2010 Consumer Electronics Show (CES): Live from Las Vegas

2010 Consumer Electronics Show (CES)Live from Las Vegas I'm in Las Vegas this week to attend the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Here, you can find links to all my cover...

Paul Thurrott

October 6, 2010

19 Min Read
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2010 Consumer Electronics Show (CES)
Live from Las Vegas

I'm in Las Vegas this week to attend the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Here, you can find links to all my coverage of the show.

2010 CES Photos

2010 CES Blog Posts - 2010 CES: Day 3 - 2010 CES: Day 2 - 2010 CES: Day 1 - Zune HD at CES - 2010 CES: Day 0 Keynote Address with Steve Ballmer - 2010 CES: Day 0 - Exclusive! Microsoft To Announce Tablet PC Before Apple! - Sweet New ThinkPads from Lenovo

2010 CES News Stories - WinInfo Short Takes: 2010 CES Special Edition - Microsoft Provides Muted Opening to 2010 CES - Take That, iPhone: Google Unveils Nexus One Smartphone - Microsoft Announces Office 2010 Pricing - 2010 CES To Kick Off Amidst Apple Frenzy

Follow me on Twitter! I'll be tweeting regularly from Las Vegas as well.

2010 Consumer Electronics Show (CES): Day 0 Photos - Digital Experience
2010 Consumer Electronics Show (CES): Day 1 Photos - LVCC Show Floor
2010 Consumer Electronics Show (CES): Day 2 Photos - The Vegas Strip, South Hall, Atomic Testing Museum

Newest posts at the top.

2010 CES: Day 3

After a party and dinner on Friday night, my final day at the 2010 CES involves a radio show walk-on, some non-CES activities around Vegas, and a look back at the show.


2010 CES: Day 2

The second official day of the 2010 CES, and my third in Vegas, starts off with a live recording of the Windows Weekly podcast.


2010 CES: Day 1

A look back at last night's Digital Experience press event and today's first pass through the Las Vegas Convention Center on the opening day of the 2010 CES.


Zune HD at CES

The Zune didn't factor into Microsoft's keynote very much, but the company sends word of some interesting developments for the Zune HD in the months ahead, including Smart DJ support on the device, compatibility with MPEG-4 Part 2 ASP and a Facebook application.


2010 CES: Day 0 Keynote Address with Steve Ballmer

I'm covering Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's 2010 CES keynote address tonight, live from Las Vegas. I'll update this post throughout the keynote ...


2010 CES: Day 0

For me, the 2010 CES started off with an incredible new product lineup from ThinkPad maker Lenovo, including a gorgeous an innovative hybrid laptop that will make whatever Apple's announcing later this month look silly by comparison.


Exclusive! Microsoft To Announce Tablet PC Before Apple!

The tech industry is tripping over itself to promote Apple's maybe-it-is-maybe-it-isn't Tablet computing device, but Microsoft has their number: I can now reveal that Microsoft and its PC maker partners will announce and then deliver their own Tablet PC well before Apple. And I have an exclusive photo of a prototype of this unbelievable, trend-setting, and innovative product ...


2010 CES: Sweet New ThinkPads from Lenovo

I assume most people reading my site are up on the fact that I'm a huge fan of ThinkPad laptops and always have been. Basically, there's ThinkPad and then there's everything else.

Not surprisingly, ThinkPad maker Lenovo has some sweet new machines on tap for this week's CES. And this morning, they announced a few of them. Check out these incredible looking ThinkPads.


Newest stories at the top.

WinInfo Short Takes: 2010 CES Special Edition

January 8, 2010

An often irreverent look at some of this week's other 2010 CES news, including Lenovo's best-of-show hybrid notebook, a live Windows Weekly event, netbooks vs. smartbooks, the weird resurgence of the tablet, eBook readers, and other trends from the show...

