Bummed about how you don’t get to go to the Consumer Electronic Show? Aww, poor baby. Don’t worry, though: Brian James Kirk has a Google Reader and he’s not afraid to use it.
The Technologicology Echo Chamber
Just Sounded A Little Too Dramatic
CES, Consumer Electronic Show, is the geek equivalent of a car show. Actually, eff that. There’s no metaphor appropriate enough to match the excitement that geeks-in-the-know feel about the conference. The show started yesterday in Las Vegas and goes until the 10th, basically assuring that my chakras will be quite in place for the next few days.
It comes immediately after the new year, ringing in yet more excuses to spend hard earned money on toys, not nearly far enough after we’ve spent it most of it on loved ones (or saved in preparation). Mostly, it’s a chance for the technology world to be highlighted by Katie Couric and the Prime-Time Bunch, and for names like Comcast‘s Brian Roberts, who is desparetely looking for a way to connect to consumers (read: save face for a rocky past), to spend four days partying in Sin City.
For consumers, it’s a porno. Set in Las Vegas, scantily-clad women parade new gadgets in front of geeks confused by urges caused by this sudden proximity to sex and circuitry. It gives us a reason to hate our current gadgets or find more reason to love them. It’s the iPod theory at work: You’re either dying to get your hands on a shiny new one, or feeling superior knowing you have a third generation that is falling apart. Lucky for us and our wallets, most of these products won’t even be available for another year.
For producers, it’s a pissing match. The Hi Def television market is the greatest example, where years of R&D yield unexciting developments, while core technologies deviate little from the slight curve of 18 months of improvement. Ask any Best Buy sales representative which technology is actually better looking: Plasma, LCD, or soon, OLED, and you won’t have to bother reading the latest Engadget HD feature. But ask someone who’s just trying to catch new eps of Law and Order in HD and you’ll hear whichever acronym is easiest to spell. The battle this year has been a battle of the slimmest, which, sticking with the acronym theme, should be considered the battle of WTF.
To be fair, much of my animosity stems from being left out. CES isn’t a cheap ride, and I didn’t even get a beer tab at the last Philebrity party. So, as my handy Joey Sweeney style guide boldly reads: If you can’t beat ‘em, blog ‘em. Part due to the fact that I’ll be obsessively refreshing the entire gadget blogosphere each day, and part in ode to the NCAA‘s new blogging guidelines, this year, I’ve decided to liveblog the liveblogs.
This will be no easy task, and the strenuous almost-plagiarism will be exhausting. Expect frequent updates on the sexy throughout the day until the 10th. Here’s what’s been going on while you’ve been playing with your brand new Christmas gadgets, which after reading this, will be sooo last year:
Sunday, January 6
- Bill Gates’ Last Keynote
- The Blu-ray Debacle, officially renamed from the Blu-ray/HD DVD Debacle
Companies are ditching HD DVD like it’s a smelly friend. Once Warner announced that they’ll be monogamous with Blu-ray come spring, retailers and releasers didn’t know which side they were fighting for. But it’s like Gettysburg up in here, and HD DVD has got like, one Pickett left. Sorry, X-Box 360 owners. Even Beta-Max held on longer than this. The grave dug for old tech is a shallow one, my technocompadres. [Engadget]
Gates kicked off this year with Microsoft‘s usual minutiae of company happenings. What shone this year wasn’t the innovations Microsoft is developing, but instead that this year marks Gates’s 12th and final keynote speech. In honor of the fact that come summer, he will be signing off as CEO and working full-time for the Microsoft Foundation, he made this video. It’s a hilarious slam on what his last day of work would be like. Included in the seven minute feature: Bono, Jon Stewart, George Clooney, Jay-Z, and Al Gore. [YouTube]
Monday, January 7
- Panasonic’s 150 Inches Of Plasma
- Intel Silverthorne Processors
Intel debuted their new Silverthorne processors, a move to bolster the unsuccessful UMPC market attempted last year. Of course, you can’t even bother showing off microprocessors this tiny, so working with other manufacturers, they cooked up a few concept devices in the clean-rooms, added some hot chicks, and shipped them off for us to drool over. [Gizmodo]
- Casio EXILIM Pro EX-F1
- Dell Crystal LCD
I don’t even want to talk about it. [Gizmodo]
Anyone even know Casio was making shit other than wall clocks and microwave surface lights? They must be as waterproof as their watches, because as far as I knew, they were drowning until they announced this hottie. This consumer-geared digi cam shoots stills at 60 FPS (that’s sixty in a second), and video at 1,200 FPS (that’s twelve hundred in a friggin’ second), giving you the chance to, well, have no reason to use it unless you have some really fast friends. Check the link to see slow it down with Engadget, and maybe you’ll get some ideas. [Engadget]
Despite already being announced, show goers got a chance to check out Dell‘s new bitch on the block, the Crystal LCD. This thing practically craps Swarovski, and will pretty much ruin your chance at ever having a partner once they realize how much you paid for it. But uhm, gimme? [CNet]
Tuesday, January 8
- Apple Attempts To Steal The Show
- XStreamHD In The Real
- Nyko Guitar Controllers For Indie Kids
- Comcast Kinda Apologizes And Then Chuckles A Little When You’re Not Looking
As predicted industry wide, Apple waved their junk around just in time for CES, a conference they mostly veered away from in the past. After recently grabbing up 7-8% of market share, they are getting appropriately cocky. They updated their MacPro line, XServe, and basically hinted that the upcoming MacWorld conference will be on their turf and on their terms. Expect big things.
