At the 2009 CES Dell brought out Adamo, a product that was more beautiful but about the same size as the MacBook Air. Made out of brushed metal and glass (yes, glass) this thing was not only a piece of art but would resist scratching better, by far, than the Air does.
Plus, when you held it (and I held it longingly for awhile) it didn't feel cheap. So many of the light notebooks just don't feel substantial and give the impression they would break if you looked at them funny. This Dell not only looked rich, it felt rich and was undoubtedly the most lust-worthy of the products at the show.
In addition, Dell, which lags HP dramatically on printing, brought out the cigarette-sized nicely designed Wasabi printer that addresses a need for portable picture printing that Polaroid used to address but is largely unmet in the current market.
They beat HP to market with this well designed product and, for once, in printing, HP will be chasing them. This was a risk but it was also thinking out-of-the-box. Nicely done.
HP Build Green Gaming
I mentioned the DV2 above but the other interesting product in the gaming space was the HP Firebird. This product is the first "Green" gaming machine.
It design elements of its larger sibling the Blackbird, and this more affordable product has on-board NVIDIA SLI graphics in a hybrid configuration. So it not only pulls less power in full gaming mode, it can be switched to economy mode and be used like a regular PC or left running while pulling dramatically less energy.
I've been using one of these, and instead of the more typical 300 to 500+ watts, this thing typically pulls 150 watts in high power mode, saving tons of energy and lowering its carbon footprint dramatically. Folks don't think about economy gaming hats off to HP for doing that this time.
NVIDIA ION for Atom
The hot processor at the show was the Intel Atom. It was on the majority of Netbooks and when I asked why one vendor wasn't using a VIA chip they said because no one wants to buy a VIA -based product. That's the power of marketing.
But the issue with Atom is a lack of graphics performance. The Ion platform by NVIDIA is targeted at addressing this shortcoming but Intel bundles their own graphics technology. And the vendor is tying it up in a nice bundle with financial incentives that make it hard to break out any of the parts to create a best-of-breed product.
However, the Ion from NVIDIA is enough better that some vendors are willing to pay the premium because customers want this extra performance. It turns netbooks into notebooks and provides the incredibly efficient processing power of the Atom with a stronger graphics engine, allowing them to do more fun things with their little computers.
Taking this chance was huge, but the result, when these products show up, will be worth it.
Fugoo: Going Modular
I've been trying to get folks to build a modular computer for years and the economics just weren't working. About the time I'd given up, the people who founded eMachines came out with Fugoo, which is just a cool idea that I'm still trying to wrap my mind around.
We know that things that don't have computers in them are getting them but are going down a path that isn't as efficient and modular as the PC originally did. Each computer is proprietary and comes with unique support costs and problems.
Fugoo is a standard computer module, which could eliminate much of this cost and make intelligent appliances and devices a more affordable reality in a fraction of the time it will otherwise take. I'm into affordable and fast, so, of course I'm into Fugoo.
Cisco Creating the Home Visual Network of the Future
Last, but far from least, was my biggest annoyance at CES: the inability for companies to create an affordable, seamless way to move media around the house.
The best has traditionally come from a small company with a great product called Sonos but they simply didn't have the funding to create something that could move all my media. They simply focused on music and I'm more of a video kind of guy (though my wife loves the Sonos system we have).
Cisco showcased a Home Media product line that appeared to match Sonos for music with an even broader set of media extenders and a NAS-like Media Hub. But what made them special is that they showcased a vision that promised video was coming into the mix shortly and that what I was missing would soon arrive.
This gave me hope that my wishes would soon be met and a little hope goes a long way toward creating a better tomorrow.