CES 2012

The Best Of The Consumer Electronics Show, CES 2012

Another year, another Consumer Electronics Show. Forgive my late “best of” blog; I had to rest a little after this year’s show. Every year I tell myself I’ll have a plan of attack, and every year I find myself wandering way off track and aimlessly between the halls — no bother as it’s hard to turn any corner at the International CES 2012 and not find something incredibly cool.

I didn’t get a look at Snookie or the Beib’s, but I did see some really cool innovations. Here’s a list of the best in the most popular categories.

Ultrabooks

Haven’t you heard? Laptops had to re-brand. At the show this year, it was all about the Ultrabooks; these are laptops that meshed the lines between notebook, tablet and high-powered machine — for around $1,000.

One might not think Lenovo, akin to the clunky ThinkPad, could produce something absolutely elegant in this category. They did. Enter the Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga. The beautiful machine has a slim but sturdy frame, advanced multi-touch, Windows 8, and … wait for it … the double-hinge design lets you use it as a tablet or a notebook. Pick your poison.

Coming this February is the HP Envy 14 Spectre, equipped with a nine-hour battery life, Intel Wireless Display, HP’s CoolSense technology and premium software, including Photoshop, and a two-year subscription to Norton Internet Security. And, by the way, it’s stunning. This Ultrabook is a tad heavier than the others debuted at the show, weighing in at a hefty 3.8 pounds. And its price tag is a smidge heavier, too, at $1,400.

Tablets

Last year was all about tablet-mania at CES. This year, we got to see some serious next-generation goodies.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab really caught my eye as a nice improvement over last year. Samsung is calling their Galaxy Tab 7.7 the thinnest and lightest of Samsung’s tablet line.  It’s the first tablet with a 7.7 inch Super AMOLED Plus display at a 1280-by-800-pixel resolution. The screen is incredible, and gamers will like the vivid lighting and color display. This tablet will only be available through Verizon for now, but here’s hoping that will expand to other carriers by the end of the year.

Android, of course, had a big year again, powering some of the best tablets and smartphones being shown. One example that created quite a bit of buzz at the show was the Asus Eee Pad Transformer Prime. This beauty runs Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (yum) and is extremely powerful for a tablet. Playing with this, you may realize you don’t need a laptop at all. Asus announced at the show that the Prime will have a 1080p panel to boot, making the display unparalleled. It’s also blazing fast with a Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor that will be appreciated by serious business users and gamers alike.

Smartphones

Speaking of Android, smartphones featuring the new Ice Cream Sandwich OS abounded. I was really impressed with Sony’s venture into the smartphone world, launching the Sony Xperia Ion through AT&T. This phone, also a gaming device, has a very nice 720p glass screen and a 12-megapixel camera. Its dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor is in there to handle PlayStation games as well as other media, such as music and videos. Right now it’s running on Android Gingerbread, but Sony promises an upgrade later this year.

The LG Spectrum was a great example of something else new this year — HD smartphones. This device also sported a 720p screen but with advanced HD features that make text, images and color on the screen really pop. There’s even an HD-specific app store (HD Angry Birds?). Like the Sony Xperia, right now this slim Spectrum is just running on Gingerbread, but an upgrade soon to ICS is promised by the summer.

For more information about CES 2012, visit cesweb.org.