Exactly one week from now, I'll be chillin' in chilly Lost Wages, Nevada, preparing for the start of the annual no-week-of-sleep otherwise known as the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), due to start on January 5. Talking TV haircuts and other lamestream media ne'er-do-wells will smilingly spout uninformed opinions about what the tech elite who meet to greet will secrete on the show floor of the Super Bowl of high tech. ("Secrete on the floor"? Eew?!)
Anyway, this week I'll be previewing some of the technology-to-come you might find of some interest, some that will get a lot of publicity and some, well, not so much, but interesting to us folks of a certain age.
Tablet Wars: Everyone anticipates the big story at CES will be the new crop of tablet PCs. Motorola will unveil its Android 3.0 (Google's tablet version of its cell phone operating system) Tablet Evolution, HP's CEO has already starting trashing Android as the venerable PC maker prepares to launch its first WebOS-powered PalmPad, and BlackBerry will preview its PlayBook.
To which I sarcastically scoff, woo hoo. Everyone wants to topple Apple. Again. We went through the same "let's all gang up on Apple" a decade ago in the wake of the iPod. Good luck, suckers, since Apple is stacking chips to re-raise ya'll with its iPad 2 right after the show. All Motorola, HP, BlackBerry, maybe someone with a Windows Mobile 7 tab, and all the other Android tabs are doing is diluting their competitive impact with multiple incompatible formats while Apple sits above the fray.
Passive 3D HDTV: A couple of weeks ago, Vizio announced its latest 3D HDTV, the 65-inch Theater 3D Edge Lit Razor LED (model number XVT3D650SV), priced at $3,700. What's special about this 3D HDTV? It uses a new 3D technology called passive or "circular" polarization. Instead of expensive battery-powered "active" shutter glasses, you watch passive 3D through the cheap polarized 3D glasses you get in the movie theater. Vizio will not be alone at CES with this new passive 3D technology. Several other major HDTV makers also will unveil passive 3D models, which could become the dominant 3D format. Come back tomorrow when I'll have a dissertation on passive 3D HDTV, including one major "uh oh."
Not-so Smart HDTV: One thing we won't see at CES are more Google TVs beyond the ones Sony introduced a couple of months ago. Apparently I wasn't the only critic who thought the user interface was more confusing than a speech by Professor Irwin Corey (how's that for an old reference!), and Google has asked its other HDTV partners not to demo their Google TV sets at CES.
3D/Motion Gaming: Microsoft will be demonstrating new games for its motion-detecting Kinect Xbox 360 accessory, Sony will have more 3D motion games for its Move gesture-based PlayStation add-on, and Nintendo will be previewing its long-awaited Nintendo 3DS, its long-delayed portable 3D game player you don't need 3D glasses to view. One company also will introduce technology to make any 2D game into 3D game that I'll be able to tell you about next week.
Electric Progressive Lens Glasses: Do you wear progressive lens glasses, those bifocals without the seam, where you look straight ahead for long distance, but the prescription gradually changes to reading prescription toward the bottom of the frame? A company who's name I can't tell you has electrified, computerized, accelerometer-ized progressive lens glasses. These new glasses know when you're looking ahead so the lenses adjust totally for distance, and they know when you put your head down so change into total reading glasses. Tune back on January 6 so you'll know all about them.
More MDTV (finally): A bunch more mobile digital television products will be announced on January 4 including new laptop tuner dongles and some cool stuff to turn iPads into portable digital TVs.
Faster Printers: Tired of wasting valuable time waiting for your printer to spit out prints? A new company called Memjet will unveil what it claims to be the world's fastest printer – and you can see how fast here. Memjet isn't going to make the printers – it hopes to license the speedy print technology. But big printer companies like Canon, Epson and Lexmark have NIH (not invented here) issues, which means the first Memjet printers may well come from brands you never heard of.
TechGoesStrong: Our own intrepid editor, Ken Baron, will be on a panel discussing "What Boomers Buy and Why?" (because we can?). Unfortunately (but fortunate for Ken), I'll be too busy elsewhere gathering intel on all the wondrous and wacky technology at this massive gathering to heckle him.
This list is just a dust speck in the vast universe of weird and wacky – and some actually functional – gadgets and technologies we'll see at CES, so tune in this week and next!