Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Consumer Electronics Show Unfurling Trends for Everyman

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Consumer Electronics Show Unfurling Trends for Everyman

Article excerpt

LAS VEGAS -- Forget for a moment all the fantastical new devices on display at the Consumer Electronics Show.

If you're a home-theater aficionado or just have loads of cash to burn, you may want to rush out and buy an Ultra HD TV -- ignoring the fact that there's hardly any content yet available to take advantage of the advance. But the good news is that CES 2013 also showcases trends that are welcome news for the rest of us, technophiles and technophobes alike.

Here are three quick picks:

Focus on simplicity -- This trend is especially evident among companies that target older consumers, such as Chalfont's Telikin. Back for a third year at the show, Telikin makes easy-to-use, touch- screen computers that perform the essentials -- including email, video-calling, photo-sharing and document-handling -- while dodging the complexity of a PC or the price tag of a Mac.

"The key is not to make it a different product, but how do you make it simpler?" says John Marick, CEO of Consumer Cellular, who shared a stage Tuesday with Telikin chief executive Fred Allegrezza at CES's "Silvers Summit." Mr. Marick's Oregon company, which offers service via AT&T's network, draws high ratings for its no- contracts, no-hassles plans.

But everyone can benefit from a push for simplicity, especially as devices get more powerful and the number of apps swells.

About 3 out of 4 people don't even know how to activate their smartphone's Wi-Fi connection when a network is available, Sprint's Fared Adib told an overflow crowd at CNET's "Next Big Thing" session.

"There's so much technology in these phones, people don't know how to use it," he said.

Sheryl Connelly, a futurist employed by Ford Motor Co., responded that developers need to guard against "feature fatigue."

"If they don't make my life easier -- if they're not intuitive, if they're not accessible -- then I feel duped," Ms. Connelly said.

There are signs the message is getting through on many fronts, from simplified controls on proliferating "smart TVs" -- sets connected to the Internet that can readily access content from services such as Netflix and YouTube -- to a host of devices that boast easier user interfaces. …

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