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Dispatch from CES - January 13, 2012

More news from the Consumer Electronics Show:

Sharp’s 8K LED TV is so breathtaking that looking at the 75-inch set is like looking out a window—it’s indistinguishable from reality to the naked eye. 8K refers to the resolution of 7,680 x 4,320 pixels—double the resolution of the older (yet still not for sale) “4K” TVs that litter the show floor. The trick: There’s no readily available content at this resolution, or a way to play it.

Saw Toshiba’s 3D, no-glasses TV today, among similar sets from other producers. Quality varies wildly, and if you’re not in the “sweet spot” right in front of the set, it looks awful, like one of those old lenticular prints that you move back and forth to see a faux moving image. Toshiba’s set is arguably the best, but the 3D effect isn’t that dramatic. Unlike glasses-based sets, you often can’t even notice the effect at all. I’ll pass on this when buying my next TV.

Cubify is a 3D printer you can use at home. Download templates from the web, customize them, and print them out in 3D on your desk. The size has to be smaller than a baseball or so, but watching these things print is quite fascinating. Kids will love it, but the printer costs $1299.

Buffalo is the first company to demonstrate publicly the next big Wi-Fi standard, called 802.11ac. With real-world speeds of 800Mbps (I saw it with my own eyes), it’s 3-4 times as fast as the fastest Wi-Fi commercially available today. This will be a godsend for anyone who’s ever tried to back up a 100GB hard drive over their wireless network, only to find out it’s going to take 2 days to complete. Available roughly holiday time.

Dispatch from CES - January 12, 2012

More hot products at the Consumer Electronics Show:

Getting the Internet into cars is a big theme here. I’ve seen vehicles from Ford, Subaru, and even Chrysler, outfit for wireless internet – namely so they can get Internet radio beamed directly to the vehicle.

Lenovo’s new IdeaPad Yoga earns its name: It’s got a screen that swivels 360 degrees to lie flat against the back of the device—turning it from an ultrabook into a slate tablet (with the keyboard on the underside). It’s probably the largest tablet you’ve ever seen—but I wasn’t sure how I felt about feeling buttons under my fingers while I was playing with it. $1299 list price when it launches.

A new breed of cell phones is arriving: With roughly 5-inch diagonal screens, they fit somewhere between the typical phone (around 4 inches diagonal) and smaller tablets (which start at 7 inches). The Samsung Galaxy Note was all over CES: Samsung hired caricature artists to show how it could be used as a sketchpad, using a special stylus to draw on the device. It works like a phone, but you’ll need big pockets, and bigger hands to use it comfortably! Lenovo also has a 5-inch device, among others.

ViaSat is bringing competition to the airborne Wi-Fi space. While current services like Gogo get you 2 to 3Mbps wireless, ViaSat’s new offering (which uses satellites instead of cell phone towers on the ground) will provide about 12Mbps. I saw a live demo, and high-def video streamed without a hiccup. Coming to a few JetBlue and Continental (legacy) planes in late 2012, with larger rollout in 2013.

Dispatch from CES - January 11, 2012

These technologies caught my eye today at the Consumer Electronics Show:

3D TV: Old news? How about 3D TV without the glasses? Toshiba demoed this yesterday and says it will be on sale this quarter! I’m skeptical. Also, CES wouldn’t be CES without lots of super-large, super-slim TVs (LG has one that’s 4mm thick), and for their next trick, Samsung is showing TVs that can be controlled via voice and hand gesturing. No remotes needed. Take that, The Clapper!

In other gadget news, I’m interested in Sonomax eers, a custom-fit headphone system that you can do at home. Eers cost $199; professionally-fit custom earbuds (I have done this several times) usually cost over $1000 a pop. .

Vizio, the highly successful maker of cheap TVs, is getting into laptops. People are saying these new Vizio laptops are some of the most lust-worthy on the market right now. Tons of power.

From Asus: The Padfone is—as you could guess—a tablet and cell phone in one. The phone docks onto the back of the slate tablet and gives you a super-sized screen when you want it.

Dispatch From CES - January 10, 2012

There’s plenty of buzz at the Consumer Electronics Show this year. Here are some products that caught my eye already and which I’ll be writing about in Executive Travel in months to come.

Lytro – If anyone has stolen the show, it’s this startup camera company. The camera looks like a tube of lipstick and requires no focus: You focus your shots after you take them, in software. The same picture can capture the extreme foreground or what’s in the distance. No blown shots because Lytro’s tech captures the entire light field, giving you insane flexibility to manipulate images.

Windows Phone – The Windows Phone OS was announced two years ago, but almost no WP phones have been released in the last 12 months. Now it’s the OS that everyone’s talking about. Microsoft finally “got it right.” The biggest phone of the show—and there are dozens—is from another underdog, Nokia, whose Lumia 900 has an 8-megapixel camera and runs Windows Phone. I’ll be writing about it, and many other CES-announced phones, in the next issue of Executive Travel.

Ultrabooks – There are MacBook Air clones everywhere, as tablets were everywhere last year (and tablets are still around in bulk, too). Plenty of fully-featured ultrabooks at barely two pounds can be found, but the most intriguing one I’ve seen is the HP Spectre. It’s heavier, but it’s also made in large part not from metal or plastic but from glass. The glass outer lid, HP says, makes antennas work better and, put simply, it just looks cool. Picks up a lot of fingerprints, though.

I’ll highlight more products and trends tomorrow.

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