On Location - CES 2011

The 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) kicked off this week in Las Vegas, Nevada. And for the first time this year, I have been fortunate enough to attend this important event in the tech calendar. While I'm certainly no stranger to Vegas or conventions in general, this show is special for me in many ways. It's by far the biggest convention I have ever attended, it's the first event to get coverage here on lgpOnTheMove, and it's the place to get the scoop on all the latest gadgets and technology to hit consumers hands. Last but most importantly, it's where I get to introduce lgpOnTheMove to product vendors and manufacturers.


Having worked many trade shows in the past such as CTIA and E3, the "road rules" at CES were familiar to me. What was unfamiliar was the convention center itself - I needed a while to learn the layout of the six halls. It actually took me a good half hour to find just the coat check once I arrived, but after the first day I pretty much knew where I needed to go.

My first stop was of course South Hall on Thursday morning, opening day of the exhibits. I tend to walk the show floor at a brisk pace, and it didn't take me long to cover all the booths inside the entire South Hall by lunch time. North and Central halls were covered during the other half of the day. For one thing, I get to take in the entire show in a single day, as I don't stop and gawk at every single booth or block traffic for others. The advantage is that when I do find something worth my attention, I can devote my time to that particular exhibit. The downside is that my feet ended up doing at least 12 miles of rapid walking in the first day - hey, the exercise never hurts!

Day two was spent visiting specific exhibitors of interest, as well as returning to those I spotted on the first day that I wanted to follow up with. While I didn't get to distribute as many business cards as I would have liked, I'm confident my efforts will be showing here on lgpOnTheMove in the coming weeks and months. I also spent this second day taking the bulk of my product photos, as the crowds tend to wither off after all the opening day hoopla.


Slates were definitely a hot item at the show, and I saw many booths showing off both Android and Windows-based products. I was actually pleased at the number of Windows 7 slates I observed - clearly Android and iOS are not the only game in town. Fujitsu, Viliv and MSI, just to name three, all had Windows 7 slates on display that will be going on sale later in the year.

Of particular interest was Viliv. The company had their entire product line-up on show at their booth. The successful S5 has been upgraded to Windows 7 as has the N5 and X70 EX. But the big addition to their lineup comes with the X70 Windows 7 slate. Sporting the newest Intel Oaktrail platform, this 7 inch beauty puts the full-computing functionality of a netbook into an incredibly slim and light slate design. Reading the specs alone, it's quite incredible that Viliv has been able to squeeze so much hardware and functionality into such a svelte form-factor, never mind managing to pull off 6 hours of battery life.

But Windows 7 wasn't the big deal Viliv was premiering at CES 2011. Also on show were the company's first slates running Android. The X7 and X10 are 7- and 10-inch versions of the X70, with support for Android 3.0. The specs are very similar to the Samsung Galaxy Tab, with the exception of course of the 10" screen and built-in WiMax option.

The most impressive slate device seen at the show came from Toshiba. Their beautiful 10" slate was on show in configurations running both Android and Windows 7. The high definition 1366x768 10" screen is a first for a slate form-factor. But while Toshiba has confirmed availability of the Android product, the Windows 7 version I was told is strictly a concept device - the company rep refused to confirm US availability of the Windows 7 slate.

Over at the Verizon Wireless booth, the company made a big splash with their 4G LTE product announcements. Chief among them was the new Samsung LTE hotspot device. Similar to the Clearwire 4G Clearspot I am currently testing, the Samsung product pushes Verizon's LTE network over wifi to multiple devices. While the company rep had no details on the price, battery life or plan details, I can only hope that the suits putting on the big-bucks presentation intend to reassess their current 4G plans and eliminate that wretched 5GB/10GB bandwidth cap - I refuse to drive on a freeway that has stop signs every 5 miles!

What did catch my attention at the Verizon Wireless exhibit was the newest Alienware m11x notebook. As well as receiving the Sandy Bridge treatment, this third revision of the popular 11" gaming notebook will also be sold with Verizon's 4G LTE built-in, making low-latency mobile gaming take on a whole new meaning. Again, the rep was unable to confirm availability or pricing, but I'll be expecting to see that information soon enough.

Over at the Sony booth, I got to sample an AMD Brazos netbook. The new 11" Sony VAIO Y series promises performance better than Intel's Pinetrail with battery numbers equal-to or better, with pricing starting at $549. Pushing a battery life of 6 hours and a weight of 3.2 lbs, this should be very similar to the HP Pavilion dm1z I was so pleased with last year.

Speaking of HP, I was able to catch their update to the 11" dm1z. Now simply called the dm1, the redesign is very similar in appearance to the smaller 10" Mini 210. Gone are the isolated, inverted-T cursor keys, and the mouse buttons are now integrated into the trackpad Envy style. If you don't like the redesign of the new dm1, then I recommend you pick up a dm1z NOW, while HP is still offering it online.

Over at the Intel booth, I was somewhat surprised to see nothing new in the netbook section, and bored at looking at the same Pinetrail netbooks that have been available for almost a year now. Most of the action was happening in the tablets section of Intel's booth showing off the various Android and Windows 7 slates. Considering that Oaktrail is Intel's own product, they are certainly down-playing it to a point that it raises the question - what does Intel want consumers to see this year? More of the same?


I had two full days to experience my first CES this year, and I have to say that my trip was well worth it. Alongside getting to enjoy the sights and fun of Vegas again, I've come away with a much better understanding of the gadgets to come in 2011 along with the technology behind them. Events such as CES certainly encourage face-to-face communication, and I was happy to meet many new people at the show who's products I have used or will be using. Most importantly, CES has helped promote lgpOnTheMove, and I'm looking forward to more widespread recognition from both readers and manufacturers.

Will I be coming back to CES 2012? You bet!!!

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