Tablets Work Their Quads at CES: New Models from Asus and Acer

  • Tablet computers, which bowed last year, are having a power surge in 2012. Driven largely by gaming, Acer and Asus both unveiled quad core tablets with 1280×800 HD displays, running Android 4.
  • At the NVIDIA booth, an Asus ME370T quad core was on display. The 7-inch tablet is powered by NVIDIA’s Tegra 3 processor with Android 4 (Ice Cream Sandwich).
  • The Asus model features an 8-megapixel camera and up to 64GB of internal storage. It starts at $249 and will be released in the first quarter.
  • Acer’s 10-inch Iconica A510 was also on display at the NVIDIA booth, touting a 5-megapixel camera, up to 32GB of internal storage, Blutooth, Wi-Fi and HDMI out.
  • The unit is expected to be released in the first half of the year. Pricing wasn’t available.
  • NVIDIA also had a prototype quad tablet running Windows 8.
  • The effectiveness in mobile devices of quad core processors, which typically run hot and suck battery life, has been the subject of debate. Competing chip manufacturer Texas Instruments is for the time being sticking with dual core chips loaded with graphics accelerators and Intel’s new Atom chip (Medfield) has a reimagined architecture that is essentially single core.
  • In terms of mobile gaming, the speed of the network will also be critical factor for cloud-based or multiplayer, real-time gaming. At CES, Qualcomm was demonstrating multiplayer tablet gaming between two players connected to a TV via HDMI cable, but linked to each other on Verizon’s 4G LTE network.
  • The expectation is that as power evolves, developers will create new apps to specifically take advantage of multiprocessor threading.

Fujitsu Teases Android Quad Core Smartphone with 13MP Camera

  • Fujitsu is the first manufacturer to publicly display a quad core Android phone prototype at CES.
  • The unit, which was not given a name, looks consistent with the Arrows line. It has a 4.6-inch screen with 1280×720 resolution.
  • Attendees were not allowed to handle the handset, which was displayed under plexiglass, but it was demonstrated to impressive effect driving games via HDMI cable to an HDTV screen and wirelessly using Bluetooth with a game pad.
  • The Android device was running on an NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor and features an impressive 13-megapixel camera.
  • Details such as price, carrier agreement and release date were not available. Fujitsu plans to show a more complete development model at Mobile World Congress in February.
  • HTC has announced plans to release a Tegra 3 quad core handset, the Edge. Though HTC did not show the phone at CES, it is speculated that the 4.7-inch Android unit, also 1280×720, will be the first in class to actually come to market (some say as soon as the first half of the year), through an as yet unspecified carrier.

Next in Store: Augmented Reality Enters the Retail Space

  • Real-world objects are mingling with digital environments in a way that had been possible only on bluescreen movie sets. Known as “augmented reality,” the technology is starting to pop up at retail.
  • It was part of the Qualcomm keynote in the form of a “Sesame Street” playset that used the chipmaker’s Vuforia AR.
  • Intel is showcasing Lego Digital Box technology. When a customer presents a toy at a Digital Box kiosk, a discreetly-placed camera “recognizes” the packaging, activating a screen that mirrors the scene, with one important difference: the package contents spring to life atop the box. A Lego Digital Box kiosk is currently installed in the Chicago store and the company plans to roll them out nationally this year.
  • Over at the Microsoft booth they’re taking it interactive with gesture recognition, using technology developed for Kinect. Microsoft will release a Kinect for Windows SDK on February 1. The move was inspired by the fact that developers were hacking the Kinect software and using it for their own experimental projects.
  • Fashion marketing firm FaceCake was among those demonstrating their wares at Microsoft. The Calabasas-based firm leveraged Kinect to create an application called Swivel that lets customers “try on” clothing and accessories.
  • “We see it going to a place where just about everybody has a 3D depth camera in their home, and there will be displays in stores and the two will interact in what we call a Swivlet — a virtual closet,” FaceCake founder Leigh Utterback said.