WinInfo Blog

I've been in Las Vegas for the past few days, covering the mammoth 2010 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Not to sound like a character from a bad movie, but I'm getting too old for this. I've had to walk several miles a day just to get around this show and fight my way through a crowd of people that is 5 times the size of the population of the town I live in. Couple with Microsoft's lackluster news from the show, it's been sort of a wasted effort.

Well, except for two things. ThinkPad maker Lenovo has surprised me with an amazingly compelling new lineup of portable machines which includes, among other things a unique and innovative hybrid mini-notebook that run Windows 7 but features a pop-off screen with its own OS and battery; that part of the machine, when decoupled from the base, runs a version of Linux with web-based widgets that let you access cloud computing services from a touch-enabled UI. It's really sweet. So much for Lenovo's stodgy image.

Second, I've been able to hang out a bit with Leo Laporte's podcasting crew and will do a bit more of that today (Friday), when Leo and I will record a special CES episode of the Windows Weekly podcast. It's at a different time (10 am PT) and if you're at the show, we're over in the South Hall by the entrance, in the Broadcast Booth. I'll be there for a bit before and after the show as well. The episode should be up sometime over the weekend, but this is one you'll want to catch on video if possible.

But wait, there's more. Don't forget to follow me on Twitter, Friendfeed, and the SuperSite Blog.

Short Takes

Notebooks, netbooks, smartbooks, oh my
CES is the launching point for a new category of device called the smartbook, which is essentially a netbook-sized device (10-inch screen) with non-x86 innards (i.e. it can't run Linux) and a smartphone-like OS such as Android. The aforementioned Lenovo hybrid notebook combines a traditional Windows 7-based netbook with a detachable smartbook-type screen/tablet, so it's sort of a smartbook, or arguably the king of smartbooks. (Lenovo also makes a standalong smartbook that doesn't include the Windows 7 bits or a breakaway screen.) So. The big question here is whether these machines make any sense. With a netbook at least, you get the option of running traditional Windows applications, and while no one could claim that the average netbook is a speed demon, those apps are still a big selling point. With a smartbook, you're kind of on your own. Companies have different strategies here, but my guess is that something based on a successful smartphone platform, like Android, will make more sense than a completely new platform. But I'm curious to see how these devices sell, and whether most people will get them with an attached wireless data plan. The future, as they say, is hazy.

Suddenly tablet form factors are hot. Or are they?
Thanks to the never-ending build-up to Apple's inevitable tablet computer, tablets are suddenly hot, and we all have to pretend that the past 8 years never happened. That's because we've had true Tablet PCs since 2002 and let's be honest here, they've never been particularly compelling to any mass audience. But it's a testament to Apple's popularity with the tech press that, suddenly, everyone has a tablet on offer. Some are lame retreads of what came before--the HP tablet we saw in Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's CES keynote address--while some are actually quite innovative (Lenovo) and clearly pre-date any Apple silliness. And in case you're wondering why the lame tablet made an appearance in a Microsoft keynote while the cool one did not, remember that the Lenovo device includes a Linux-based component. It wouldn't do to have Microsoft promote that, now would it?

eBooks are everywhere. But only the Kindle matters
Another sudden and amusing trend that's all over CES is the eBook reader, that little wanabe that no one was interested in at all when Amazon first started selling their Kindle device two years ago. (A previous Sony entry was even less interesting to the public.) Well, now that the Kindle is a best seller, everyone is getting in on the game, including Microsoft, whose Blio reader is a funny attempt to pretend the Microsoft Reader never happened. I spent a lot of time looking at the new eBook readers at CES, including the Barnes & Noble Nook, and I'm not impressed. The Kindle is still the best device, and it still has the best wireless access to the best collection of books. So let's stop pretending otherwise.

Other big trends at CES
I am astonished by the number of 3D interfaces I'm seeing for home TVs. Seriously, does anyone really think we're going to plop down on the couch and then try and find 3D glasses for the whole family every night? My kids lose the remote every day, so this is a nonstarter. Also big: HD camcorders that can fit in your palm. Razor-thin HDTV displays. Netbooks are everywhere. Green technology, which feels like a flash in the pan. (Only because everything should simply be built "green"; it should just be the way it is.) 3G connection routers and amplifiers.

