Gates to geek heaven open tonight

Jan 5, 2011, 2:27 AM | Updated: Mar 28, 2011, 3:46 pm

Electronic book readers and 3-D televisions are so 2010. As the Consumer Electronics Show begins all the buzz is about tablet computers.

CES is geek heaven. Four days in Las Vegas of the hottest, newest, shiniest, slickest, and fastest technology begins with the keynote address from Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer tonight. (photo of Ballmer’s 2010 keynote, courtesy CES)


Jim Barry with the Consumer Electronics Association has been covering this event for 30 years, and he says the excitement this year is driven by two things – having every electronic device you own connect to the Internet, and tablet computers.

“The iPad last year was a big hit but this year there will be about 80 tablet, touch-screen computers introduced,” says Barry.

A year ago Microsoft said they were not going to have a tablet, but the rumor is they will introduce a Windows-based device with partners Samsung and Dell. Microsoft also figures into the show in a big way by setting a trend toward hands-free computer screens.

“Think of the Kinect for the Xbox 360 where you are the controller,” says Barry. “You’re going to have for your remote controls for your TV as well.”

The key word for this show, Barry says, is connecting everything we own to the Internet and not only the obvious things like our phones and televisions but home appliances too.

“Refrigerators and washing machines will be linked to the Internet so you could actually do diagnostics over the Internet if you have a problem. That would save you money on a service call or just waiting around for the service guy to arrive,” he says.

Imagine how that could change the way you live, if the microwave isn’t working right you could diagnose the problem yourself, and possibly even correct it online. That’s not sexy, but that’s the kind of stuff that’s coming in the next year or so.

If you’re turned on by geek speak, here are some of the items that will be introduced over the next few days:

A range of Motorola mobile devices including 4G phones for the US. It will also be showing off its new Android tablet, rumored to be named the Xoom.

Acer LG has a new BD690 3D Blu-ray player with a 250GB hard drive and wireless connectivity over Wi-Fi Direct.

Android, Windows, BlackBerry and Palm operating systems will all be vying for the small screen. Expect powerful laptops and notebooks from Asus, MSI and HP.

Something that might be too hot to handle is the Acer Iconia dual-screen laptop.

Small mobile TVs, about the size of a iPhone, will also be big. RCA is introducing a couple of options. One is a 3.5-inch model that features a LED-backlit LCD screen and runs on AA batteries. A 7-inch screen features an 800×480 “high resolution” widescreen LCD display and an internal battery.

Those are a few of the 20,000 new consumer technology products that will launch at CES. With 4,500 members of the press from 60 countries covering this event, you’ll certainly hear and read more about it over the next few days.

Although there will be a lot of talk about related to Apple and its products, the company will be absent from the show once again. Apple stopped participating in industry trade shows in 2009. Apple makes product announcements on its own timeline with their own flair.

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Gates to geek heaven open tonight