Razer Blade Stealth Ultrabook Sweeps Top Awards at CES

Now that the CES dust has settled on Las Vegas — analysts, journalists and tech bloggers can’t seem to say enough about the Razer Blade Stealth Ultrabook, which is generating an impressive number of awards from “Best PC” and “Best of CES” to “People’s Choice Award.” Engadget, Mashable, TechRadar and SlashGear are just a few of the numerous publications that are praising the $999 Razer Blade Stealth. The gaming laptop runs Windows 10 and touts a 12.5-inch multi-touch display with IGZO 16:9 aspect ratio. The Razer Core, an external graphics docking station, is also on its way. Continue reading Razer Blade Stealth Ultrabook Sweeps Top Awards at CES

Intel Develops Depth Sensing 3D Cameras to Track Emotion

Intel is developing depth sensing 3D cameras and software that are able to detect an individual’s emotional state. While refined motion detection technologies are not entirely new, Intel’s product goes beyond tracking the physical movements of objects to determining what the movement actually means. Intel’s depth sensing technology will first be available in webcams and may eventually become available in laptops, smartphones and tablets. Continue reading Intel Develops Depth Sensing 3D Cameras to Track Emotion

Samsung Readies ATIV Ultrabook and Tablet for U.S. Launch

Samsung plans to release two new PC products in the upcoming weeks: The company’s ATIV Book 9 Plus is a $1,399, 13.3-inch ultrabook featuring a 3,200 x 1,800 Gorilla Glass qHD+ display, which the company claims offers the “highest resolution in the world.” In addition, Samsung’s ATIV Tab 3 measures a mere 0.32-inches thick and weighs only 1.28 pounds. The $700 tablet features a 10.1-inch, 1,366 x 768 resolution display and boasts up to seven hours of battery life. Continue reading Samsung Readies ATIV Ultrabook and Tablet for U.S. Launch

Technicolor Certified Program Ensures Hues Across Devices

Technicolor, working with Portrait Displays, has developed a new standard for guaranteeing the hue quality across computer and mobile device panels. The Technicolor Color Certified Program will provide displays that meet the standard with a seal of approval. “For the end user, the result should be consistent tones across all certified devices either automatically or when the Technicolor color setting is enabled for specific programs or apps,” explains Engadget. Continue reading Technicolor Certified Program Ensures Hues Across Devices

SoftKinetic and Intel Pursue Era of Perceptual Computing

Belgium-based SoftKinetic built what it says is the world’s smallest 3D camera that recognizes gestures. The company has teamed with Intel to take the next step toward “perceptual computing,” which entails using more senses to interact with computers. The small 3D gesture-recognition camera, which is based on “time-of-flight” technology, will be used by Intel in its collection of perceptual computing technologies next year. Continue reading SoftKinetic and Intel Pursue Era of Perceptual Computing

New Google Chromebook Pixel: High Price Tag But Impressive

Google’s latest hardware development hit stores last week as the company unveiled its first touchscreen laptop powered by the Google Chrome operating system. Called the Chromebook Pixel, it costs $1,299 for the Wi-Fi only version and $1,449 for the upcoming version with built-in LTE wireless technology for use on-the-go. The LTE version goes on sale in April with Verizon offering special wireless plans for new owners. Continue reading New Google Chromebook Pixel: High Price Tag But Impressive

CES 2013: Lenovo Debuts Table PC, Android Phone and Laptops

Inside Lenovo’s tent, visitors challenged each other to a virtual game of air hockey on the company’s new IdeaCentre Horizon Table PC, which doubles as both an oversized tablet and desktop computer with a smart hinge system. The company also unveiled a sleek new 5.5-inch smartphone with an HD display and powerful cameras alongside a new ThinkPad convertible and IdeaPad ultrabook. Continue reading CES 2013: Lenovo Debuts Table PC, Android Phone and Laptops

CES 2013: Intel Core Processor Pushes Touch, Uses Less Power

Intel announced a range of initiatives at its pre-show press event. Areas including smartphones for emerging markets, tablet computing performance and Ultrabook power usage are real advances in their technology offerings, but the most interesting announcement on many levels was the inclusion of touch as necessary for all 4th generation versions of the Ultrabook Core processor standard. Continue reading CES 2013: Intel Core Processor Pushes Touch, Uses Less Power