Palm bringing Pre, Pixi to Verizon ... But is it too late?
Palm announced this week that it will bring enhanced versions of its WebOS smartphones to Verizon Wireless, giving those lucky enough to be on the nation's best 3G network a chance to sample Palm's wares. But Verizon customers aren't getting standard versions of the Pre and Pixi, they're getting the Pre Plus and Pixi Plus, which both come with some important enhancements over their predecessors, including more memory. (The Pixi Plus also gains Wi-Fi, which was a silly oversight in the Pixi.) Palm, of course, is in trouble. The WebOS stuff is good, but coming slow to market, and the original Pre was performance challenged. Hopefully, their moves this year will pay off. Palm is one of those companies I kind of root for, even though I can't quite explain why. But when it comes to phones, the iPhone, Android, and even Windows Mobile are more interesting to me still.

No Windows Mobile 7. But we'll have news in February. OK, March at the latest
Speaking of Windows Mobile, Microsoft had a small Windows Mobile presence at CES, and I got to spend some hands-on time with the capacitive-screen-based HTC HD2 the other night and am surprisingly impressed. But Microsoft wasn't talking Windows Mobile 7 at CES, which is too bad. So I started asking around if I could figure out when the Windows Mobile 7 information deluge would begin. I think we can expect a trickle of information at the Mobile World Congress in February (where Steve Ballmer will again speak). But the big deal is the MIX conference in March, which will also be held in Las Vegas. Microsoft had previously confirmed MIX as a launching point for Windows Mobile 7, and this was confirmed at CES. I'm already booked for MIX and can't wait to see this already-mythical system. They've got a lot to live up to.

More CES coverage
If you're looking for more news from CES, I've been covering the show from the SuperSite for Windows, where you'll find news articles, blog posts, and photo galleries from the event.

Microsoft Provides Muted Opening to 2010 CES

January 7, 2010

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer opened the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) almost 30 minutes late Wednesday night in Las Vegas after a small power outage wreaked havoc with the PCs and TVs that were set up for his keynote address. The snafu was a harbinger of things to come: Despite a few interesting tidbits, Ballmer didn't have anything truly dramatic to announce or counter the swelling interest in an eventual tablet device from its chief consumer competitor, Apple.

Ballmer talked up all the expected Microsoft products--Windows 7, Bing, Office 2010, Xbox 360--and even a few unexpected ones, like a long-forgotten IPTV solution called MediaRoom and a new eReader and bookstore application called Blio. And there were quick references to poorly performing products like Zune and Windows Mobile, though if you blinked you'd have missed them.

But the few chances at excitement were quickly doused. Yes, Ballmer showed off a slate Tablet PC from HP, as was rumored. But it won't ship until the end of 2010 and is hardly revolutionary. (A competing hybrid notebook from Lenovo is far more innovative and interesting and will ship sooner, but wasn't highlighted in the keynote for some reason.)

And yes, Microsoft announced that its Project Natal add-on for the Xbox 360 will ship late this year as well. But the demo they provided of the technology was techie and boring, and the company actually tried to convince the keynote audience that it wasn't a reaction to the popular Nintendo Wii, but was rather the result of years of R&D and effort.

Windows 7, of course, provided any easy bright spot, though Microsoft declined to provide any sales figures while claiming that the release is the "fastest selling operating system in history." Ballmer then beat the company's one bit of good news to death with an interminable series of Windows 7 demos, which might have been interesting a year ago.

Microsoft's MediaRoom software is aimed at the cable set top box market, but as had few takers, especially in the United States. But version 2.0 of the solution provides a way for cable companies to deliver the experience to their users PCs, Xbox 360s, and even mobile phones. It looks nice, but the limited distribution of MediaRoom somewhat overshadows the possibilities.

