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CES 2011: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

In what I hope is an annual adventure, the Delegator team traveled to the desert for the Consumer Electronics Show. In the weeks leading up to the show I intentionally ignored the incessant CES rumors on the popular gadget sites in hopes of reviewing the latest and greatest in tech firsthand. In what will become a regular series on the Delegator Blog, I decided to break down CES into The Good, the Bad , and the Ugly.

The Good

Samsung’s 75” Worlds Largest Full HD 3D LED TV

This TV has the clearest, richest picture I have ever seen anywhere. I can’t speak for the 3D capabilities of this 75” masterpiece, but if it is at all comparable to the 2D images, it would far outshine the lackluster 3D from the rest of the show (more on that later). This model is expected to be available sometime this year giving you time to sell your house to meet the expected high price point.

Samsung Worlds Largest Full HD TV

Motorola Atrix

While the Atrix didn’t have the best screen of CES (that goes to the no name Samsung 4G LTE Smartphone with its Super AMOLED Plus screen) the rest of the phone was outstanding. The Atrix will bring the first dual core processor to the US (via Nvidia’s Tegra 2) and offer 720p HD video capture. It runs Android 2.2 but will be upgraded to the Gingerbread Android 2.3 build later this year.

The most innovative aspect of the Atrix is what Motorola is calling “Webtop”. Webtop is an app that will allow users to connect their Atrix to a monitor (via dock/HDMI) and have a near computer-like experience. It brings quality multimedia abilities and a FULL Firefox browser within reach. With all of the shackled mobile browsers we saw at CES, access to a full Firefox build from a phone is refreshing. Citrix is also touting an App to allow for full remote desktop capabilites from the Atrix and a dock. It’s almost like a CR-48...but with Firefox (and it fits in your pocket).

Motorola Atrix

Kinect

Microsoft had a subpar CES but the Kinect area of their booth was consistently the most crowded place we visited. Microsoft deserves credit both for the product and the presentation here. While waiting in line to play Kinect, Microsoft was showing off its upcoming Kinect Avatars and had Zach engaged in an interesting debate with an on screen live avatar. Zach ultimately won the battle when the avatar was unable to stick out his tongue (reminded me of stretching the boundaries of Burger King’s Subservient Chicken). Once Zach and I stepped into our private Kinect pod, a Microsoft rep set up a nice game of volleyball that was much more fun than I had expected. The responsiveness was outstanding and it was able to differentiate speeds of various serves and spikes accurately. For my first taste of Kinect, I was very impressed.

The Bad

Tablets

I went into CES with the goal of finding my future tablet. While there were some impressive components to the tablet offering of CES 2011, I was overall underwhelmed by the complete devices. There was no one device that had me anticipating the iPad 2 any less, and really, the original iPad would still be my current pick. To be fair, a large part of my disappointment was directly related to not being able to play around with a full Android Honeycomb build on some of the top tablets.

The tablet with the biggest buzz was the Motorola Xoom. While it had great specs, it too was literally held down by the lack of Honeycomb and the reps that could only play preselected videos while guarding the devices.

Microsoft and ASUS tried their best with the Eee Slate running Windows 7, but after 5 minutes in Excel, IE and File Manager I was wanting a mouse because of constant click inaccuracies.

The bigger point that tablets need their own OS rang very true throughout the show and with Honeycomb (and maybe a new OS for the iPad 2?) around the corner, my purchase will have to wait.

Glasses-Free 3D TV

It’s just not there yet. After getting positioned perfectly on top of the suggested viewing footprints, I could see some decent 3D from the various sets, but I was never able to get to that point where I wasn’t distracted by the TV enough to actually watch the content. I know they’re mainly prototypes at this point, but I just wasn’t seeing how it will take off. Once they work past the mandatory viewing angle and improve the quality of the picture I will be happy to give it another go.

The Ugly

Nvidia’s KEGputer

When I say ugly here I mean AWESOME. Nvidia teamed up with Sierra Nevada to create what they call the KEGputer, “a blissful marriage of a 15.5 gallon keg and a liquid cooled GeForce GTX gaming PC.” At first I thought the beer helped cool the machine, but I was quickly reminded that that would warm the brew and rob the user of half the fun. It turns out there is a 2.5 gallon mini keg with a refrigeration system and in-line Co2 pump on top of the PC. The PC wasn’t too shabby either boasting top components from Nvidia, ASUS, Danger Den, Crucial and Antec.

Internet TV

I’m not in the camp that thinks that Internet TV is going to be a total flop. I think the idea of having apps integrated with a TV could be huge (think fantasy football live scoring overlayed with the NFL Red Zone Channel) but no one has nailed it yet. One of the biggest problems I have with Internet TV is that some TV manufacturers think that having their own app store is better than a universal app world. Google TV is the closest to getting it right currently, but it still has question marks. Hopefully Google will continue to adjust to users’ demands rather than killing it off like Google Wave. And while Sony had Google TV prominently displayed throughout their massive booth, they unfortunately were still pushing those awful remotes. Internet TV isn’t quite there yet, but hopefully it will be on the Good side next year.

Overall CES was quite the experience and I think that anyone remotely interested in tech or gadgets has to make it to Vegas some January. If you ever get the chance to go, get there early, wear comfortable shoes, and avoid 3 Card Poker at all costs.

Chattanooga’s Got a Gig

On September 13th, EPB, the municipally-owned utility company in Chattanooga, Tennessee (our hometown), announced it would begin offering the fastest internet service in the United States (see the New York Times article).

Tied with several international communities for having the fastest Internet connection in the world, Chattanooga will soon offer 170,000 homes and businesses in a 600 sq. mile area with one gigabyte access by the end of 2010.

The United States’ broadband capabilities often put American companies behind their counterparts in other countries where a faster and more powerful connection is available.  While the Obama Administration has pledged to have 100 million households at a minimum of 100 megabits per second by the year 2020, Hamilton County Mayor Clause Ramsey observed that "this is in place [in Chattanooga] right now and at speeds 10 times the country’s goal."

This also comes at a time when, in an effort to help make the United States on par with other technologically-savvy countries, Google has made a pledge this year to offer between 50,000 and 500,000 people around the country with access to a one gigabyte-per-second connection.  Google accepted applications from over 1,100 communities across the country to provide this service which they say will “deliver Internet speeds more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today.”

Delegator, based in Chattanooga, is thrilled to be a part of such an entrepreneurial community.  If you're a growing business and interested in connecting to the fastest network in the U.S., let us know.  And if you'd like to discuss creative ideas on how the community should leverage this new technology, we'd love to hear from you.