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2010 CES: Day 1

Last night, I attended the Digital Experience press event at the Mirage. Excellent, as always. (And you can check out some photos from the event on my Day 0 Photos page.)

Some of the notable products at the event:

Google Nexus One - I got to check out Google's new smartphone and like it quite a bit. I may have to get one when it ships on Verizon this Spring. The animated backgrounds were surprisingly fun. But the big news here, of course, is the maturation of Android. It's amazing how far they've come so quickly.

Lenovo PCs. I rambled on a lot yesterday about Lenovo's sweeping new ThinkPad, IdeaPad, and IdeaCentre designs, but they were on hand last night as well. Their hybrid notebook is shaping up as the best product at CES. It's absolutely stunning.

Toshiba was showing off the latest version of the netbook my kids and I all use; this year's version comes in basically the same form factor, but it's got the updated Atom parts and the 6-cell battery no longer juts out the back as it does on ours.

Barnes & Noble had their Nook eBook reader so I got so see how it stacks up against the Kindle. I'm not impressed, sorry. The performance is horrible, the default fonts on the newspapers I viewed were horrible, and that color strip at the bottom doesn't work very well. I spent some time in the new eBook "tech area" in the LVCC Central Hall and wasn't impressed by anything I saw there either: The Kindle is still the device to beat.

Microsoft had a small table for Windows Mobile and I got to catch up with Greg Sullivan, which was nice. He had the amazing HTC HD2 on hand, and this is the sweetest Windows Mobile 6.5 device I've ever seen, with an iPhone-like capacitive touch screen that runs at 800 x 480. It's not just nice for WM, it's just plain sweet, and the screen makes all the difference in the world. I may have to get one of those as well.

Leo Laporte, Dr. Kiki Sanford, and Colleen Kelly were on hand from TWiT with the cameras rolling. I hung around a bit while they interviewed Alex Pournelle and toured backstage.

I hung out with Neowin's Tom Warren, Andrew Lyle, and Brad Sams for a bit before finally crashing. The three hour time change is brutal.

Which explains my late start today, of course.

The Las Vegas Convention Center, or LVCC, is humongous, a town-sized convention center of multiple sections and floors, and it holds thousands of booths and over one hundred thousand people easily. Getting around it is difficult at best. I started in the South Hall so I could scope out the broadcast booth, which is where Leo and I will be recording the Windows Weekly podcast at 10 am PT tomorrow (Friday). That done, I spent a few hours in the Central Hall, which is mostly irrelevant (to me) audio-video companies. Super-thin LG HDTVs. A 152-inch Panasonic Plasma. Some interesting Sony stuff, including new netbooks and Blu-Ray equipment and lots and lots of 3D. You know, the usual.

Microsoft's booth had all the expected sections devoted to Windows 7, Office 2010, Media Center, MediaRoom, Zune, Bing, Xbox 360, and so on. I ran into Gary Schare there and checked out some of the interesting Play To devices, including some TVs and the new version of the WDTV, which includes Ethernet now. There were some nice Windows Home Server machines, many of which are starting to ape the HP MediaSmart's small all-in-one design.

Across from Microsoft's main booth was a separate area for its embedded stuff, primarily the Microsoft Auto products. There's new functionality for Ford Sync, including touchscreen support, steering wheel-based 5-way navigation controls, and in-car Wi-Fi. Microsoft was also showing off its new system for Kia, called UVO. This isn't shipping until the 2011 models hit, but it's hands-free, includes Wi-Fi connectivity, and is somewhat like Sync. The thing that's interesting about this stuff is that it puts a version of Windows into an unexpected place, the car. And with Ford selling over 1 million Sync-based autos so far, it gives new life to the phrase "Windows Everywhere."

That said, the one thing that really stuck me today was how the Microsoft's and Intel's of the world have been pushed aside from their former front-and-center position right inside the main Central Hall doorways. This may not be a snub, per se--this is CES, after all, and is dedicated to CE, not computer companies. But it is notable, I think, that traditional CE companies are back in the thick of things. I guess it makes sense. But it does make the show less interesting to me. I can only look at so many flat panels before my eyes glaze over.

I'll have some photos up later today, I hope. And tonight I'll be attending Lenovo's Aquaknox event, but probably not Showstoppers too. We'll see. Last night was a bit too late. :)

Tomorrow, of course, is the live Window Weekly recording. More as it happens...

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