CES, the Consumer Electronics Show, Las Vegas - I’ve been to tech shows before, but never, ever anything of this scope. There are more robotic vacuums and iPod cases than has ever been collected under one roof, but that’s only the beginning.
I’ve not even caught up with all the big PC vendors either (though I have seen some cool stuff from Dell already – more later). But regardless, here’s a quick run down of the cool stuff that’s caught my eye so far – not all of its going to be available in Australia, but keep your fingers crossed. Not everything on show is new, either, but in many cases it’s first time I’ve had a chance to actually look at and play with a lot of these hard-to-find-downunder toys.
One piece of kit I know will be released in Australia is Dell’s latest Crystal
monitor. We make no bones about really liking Dell monitors, and this 1680 x 1050 HD screen takes the cake. Design-wise, it’s a real departure for the company – the 4mm tempered glass screen is set in a clear perspex rim, like a mini Bravia display. Also set into that perspex are the speakers and monitor controls, which are seamlessly integrated into the plastic. It’s very Apple, and very Harmon Kardon.
Alienware had a prototype monitor on show that we cannot wait to see in production – a big monitor, roughly the with screen real estate of three side-by-side 19in screens, and with a gentle curve to surround the viewer. Crysis was the game showcasing the system, and it was a showstopping example of what the display is capable of – it literally looked like a different game.
There’s a lot of neat monitor display technology on show here. Crown Trading System’s
multi-monitor display really caught my attention: a single box that can connect and power up to 16 monitors from one PC. Sure, it’s designed for serious stock and financial trading action, but one look at this puppy and all I could think was “this” is how a flight sim should be played.
HD and other digital media is of course a big draw, and there was a maze of technologies to navigate. A couple that stood out, but that, sadly, are not likely to make it into our market, are the satellite powered XstreamHD
, which uses a small satellite receiver to stream 1080P full HD media with 7.1 channels of sound to your TV via a proprietary media center. It can push up to four separate streams throughout the home, and the server comes with 500GB of Seagate storage as standard.
It’s a really attractive concept, and while there’s no details of the subscriber rate, the hardware and setup is only $US399. Not that we’re likely to see this down our way, but one can dream.
|Wireless HD: XstreamHD streams full 1080P HD with 7.1 channel sound|
Serious FPS gamers will drool over the Wolf King
range of keyboards. Kind of like an MS ergonomic keyboard on a meth binge, these circular keyboards feature keys placed for optimal gaming. There are two sizes, the larger one featuring a cutdown QWERTY keyboard on the right surface – it takes some getting used to, but once up to speed you can keep fragging with your left hand while you type gloating messages with your left.
The other toy that stood out in this area was the newly released iRecord (www.irecord.com). This neat little white box offers a one-touch solution for recording movies, TV, music or streaming audio straight to your iPod, USB device or PSP. The iRecord attaches directly to a DVD or CD player or similar device; you press record; the media is recorded to your chosen portable device without the need for a PC. You can even schedule recording, making it like a mini PVR. Kinda neat, and not bad for $US199.
|Next Gen WebCam: ZCam detects user movement at 60fps|
3DV System’s (www.3dvsystems.com) been playing close attention to Youtube and Wii hacking, obviously, and has come up with its own video imaging system that can read user movements. The ZCam is basically a fancy web camera utilising a proprietary chip set – DeepC – that lets the camera perceive very accurate depth information at up 60fps. In action, this means you can use a gesture-based command system to control media systems, edit the image stream in a video conference (“Yes, boss, I really am in Paris!), and play games by translating your body movement into the on-screen action. It makes throwing a knock out punch in a boxing sim a singularly satisfying experience. The great thing about this solution is that it doesn’t need the user to wear anything special – the camera does all the sensing work, and from my demo it seems a pretty foolproof solution.
|Hard drive heaven: Sans Digital storage boxes include a Fibre Channel option for the extremely wealthy|
Sans Digital (www.sansdigital.com) had a range of great hard drive based storage solutions, especially its single unit towers. The handsome, pitted steel-look towers come in NAS and DAS varieties, with the Direct Attached modules offering USB 2.0, SCSI, iSCSI, Firewire, Fibre Channel, SATA and eSATA connectivity. It’s no Big Willy, but still pretty handy stuff for storing and moving large chunks of data.
If you’re more interested in smaller chunks, then bigC’s USB Digital Microscope (www.bigc.com) is super cool. Considering it’s a unit just a little bit bigger than your thumb, it’s a surprisingly powerful microscope – great for peering at shell casings, spiders and goopy bits of biology (all the things they had on display). It’s also a great little tool for electronics fiddlers, or hardcore, mobo re-wiring overclocker types. There are four models, offering up to 200x magnification adjustable, or 500x fixed.
Finally (but by no means final – there’s a lot more show to cover) there’s the new range of headsets coming from Able Planet (www.ableplanet.com). The company started out making hearing aids and similar technologies, but has recently taken that expertise into the mainstream headset market. The company offers a range of headsets, from enhanced hearing devices to fully fledged gaming headphones, and the difference that Able Planet’s Linx Audio technology offers is astounding. The company is about to launch in Australia, too, so we’ll be keeping a keen eye on these beautiful headphones.
Phew! That’s it for now. I'm running back into the fray.