42nd CES shines despite economic slowdown

January 12, 2009

by Mark Ollig

A lower turnout is being blamed on the economy for what normally is the largest and most anticipated consumer electronics showcase of the year.

Last Wednesday was the opening for the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), and turnout was down by 8 percent.

The 2009 International CES, the world’s largest consumer technology tradeshow, took place Jan. 8-11 in Las Vegas, Nev.

This year the number of venders and exhibitors showcasing their newest high-end tech gadgets and services in Las Vegas was down by 300 from last year’s event total of 2,700.

Around 130,000 tech-minded consumers did, however, attend the CES.

While no technological breakthroughs were released, some exciting improvements and innovations built on current technology were presented and discussed.

I was following the CES online blog and their messages or “tweets” sent using Twitter.

One of this year’s CES “break out” sessions was called “What Will They Think of Next?”

This session focused on consumer technology in the year 2025, and the guest moderator was Kara Swisher, who co-hosts The Wall Street Journal’s “D: All Things Digital,” which can be seen at: http://www.allthingsd.com/d.

Other sessions at the CES included, “Greener Gadgets: The Future of Consumer Technology” and “Creating the Global Tech Ecosystem.”

This year’s show did offer a few new “tech toys.”

One of these included the “Minoru 3D Webcam” with its two camera lenses, which seems to give it the cutesy personality of a small and friendly futuristic robot.

This three-dimensional (a movie with images possessing three-dimensional form or appearance) 3D webcam has only been available since last month, so it is very new.

The Minoru transmits and records video in 3D, takes still 3D photos, and works as a normal webcam, as well.

Your friends and family will be able to see you in 3D over your favorite messaging program like Windows Live Messenger, Skype, AOL instant messenger, and others.

You can also take 3D photos or even shoot 3D videos and upload them to YouTube.

Will your viewers need special glasses to see you in 3D? Of course they will!

To see this cool futuristic- looking webcam, check out the web site at: http://www.minoru3d.com.

The Minoru 3D Webcam is listed on Amazon for $89.95.

The CES had an “Internet car radio” which was demonstrated by a company called Blaupunkt.

This Internet car radio claims the ability to play over 20,000 radio stations via the Internet.

The cost of the Internet car radio itself will range from $349 to $399, and will be available in the second half of this year.

The Vievu company introduced two new “wearable” video cameras called the PVR-PRO II and the PVR-LE II. They are small, waterproof, and clip onto your shirt. You can check them out at http://www.vievu.com.

How about something in the “eBike” industry? I have not heard of the term “eBike” either . . . so I learned something new again.

I thought the “e” meant “eco,” but aren’t most bikes “pedal-powered” and thus, “eco?”

Well, not always. The “e” here stands for “electric.”

The Toshiba and Schwinn’s Tailwind Hybrid electric bicycle are said to represent the next generation of eBike, and will be available early this year at a retail price of $3,200.

For more information about the Tailwind, you can visit www.schwinnelectricbikes.com/tailwind.

A new type of mobile, ultra-compact and low-cost “mini” laptop computer, known as a “netbook” (yes another new tech-term), drew much interest, as computer makers Hewlett- Packard, Dell, and ASUS showcased their new model of netbooks.

The one I liked was the ASUS netbook computer; it weighs only three pounds, is very portable, and comes with the minimum basic features you will need.

The 120GB hard drive and 900 MHz Celeron processor operates the netbooks Windows XP Home operating system.

A lithium-ion battery provides a lengthy three hours and 43 minutes of operation for the netbook without having to plug it into an outlet.

An external DVD-ROM drive is optional, but the built-in Wi-Fi and three high-speed USB 2.0 ports are included.

The ASUS cost $350 – which fits within the budget of most folks – and humble columnists.

For more information on this netbook, go online to http://usa.asus.com.

Other interesting topics at the CES included Yahoo and Intel describing how Internet television content is progressing – soon we will start seeing “Internet-Ready” TVs become available.

“You are going to see very broad adoption of this open technology by the best brands in the TV industry – not just for specialty products but deeply penetrated in their product lines,” said Patrick Barry, Yahoo’s vice president of connected TV.

The theme for this week’s Web Site of The Week will be the 2009 Consumer Electronics Show, where the Bits_blogger has been busy adding content from this year’s event you will hopefully find interesting.

The CES web site is located at: http://www.cesweb.org.