The XStreamHD keynote (featuring Michael Douglass) was today, and looks to be all it’s hyped up to be. In the midst of possible Blu-ray domination announcements, this new tech breaks off the idea that you even need to store Hi Def movies on shiny circular discs and can finally graduate on to satellite signals. Up next: telepathy, the ability to download the contents of a human brain, and the release of Duke Nukem Forever. [CrunchGear]
God damn, you can feel the tone on that ’08 Fender Telecaster. Console peripheral manufacturer Nyko showed off two new guitar controllers that, consistent with all expensive guitars, will make you a better player simply because you look better wearing it. They work with Guitar Hero and Rock Band, giving you even more reason to own both— you were gonna buy Rock Band anyway, at least now you can rock out while doing it. A Gibson Explorer knock-off is also available. [Gizmodo]
The Comcast keynote was today and it was a little magical: Ryan Seacrest, Project Infinity, and FanCast.com were the big hooks of the event, justifiably making it completely without hooks. But CEO Brian Roberts announced that, you, good customer, are now “King.” We’d have to argue that you are looking quite more royal these days, B.R., but as long as it’s true that Comcast’s plan is to “fess up” to ahem, mistakes made, we’d proudly have you as our queen. [Wired]
Wednesday, January 9
- Microsoft Brainwashing Momentum Aimed At Children Instead of Old People
- Gates Sez Windows Sux?
- At $1,536, Optimus Maximus Keyboard Finally Justifies Food/Drink Restriction Signs Near Computers
Okay, we get it that in order to really grab that consumer base, you need to advertise to all walks of life, but MSoft, (can I call you that? No, I’m gonna call you that), this is really crossing the line. In vein of Are You There God, this book completes the multitude of questions the company hopes your children ask, including: “Daddy, What’s a Zune,” “Mommy, Is Google Evil,” and “Grandma, was Microsoft a monopoly?” [Gizmodo]
Gizmodo, you dog, you. I can see exactly how this went: Bill started feelin’ comfortable with you, his new friend, and the next thing you know he’s spilling his guts about lost love and the road less traveled. [Gizmodo]
The Optimus Maximus should be a Philly favorite. It’s been in production for years, no one thought it was real, and now that it’s finally out, no one who wants one can afford it anyway. It’s the tech world’s biting and annoying underdog, and if Philly would have gotten behind in months ago when it didn’t seem like it was actually going to go into production, we all may have finally gotten a taste of what it’s like to beat that lifelong feeling of defeat. [Wired]
Thursday, January 10
- Laptop Made Entirely Of Corn, Not A Linux Joke
- Gizmodo Wins Asshole Award
- No, iPhone 2.0 Was Not Released
Fujitsu, in an attempt to singlehandedly offset the entire ecological footprint of CES, unveiled a greener notebook. The casing is made of a corn-based polymer, and while it doesn’t completely eliminate the need for petroleum products, it does a pretty damn good job of making us feel bad for owning electronics that someone didn’t grow in their backyard. [Inhabitat]
As things wind down on the last day of the conference and as the gadget releases are solely judged on how many people they can bore, conference nesting sets in. Thankfully, the guys over at Gizmodo know how to beat the heat. Today they confessed to using TV-B-Gone to mess with anyone within reach of that IR signal, and even tried to sneak into the Adult Entertainment Expo next door. Thanks for proving that not all geeks are pussies. [Gizmodo/Fleshbot]
The main theme of this year seems to be that Apple didn’t drop anything earth shattering, leaving the mainstream press, who probably only showed up thanks to last year’s iPhone drama, with salty tears. To be honest, it has made this year feel a tad bit well, boring, but thankfully Wired realized the gap and bridged it with this timely, oh, how I wish it was last year chronology of the iPhone.
That about wraps it up for my liveblog. What have you learned? Hopefully a little bit about yourself and why bitching about Bill Gates for the last ten years has been displacement for the sadness you’ll feel seeing him leave. What have I learned? Next year, I’ll be covering the Adult Entertainment Expo instead.
Brian James Kirk is a writer and adventurer living in Philadelphia. By adventuring, he means occasionally to friends’ homes for games of Balderdash. If you know a scoop that would fit this space, you are graciously encouraged to get in touch.