January 10, 2012, 8:21 AM — Wow, yesterday was a busy day and CES 2012 hadn't even officially started yet! There were press conferences running pretty much all day long, capped off with the Microsoft keynote last night.
As promised, I wanted to talk about the announcements that grabbed my attention as a gadget hound. Let's start with Android since that OS is all over CES this year.
ASUS Transformer Prime owners got two surprises yesterday. The nice surprise was that the Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4) update that was expected on January 12th rolled out early (it should be rolling out now). The less nice surprise was that ASUS announced the Transformer Prime TF700T, a new model Prime with a higher resolution (1920×1200) display and a plastic back which is supposed to reduce the GPS and WiFi reception problems that have been a concern for some Transformer Prime users. It should be out on Q2 of this year. Makes me glad I couldn't find a Prime on store shelves; I'll wait for the upgraded model.
The other Android news that caught my eye happened at the Nvidia Press Conference. ASUS Chairman Jerry Shen joined Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang to announce a new 7" tablet, the MeMO 370T. So what? Well this one is a Tegra 3 based device, running Ice Cream Sandwich, that is supposed to be nearly as powerful as the Transformer Prime. But the real eye opener was the price: $249. Suddenly the Nook Tablet is looking way over-priced! Well, assuming this device actually ships at that price. Lots of things can happen between a press conference and the shelf of the local Best Buy.
Moving on from Android stuff, there's been a lot of talk about Lenovo's 13" IdeaPad Yoga notebook/tablet. This is a notebook running Windows 8, but the screen is a 10 point multi-touch display, and the notebook's hinge allows it to fold all the way back into a tablet form-factor. While it seems like a nice product I'm not sure what all the fuss is about given that Asus had the same kind of form factor in a netbook a few years ago (the Asus Eee PC T91). In fact the Asus pulled off this trick in a slightly better way, since the screen could rotate so that the keyboard was on the 'inside' of the folded unit. Of course, the Yoga isn't a netbook; it'll be running an Ivy Bridge processor when it ships. This may be a first for a 'full function laptop.'
CES 2012 Day 0 ended with Microsoft's final (for now at least) Keynote. It featured Ryan Seacrest and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer sitting around a table chatting while, one by one, Microsoft representatives showed off Windows Phone 7, Windows 8, and the Xbox. Real news was very very thin, however. The Xbox segment showed off features that Xbox owners have had since December (the TV integration stuff) and the Windows 8 demo seemed almost identical to the Windows 8 demo from CES 2011. The only real news I picked out of the hour and a half presentation was that the next Windows 8 milestone is coming at the end of February, and that Kinect for Windows launches February 1st. You can preorder it from Amazon now but buckle your seat belts: Amazon has it listed at $249.99! (Remember that Kinect for Xbox is $119.99.) I guess Microsoft isn't ready for Kinect for Windows to be a consumer device.
So there's my list of attention grabbers for day zero. There were also a ton of televisions announced; so many that they kind of ran together into a big blur. Tiny bezels seem to be a big deal this year; how's that for a superficial observation? Do we really want tiny bezels? I can't help but think that a bezel provides a kind of 'frame' for a TV picture, but maybe I'm odd man out here.
Oh! And during the Sony Press Conference we were told that Netflix is coming to the Playstation Vita and that they were trying to have it ready at launch. Netflix on that pretty screen should be an enjoyable experience. Also earlier in the day it was announced that AT&T will offer the same data plans for the 3G Vita as it does for the iPad ($15/month for 250 MB, $25/month for 2 GB). No contract.
Did I miss your favorite gadget announcement? Leave a comment!
Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.