Sisvel Offers TV Broadcasters Skinny 3D Signal via Tile Format

  • Italian firm Sisvel Technology is showcasing a 3D broadcast signal it says delivers better quality over less spectrum. Using a proprietary frame slicing technique it calls the “3D Tile Format,” the system delivers a 3D and backward-compatible 2D HD signal without doubling the bandwidth.
  • The signal maintains a true 16×9 aspect ratio and 3D that does not blur during data-intensive 3D action scenes, a company rep explained.
  • Samsung and Panasonic televisions are shipping with Tile Format compatibility. Other sets can display the signal using set-top boxes.
  • Decoder manufacturers currently include Sim2’s 3D Home, DVB-T and 3D Home DVB-S, Giada, Juice 3D and Antik Technology.
  • Content partners include Quartarete, 50Canale, SES and Vietnam’s VTV.
  • Where to see it: South Hall 20806

Video: Comrex Broadcasts Live with LiveShot Video Over IP Codec

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  • Comrex Corp. is making professional news gathering more nimble with LiveShot, “a compact solution for doing live low latency video delivery for electronic news gathering — or what the industry is now calling IP ENG.”
  • Set to ship in March, it will work in conjunction with an IP network (in the case of this video demo, the 4G LTE network from Verizon) to transmit broadcast quality audio and video over the Internet.
  • Comrex already has thousands of customers in the field using a similar technology to produce audio feeds for radio, using its LTE-enabled Access device.
  • “With $15,000 worth of hardware mounted onto a camera and the use of a 4G LTE network, television news crews can do the same thing they did with a quarter million dollar satellite and microwave truck,” Comrex’s Chris Crump said.
  • LiveShot works with any professional camera equipped with an Anton/Bauer mount (or adapter) and an HDMI port (it also works off a composite or HD-SDI signal).
  • The camera-mounted encoder costs $7,000 and the studio-resident decoder $5,000.
  • Where to see it: Verizon Booth, South Hall 30161

Video: Augmented Reality Demo from Verizon's Future Tech Zone

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  • Verizon Wireless briefly discusses some of the possibilities with augmented reality technologies that can take place over its network.
  • In this demo, we see the interactivity possible between marketers and consumers in bringing magazine advertising to 3D life with the help of a QR code and an app.
  • “Rather than a one way advertisement, it becomes two way. It becomes more of a relationship.”
  • Where to see it: South Hall

Intel WiDi: Wireless Display Tech Coming to a Living Room Near You

  • Connected TV has taken center stage, and at this CES we are seeing production model TVs equipped with Intel’s WiDi capability out of the box.
  • WiDi, or wireless display, extends the laptop to the television screen.
  • Intel introduced the technology in 2010, but it’s just now beginning to bear fruit, with a multitude of WiDi-ready devices coming to market, including all new ultrabooks and models from 100 different OEMs.
  • It will also be enabling WiDi on Intel-chip tablets and phones. Intel is only now entering those markets, and was showing at its booth pre-release Lenovo tablets and phones.
  • Samsung and Sharp are among the manufacturers shipping sets with built-in WiDi, as is AT&T on its U-verse boxes, and consumers can expect “Intel WiDi” badges to become as ubiquitous as “Intel Inside.” Adapter boxes that retrofit existing sets hit retail last year for $100.
  • Connectivity-wise, WiDi is also going to be used to connect computer-to-computer, or computer-to-phone. Intel is emphasizing the creation of an optimized Android SDK for the Intel chip architecture, which should result in a number of interesting mobile apps.
  • Where to see it: Central Hall 7253

Iomega Personal Cloud: Remote Access of Network Storage Server

  • The cloud is a huge presence hovering above CES, but for those who are squeamish at the idea of using mass shared storage, Iomega is offering mini-servers that function as “personal clouds.”
  • The concept is essentially an easy-to-use means of accessing an NAS server at home from anywhere via the Internet.
  • Iomega Personal Cloud also allows users to share files with up to 250 members.
  • When not in use the unit automatically powers down to a 1-volt sleep mode.
  • An entry-level 4TB setup costs about $899, and the units scale up to 12TB. Available from Fry’s Electronics and online.
  • Where to see it: Intel Booth, Central Hall 7253; Iomega, Venetian Renaissance Suite

