2012 International CES hosted in Las Vegas
Jan. 16, 2012
by Mark Ollig

Over 150,000 people attended this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), including the media, who were eager to learn about the newest technology.

The International CES is the world’s largest consumer technology tradeshow.

With over 3,100 companies showcasing more than 20,000 electronic gadgets and computing devices, there was plenty of high-tech eye candy to be found.

And when I say plenty, I mean over 37 football fields’ worth of consumer electronic technology displayed over 1.85 million net square feet of floor space.

This year’s CES offerings included Intel’s lightweight Ultrabook, digital health care devices, smartphones, solar charging cases, and many other computing devices.

With an introduction by radio and television personality Ryan Seacrest, Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer provided the pre-CES keynote address.

Ballmer told those in attendance (along with yours truly, watching via the streaming online video), that after 15 years, Microsoft will be taking a “pause” from attending any future CES shows.

He went on to announce Microsoft’s Kinect technology will be available for use on Microsoft’s Windows operating systems Feb. 1.

There was a short demonstration of Windows 8; however, much of this demo was already shown during the Microsoft Build Professional Developers Conference in September of last year – which your columnist wrote about on Sept. 19, 2011.

The new CES Windows 8 demo left me somewhat disappointed, as I was hoping Microsoft would reveal more details about it.

Microsoft also demonstrated their new Windows Phone 7.5 (Mango) software operating on the Nokia Lumia 900 and HTC Titan 2 mobile phones.

Microsoft’s new Xbox, with Kinect two-way interaction, was also demonstrated to the CES audience.

Kinect, as you know, is an entertainment and informational hub which provides a personalized, interactive viewer experience.

The Microsoft CES Kinect virtual interaction demonstration started off by showing a large display screen with the Sesame Street character Elmo, counting the coconuts he was collecting inside a cardboard box as they were being “virtual thrown” to him by a young girl on the CES stage named Ainsely.

Elmo would look at Ainsely and ask her to throw a coconut to him.

Ainsely would do this by pretending to toss one towards the display screen, where Elmo was waiting to catch it inside the cardboard box he was holding.

You can watch Microsoft’s YouTube video titled “The Magic of Kinect with Sesame Street” at http://tinyurl.com/6o28anr.

Meanwhile, Intel presented one of its new Ultrabook personal computers, which are being factory-made under various brand names.

Some define an Ultrabook as an enhanced netbook computer.

The new Lenovo Ultrabook with ArcSoft Quick Photo personal computer includes a self-opening cover, touchscreen, voice recognition, DX11 graphics card, and built-in Near Field Communication, or NFC.

NFC is a short-range, wireless communications protocol which will initially be used for the quick scanning of credit card information when making purchases.

NFC technology will also be used for supporting the new short-range wireless features currently being developed.

Intel showed how an Ultrabook computer, equipped with a NFC chip, could complete a quick, on-the-go, credit card transaction by simply tapping a credit card against the Ultrabook’s touchpad.

Another model shown by Intel was a hybrid Ultrabook/tablet or “slider” model, which could be used as either a notebook or a tablet computer.

Some Intel Ultrabooks allow the user to see incoming messages when the computer lid is closed via a “quick notification panel.”

Intel said it will be making Ultrabook computers available to the public by the end of this year.

Sony announced the Android-powered Walkman Z, and its new line of Android smartphones called Xperia S, and the US version, the Xperia Ion.

The Walkman Z is a digital media player which features an Android 2.3-or 4.3-inch display and Tegra 1GHz 2 dual-core processor.

The Walkman Z will be available late February.

The Xperia S features a 4.3-inch display, 12-megapixel camera with 1080p HD video capture, and a 32 GB memory. Its dual-core processor operates at 1.5 GHz.

The Xperia Ion will operate over AT&T’s 4G LTE network, and will sport a larger 4.6-inch display screen for those of us in the US, which is great, because I have a hard time reading small text.

Both Sony smartphones will include NFC, and a HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) port.

These smartphones will be available by the end of March.

Another interesting device was the solar-powered Amazon Kindle e-reader case cover made by SolarFocus.

On the front of the case cover is the solar panel; the Kindle e-reader is nestled inside and “plugged into” the case cover, or shell, if you will.

After being exposed to about eight hours’ worth of sunlight, the solar-charged battery inside the SolarFocus case cover, can fully charge the Kindle e-reader’s battery.

A reserve battery inside the SolarFocus case cover powers the built-in LED reading light, and provides reserve power for the Kindle e-reader when the Kindle’s battery runs out.

This light-weight, form-fitting case cover makes it look as if you are holding a book while reading the Kindle.

The new SolarFocus Kindle case cover is now available at a retail price of around $80.

Next week, yours truly reveals a few of the out-of-the ordinary gadgets shown during the 2012 International CES.

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