Sunday, January 10, 2010

The best and worst of CES 2010

Best technology demo

Cisco Systems gave a kick-ass demonstration of a living room video conferencing system under development during a press event at the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show.
The networking gear maker showed how its home telepresence product would offer more than just video chat with distant friends and relatives. Cisco executives provided a slick, live demo of applications such as home health-care consulting and distance learning with a math tutor.

Worst technology demo

LG Electronics demonstrated its living room video conferencing product that uses Skype, the popular online voice and video communications service for PC users.
Unlike the flawless Cisco home teleconferencing demo, the LG demo was plagued with blurry, herky-jerky video and an annoying audio and video delay. The event speaker and the person on the video screen kept talking over each other. They could barely get a word in because they kept stopping when they realized the other was speaking.
LG blamed a poor Internet connection for the lousy service quality, but the speakers didn’t look like they rehearsed the call. A big turnoff for the product. Not a good experience.

Worst managed press event

Coming into the show, Plastic Logic had one of the most anticipated new products, an e-book reader called the Que proReader. It's been billed as a potential Kindle killer.
But the company’s press event at CES was a mess. For starters, the venue was terrible. Plastic Logic tried holding the event at its booth on the floor of the Las Vegas Convention Center before the exhibits opened for the day.
But the floor was noisy and the press had to stand for the lengthy presentation. Plastic Logic CEO Richard Archuleta took forever to get to the point about the Que proReader, spending way too much time on the background of the company and the technology. What the press really wanted to hear about was pricing and availability for the Que and its standout features.
For a device that’s supposed to display electronic newspapers, Archuleta buried the lede.
Plus, the presentation suffered from technical glitches, like microphone feedback and poor audio and video.

Best managed press event

Palm put on an excellent press conference. It was well paced and had a plethora of newsy announcements, led by the new Palm Pre Plus and Pixi Plus smart phones for Verizon Wireless, available later this month.
Palm also introduced its mobile hotspot technology that will turn the Pre Plus and Pixi Plus into mobile Wi-Fi routers. The app can provide wireless broadband access for up to five Wi-Fi enabled devices, such as notebooks and netbooks.
Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein and his team did a fine job detailing improvements to Palm’s smart phones and pointing out their advantages over other devices on the market. (Over-the-air software updates, support for the Adobe Flash Player in the browser, etc.)

Best celebrity cameo

Singer Taylor Swift’s performance of “Love Story” at Sony’s press conference was a show highlight.
The 20-year-old singer-songwriter helped kick off the Sony event and was filmed in 3-D for the occasion.
You can watch the performance here.

Coolest new devices

My favorite new products at the show were:

Sanyo’s Eneloop bike. The $2,300 bicycle features an electric motor to assist in pedaling. The bike, which has a lightweight lithium-ion battery, would be great for city commuting and suburban riding. (Sanyo is owned by Panasonic.)

Evolution Robotic’s Mint automatic floor cleaner. The Mint dusts and mops floors with the press of a button. It uses popular cleaning cloths such as Swiffer and Pledge dry and wet cloths to remove dust, dirt and spills off your floor. Available this fall, the $250 device is likely to give iRobot’s Scooba some serious competition.

Tivit mobile digital TV receiver from Valups. The $120 device allows you to watch local broadcast digital TV shows on your Wi-Fi enabled smart phone or notebook computer. Available this spring, the portable device is smaller and lighter than a deck of playing cards.

Photo credits: LG Electronics booth at CES 2010 by CEA; Taylor Swift at Sony press event by Wired.

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