In short, it was a muted started to a humongous and influential tradeshow, though of course there are still many miles of show floor to walk, meetings to attend, and pictures to take. If you're curious about the many goings-on at CES, please stay tuned to the SuperSite for Windows. I'm in Las Vegas covering the show through Saturday night.

Take That, iPhone: Google Unveils Nexus One Smartphone

January 6, 2010

On the eve of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), online giant Google unveiled its own branded smartphone, the Nexus One, casting its considerable influence and financial heft into a heated battle with Apple and its iPhone. Previously, Google had only provided the smartphone OS, Android, and some design ideas to third parties, which would create and sell the phones themselves. But now Google is directly involved, and will sell the Nexus One to customers from its web site.

The phone, which currently runs only on the T-Mobile wireless network but will be opened up to Verizon Wireless and other carriers soon, costs $179 with a two-year data contract. Or you can purchase the Nexus One sans wireless plan for $529. (This version also works only on T-Mobile for now.)

Like other Android devices, the Nexus One features GPS capabilities, stereo Bluetooth, a touch screen, and all of the normal accouterments that one expects from a modern smartphone. What sets the Nexus One apart are some interesting hardware advances--a scroll ball that does double duty as a light-emitting notification, for example--and new software, like a voice dictation feature that lets you speak email, Facebook posts, and other activities normally associated with text input.

It's an impressive machine in that it's the most powerful and elegant Android-based smartphone yet. But it's also not a huge leap over existing devices like the Verizon Droid and Droid Eris. According to Google, all of the unique software innovations in the Nexus One will be made available for free to existing Android handsets because the OS is open source and extensible.

With the Nexus One, Android (and thus Google) does appear to leapfrog the iPhone in many areas, though it still falls a bit short in two import areas. Android still doesn't natively support multitouch, though Google says its adding that feature, and of course the iPhone's App Store, with over 100,000 applications--many not related to farting, I'm told--is still superior to Google's, which offers between 10,000 and 20,000 apps currently. Google expects to close the gap there as well.

Google's decision to sell the Nexus One itself is interesting, and could cast a dim light on other Android designs, especially the recently released and highly successful Verizon Droid which, until Tuesday, was the Android darling of the moment. But with Google selling its own Android design, it's unclear why anyone would purchase a competing device. Google says there is room for different form factors and designs, and it points to the 30 different Android devices now being offered around the world as proof of this. All of these, of course, shipped before the Nexus One, however.

Microsoft Announces Office 2010 Pricing

January 5, 2010

On Tuesday morning, Microsoft revealed the retail pricing for the various versions of the Office 2010 productivity suite that will launch by mid-year. Retail versions of Office 2010 will be made available in two basic versions, a traditional boxed product with accompanying optical disc install media and a Product Key Card version that provides a product key so that the user can install an electronically downloaded version of the software.

"Office 2010 will be offered in four versions, to make it easier to choose a version of Office that?s best for you--Office Home and Business, Office Professional, Office Home and Student, and Office Professional Academic," Microsoft Office general manager Rachel Bondi wrote in a blog post announcing the pricing.

The pricing is as follows:

Office Home and Student - Includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote 2010. This version is not licensed for use in any commercial, nonprofit or revenue-generating activities, or by any government organization.
Boxed - $149
Product Key Card - $119
(Note: This product is a Family Pack and can be installed on up to 3 PCs in your household.)

Office Home and Business - Includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Outlook 2010.
Boxed - $279
Product Key Card - $199
(Note: This product can be installed on up to 2 PCs.)

Office Professional - Includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, and Access 2010.
Boxed - $499
Product Key Card - $349
(Note: This product can be installed on up to 2 PCs.)

Office Professional Academic - Includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher, and Access 2010. It will be made available only through authorized academic resellers.
Boxed - $99
Product Key Card - n/a
(Note: This product can be installed on up to 2 PCs.)

Microsoft also revealed that the Office 2010 public beta has been phenomenally successful, with over 2 million customers downloading, installing, and using the product on their PCs. That's a download rate of over 40,000 a day, the company notes.

