Another International Consumer Electronics Show has come and gone, and although there was no earth-shattering news, there were some fun and interesting developments among the deluge of new mobile phones, laptops, tablets, TVs and other gadgets on display.
The annual trade show in Las Vegas, the largest of its kind in North America, enticed tech heads with concepts like "smart" TVs, new mobile devices using 4G networks and super OLED televisions, which offer brilliant color and are remarkably thin.
Neat stuff, certainly, but nothing to lose your breath over.
Still, there were some gems to be mined from a mountain of announcements about new cellphone cases, wireless keyboards, gaming mice and high-end headsets. Here are a few:
Kinect, Microsoft's motion and voice control systems for the Xbox 360, officially leaps to Windows PCs on Feb. 1. Enthusiasts have been hacking the Kinect to make it do all kinds of interesting things for more than a year, and programmers have had tools for making Windows Kinect software since June.
But with more than 200 partners working on software for Kinect on Windows, the news has serious potential to dramatically change how people use computers for work and play.
Google TV stumbled out of the gates when it launched in October 2010. The intelligent TV system got better last year with an update that tightened up its interface, added more entertainment choices and enhanced its search.
But it's still not ready for prime time. Still, the addition of OnLive, a streaming, cloud-based gaming service, to Google TV makes a lot of sense. The companies launched the OnLive viewer for Google TV on Jan. 11, bringing the gaming service's social features to Google TV immediately.
The ability to actually stream and play OnLive's library of 200 or so video games is "coming soon" to both current and future Google TV devices, including TVs, Blu-ray players and media streamers. OnLive demonstrated a full game-playing update for Google TV on a streaming player from VIZIO at the show, so the roll out can't be too far off.
Netflix suffered some pretty serious self-inflicted wounds last year. It started with an inelegantly announced price increase and culminated in what can only be described as the Qwikster fiasco, when the company decided to spin off its DVD-by-mail service into a different website.
Then it decided not to, confusing customers even more and making Netflix management look scattered and incompetent.
Well there is more dismal news for Netflix, with Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group announcing Jan. 10 out of CES that it's sealed a new deal with the company doubling the time customers must wait to rent the studio's new-release DVDs and Blu-ray discs.
Now Netflix subscribers will wait 56 days instead of 28 for Warner Bros. new releases and made-for-video titles on disc. Warner Bros. vaguely implies in the announcement that it is selling more DVDs by hamstringing rentals, and Netflix's comment in the announcement strongly suggests Warner Bros. threatened to yank access to its library unless the rental service obeyed. I wouldn't be surprised if we see similar moves from other studios down the line.
The CES isn't just about hardware. It's about software, too, from the apps on mobile devices, to the interface menus for TVs, Blu-ray players and set-top boxes.
One of the most exciting software bundles revealed at this year's event was "Bond 50," a collectible box-set with all 22 James Bond films on Blu-ray.
The collection, celebrating the 50th anniversary of the franchise, is the first time all the spy-action films will be sold together on Blu-ray and heralds the high-definition debut of nine James Bond films.
"Bond 50" can currently be pre-ordered now for $200 online, according the 007 website, although a release date was not announced.
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