CEA Forecasts 30-50 Ultrabooks Expected to Launch at CES 2012

  • At a recent CES Unveiled event in London, Shawn DuBravac, director of research for the CEA, predicted that a large number of ultrabooks will debut at the 2012 CES conference in January. “We expect to see 30 to 50 new ultrabooks launch at CES,” said DuBravac. TechCrunch responded with, “That’s a whole lot of MacBook Air clones.”
  • Each year, there seems to be a single prominent device showcased at the annual confab. “iPad killers were out in force at 2011′s show. 2010 was all about 3D TVs while netbooks was the popular product in 2009,” suggests the post. “It seems that ultrabooks might be 2012′s hot product. But can they break the dreaded CES curse that plagued the previous hot products?”
  • TechCrunch describes how Android tablets failed to challenge the iPad and how 3D TVs and netbooks failed to achieve significant adoption. If ultrabooks dominate the 2012 event, will they face the same fate?
  • “Ultrabooks are supposed to be the answer to Apple’s increasingly popular MacBook Air. Intel designed the computing platform to be as thin as possible while keeping the price low. The first batch of ultabooks start at $899 and offer competitive performance. But they’re still not built as well as the MacBook Air.”

Ultrabook, Padfone and iCloud: Impact on the PC Market?

Personal computing has seen some dramatic shifts in recent years, thanks in large part to the impact of social networking and its integration with entertainment media; the increased capability of smartphones and other portable devices; new high-speed networks and faster, smaller chips; the introduction of tablets and apps — and, of course, the success behind what many are currently labeling “The iPad Effect.”

Consumers have responded with increased demands and expectations regarding the convenience in which they are able to access their information, entertainment and various forms of electronic communication. As CE manufacturers scramble toward meeting these expectations, we are starting to see some interesting new form factors and delivery systems, as well as a potential impact on our more traditional electronic devices.

One of the ways this is playing out is in regards to the design, features, functionality (and competition) of tablets, laptops, netbooks, and PCs. And the prospect of additional changes resulting from cloud computing may accelerate the competition between devices. As we look forward, it should be worth keeping our eyes on the following trends and new products:

The Ultrabook

Intel is promoting a new category of laptops called the “Ultrabook” — a sort of hybrid laptop that incorporates the best features of tablets. The new designs (less than 0.8-inch thick) will be made possible by the latest 2nd-generation Intel Core processors. ASUS is one manufacturer behind the Ultrabook design and hopes to give Apple’s $999 MacBook Air a run for its money with the Ultrabook UX21 (featuring Intel’s i7 CPU and the new SanDisk U100 SSD). Intel predicts Ultrabooks could claim as much as 40 percent of the laptop market by 2012.

According to The Wall Street Journal: “A key goal is to deliver much thinner and lighter laptops, with mainstream price points and tablet-style features such as touchscreens and the ability to switch on quickly to let users call up websites without waiting.”

“They’ll cost under $1000, be extremely thin and portable, start up in seconds, be produced by a number of manufacturers and go on sale before Christmas,” adds Digital Trends in a similar write-up. “The emphasis on the portability and responsiveness of Ultrabooks shows that the world’s biggest chip maker is hoping to make consumers think twice about purchasing mobile devices such as the hugely popular iPad tablet.”

The Padfone

At Computex last week in Taipei, ASUS unveiled another new form factor, the “Padfone” — which Digital Trends describes as “a smartphone with a battery-equipped display dock that turns the device into a tablet.” The “pad” component does not function independently, but essentially serves as a tablet-shaped display with a dock, basically enhancing the phone’s functionality. In addition to a 10.1-inch screen to play with, the Padfone offers extended battery life, speakers, a keyboard, an I/O extender that will allow other devices to communicate with the phone, and functionality for the phone’s camera to keep working while docked. ASUS hinted at additional features that will be announced closer to the product’s planned Christmas release.

Will the Padfone, Ultrabook (or a similar new design) compete with current slate of tablets, laptops and desktop PCs? If the trends continue to push toward convenience, portability, speed, power, Web surfing and cloud services — the answer may be yes. At the very least, they may be the answer to netbooks. WSJ reports in response to the rise of thinner, more powerful devices: “The activity reflects both technology advances and growing pressure on personal-computer makers, particularly the rise of the iPad and other tablets. Goldman Sachs estimates that nearly 18 million of the touchscreen devices were sold in 2010, a figure it expects to swell to 60 million in 2011.”

iPad Tablet Competition

A number of manufacturers currently have tablet PCs on the market, but so far none of the devices (including the Samsung Galaxy Tab, Motorola Xoom or BlackBerry PlayBook) have been able to significantly compete with the growing success of the iPad, its many accessories and more than 65,000 apps. However, emerging tablets may impact the market by undercutting the price of the iPad. And with new, more powerful tablet chips from the likes of Intel, ARM and AMD, we may start to see some significant breakthroughs.

