More than a year after the first consumer 3-D-ready HDTVs were demoed at CES, the next generation of sets are going on sale this week. But, aside from the new TVs, glasses, and Blu-ray players, the question of content remains. While there are already brand partnerships with networks like Discovery and ESPN, that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Nearly every camera maker has their own Flip-style pocket camcorder, and by and larger they're all the same. Sony's Bloggie, though, ups the stakes, becoming the first consumer camcorder to record full, 360-degree panoramic footage.
While everyone is busy thinking the future of video-game interfacing is Microsoft's Project Natal, UK-based Cambridge Consultants decided to change the way controllers interact with our hands. The Suma is a pliable, 3-D controller that senses how and where your hand moves.
It's tough to make sense of the maelstrom of gear released at CES. So thick is the swarm of new HDTVs, PMPs and other acronym-bearing curios, that the handful of truly interesting things on display is, well, easy to miss.
Here, we've selected the gadgets that truly impressed us this year. And as is the PopSci way, our picks are not only impressive here in January 2010; they represent a glimpse at what we can expect from the future of consumer electronics.
Ever wish your life was a video game, and you could shoot obstacles out of your way on a crowded sidewalk (or, hem, trade show floor)? This week at CES, Parrot unveiled a device that does just that. The new AR Drone is a helicopter-style flying robot that sees everyday objects and re-images them on a iPhone or iPod touch as virtual enemies or obstacles.
Efficient new laptops can run multiple programs without sucking extra wattage. That’s because they pace themselves. Their processors can shut down partially when the screen is static or when running simple tasks, and ramp up to full steam when big programs call for it.
I still can't decide if this is genius or stupid, but creativity points are definitely due: Samsung's high-end LED 9000 TV will come with a touchscreen remote that enables you to watch TV on the remote while playing a Blu-ray disc on the screen.
This year at CES, Panasonic revived something we haven't seen in a while--the battle of the biggest screen. Already the current title holder with its 150-inch plasma screen from 2008, Panasonic came to Vegas this year with two 152-inch behemoths, bettering their own record. But there's a bit of a catch.
Deep in Microsoft's lairs, the Xbox 360 team is working on more than just a new video-game system. They're actually trying to solve an incredibly difficult problem in artificial intelligence. Their prototype Project Natal lets you control a game just with your body movements—no buttons or Wii-like wands—by watching you with a 3-D video camera. Sounds simple enough, but most cameras just snap images without having any idea what they're looking at. To make Natal work, Microsoft has to teach its camera to understand what it sees.
Here at CES, Microsoft announced last night that Natal will go on sale "by the holidays." Before the show, we were given an exclusive look at the smarts that make Natal tick.
The 3-D thrill that swept movie theaters last year is now headed for your living room. In the wake of a new Blu-ray standard for high-definition 3-D, Panasonic, Sony and Samsung are all releasing home-theater setups that can display 3-D movies in full high-def glory. Using a combo of 3-D-capable Blu-ray players, TVs and, yes, glasses, the systems are able to deliver separate, full-screen, 1080p pictures to each eye. The technique they use creates a picture as vivid as in a movie theater without requiring a major overhaul of TV technology.
Now that even cellphones can take the kind of photos you want to save, we end up with images scattered all over. So electronics makers are coming up with easier ways to move your snaps. Sony’s new wireless solution, TransferJet, is built into this TX7 camera and Vaio F-Series laptop. Come home after a trip, put the camera down, and your photos hop over before you hang up your coat.
Samsung also rolled out an interesting pair of E-readers today--the E6 and E101 readers feature e-ink screens that refresh fast enough to accommodate on-screen writing with a stylus--a first for the category.
Samsung is going whole hog into 3-D with their newly announced TV lineup, but at the top is the 9000 series: an LED-backlit panel that's just 0.3 inches thin. And on its remote. a color touchscreen that can carry broadcast TV while you watch a Blu-ray disc.
Smartphones already act like mini computers—they send e-mail, play YouTube, let you shop on eBay. Now laptop makers are getting wise. Instead of trying to create ever-sleeker machines by shrinking ordinary PC parts, they’re tacking bigger screens and keyboards onto high-end cellphone brains. Witness the three-quarter-inch-thick, letter-paper-size Lenovo Skylight, which surfs the Web for 10 hours on a single charging cycle.
When it comes to their home entertainment gear, Toshiba loves to do two things: stick Cell processors (the same brain powering the Playstation 3) inside them, and tout the ability to upconvert your crappy standard-def or web-streaming video to glorious high-def. Their Cell TV, just unveiled at CES, promises to do both things, but with an added selling point befitting this year's 3-D theme: upconversion of any two-dimensional source into 3-D in real time.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.