The Digital World with Ryan Simon: A Look into the Future of Tech at CES 2012

Every New Year brings us new technology. Last week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada, the public got a small glimpse into the near future of the tech industry. CES is home to all sorts of interesting product announcements, prototypes and demonstrations. This year, CES introduced a plethora of new and improved tech from all over the industry. From high-powered smartphones, tablets and laptops, to super high-resolution televisions and beefier computer chips, companies from around the world provided consumers with plenty of new technology to get excited about.

My TV is More HD than Yours!

People may already be arguing over whose TV is the most HD now, but there simply won’t be any comparison once people get their eyes on the display technology Sharp has in the works. While companies like Sony, LG and Samsung showed off incredibly detailed 4K resolution televisions, Sharp upped the ante by giving CES attendees a first look at an 85-inch television displaying in 8K resolution. Just to put it into perspective, 8K resolution (a.k.a. Ultra High Definition) offers 16 times the amount of pixels found in a traditional 1080p display. This translates into a vast difference in picture clarity and crispness. 8K is still a ways off from hitting stores, but we can expect 4K resolution displays to be available later this year. Other spectacular 1080p displays like LG’s 4mm 55-inch 3D OLED television still impressed with fantastic image quality and a paper-thin form factor.

Intel Enters the Mobile Arena

There have been rumblings about Intel’s entry into the smartphone and tablet market for some time now, and Intel has finally come clean about their mobile plans. Intel’s Atom-based Medfield processor marks the company’s first big step into the mobile market. The Medfield processor promises increased raw performance, lower production costs and low power consumption when compared to the chips provided by their major competitor, ARM. Intel also announced partnerships with Motorola and Lenovo to bring Medfield-based Android phones to the consumer market by the end of this year. With Intel now competing with ARM for market share, consumers should expect better quality hardware at lower prices in the very near future.

More Tablets, More Phones, More Laptops

Anyone who has paid attention to the tech industry for the past year will know that mobile devices like tablets and smartphones are becoming more popular each day. It comes as no surprise then that several companies at CES were showing off all sorts of new mobile hardware. One of the more interesting prototype devices shown was Project Fiona, a gaming tablet from computer accessory manufacturer Razer. The difference between Fiona and other 10.1” slates is that it is the first to rock Intel’s Core i7 Ivy Bridge processor, dual analog controllers, a custom Windows 7 interface and THX sound certification. If Razer gets enough positive feedback from the showcase of their device, we may be seeing a retail version of Fiona hit store shelves by the end of this year.

Smartphone announcements were a lot less impressive this year. Besides Intel’s promising Medfield prototypes, there were very few new phones to gawk at. Sprint announced their line of LTE phones, of which includes Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus Google Experience phone. Fujitsu’s prototype Android 4.0 phone is one of the first to include Nvidia’s new quad-core Tegra 3 processor, which promises better battery life and amazingly smooth performance for gaming and everyday applications.

Motorola announced two new Droid phones for Verizon: the Droid RAZR Maxx and the Droid 4. The Maxx is an upgraded version of the recently released RAZR, and has an astounding twenty-one hours of talk time. The Droid 4 adopts the sleek design of the RAZR while providing a rather useful five-row keyboard. Nokia finally showed off their first high-end LTE-enabled Windows Phone 7 device. Nokia seems to be one of the only manufacturers pushing Windows Phone 7 in a significant way with luxurious design and functionality.

Despite an industry-wide push for tablets and smartphones, laptops still had a noteworthy presence at CES. Samsung impressed with their first entry into the gaming laptop market. The Gamer Notebook Series 7 impressed with its desktop-like performance, customized functions for different scenarios and sleek design. For their first try and starting price of $1,800, Samsung has gotten a lot right with this gaming laptop. AMD displayed their new Trinity processors with a spectacular multithreaded load. On a laptop, AMD ran a full DirectX 11 game on one display, a video transcoding app on another display and a full HD video all without lag or stutter of any sort. Trinity is AMD’s push for more efficient and effective mobile processing, and it shows.

Let’s not forget about Intel’s initiative for their ultrabooks—more than twenty models were announced at CES this year. For those unaware, an ultrabook is a subcategory of laptops created by Intel with a focus on compact design and improved battery life. Samsung, Dell, Lenovo and HP have all jumped on the ultrabook bandwagon, so expect to see tons of these slim and sexy laptops hitting retail shelves throughout the year.

Some Interesting Innovations

The most intriguing part of CES is seeing all the quirky products that tech companies come up with. One in particular from Samsung is called the Smart Window. Using ambient light projected onto a transparent slate of glass, Samsung has essentially created one of the first touch-sensitive windows. Just think how much more exciting windows will become. This may not be the most random thing, but OnLive announced a partnership with Google to bring their full cloud-based gaming service to GoogleTV. All future GoogleTV devices will now be capable of playing high-res PC games, further adding to the usefulness of Google’s TV companion software.

Wrap-up

CES 2012 may not have introduced a lot of new ground-breaking technology, but there were certainly some stand-out products on the crowded convention show floor. My pick for the most interesting product would have to go to Sharp’s 85-inch 8K resolution television. It may not be a very plausible consumer product for the near future, but the simple promise that we will eventually be able to watch IMAX quality films in our households is pretty awesome. Other than that, the notion that Intel has entered the mobile phone and tablet chip-making business is exciting. With any luck, Intel will apply enough pressure against ARM to push mobile technology to a whole new level of affordability and functionality.

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