For most of us, the opportunity to attend the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas will never materialise, but it does have a profound effect on our gadget-purchasing habits throughout the year.
The gadgets creating the biggest buzz at the CES are an indication of what we will be filling our homes with, and this year tablet devices, e-book readers and 3D everything were hot, hot, hot.
With appetites being whetted by the recent releases of 3D feature films such as Up, A Christmas Carol, and especially Avatar, 3D TV was one of the biggest draws of the entire event.
From the world’s biggest 3D TV – a 152-inch Panasonic Full HD with 4096 x 2160 pixel resolution – to Sharp’s 3D LCD TV that comes equipped with a 3D Blu-ray disc player, even big-time US television networks, including ESPN and Fox, were gearing up with the announcement that they would have 3D channels later this year.
Awkward-looking goggles aside, the trend for 3D consumer technology spread beyond the TV set. Fujifilm’s FinePix Real 3D W1 has both 3D and 2D shooting modes and you can playback your 3D footage or stills on the spot.
If you’re not ready to invest in full 3D just quite yet, there was also 3D filter technology from Irish company Realview Innovations.
This filter is placed over an existing TV screen and makes the flat surface appear to bulge inwards, thus giving a 3D-like effect.
Of course, not all consumers have a desire to turn into couch potatoes and the large presence of electronic or e-book readers was testament to this.
While up until recently we only had a choice between Sony’s Reader and the Amazon Kindle (and Barnes & Noble’s Nook in the US), a wealth of varieties have come out of the woodwork.
The Skiff e-Reader
The Skiff e-Reader, at 11.5 inches, was the largest one to emerge and its big form factor plus next-gen e-paper is specifically designed to display newspapers, magazines and comics, setting it apart from the current crop that fit better with books.
Another standout electronic book device is the Alex eReader with its dual-screen display. The smaller bottom screen is a full-colour email-capable web browser running on Google’s Android operating system (OS).
Continuing on with the "small and mobile is beautiful" theme, tablet devices, or slate devices, as they were also being called, sated most attendee’s gadget lust, especially as Microsoft announced a slew of Windows 7-ready tablet devices, including ones from HP, Archos and Pegatron.
The HP slate
Pre-Apple iSlate appetites were whetted most notably with the HP multitouch tablet and Lenovo’s Ideapad U1 Hybrid Notebook/Tablet, whose dual processor and OS meant that the tablet can operate independently or integrally with the laptop.
Sony’s Dash was a tablet with a difference – a mobile internet device that seemed modelled on the chunky yet endearing Chumby, acting as a kind of web portal for viewing content, streaming media and small enough to be your alarm clock.
This can only mean that 2010 will inspire us to wear goggles, read a lot more and turn our internet usage into an ultra-instant and ultra-mobile Star Trek-inspired experience.
By Marie Boran
Main photo: Fujifilm’s FinePix Real 3D W1 camera