Consumer Electronics Show wrap-up: Annual tech show relevant as ever
BY ROBERT EVATT World Staff Writer
Sunday, January 13, 2013
1/13/13 at 7:06 AM
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Original Print Headline: Taste of tech
LAS VEGAS - Another Consumer Electronics Show has come and gone, and once again I'm hoping my legs eventually recover.
I walked as much of the 1.9 million square feet of show space as I possibly could during the world's biggest tech show; I never knew when I was going to walk into an intriguing new find.
Because the show's concept is so broad - if it's tech, it's in - the experience melts into a potpourri of things that beep and blink.
Trends are easy to spot. This year's CES felt like a show in transition, as longtime anchor Microsoft was nowhere to be found.
Sure, the company had just finished releasing Windows 8 and a slew of associated products, but it was still jarring to see the company's booth space taken up by Hisense, a Chinese manufacturer I had never heard of.
Plenty of tech pundits have questioned the continued relevance of the show, as Google and Apple skip CES in favor of their own events. Then again, these companies are so huge that any move they make gets plenty of attention.
Even with these missing spots, I'd argue the show is as relevant as ever. Beyond the new announcements from all the other huge companies, CES plays host to up-and-coming companies with ideas and flair many of the big boys are too scared or uninterested to try.
One example is the ZOMM Wireless Leash, a Tulsa-made product that was unveiled at a previous CES. Or, for this year, La Crosse Technology's Weather Alert Radio, which looks to be the first weather radio that novices can actually use.
Or HAPILabs' HAPIFork. Could you possibly imagine a profit-driven CEO of a megacorporation approving an e-fork? This company did, and the idea of tracking how fast you're eating isn't a bad one at all.
To me, these brave and innovative companies represent the true soul of CES, and many of them would never have such a great platform to let the world know of their creations without the show.
The HAPIFork seemed like everything that could possibly connect with your tablet or smartphone did. More than any other year, I saw cars, fitness accessories, robots, speakers, televisions, appliances and plenty of other things that linked up with mobile devices.
I even saw some Bluetooth-capable jewelry that vibrates when you get a text message or leave your phone behind.
This development is piggybacking off an incredibly successful sector, but it also shows just how much tablets and smartphones have changed our lives and have transitioned from luxuries to commonplace equipment.
Plus it's a reminder of just how much potential still lies within tablets and smartphones. With the right apps and accessories, amazing new functions continue to be unlocked.
Televisions, always a strong presence at CES, aren't being left behind. The term "second screen" was tossed around frequently to refer to using tablets and smartphones to watch content remotely or control what's on the main screen.
TV manufacturers are still chasing the smart TV dream, though none of their past efforts have truly driven sales. Maybe I'm an optimist, but the various smart TV solutions demonstrated this year seemed more polished and usable than in past years, so some of them might become a reason to pay a little extra for a set.
Unlike 3-D. Although highly touted at past CES shows, 3-D was almost dead this year. The few 3-D-capable sets at the show were shoved in quieter corners of company booths, as if to say "We've also got this, I guess."
Even the annual prototypes of glasses-free 3-D TVs were gone, except at the booth of one Chinese manufacturer I had never heard of.
In its place, we've got hype over 4K, or ultra high-definition. Essentially, it's higher definition than high definition, with more than 4,000 pixels in every horizontal row. I think I saw three different companies boast that they had the world's largest 4K TV.
Of course, the big question is when we'll start getting 4K content, but that's a column for another week.
A lot of what was shown at CES may never show up. Some technology is presented just as a concept, others might get canceled, and others might run out of funding. That's the danger of showcasing the latest technology.
Even so, I'd never give up the chance to at least see it. I'm already daydreaming of the possibilities for next year's show.
Among the big items at this year's Consumer Electronics Show were 4K televisions, such as these Sony 4K XBR LED televisions at the Sony booth. JAE C. HONG / Associated Press
The HAPIfork, made by HAPILabs, vibrates and lights up to help its user slow down to a healthy eating pace. JULIE JACOBSON / Associated Press
Many companies displayed ultra high-definition televisions at the 2013 CES, but the big question is when 4K content will be available. JULIE JACOBSON / Associated Press