The Tech News Blog

January 15, 2012

Geeks Descend on Vegas, Push CES Attendance to 153K

As the long lines for cabs and the Las Vegas monorail can attest, this year's Consumer Electronics Show was packed. According to the CEA, the show attracted an additional 13,000 people into the city's convention center this year.

Approximately 153,000 people attended CES this year, up from 140,000 in 2011, and of that, 34,000 people were international attendees. That makes it the largest CES in the show's 44-year history, CEA said.

"The 2012 CES was the most phenomenal show in our history, generating more energy and excitement across every major industry touching technology than ever before," Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of CEA, said in a statement. "CES is the change agent, the catalyst, that brings executives from a wide range of industries together and helps them create better ways of doing business together. The breadth and depth of the 2012 CES, which featured more innovative technology products than anywhere else on Earth, is a testament to the dynamic and innovative global consumer technology industry, which will reach $1 trillion globally this year."

This year's CES featured 3,100 exhibitors, up from 2,700 last year, who were spread out across 1.861 million square feet of floor space and helped launch more than 20,000 new products.

January 13, 2012

AMD Positions Lightning Bolt to Take on Intel’s Thunderbolt

Advanced Micro Devices has what it says is an answer to Intel's Thunderbolt technology and the smaller chip maker has eschewed any sort of nuance in naming its own single-port, high-speed data transfer protocol, which is called Lightning Bolt.

That's got more than a few folks rolling their eyes, but AMD was happy to explain to that thunder is "just a bunch of noise," whereas lightning "really brings the heat." We got a look at an early prototype of Lightning Bolt during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week and the standards-based technology looks pretty impressive in its early stages.

But make no mistake, Lightning Bolt is definitely at the proof-of-concept stage. The rig we saw in a curtained off room at AMD's CES meeting space wasn't pretty—we're talking a jumble of leads snaking out from a central hub to several displays, each processing video and crunching data courtesy of a single line from a laptop DisplayPort that fed into the hub.

Elegant, it isn't. But Lightning Bolt gets the job done and AMD claims notebook makers will be able to integrate the technology at a fraction of the cost of Intel's proprietary Thunderbolt.

The concept of the two protocols is pretty much the same, but AMD is using the USB 3.0 standard instead of its own protected IP to deliver a faster means of data transfer that also powers up connected devices.

January 12, 2012

OnLive To Appear on All Google TVs

Logitech Revue / Google TV

Just days after gaming service OnLive announced that it would had developed a virtual Windows OS for tablets, the company signed a partnership with Google to bring OnLive to Google TV.

OnLive will be a standard feature of the Google TV platform, appearing on all devices from all manufacturers, Google and OnLive announced on Wednesday. Initially, however, OnLive will make available just its OnLive viewer app, which will allow users to "spectate", or watch other users play games using the OnLive service.

Eventually, users will be able to play OnLive games on Google TVs, using either the recently-introduced wireless controller that OnLive introduced along with gaming for Android and iOS tablets and phones in December. For now, the viewer app is compatible with Google TV's existing controllers as well as USB game controllers, OnLive said.

OnLive also rolled out a viewer app first for tablets and phones, although it was first introduced in June 2011, about six months before the gameplay technology was first introduced. Gaming on tablets involved a number of wireless technology hurdles, however, while Google TV devices are all connected with wired cables.

January 12, 2012

Samsung Shows New Wired and Bluetooth Headsets

Samsung Shows New Wired and Bluetooth Headsets

LAS VEGAS—Samsung unveiled a new line of wired and Bluetooth headsets at CES. PCMag got a chance to sit down with some of the headsets and take a listen.

First up is Samsung's "Your Sound" line of wired headphones. There are four pairs of earbuds in this set: the Serious Sound EHS-60, Active Sound EHS-63, Massive Sound EHS-70, and Refined Sound EHS-71.

Samsung envisions these headphones as a family, each with a different purpose and price. The $19.99 Serious Sound earbuds are designed to offer quality audio performance at an entry level price point. I didn't get to listen to these, but they're an in-ear headset with gel earbuds that are supposed to provide background noise cancellation and improve audio performance. Users can also make and receive calls with the in-line microphone and answer key.

January 12, 2012

SD Association Standardizes Wi-Fi Cards

Toshiba FlashAir Memory Card LAS VEGAS—The SD Association, the body which sets the standards for Secure Digital memory cards, announced a new standard for implementing Wi-Fi in memory cards. Dubbed Wireless LAN SD, it is first being brought to market this quarter by Toshiba in the form of FlashAir branded memory. Toshiba's card, which will sell for around $65, features a Class 6 speed rating and an 8GB capacity.

Compatible with 802.11a/b/g/n networks, it can be implemented in all flavors of SD and microSD cards. The standard can be implemented in two ways. The web version, which is denoted by a W symbol, makes it possible to upload photos to cloud services and to create peer-to-peer connections with smart phones, tablets, and other Wi-Fi devices. The home network implementation, which is identified by a D icon, supports home network device control as well as server upload. This lets you wirelessly transfer photos to your PC or view them on a Wi-Fi HDTV. Cards that support both operating modes will be possible via the standard.

Eye-Fi is currently marketing wireless SD cards, but its technology is proprietary rather than standardized. The Wireless LAN SD standard will make it possible for any member of the SD Association to develop and market wireless memory cards. The Association has more than 1,000 member companies, and SD card slots are found in all types of consumer electronics--including computers, phones, Blu-ray players, HDTVs, and car stereos.

