology is going.
Being a certfied gadget freak, it's no suprise that my favorite thing of the show was a simple great idea that was buried deep beneath all of the high resolution displays and booming subwoofers. LG not only had easily the most impressive booth display with their MASSIVE wall of specatular 3D televisions (Their 3D demo was as impressive, if not more, than the first time I saw Avatar on IMAX), they introduced a way of displaying multi-player games that I thought was nothing short of brilliant! Again, I'm a HUGE multiplayer gamer and I frequently have guests over to my house to play with me. I've never been a big fan of the split screen gaming, The other players screen is just too distracting. LG is including a new feature on all of their new 3D televisions that fixes this. What they do is, they take both images and display them full screen on your television on top of each other. Which pair of glasses you are wearing determines which image you see on the screen. Player ones glasses allow him to only see his image while player two only sees his on the same screen. Two players playing separate views against each other on the same full screen... Now THAT is cool! I want this NOW!