CES 2011: First third hand impressions

While I could spend my time with something else as well (and I mostly do over the day here in Europe), it´s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA again. Even though I haven´t been that much into tech lately (besides scrolling the daily tech news), I must admit that as always (since I follow mobile computing) I´ve been pretty exited.

It´s CES, and that´s great, just like Computex or MWC (the German trade show CeBIT hasn´t been too exiting lately, btw) and while it isn´t too tough to guess which rumors might become true (even as a bystander, like me, I would like you to consider me as an attentive bystander), you still always sense something whenever you see a first “hands on” or follow a live blogging session from a press conference. There is surprise (rare, but it happens), disappointment, sheer exitement or happiness (because something came out the way you dreamt of it) or fear (you don´t like what happens, whatever the trigger is).

I will not bore you with more detailed descriptions, I will just try to name anexample for each of the feelings I tried to describe above.

Let´s start with surprise: When I first saw the ASUS EeePad MeMO I was really surprised (positively) to see a tablet with a stylus from a company like ASUS, which is a hardware company (and adding in a Stylus within a finger touch environment like Android requires additional software to make real sense, from note taking to hand writing recognition). Still, ASUS has proven to be innovative during the last years, and I really hope that others will follow them – don´t forget: it was ASUS who invented netbooks, after all.

Next on: Disappointment. Well, there wasn´t too much disappointment yet, probably because other news have been to overwhelming. Still, there is one product which I followed in the past which will (as I see it now) not live up too its hype, which I´ve been a little part of. It´s the Notion Ink adam. Looking at all these Tegra2 tablets getting ready for the market, announced with better screen resolutions and Android Honeycomb (featuring the Android market) I expect this tablet not to be the success it could have been, if only it would have been ready earlier – if NotionInk had managed to hit the market this November with a less perfect, but still promising and relatively bug free outstanding product, NotionInk could have hit it off. Now, still not available in the stores and about to hit within a plethora of similar devices (to the eye of the average customer), considering the amount of thought the makers of adam put into it, inferior solutions featuring the software Google created and Googles Android Market, sounding alltogether less biblical (I never loved these adam, Eden … names), NotionInks´ solution will have a very hard time to perform half decent next to all these things with known brandnames on them. I just hope, that they will survive (and be it as a team, then part of another company – Toshiba seems to need some brilliant engineers, looking at their failure with the Folio 100 (and other, earlier mobile solutions like the TG01), btw ;-) ).

Sheer exitement / happiness. I like what Motorola did by creating a phone (the Atrix 4G) that will power a subnotebook. This is truely great, even though Motorola sucked at Openness (as in hackability) lately, because it is what I dreamt of years ago, when I had my first Linux powered smartphone, the Motorola A780.

Fear. Well, I could have just mentioned the NotionInk adam in this section, but I felt just too certain about its failure, so what will I put into this section? Yes, it´s Microsoft really porting Windows to ARM. It´s not Microsoft, I don´t expect them to fail, it´s that I am afraid of Microsoft killing other, in terms of user experience superior solutions with its momentum. A momentum it has because almost everybody is used to the shit (not talking about software quality here, but about user interface design) they´ve been delivering for years. I really hoped they´d stick to CE. And to be perfectly honest: It´s not just the usability that makes me worry, it´ s that I am great fan and supporter (whereever I can) of open source software, which will suffer in one or another way (open 3d graphics drivers is one frontier harder to fight at now). Microsoft really entering the ARM platform (a move which, with Intel (&Nokia) working on Meego) makes perfect sense from all standpoints I can think of (be it technics or business), but still, for the reasons mentioned above I would have loved to see Microsoft failing at doing the obvious thing.

I will write more about this CES if I feel like, promised.
Apologies: I left out links out of pure laziness, I expect my readers to be able to find the information they need themselves.

Looking back (2010)

2011 is close, and it will be there in a glimpse. 2010 will be over, and people on twitter will write “oh, that´s so 2010”, whenever they stumble on something that isn´t bleeding edge.

2011 will be the way it´ ll be. I won´t write down what I expect for 2011, all I can say is that I am going to do better in 2011, as 2010 wasn´t a great year for me. I don´t want to complain though, because complaining doesn´t help anybody and because I think of complaining as a way of “not admitting ones own guilt/fault”.

I could try to talk about tech here, but well, we all know what came up in 2010 – considering mobile devices it was interesting, but not exactly mind blowing. 1GHz superphones came up, Microsoft released it´s new mobile OS, Android, iOS, webOS evolved, MeeGo for handhelds didn´t make it in 2010, some tablets have been released, cheap and expensive, bad and good, but the real tablet business will start – you name it – in 2011.

Netbooks are still there and now dual core powered, but honestly: The Netbook business has become boring, prices are relatively high and there are just a few devices, that are outstanding in one way or the other – I won´t name them here, you have to find them on your own.

So, overall, I believe that 2011 will be better. I am quite optimistic, and that´s unusual.

I wish you all the best!

Imprēssions

Finally I got myself a Palm prē after this Toshiba TG01 dissapointment, and well, what shall I say? It’s yet another dissapointment? Well, that would be the truth, almost. The prē is a package of promises, but Palm didn’t manage to fullfill them. My complaints are those that you’ve probably heard a couple times. Quality issues for example. The sliders bottom is sharp enough to cut cheese, which is really bad because it makes using the tiny keyboard even more unpleasent. And the slider itself could be more snappy – as there is no soft keyboard, you have to slide the phone open whenever you feel urged to type something. It’s annoying. HTCs Android first timer (for those of you that forgot it: The first two iterations of Android (1.0 and 1.1) didn’t have a software keyboard as well) did much better. And this isn’t one of the first prē’s – it’s a shame Palm didn’t manage to address these issues yet – rumors have it that they managed to do better with the Prē Plus – but still: Without HP Palm would have failed, and this mismanagement regarding the quality issues might have very well killed Palm.

Let’s skip hardware without mentionning the good points (lovely form factor), and move on to software. WebOS is a nice platform, no doubt about that. But it isn’t that mature yet, if you ask me. And there are some things, that do annoy me. Example? Take the lack of something like APNdroid, which is so nice for Android, not just to save money (you can’t use the Prē without a data contract), but as well to prolong battery life. Take the mail client, which annoyed me by not threading mails. I am really locked into Android apparently – and if there is one more device of the current smartphones out there that I would try, it was probably be the Motorola Milestone.