Each year we try and make some predictions on what will be the hottest technology at CES. There are a lot of electronics introduced each year that don’t make it to the store shelves until around the September time, others are soon right after CES, and others fail to make it out of the gate. Most technology has been around for a while, but it takes a while for it to gain market acceptance and become a consumer electronic staple. Last year it was the year of the GPS. For the year 2009 I think this will be the year of the mini-notebook.
Many of us have been using them for years, but now consumers have found their value as well as price range very acceptable for a portable machine on the go that allows for email, web browsing and occasional document creation and viewing via presentation. This what most consumers want and have been desiring for a while and manufacturers are now starting to listen like Acer,Asus, Dell, HP, and Lenovo. Other manufacturers like Fujitsu and Toshiba have been doing this for years, but they weren’t affordable(under $500) and came a high cost premium for miniature computing. People will see these not as main PCs, but more like companion PCs for travel and occasional computing that they can’t do on handheld devices and smartphones. Small screen-size is what people desiring portability want. The sweetspot of screen size varies from user to user some like 9-inch display for ultra-portability and others like a 12-inch screen for portability and a comfortable viewing size for extended periods.
Other innovations will be in the computing space that we will see more on both the desktop and notebook computers.
It has been a while since this technology was mentioned and USB 2.0 just seems to have taken hold as the standard interface for data with devices leaving IEEE 1394 aka Firewire on only a few video cameras, which are a rare find even today. USB 3.0 is set to multiple the 480Mb/s (peak) of USB 2.0 a tenfold.It does this by adding 5 new lines (two for receiving data, two for sending data and an additional ground) on a new plane to USB 2.0’s existing 4 lines so it will still be backwards compatible. Hopefully we will see more support for devices and computers this year, but I wouldn’t hold my breath until late 2009.
Some newer laptops are shipping with this new connector that is smaller than your standard 15-pin VGA connector and beefier DVI connector making for a smaller footprint in laptops, video cards and built-in video display. However, monitors will also need to accept that connector, which are currently rare and in-between. If anything people will be purchasing adapters to go with their Display Port enabled computers.
Hopefully this will be the year that we will be seeing the long-waited clearer image and energy savings of OLED displays will hopefully hit mass production in laptop and desktop displays. We are still waiting for OLED to hit televisions as well that are larger than a total foot diagonally.
Will this version of WiFi ever settle on their standards. Hopefully the draft standards will become standard. Personally it works well with what devices I have that utilize the n standard and it would be nice to see it become standard will all new computers.
WiMAX is finally coming and some people have been using it small areas with companies like Clearwire delivering it into select markets in the country. This technology has been around quite a few years and I think it will start to reach consumer acceptance, much like 3G has with phone and cellular data modems with the help from Intel and Sprint with their new Sprint 4G network.
Blu Ray Disc
Well the format war is over, but Blu Ray still hasn’t won the hearts of the consumer’s wallet, DVD sales are still strong and many people are waiting for player prices to drop as well as the Blu Ray Media Price like DVDs did, which I have noticed is happening – DVD prices are going up and BRD prices are dropping. BD Live is some cool technology and we are seeing players coming equipped with a network connection to get you a little more out of your HD media with new content updated frequently. LG even released a player that supports NetFlix HD streaming, like TiVo and Xbox 360’s. Currently BRD should be making moves a bit faster than DVD did with online distribution services of HD content winning consumer’s dollars faster due to ease of use and price point. Digital copies does help, but for Home Theater enthusiasts storing and distributing it is still a huge hurdle. Also its about time they now have BRD with THX certification, well one Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skulls. Hopefully we will also see more titles that move beyond the aged 5.1 surround sound and move to at least 7.1 or heaven forbid 9.1 and TrueHD for sound that is normalized and is heard like it should be heard as the director intended it to be.
Green and Energy Star
I have been asking many manufacturers about this for years and it looks like last year it started to become a great marketing and good for the environment move by many companies as well as many new laws and regulations setup by other parts of the world. More electronics will be green and Energy Star compliant, but I would like to see some products own up to the actual carbon footprint left behind in the manufacturing process and disposal of the device. Its crazy to think that the carbon foot print of a Toyota Prius battery tray which is made from material in Canada, that is shipped for processing in Europe, then shipped to China for final product manufacture of the batteries and then shipped to Japan is larger than two Land Rover Discoveries. People looking to be energy conscious isn’t just at the plug-end, but also the whole cradle to grave existence of the device. It would be nice if a new standard was developed to show this. At least more manufacturers are moving toward this.
Well this isn’t big on the tech side of things, but reinventing the light bulb has been a topic of conversation for many years since Edison. Newer replacement LED bulbs yet have to reach the same lumens output as current Halogens, but they don’t cost as much to operate as well and don’t waste energy in the form of heat. I am hoping this year more LED based lighting options are available in 2009 from leaders like Philips, Sylvania, and GE that are also affordable for the average consumer that will reach the similar light output of current bulbs they are replacing.
How come no one really talks about this at CES? In the current economic client we will see companies and VC cutting back funding for new hardware and focusing on software and services for their new products. More products are now interfacing with existing online services making devices more connected. Microsoft and Google should be meeting with partners and resellers and selling and informing resellers what to expect in the coming months.
Again this year I don’t think any huge announcements made in the CE space, but many soft launches of some newer technology as evolutionary, not revolutionary from current electronics, still its enough to make me say “Gimme” and feed my Technolust. Still I can’t wait for CES to begin, I am as giddy as a child during the holidays. I can’t wait…