What We Want to See at CES 2009
Every year tens of thousands of people attend the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and each likely turns up with their own ideas and hopes for the new products that will be unveiled. Reporters for IDG News Service are no different and in advance of CES 2009, which will take place from Jan. 8 to 11, here's a our wish list of products and announcements that we'd like to see at the show.
The first commercial television with an OLED (organic light emitting diode) screen, Sony's XEL-1, had its North American unveiling at CES 2008 but things have been quiet since then. Both Sony and Samsung showed prototype screens that were larger than the XEL-1's 11-inch display and the same screens have been appearing at shows throughout the year but where are the products? Back in May Sony CEO Howard Stringer said a 27-inch OLED TV would be coming "within the next 12 months," which makes CES 2009 the perfect launch pad. We're hoping to see some sort of announcement from Samsung too and not just the same prototypes.
The T-Mobile G1 was a good start for the Google-backed Android platform, but now it's time for the other big handset members of the Open Handset Alliance -- LG, Motorola and Samsung -- to show their support with some new, cool phones, and not just smart phones with QWERTY keyboards but some other form factors as well. More Android phones from HTC wouldn't hurt either and while we'd love to see a Sony Ericsson handset its perhaps a bit premature as they only joined up this month. When it comes to mobile phones announcements at CES there is one small problem, the Mobile World Congress takes place just five weeks after CES has ended, so the vendors could very well choose to make their big announcements there.
Asustek Computer's US$200 netbook
Asus plans to launch a $200 netbook early next year and CES would be the perfect place to show off such a device. The Taiwanese company first promised a $199 Eee PC that was never delivered at that price, though with stores slashing prices ahead of the holidays maybe we'll see that price without any help from Asustek. The only problem with a $200 netbook is that it may trade off too much in the way of functionality to be of much use to anyone. Asustek has surprised in the past, so let's hope the company delivers a winner again.
Sony Transfer Jet
One of the stars of Sony's CES 2008 booth was Transfer Jet, a wireless data transmission system that runs faster than USB. Just place a gadget with the Transfer Jet technology onto a pad and data starts flowing. It's a cable and stress-free way to zap content between gadgets. On July 14 of the biggest names in consumer electronics got behind the system so we're hoping to see some progress, possibly compatibility between gadgets from different companies and, if you'll allow us to dream, the first products.
Sony's netbook act
Sony says it wants to enter the netbook market, but has no laptop to show for it yet. Rumor sites are now pointing to a recent Sony filing with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission as evidence that the company is readying a netbook. Images and designs show a laptop with all kinds of wireless connectivity -- from Bluetooth to 3G broadband -- in a small form factor. Sounds like a netbook, and we may get to see it at CES.
Direct methanol fuel cells - battery replacements that generate electricity from methanol - have been demonstrated and promised by companies for years. Whenever you asked the launch plan it always seemed to be "next year" but now time finally seems to be catching up with the little devices. Toshiba is finally promising a device "this year," but that comes with a caveat. Like most Japanese companies its fiscal year runs from April to March so when it says "this year" it actually means before March 2009. Still, that's soon enough to have an announcement and prototype on show at CES. We'll be looking for it!
Last year, Intel hyped up mobile Internet devices -- handheld computers designed for Internet access -- which run on the company's new Menlow mobile platform. The devices were a confusing mix of smartphones and laptops -- but with poor battery life. LG Electronics, which displayed an Intel-based MID, was undecided on whether to market it because of its impracticality. Intel hopes to fix Menlow's ills with the Moorestown mobile platform, which consumes up to 10 times less power, and is due for release in late 2009 or 2010, according to the company. The release may seem distant, but Intel has already demonstrated Moorestown MID prototypes, and hopefully it will do an encore at CES with newer devices.
We're tired of carrying multiple power adapters on a business trip -- and having to fit multiple chargers into overcrowded wall outlets at home, but relief could be in sight at CES with products that allow you to charge and operate devices without needing to plug them in.
Fulton Innovation should be showing its eCoupled technology, which can be embedded in a kitchen counter and power devices simply by placing them on top. eCoupled recently produced a video that shows a blender fitted with its technology, which is quite a feat considering the amount of juice needed for large kitchen appliances. It says it will have some new partners at the show and we're hoping to hear a timeline for shipping new products.
Also there will be WildCharge, which uses a slightly different technology. WildCharge makes a power mat about the size of a mouse pad that plugs into a wall outlet, and then several "skins" that fit over small devices and allow them to be placed on the power mat and recharged. Today it makes skins for the Motorola Razr, BlackBerry Curve and BlackBerry Pearl. At CES we're hoping to see new skins for the iPhone, iPod and iPod Touch.
(Compiled by Martyn Williams, Tokyo; James Niccolai, San Francisoc; Mikael Rickn