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Sizzle Abounds: The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2010

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Sizzle Abounds: The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2010

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The digital explosion is all around us--in the water we drink, the air we breathe, and everything we use, from telephones to cars to entertainment. Analog is so 20th century that all measuring devices such as thermometers, radio dials, and speedometers have increasingly shifted to showing digits, rather than a relative position on a dial. Rotary telephones will not function on any telephone service provider's system.

CES is an annual, early January event held in Las Vegas every year. A convention center with 3.2 million square feet contains representatives from 2,700 companies lodged in various size spaces, from a little larger than a desk to a moderate-size house. Any leftover space lets the 110,000 attendees roam the aisles to see the new and the old and listen to stories of why the devices on display will change the world or change how we do things or force us to replace an old device that is still working but without any of the new sizzle.

What I found in front of and behind the curtains could be described as Two, Too, and To. Products fell into three broad categories: Version Two of a previous product; "Me Too" products copying or following another vendor; and "Promise To," meaning the vendor may be able to deliver the product to market later this year or sometime next year. Bottom line: nothing spectacular, nothing unexpected, and nothing that appeared on my list of "got to have it and now."

Everyone needs to review their own inventory of electrical products to determine what is usable or replaceable. The Version Two and Me Too products have several characteristics in common:

* Components and accessories are smaller and lighter

* Display screens for all electronics are thinner and larger

* Computer components are thinner and lighter

* Computers have added lots more memory and disk storage

* Phones have more features and bigger screens

* Entertainment equipment has better audio and video, wireless and remote features, video streaming, and library storage

* Wires are being replaced by wireless networks and Bluetooth

The choices for computers have a wide range of options--desktops, notebooks, netbooks, smartphones. Application options are also expanding with smartphone apps, web-based apps, and cloud computing. Location-based products using Global Positioning Systems (GPS) continue to expand with products that show you where you are and deliver directions to where you want to shop, eat, bank, get gas, locate a friend or meeting place, or to get to any destination near or far.

The other overruling aspect of CES was the shadow of Apple. Apple has not participated at CES for many years. However its pending press briefing 2 weeks after CES clearly was a significant exercise in pre-announcement marketing hype.

Below is some information about a few of the products on display at CES that managed to make it onto my list of useful and usable. My list is not necessarily the same as your list. So remember, all technology needs to integrate with what you need to accomplish--for work, for fun, for family, for friends.

Ebook Readers--Population Growth

At last year's show, there was one ebook reader. This year, there were a growing number of options. At least 25-30 ebook readers were displayed or announced with surely more on the way. This does not include the software from Kindle and others that you can install on your computer or smartphone.

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Amazon made ebooks a reality, but Amazon is not alone anymore. In this "Me Too" category, products are popping up that include the nook from Barnes & Noble, Sony's latest ebook reader, QUE from Plastic Logic, etc. And do not overlook the number of ebook apps that you can install on your smartphone. A few OEM companies, such as Marvell, are reengineering the chips needed to support ebooks, which should help drive the retail price down to under $200. …

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