For those who don’t know, Consumer Electronics Show is an annual event held in Vegas, and the CES 2014 announcements are always exciting to hear. For über-tech geeks like me, it’s heaven on earth, albeit in a cooler, snow-covered environment. While new tech for professionals, as well as regular consumers, is introduced here, but I’m just going to focus on the stuff for consumers.
Mobile Computing Offerings at CES 2014
The professional tech press (CNet and Ziff-Davis, for instance) notes that desktop computers, notebooks and laptops are probably on their way out. Yeah, we’ll still keep at least the desktop computers around for a little longer, but sales numbers are showing fewer and fewer notebooks being sold these days.
For example, Samsung unveiled a new line of Galaxy “tablets” with up to 12.2-inch screens that they’re calling the Galaxy NotePRO and TabPRO. Specifically, the NotePRO will come with a 12.2-inch screen, while the TabPRO will be available with 8.4-, 10.1-, and 12.2-inch screens. According to Samsung’s VP of Mobile Tech, Nanda Ramachandran, these devices are designed to be used for both work and play. Some of the announced features for these devices include:
- Almost full-sized virtual keyboard
- S Pen
- Window resizing
- Remote PC access
- Full wireless connectivity options — 3G and Wi-Fi (802.11ac)
- Front (2MP) and rear (8MP) cameras
- 3GB of RAM and 32 or 64 GB of internal storage
Wearable Tech Makes a Splash at CES 2014
I’ve done a couple of pieces recently on what’s referred to as “wearable tech.” This refers to such things as the Samsung Galaxy Gear and the Pebble (watches), as well as Google Glass. According to a recent report from the Consumer Electronics Association, the wearable tech that they see really exploding this year is in the health and fitness sector. These are watch-like devices that track health and fitness metrics such as calories burned and distance run/walked and include the Nike+ FuelBand, FitBit, and even one for pets call Whistle.
The Nike+ Fuel looks pretty cool and harkens back to the “old days” of pedometers to measure how far you’ve run or walked. However, this one goes a little further. Not only will it track how far you’ve gone, but it will track the intensity of your workout since how hard you work (run/walk) is just a little more important than how far you’ve gone. It ties into an app on your smartphone and allows you to join virtual workout groups online. You can also set daily goals, and a series of colored LEDs will track that goal with red meaning you’re not there, and green telling you that you’ve reached your goal.
T-Mobile Makes Huge CES 2014 Announcements
Last year, the country’s smallest of the major cell phone carriers made some big announcements, including no more contracts, make a down payment for your phone and quit paying for it once it’s paid off (The other carriers make you pay for that new phone ad infinitum), and no overage fees if you go over your bandwidth limitations. Also, they’re upgrading their network to LTE and will have it fully built out by year’s end.
Strap on your seatbelt because T-Mobile just made one of the biggest CES 2014 announcements that will definitely set the cell carrier market on fire, if not make the big four go nuclear. You know those “early termination fees” that you find out about if you read the tiny print in your contract with the other providers? Yeah, the one that says that if you terminate your account with them early, you’ll pay up to $400. Forget about that and switch to T-Mobile, because they’ll pay that fee for you — up to $650. Additionally, they will let you pay off your new phone(s) over 24 months. Now if they’d just bring that girl from “Entrapment” back as their spokesperson.
Acer Improves Iconia Tablets
For years, I’ve looked upon Acer products — except their motherboards — as lacking in computing power. For those on a budget and building a desktop computer, I’ve always recommended their motherboards. However, they recently introduced their Iconia line of Android tablets.
These tablets aren’t exactly new as of CES 2014, but the big news they had at CES was that their price points were going to be lower. For example, the entry-level Iconia B1-720 Android Tablet has dropped in price from about $150 to around $130.
The B1-720 sports a seven-inch screen, and now double the RAM of previous models (one gigabyte now) and instead of only 8 GB of internal storage, it now has 16 GB. It also uses what Acer calls “One Glass Solution technology which the company states gives the tablet a brighter display, with a thinner and lighter shell and more accurate touch response. This new version is due to hit shelves in a couple weeks (middle of January).
Acer’s next step up is the Iconia A1-830. This model has the same memory specs as the B1, but has a 7.9-inch display and has a case that has an aluminum finish. This model has Android 4.2.1 (Jelly Bean) installed, but should be fully upgradeable to future versions of the OS. The 1024×768 display resolution leaves a little to be desired, but at around $150, you really can’t beat it. This one is due to be released sometime during the first quarter of the year.
Lenovo: A Desktop Computer Running Android?
You read that correctly. Lenovo, IBM’s high-end side of the house, unveiled what they’re calling desktop computers that run the Android operating system. I’m going to call the Lenovo N308 All-In-One (AIO) an over-sized laptop. The AIO designation means that everything is in a single shell or case, instead of a tower/mini-tower and a separate monitor.
This little honey sports a 19.5-inch, 1600×900 display, multiple logins like your regular desktop and laptop computers, and up to 500 GB of hard drive. It also has an optional keyboard that’s full-sized, as well as a mouse. The price point on the N308 is going to be around $450. However, I haven’t seen anything concerning its availability yet. When I do, I’ll post in the comments section below.
Some other nifty features of the N308 include the two USB 2.0 ports, a six-in-one card reader (SD, MicroSD, etc.), an Ethernet network port and a jack to allow it to be used as a display for a laptop or (old-school) desktop computer. It also has a kickstand that lets you adjust the viewing angle, as well as two speakers with a full two watts of power for awesome sound clarity.
Build Your Own Gaming PC
I saved what I consider to be the biggest news for last. I make a fairly good income building computers for friends and family, especially gaming systems. If Razer has their way, that’s going to come to an end really soon. Razer is pretty well-known in the PC gaming industry as a maker of high-end gaming components. Their Project Christine makes building your own high-end gaming system as easy as plugging in a mouse or keyboard.
Project Christine is a totally modular concept in which the consumer purchases a connector unit and modules that are plugged into it. You can buy processor modules, graphics, memory, storage, or more power. What’s even better, is all the modules are “hot-swappable,” which means you don’t have to power down to add or remove modules. When an upgraded/updated module is introduced, simply add it, or remove an older module — the PCI Express architecture automatically syncs everything.
Readers that know computers know that one of the main problems that they have is heat. Project Christine uses a unique valving and locking system to provide liquid cooling to all the components, with the cooling medium being mineral oil.
Those are just a few of the great news nuggets we’re hearing from the CES 2014 announcements. As we try to help you live the connected life, simplified, you’ll see more articles on these topics in the coming months from us.