As you read this, CES 2014, the mecca of technology in super sin city, will be over. I am happy to report that this year blew the collective socks and minds off of all attending. If forced to come up with a true underlying theme for this year, I would go with OTT.
Panasonic’s indestructible ToughPad:
Yes, almost every company went over the top in showcasing and grandstanding. In the world of technology, devices that are exhilarating and jaw-dropping are always welcome and are much needed in a sea of sameness. I’m dividing my CES journey into two columns. Best OTT technology is part one of my reports from the land of the rising sin.
Samsung Bendable TV: Keanu Reeves may have bent a spoon in The Matrix, but Samsung has bent a whole TV. It seems like your normal 85-inch display, till you press a button on the remote. Motors inside the TV start to bend and curve the TV in a way that makes blood rush to all parts of your body. Advantage of this awesome feature? A big fat zero. Total exhilaration felt? Off the charts!
Panasonic has always been known for their Toughbook notebooks, but this time they’ve brought that ‘I can’t be destroyed’ technology to a 7-inch tablet. And to demo that in true showman style, a Panasonic executive threw the tablet off the stage and onto the floor and it still worked. That’s a 10-foot drop! It may be tough on the outside, but it’s no slouch on the inside. It runs on Windows 8.1 Pro, a fanless Intel Core i5 Processor, can be used with gloves and can be dropped and washed to your heart’s content. Plus, the batteries can be hot-swapped despite all this ruggedness. Try all that with your iPad.
Michael Bay bombs out: He’s blown our mind with his movies, special effects and big explosions. And that’s exactly what he did on stage at the Samsung press conference too – totally bombed out. Asked to introduce the curved TV, Michael Bay came strutting in, fluffed his lines, went off the teleprompter feed, looked like a helpless little boy who had lost his lollipop and finally fumed out and off the stage. Samsung got him to make headlines for the TV. They got exactly that, except it wasn’t for the TV but Michael Bay himself – as the story and the video went super viral.
Panasonic’s 4K wearable camcorder: This one gets into Google Glass as well as GoPro territory. A camcorder worn around your ear that can shoot all kinds of action movies and clips, has Wi-Fi built in, can play movies on smartphones and Ultra HD TVs, and shoots in awesome 4K resolution. This may be Panasonic throwing down the gauntlet to a market monopolised by GoPro. And judging by the little time I spent with it, I would say “GoPro, you have a problem”.
Pebble’s smartwatches look dramatic
Pebble goes all steely: The Pebble is credited with starting off the whole smartwatch revolution, but its biggest criticism was that it looked cheap and plasticky, and too much like a watch only a nerd would wear. Well, that’s exactly what Pebble has changed dramatically. The all-new Steel Pebble is smaller, looks good and has some added functionality. And by added functionality, I mean very little for a lot more. Besides better looks and an added app store, this is pretty much the same watch, but for an extra $100. At $250, with no touchscreen or added hardware feature sets, this isn’t going to be taking the already hard-hit smartwatch category very far ahead.
LG gets into fitness bands
: LG has taken a different approach to two hot categories: fitness bands and smartwatches. Merge the two and out pops the Lifeband Touch. This band has a curved OLED display, is open from one side, can track most of your activities and can also control your music on your phone, send call notifications, volume control and call silencing. Pair it with its ‘heart beat tracking’ headphones and this is quite a good start for LG in this all-new category.
Roku wants to be the platform for TV
Razer Nabu goes dual screen on trackers: From a company not known for any fitness other than making you sit on a couch and play games, comes a band that’ll tell you how unfit you are. This one does all the fitness tracking thingies you expect on the top screen, and then adds mobile phone notifications on a much bigger screen at the bottom. You can read full tweets, see who’s calling you and even read email headers. Plus if you shake hands with someone, theoretically you can exchange information with each other. Nabu may be the one to watch as it may be priced right at $69.
Roku gets into TVs too: You may not be able to buy an Apple TV this year, but Roku is making sure that you have something better already. After the phenomenal success of their Roku media streaming boxes, they’ve got TVs with the whole Roku experience built right in. Roku has partnered with Hisense and TCL for the TV hardware, but these are Roku TVs from the word go. In India we haven’t really seen the Roku magic do much, as all the streaming content is locked to the US. Maybe these TVs could unlock that potential too.
The MakerBot Replicator Z18 can print large objects
3D printers go ‘epically’ big: If the 3D printing revolution has left you cold, then showman and the very-over-the-top MakerBot CEO Bre Pettis has something ‘epic’ for you. The Replicator Z18 is a giant 3D printing machine that can print seriously large objects – up to 12x18 inches tall. While this does get things nice and serious, the cost is a whopping $6,500. As soon as it’s down to $500, they have my money.
Well, with that I’ve covered about one per cent of CES 2014. Next week the BEST and the WORST of this giant technology party.
More on tablets by Rajiv Makhni: Click Here.
Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3
From HT Brunch, January 12
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