2012 International CES Musings, Part Two

1/23/2012 12:01 AM Eastern

the 2012 International Consumer
Electronics Show when last week’s
edition went to press, so here’s a
part two on overall observations.

When one returns from CES —
any CES — the first thing people
ask is: “What was the coolest thing
you saw?”

This year, the technology food
chain is fragmenting, and each fragment
is furiously chasing innovation. That means
no one big, big thing at this year’s CES (like tablets
were last year, and 3D the year before that and HD
a few years before that).

Not to worry. There are always ways to clump the
trends at CES. Here goes.

Most interesting industry development: Sling
Media’s technology inside the Broadcom 7425 chip.
Think about this. Sling, on-chip. Chip with Sling, inside
set-top boxes (and who knows what else) later
this year. To activate the chip, pay a license fee (to
EchoStar) for the APIs to access the secret Sling
sauce from an app.

Suddenly, that tedious (and wide) legal gap between
copyright negotiations and out-of-home video
streaming is a little more interesting.

Most lustful, you-so-want-it thing: OLED (organic
light-emitting diode) and 4K screens. Remember the
first time you saw HDTV? At the time, and compared
to analog and standard definition, it seemed better
than the eyes could see. And this is better than
that. It’s like having an IMAX screen in your house.

Video and television engineers note that for the
first time ever in the history of television, TV screens
can display more picture information than can be
rationally fed into them. In the early days of digital,
and even HDTV, extra bits regularly “fell on the floor.”
Not so anymore.

OLEDs are still unrealistically expensive — one
vendor took a hunch at a sticker price of “under
$10,000” — and 4K for households is even further
out, in availability and mainstream pricing.

Still. HDTVs first hit CES in 1998. Mainstream
came about five years later. And compared to
today’s most gorgeous HDTVs, OLED is thinner,
sharper, prettier, lighter and more frugal with power.

(Bandwidth is another issue. Even when compressed
with MPEG-4/AVC, 4K video chews up
17 Mbps. Daunting, even for the industry with the
coaxial wires.)

Thing I didn’t know existed but want: The Zefyr2
cooler from Moshi. If you spend a lot of time on a
MacBook of any size, you know how hot it gets. I use
rectangles cut from a silicone potholder, as a heat
barrier between the Mac and the heels of my hands.

Crazy other stuff that showed up at this year’s
LG’s “Blast Chiller,” a refrigeration innovation.
Cools a can of beer from room temperature to frosty
mug in five minutes. Bottle of white? Eight minutes.

Speaking of things that go with wine: The QooQ
tablet, a slip-proof, spill-proof, single-purpose culinary
tablet that can withstand heat up to 140
degrees Fahrenheit (but why?). It is French, which
should give some guidance on how to pronounced
“QooQ.” (Hint: Say “cook” with a French accent.)

Bon appetit!

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