Monday, December 19, 2005

Tim Bajarin: Overview of CES 2006

Tim Bajarin previews the upcoming CES 2006 at Technology Pundits. It's pretty extensive, like the event itself, since "the digital consumer market is the next major battleground for vendors in the PC, Semiconductor, CE, cable and communications companies who realize that bringing digital technology to the masses represents the next major growth for all of these industries." Here are the key mobile-related trends from Bajarin:

Mobile and wireless

As in the past, the newest and hottest cell phones and smart phones will be on display with hundreds of new models to choose from. Samsung, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, Nokia and many more will use CES to showcase their latest wares. Pay attention to not only the new features, such as higher pixel cameras and new form factors, but also at the screens and displays. As cell phones and smart phones are used to display more content such as digital images, games, TV content and Web Browsing, the sharpness and fast refresh rate of these screens become important. We should see some good phones this year with OLED screens that, in my opinion, represent the future displays for all cell phones since they deliver a much brighter and sharper image and use less power then today's screens. There will also be many products that try and bring TV to mobile devices. Everything from Crown Castles new broadcast system and Sprint and Verizon's emphasis on their mobile video solutions to dedicated services like Mobi TV, Orb Networks and even the Slingbox, which can be viewed on Windows Mobile devices, the area of video or TV on mobile will be another hot topic at the show.
Mobile Entertainment Devices
Check out the new audio/video systems in the cars at the show. TV's and DVD play back devices built into automobiles is big and we should see a lot of new examples of this in my favorite section of the show. This is the show area where autos blare zillion megawatt sound systems through giant speakers in customized cars and I often just sit in the drivers seat of one of these cars cad crank up the audio until I come close to bursting an ear drum. I especially like the fact that you can feel the base reverberate in your bones and teeth! An experience not to be missed.
Portable Media Players will also be big this year. Of course, at this moment, Apple rules this space and their iPod with Video already gives them the dominant position in portable media players even though Microsoft and their partners have had PMP's on the market for years. But new versions of portable media players with an even better UI and transfer method is around the corner and we should see some of the newest models at CES this year.
Hot Products to look for:
I predict that one of the hottest products at the show and one that will cause a lot of buzz, will be an un-named product coming from some ex-Apple employees who created an elegant way to turn existing iPods into a serious portable media device. Although I can't name the company, I have seen this and it is an elegant and clever way to make iPods into really serious portable media players.
DualCor cPC
This is a new handheld PC that is one of the best designed in this category so far. OQO blazed a trail with their Windows XP handheld but this new DualCor version adds an interesting twist to the concept. While it can of course run Windows XP, it also has Windows CE loaded so it can be usable instantly when opened up. The idea is to let a user have a fully loaded Windows XP hand held device so they can run any XP application but also allow them to also use it in Windows CE mode to at any time, access email, calendar, contacts and smaller CE based apps and just load XP when they need the full power of the XP OS. This cuts down on battery use and gives people a rather versatile hand held computer. Although this is clearly a business tool that sells for $1500 and targeted at vertical markets, it is being introduced at CES.