Taiwanese manufacturer Acer, for example, recently debuted its Iconia Tab A500 that runs Google’s Android OS. A $449 Wi-Fi version went on sale in April and a new model that works on AT&T’s 4G wireless network is scheduled for a summer release. “While it doesn’t beat either iPad overall, the Iconia Tab offers a decent alternative to Apple, especially for multimedia enthusiasts who want to display their content on a TV, PC or smartphone without additional gear,” reports WSJ.

If a new wave of price-conscious tablets can address the needs of consumers — particularly in regards to subscription- and cloud-based access to media content, video chats via services such as Skype or ooVoo, free and affordable new apps, and even potential glasses-free 3D displays (see the Eee Pad MeMO video demo from Engadget) — then the iPad (and other tablets) may start to feel the heat.

We may also see additional impact on the desktop PC market. It has been reported that PC manufacturers remain optimistic, viewing the recent dip in growth as a temporary bump in the road. However, in a report issued by Gartner this week, PC sales are not expected to grow as much in 2011 as earlier expected. The Gartner analysts blame the collapse of netbooks following the iPad’s release and added that, “regardless of the direct impact of the iPad and its kind, PCs no longer had the safety net they once did. They now had to compete against tablets, phones, set-top boxes and other devices as even the computers themselves were getting more specialized.”

Cloud Computing

A number of companies are gearing up for a new era of automated backup, synchronization, data storage and variety of cloud-based media services. There are those who believe this may be the final nail in the coffin for the desktop PC.

In a recent blog post commenting on Apple’s unveiling of OS X 10.7, iOS 5 and iCloud service — Robert X. Cringely addressed the possibility that Apple CEO Steve Jobs may be taking aim at killing Microsoft. Cringely writes, “Jobs is going to sacrifice the Macintosh in order to kill Windows. He isn’t beating Windows, he’s making Windows inconsequential.”

“We’re going to demote the PC and the Mac to just be a device — just like an iPad, an iPhone or an iPod Touch. We’re going to move the hub of your digital life to the cloud,” explained Jobs at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this week.

Cringely contends that this is the bold kind of thinking that Microsoft lacks. With Apple leading the charge, he suggests Google may soon take the same approach, “…adding automated backup, synchronization and migration to Android and Chrome.” We may see increased competition between Apple and Google if Cringely is correct in his assertion regarding the company that gets our data in the cloud, gets us as captive customers forever. “Both companies will be grabbing for data, claiming territory, and leaving Microsoft alone to defend a desktop that will soon cease to exist,” he suggests.

Time will tell what impact these changes will have on the desktop PC, but if Cringely is right, it won’t be much time… “This transition will take at most two hardware generations and we’re talking mobile generations, which means three years, total.”

What else?

Are there additional “bigger picture” themes we should be watching for in this sector? Let us know your thoughts…


Related Electronista article: “Apple more profitable than Microsoft as netbooks plunge 40%” (4/28/11)

Related Electronista post: “Gartner: PC growth slowing to 9.3% through iPad effect” (6/8/11)

Related Forbes article: “Microsoft Gets Reprieve As Tablets Aren’t Killing PC Sales (Yet)” (6/1/11)

Related Wall Street Journal article: “PCs See Tablets’ Silver Lining” (6/1/11)

Related Network World article: “AMD finally enters tablet market with new chip” (6/1/11)

Related Wall Street Journal article: “PC Makers Push Into ‘Ultrabooks'” (5/30/11)

Related Digital Trends article: “PadFone officially revealed, ASUS hints at Ice Cream Sandwich and second-gen tablets” (5/31/11)

Related Engadget post (includes videos): “ASUS announces the Padfone (update: eyes-on!)” (5/30/11)

Related Wall Street Journal article: “Samsung Leans on Android” (5/31/11)

Related Reuters article: “Intel unveils laptops that include tablet features” (5/31/11)

Related Wall Street Journal article: “A New Tablet From Acer Challenges iPad on Price” (5/26/11)

Related Gizmag post: “ASUS announces glasses-free Eee Pad MeMO 3D tablet” (6/2/11)

Related O’Reilly Radar article: “The iPad’s ripple effect” (1/31/11)