CES 2010 To Kick Off Amidst Apple Frenzy

January 5, 2010

Tonight, I'll be flying to Las Vegas for the 2010 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the largest trade show in North America with over 120,000 attendees and the on-site presence of most of the top electronics and PC companies from around the globe. But there is one obvious holdout--iPhone and iPod maker Apple--from this otherwise hugely important show. And the company's shadow is again casting a pall over the proceedings.

What makes this year's CES odd, however, is that Apple isn't even holding its own Macworld Expo event at roughly the same time, as it had for many years past. (Macworld organizer IDG is still putting on the show, but Apple's not attending or presenting, which one has to assume spells the end of that little drama.) For years, Apple's less-well-attended show generated more buzz than did CES, a feat of marketing showmanship that is still hard to explain. And this year, Apple is doing it again. The buzz, not the show.

Despite never once admitting to developing such a device, Apple is reportedly preparing a tablet-like computer, or 3G-connected mobile Internet device, or ... something. This ... thing ... has captured the collective imagination of the tech press, the blogger goobership, and of course the general public too. This despite there already being Tablet PCs (since 2002, in a variety of form factors, and from many companies) and a host of mobile Internet devices (also from a wide range of companies) on the market. The difference, of course, is that this time Apple is (allegedly) making a tablet. So it's interesting. For some reason.

Decades ago, Apple used to attend CES and its CEO of the day, John Sculley, even keynoted the event. But with the return of Steve Jobs in the late 1990's, Apple circled the wagons and stuck to Apple-oriented events and, more recently, special Apple-hosted events that it can schedule at will. There's been a lot of speculation that Apple can and should attend CES, with today's CEO Steve Jobs keynoting the event. Such a thing would be incredibly popular, no doubt, but Apple has shown little interest.

It doesn't need to. Virtually everything Apple has done post-Mac has turned to gold. Its iPod portable media players are the industry standard, their growth slowed only by the advent of the company's iPhone and the dominant iTunes Store that powers them both with music, movies, TV shows, apps, and other content. There's still plenty of room for the iPhone to grow--and Apple has already shipped three versions of that device in as many years--but the Cupertino company is now, if the rumors are correct, turning its attention to yet another market. Whatever that market is.

Meanwhile, in the Las Vegas desert, a host of Apple competitors are nervously setting up camp, despite the fact that many of them already field competitive smart phones, mobile Internet devices, computers, and related services. The reason is simple: Apple is a media darling and even in markets where the company is routinely trounced--like the PC market, where the Mac represents just 4 percent of worldwide sales--it receives an undo amount of attention. So it is with this tablet thing, whatever it is: Despite the fact that Apple's competitors have been selling tablet devices for years, no one cares. Apple is entering the market. Maybe. And if it does--when it does--many presume it will immediately make a difference.

But back to CES, the massive technology backstory that is currently unfolding in Las Vegas. This week, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will deliver a keynote address at which he will no doubt heavily promote the company's consumer successes, like the recently launched Windows 7, the Xbox 360 video game system, and the, um ... well, some other stuff too, no doubt. I asked Microsoft what it had planned for the show and was told not to expect too much. This from a company that makes MP3 players (Zune), a smart phone OS (Windows Mobile), automotive electronics (Ford Sync), Internet services (Windows Live, Bing), and much more that can and should be of interest to consumers.

It's hard to fight the Apple buzz, especially when the collective media horde is more interested in a single Apple product that may or may not exist (and isn't being announced this week regardless) than it is in any of the products that will debut at CES this week. What else could go wrong?

Oh, right. Google is going to announce its Nexus One smart phone today. Great.

See you in Las Vegas!

About the Author(s)

Paul Thurrott

Paul Thurrott is senior technical analyst for Windows IT Pro. He writes the SuperSite for Windows, a weekly editorial for Windows IT Pro UPDATE, and a daily Windows news and information newsletter called WinInfo Daily UPDATE.

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