Video: Motorola Emphasizes Maximum Power with Droid Razr Maxx

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  • Motorola’s new 4G Droid Razr Maxx is built for maximum power, with a 3300mAh battery that just about doubles the industry average.
  • The company claims the device can run for 21 hours of talk time — or the streaming of eight movies — before needing to be recharged.
  • At 8.99mm the Maxx is slightly thicker than the 7.11mm of the prior version. It includes a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED display, dual-core 1.2GHz processor and Android Gingerbread 2.3.5 (upgradeable to Ice Cream Sandwich).
  • It also features HD video capture and playback via front and rear-facing cameras.
  • Available in the next 3-4 weeks through Verizon.
  • Where to see it: Central Hall 8644

Microsoft Draws Big Crowds for Windows 8 Demonstrations

  • If the size of the crowds packing the Microsoft booth demos is any indication, there is a lot of interest in Windows 8.
  • Maximized for touchscreen interaction, the Windows 8 user interface makes ample use of slide commands (which can be achieved via mouse or keystrokes for those not using a tablet).
  • The colorful tiled interface, dubbed “Metro Style,” is ubiquitous across all new Microsoft platforms including Windows Phone, and allows for a high degree of customization.
  • Cool features include automatically hibernating any open apps that are not actively being used, for maximum processor efficiency.
  • The ability to search and share content across multiple platforms (from hard drive to phones and social media) is also handy, as is a snapping function that keeps multiple windows open and locked in position.
  • Microsoft says there has already been 3 million downloads of the developer preview and a Windows Store opens in February when the public will be able to download a free trial version.
  • The commercial release remains unannounced, but is expected by the end of the year.
  • Where to see it: Central Hall 7244

Marketing User-Generated Content: Alcatel-Lucent Pushes Fan Cam

  • Alcatel-Lucent is showcasing a new app called the Fan Cam, developed through its ng Connect Program with member companies 4DK and AFP.
  • The idea is for a wireless provider like Verizon or AT&T to partner with location-based entertainment (sports, music, and more) to further engage fans by allowing them to share user-created material.
  • Fans use their phones to register as participants at live events, where they could then access content like instant replays, fan-uploaded photos and participate in real-time contests and receive special offers.
  • Spectators can live-stream an event or game from their seat and the compiled content can be marketed afterwards or shared with friends. It can also be analyzed by an editor during the event and shown on the big screens.
  • “They’re doing all this content sharing on things like Facebook. Why not engage them directly?” an Alcatel-Lucent rep explained.
  • Where to see it: North Hall 2931

Dell Makes its Ultrabook Debut: $999 XPS 13 with Smart Connect

  • Dell will begin releasing ultrabooks at the end of February. The XPS 13 will start at $999 with an Intel i5 processor, 13.3-inch LED screen and 128GB solid-state drive.
  • Ultrabooks are one of this year’s “it” items at CES. Positioned as the PC answer to the iBook in terms of performance, they are larger and pricier than netbooks.
  • The fact that Dell — one of the largest suppliers in the U.S. — has chosen to enter the market is seen as significant.
  • The XPS 13 weighs just under 3 pounds, has up to 8 hours of battery life and is being offered in an iBook-like aluminum case with an LED backlit keyboard and Gorilla Glass screen.
  • It will also feature Intel’s “Smart Connect” technology, prompting the unit to periodically “wake up” from sleep mode to update email and calendar items if a Wi-Fi network is available.
  • Future design plans include touchscreen capability and the ability to convert the clamshell into a tablet.
  • Where to see it: Central Hall 7253