January 12, 2012

Intel Teases Tasty Tizen Tablets

Intel Teases Tasty Tizen Tablets

LAS VEGAS — Remember Tizen? You know, Intel's Linux-based OS, which evolved from MeeGo when Nokia bailed. Surprise: It's one of three OSes Intel is hoping to get onto tablets this year, along with the better-known Windows 8 and Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich."

"In our tablet business, we made a commitment to move a lot faster," said Mark Miller, director of marketing for Intel's netbook and tablet segments. "We have a lot of room to make up."

Here at CES, that includes showing off a slim, light Lenovo Android-powered tablet that runs on Intel's new Medfield Atom Z2460 chipset. The Lenovo tablet (shown at left) is under 9mm thick and runs for up to eight hours on a charge. It'll be coming midyear, Miller said.

In the U.S., it may also be followed by tablets from Motorola—although Miller cautioned that "we don't have anything to announce with Motorola on tablets yet." Yesterday, Intel CEO Paul Otellini announced a multi-year relationship with Motorola to build phones and tablets based on Intel chips.

Intel will be pitching unique advantages for its chipsets in Android tablets, including great speed and Intel's Wi-Di wireless display technology. But Android is "very competitive," which means "we see Windows 8 as being a great opportunity for the next two years," Miller said.

Big-name PC brands will bring Intel-based tablets to market this year, Miller said.

"We have our eye on some very top-tier OEMs ... I'd say it's heavily weighted to some of our traditional customers who are looking to take advantage of Clover Trail," he said.

January 12, 2012

Microsoft: 2012 Will Be Big For Windows Phone

Hands-On With the HTC Titan II for AT&T

LAS VEGAS -- It's not too late for Windows Phone, Microsoft's Greg Sullivan says. There's been a lot of debate around Microsoft's platform recently, which has jumped into prominence here at CES with the new HTC Titan II and Nokia Lumia 900 phones. The Windows Phone product manager said that 2012 will be an "inflection point" for sales of the company's platform.

"We're seeing great hardware from all our partners. AT&T is clearly very excited, and is putting a lot behind the platform. It's not just a piece of software that got thrown over the transom to succeed or fail," Sullivan said.

But while Windows Phone is seeing some success with AT&T, not every carrier is as enthusiastic. Earlier at the show, I heard some tough words for Windows Phone from execs at Sprint, who said the HTC Arrive phone under-performed in terms of sales.

"That's something that our Sprint team and the folks back in Redmond can work on," Sullivan said. While Microsoft can provide support for Sprint, though, Sullivan couldn't exactly confirm more CDMA Windows phones were coming soon, and the sheer lack of viable device options is one big reason why Windows Phone hasn't made a dent at Verizon or Sprint.

January 11, 2012

Sony: No PlayStation 3 Successor in 2012

Don't expect a next-generation PlayStation console to appear this year. Sony executive deputy president Kazuo Hirai dashed hopes that the company will unveil a PlayStation 4 this year at E3, or elsewhere.

Hirai, who heads up Sony's consumer electronics and video game divisions, told the Wall Street Journal that the company believes the PlayStation 3 is a product with a 10-year life span. Sony launched the PS3 in 2006, so by that logic, the company won't produce a new PlayStation for another four years.

Hirai's words corroborated previous comments from Andrew House, head of Sony's video game business, who recently said there won't be a PlayStation 4 reveal at E3.

Speaking to reporters at CES on Tuesday, Hirai said:

"[House] is absolutely right in that we are not making any announcements at E3."

Sony said it plans to continue to ride on the strength of the PS3, which is the number-one gaming console in 100 countries, the WSJ noted. Last April, total sales of the PlayStation 3 hit 50 million units worldwide.

January 11, 2012

Samsung Refreshes Chromebook, Chromebox Has a Release Date

Google Chrome LAS VEGAS—A few months ago, Samsung lowered the price of its Series 5 Chromebook. Who knew it was in preparation to release a second-generation product. And remember the elusive Chromebox, which was announced back in spring 2011? It finally has a release date.

According to Engadget, the next-gen Series 5 will be more or less the same with the exception of the bump up from an Intel Atom processor to an Intel Celeron. Also, the new Chromebook has ditched the glossy lid for one that is matte finished. The notebook will still sport the same 16GB of storage, as it primarily relies on the cloud to store your documents, and a 12.1-inch (300-nitt) widescreen display. The second-generation Series 5 Chromebook is slated for release in Q2 of this year. The Chromebook will run you about $399 for Wi-Fi and $449 for 3G.

January 11, 2012

Viewsonic Announces Touch, Wireless, 3D Displays

Viewsonic TDI2340

LAS VEGAS – Viewsonic has announced at CES three new displays for work and play that offer a wide array of features and display options.

The first in Viewsonic's 2012 line is the TD2220, a 22-inch LED (250-nit brightness) monitor that displays in full 1,920-by-1,080 HD resolution. It features a two-point multi-touch user interface, allowing you to interact with your work without the use of a mouse. The TD2220's stand offers 360 degree swivel and full tilt to adjust your viewing accordingly. There are several input methods available: two USB ports and a VGA/DVI video input.

The TDI2340 is a 23-inch e-IPS LED monitor. Its biggest feature is its ability to connect wirelessly mirror or extend your smartphone, laptop, tablet, or other device's display. The TDI2340 has an ARM 11 processor inside, and it comes with Viewsonic's own customize user interface for navigating the menu to share photos or stream YouTube or Netflix videos (via the 802.11b/g/n built-in Wi-Fi). It also has a 10-point capacitive touch interface.