The show is also well known for containing an enchanting array of gadgets because of its consumer focus, and there was no shortage of awesome new electronics at this year’s CES. Here’s 5 cool ones that I liked.
ASUS Eee Slate EP121
There was a definite atmosphere of deju-vu at CES 2011. A year after the 2010 show, which was buzzing with hype over new tablets, history has repeated itself. Unfortunately, I think many of the tablets shown remain blah, or at least don’t provide many benefits compared to the iPad.
The ASUS Eee Slate EP 121 is a different story. This massive tablet has a 12.1″ display and runs Windows 7. It is powered by an Intel Core i5 processor and carries 32GB or 64GB of solid-state storage. The connectivity includes mini-HDMI, USB and Bluetooth.
Given the hardware, the ASUS Eee Slate EP 121 will likely prove as quick as many desktop computers. That’s impressive for any tablet, and it clearly gives the Eee Slate an appeal that is different from that of the iPad. The Eee Slate even ships with a Bluetooth keyboard, which means this tablet is ready to be used as a normal PC or a tablet straight out of the box.
Don’t get me wrong – this isn’t going to unseat the iPad by any stretch of the imagination. It is, however, a powerful and unique alternative that stands out from the hoard of very similar Android tablets at the show.
ReadyDrive is a fast-boot technology that works alongside solid-state memory in select Lenovo computers. You may have heard this story before, but Lenovo ReadyDrive is unique because it actually works. The company had a variety of different Lenovo computers equipped with ReadyDrive available to test, and by my watch all but one booted into Windows 7 in under 10 seconds. The only exception, a Lenovo ThinkPad Edge, booted in 10.32 seconds.
Boot times this quick are unprecedented on Windows computers, and greatly enhances the Windows experience. The instantaneous response of our mobile devices has spoiled us; waiting forty seconds for Windows to boot feels like an hour. Hopefully, this technology will light a fire under Lenovo’s competitors, forcing them to include similar quick-boot technologies (which work as advertised) as well.
Five years ago, LCD displays were just becoming a popular choice for HDTVs. A decade ago, they were just beginning to replace CRTs as the computer monitor of choice. Those early models seemed impossibly thin, but the new products at CES have taken thin displays to another level.
LG, Samsung, Sony and others showed a variety of LCD HDTVs and/or monitors that seemed straight out of a sci-fi movie. LG’s new line of computer monitors, which are just .28″ thin, were among the most impressive new displays. But the HDTVs were no less entrancing, and Samsung’s models seemed particularly impressive, thanks to bezels no thicker than the width of a pencil.
These are still traditional LCD displays with LED backlighting, as well. More exotic technologies, such as OLED, were not used to achieve these razor-thin results. Paper-thin displays no longer feel like speculation, but rather an inevitability that will surely arrive within the next five years.
Samsung Series 9 Ultraportable
The MacBook Air is cool, but it runs OS X, which is a blessing or a curse depending on who you ask. Those in the “curse” portion of the audience will be happy to know that Samsung has just the thing for you.
Samsung’s Series 9 is a new ultraportable that weighs under three pounds and is just .64″ thin. This makes the Series 9 one of the thinnest and lightest laptops around, and it gives the laptop a portability edge over the 13″ MacBook Air. This is made possible through the use of a material called Duralumin. If you’re into Star Trek-esqe techno-babble, you’ll love bragging about your new 9 series.
This baby isn’t lacking in power, either. The 1.4 GHz Core i5 processor is mated with a 128GB solid state drive, which means overall performance will be similar to Air. Battery life remains the only variable. Samsung claims 6.5 hours, but if this laptop behaves like most others, real-world usage will likely be restricted to around 5 hours away from a socket.
Intel & AMD APUs
Processors don’t receive the lion’s share of the attention at trade shows today. That’s likely because they’ve been around for some time, and they’re difficult to explain. A new tablet is easy to understand. The press can hold it, turn it every which way, and photograph it. You might be able to hold a new Intel or AMD processor before it is officially released, but doing so won’t tell you much about the technology.
Even so, both Intel and AMD displayed one of the coolest tech innovations of CES – the accelerated processing unit, or APU. Intel’s new line of Core i3, i5 and i7 processors, along with AMD’s new line of Fusion processors (which will start as laptop processors but extend to desktop offerings later this year) have new processor architectures that integrate traditional CPU functions with an on-board GPU. This can result in stunning performance enhancements. Intel’s new processors, for example, can transcode video more quickly than a Nvidia GTX 580 video card.
It’s a shame this awesome new technology has been under-reported in the face of yet more tablet news, because between the two it is the APU that will be of more importance – at least over the next few years.
There were plenty of other cool new gadgets to talk about, but I ultimately had to reduce my selection to just five, and these are the ones that forced themselves front and center. If you have a favorite new piece of tech from CES 2011 that isn’t listed here, let us know in the comments.