Intel Pacts with Motorola and Lenovo for Atom-Powered Devices

  • Intel has announced deals with Motorola Mobility and Lenovo to create phones and tablets powered by the Intel Atom family of chips.
  • At his keynote, Intel CEO Paul Otellini was joined by Motorola CEO Sanjay Jha to announce a “multi-year partnership” that would see phones and tablets hit the U.S. market in the second half of the year.
  • Otellini also shared the stage with Lenovo senior VP Liu Jun, who said his company would release an Atom-equipped Android phone, the K800, that will be sold in China during the second quarter.
  • The promised 8 hours of 4G talk time with standby time of 14 days make this a formidable package. A 10-inch Atom tablet will also be made available in that country.
  • Otellini talked up the Atom Z2460 platform, formerly known as “Medfield,” which was specifically designed for smartphones and tablets. It offers Wi-Di, a wireless technology that sends content from phones and tablets to TV screens.
  • Some are wondering how the Motorola venture will play out, given that Google — which in August announced plans to buy the company — has phone deals mainly with manufacturers that use chips made by ARM Holdings.
  • The presentation also included a demo of the upcoming 32nm Intel Atom SoC for tablets and hybrids running on Microsoft’s Windows 8, and news that Dell would be releasing its first ultrabook, the XPS 13, which features Intel’s Core i7 processor.
  • Where to see it: Central Hall 7253

New Droid Razr Maxx from Motorola Boasts Extreme Battery Life

  • Motorola’s new 4G Droid Razr Maxx for Verizon is built for longevity, with 21 hours of talk time — or the streaming of eight movies — before the unit needs to be recharged.
  • The company unveiled the phone at CES, just hours before Intel announced Motorola as one of the first mobile providers that had agreed to use its Atom chip (however, the Droid Razr Maxx will not be using the Intel chip).
  • The 3300mAh battery just about doubles the industry average (roughly 1700-1900mAh).
  • At 8.99mm the Maxx is slightly thicker than the 7.11mm of the prior version.
  • Other specs remain largely unchanged: a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED display, dual-core 1.2GHz processor and Android Gingerbread 2.3.5 (upgradeable to Android’s next gen Ice Cream Sandwich).
  • Motorola is also touting Motocast, an app the company describes as a “personal cloud,” allowing mobile devices to access content on a home or work PC. Both the Droid Maxx and the Droid XY Board tablet feature Motocast. An IR transmitter on the Board enables it to control the television.
  • In August, Google announced its intent to purchase Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion.
  • Where to see it: Central Hall 8644

Qualcomm Snapdragon Powers Lenovo Smart TV and More

  • Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 chip makes its smart TV debut with Lenovo, whose senior VP Liu Jun emphasized the chip set’s speed for gaming. The unit will run on Android’s Ice Cream Sandwich and incorporate voice controls in the remote.
  • CEO Paul Jacobs also revealed in his keynote that the company is partnering with Microsoft to demonstrate pre-release Windows 8 devices using Snapdragon S4 processors with AT&T’s 4G LTE connectivity.
  • The offerings underscore what seems to be an advantage by robust and low-powered cell phone chips over more traditional PC processors (at a CES in which one of the major subplots is Qualcomm’s face-off with Intel).
  • Jacobs predicts mobile will become a $1.3 trillion industry and believes emerging markets will account for roughly half of all smartphones shipping by 2015.
  • New products also include an e-reader from Hanvon for the Chinese market that incorporates full-color video at 1024×768 and uses Mirasol display technology.
  • Qualcomm has teamed with Sesame Street Workshop to offer “augmented reality” technology Vuforia, with a tablet camera that “recognizes” designated 3D objects and populates them in 3D screen environments.
  • The keynote also included an impressive display of health-related devices, including a phone that displays a cardiogram onscreen when the user applies fingertips to two sensor pads — and an app that measures blood glucose in real time.
  • Qualcomm announced that in three years $10 million would be awarded to the developer of the best self-diagnosis medical tool.
  • Where to see it: South Hall 30313