For years companies like Intel and Microsoft have been talking of this impending convergence of PC and Consumer Electronics (CE) devices.  In the past couple of years we have finally seen this convergence come to fruition, through a slew of devices that basically let you move or display content stored on your PC, on CE appliances.  While most manufacturers have tried, very few have “gotten it right” when it comes to convergence devices.  The end goal is simple: access to everything, everywhere on any device.  Making it happen however is far more difficult, as creating the devices that will facilitate this goal is like one giant game of process of elimination. 

Most of this year’s CES has been about poor attempts at convergence, with a handful of things that were worth while.  Despite very high expected attendance, the show wasn’t nearly as crowded as last year.  It still ends up taking 30 - 40 minutes to get a cab during the day, but we had no problems navigating the show floor and surrounding hotels.  Whereas in previous years we’d waste a significant amount of time wading through hordes of people, there’s actually breathing room this year. 

Whether it’s that the show is simply far more spread out this year, among two convention centers and many hotel suites, or attendance is simply down due to a lack of interest, we were here in full force in search of something interesting.  This year’s CES marked the end of an era of talking about convergence, and the beginning of the introduction of many convergence products.  While we’ve yet to see anyone with the vision to bring us the convergence world’s iPod (although Apple’s iPhone announced at Macworld looks like it may redefine another sector), that didn’t stop us from finding individual technologies that were worth a look. 

As with most trade shows, the vast majority of what we saw on the floor was poorly designed and/or executed.  What follows are some of our answers to the question we always get: “what was the most exciting thing you saw at the show?”

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  • Johnmcl7 - Friday, January 12, 2007 - link

    Can't say I agree with that, while LCDs are thin and light their image quality leaves a lot to be desired especially given the superior image quality of the CRTs they've effectively replaced.

  • PrinceGaz - Sunday, January 14, 2007 - link

    That very much depends on the type of LCD panel used. Maybe it's because my Mitsubishi 2070SB CRT display is about four years old and isn't as good as it used to be, but the overall image quality (including colour reproduction) of my new HP LP2065 which uses an S-IPS LCD panel is just as good as it. The response-time is also sufficiently fast that their is no visible blurring of fast moving images. And the 2070SB wasn't some cheapo CRT either, it was one of the best 20" visible CRT monitors you could get.

    The fact that the LP2065 was just a little over half the price of the old 2070SB actually makes modern LCD displays seem superior to CRTs, especially when the lower power consumption is factored in. It is also slightly (ahem!) less bulky and heavy than the old CRT monitor. It makes me wish I'd switched to an LCD sooner except of course that even a year or two ago, the picture quality of the best LCD panels wasn't anywhere near what it is today.

    Give a *good* (in other words one that does not use a TN panel) LCD display a chance and you'll probably be surprised.
  • msva124 - Monday, January 15, 2007 - link

    Does it scale well to different resolutions? I.E. for gaming.
  • tumbleweed - Thursday, January 11, 2007 - link

    "the display is superb, making it very similar to reading pages in a regular book"

    Hardly. It's dark grey on light grey, thus having less than stellar contrast. No, this really isn't similar to reading a regular book; it's similar to reading an ATM receipt. Once they get it to the point of true blank on something resembling white, then we can talk. Other than that, I'll admit it's nifty, but the display quality ain't there yet.
  • msva124 - Thursday, January 11, 2007 - link

    OMG! It's almost as good as one as those CRT things that Nostradamus said would be here in the year 3000!
  • GhandiInstinct - Thursday, January 11, 2007 - link

    I AM SOLD ON OLED!!!!! Come get me!
  • BladeVenom - Friday, January 12, 2007 - link

    Last time I checked, OLED displays had a very short lifespan. That may be OK if you don't use it much, or like replacing your monitor every year, but I think many will have a problem with that.
  • psychobriggsy - Friday, January 12, 2007 - link

    They've even got blues up to >30k hours now. That's a lot of TV watching, although some people sure do like to watch TV all day.

    Anyway, I'm sure I read that these Sony displays used a single colour OLED throughout, with colour filters on top. White OLEDs can have very long lives. If they're using 100k hour OLEDs, and you have the TV on for 10 hours a day because you cannot bear the idea of not having it on, then that is 30 years before the display is ~half as bright as originally. I think that predicting television display technology in 2037 will be quite difficult.

    I'm just hoping that one day OLEDs will actually really be available in large displays! Can't wait yet another 5 years...

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