CES Day One – Dave’s blog

Dave Bullard
7 January, 2011
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The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) officially opened its doors today, and the tech-fest was on for young and old. The Las Vegas Convention Center is absolutely packed with exhibitors, and the crowds indicate that there are well over the 127,000 visitors who were in Las Vegas last year

It’s an old adage that you will never be able to see everything at CES, and it’s true. Australian Macworld Associate Publisher Liana Pappas and I spent the day in the iLounge Pavilion – where there is an abundance of Apple-related products – and only just managed to scratch the surface.

Here are some of the highlights. I’ll also be doing a roundup in the March issue of Australian Macworld.

Just great, Just Mobile

Just Mobile makes iPhone, iPad and Mac accessories that stand out for their design, build quality and sheer class, so Liana and I made their stand one of our priorities.

The co-founders, Taiwan’s Erich Huang and Germany’s Nils Gustafsson, were manning the stand, and we spent some time with Erich as he showed off their new products.

The first (on the left), Encore, is an iPad stand that features a solid aluminium base ring and a hinged arm. You simply put the iPad on the ring, lean it against the rubberised arm and adjust it for comfort. It’s so simple, with an almost Bang-and-Olufsen look to it.

The second product new at CES is the Slide (on the right), another iPad stand. It’s made from a single piece of high-grade aluminium but, in Erich’s words, “its secret weapon is the high-friction rubber cylinder stowed in its tubular support”.

“You place the cylinder at the top of the Slide, lay your iPad on top and lift it to exactly the angle you require,” he says. “The cylinder will simply roll down to hold your iPad in place.”

Again, it’s super-simple. Nils says this is really their design philosophy: “It’s as much about what you leave out as what you put in.”

Erich and Nils are fanatical about quality, and spend a huge amount of time making sure their machined-aluminium products make the grade. And it’s paying off. Big time.

The picture here shows Nils, Erich and Liana at the stand.

OWC: Faster than Air

Another high priority on our list was long-time AMW supporter Other World Computing (OWC), and just in case you haven’t seen enough photos of grinning people, here’s one of Liana with OWC’s Grant Dahlke.

Taking pride of place on the stand was a side-by-side comparison of the new Mercury Aura Pro MBA Solid State Drive, the first high-performance SSD based on the SandForce processor for 2008-2009 Apple MacBook Air models.

The drives, available in 60GB, 120GB, 240GB and 480GB capacities, boast data rates of up to 275MB/s, or as OWC says, “up to 41X faster performance than the original factory hard drive, over 3X faster performance than the factory installed SSD, and 20 percent faster than even the latest 2010 MacBook Air models”.

And the difference was blindingly obvious on the two MacBook Airs at the stand.

Sound in the Bone zone

I’m a big fan of Bone Collection products – a range of quirky silicone USB drives in the form of penguins, ninjas and the like, plus iPhone and iPad cases, adaptors and more.

A great new product the company is showing off at CES is the Horn Stand, a silicone horn that fits over the bottom of your iPhone and amplifies the sound  by 13dB. There’s no electronics involved – it works the same way the old gramophone horns did.

The stand supports your iPhone in either the vertical or horizontal position. You can buy Bone Collection products, including the $29.95 Horn Stand, from Mittoni at www.mittoni.com.au.

DIY iOS skins

GelaSkins is another old favourite, making very funky, high-quality skins for iOS devices and more. PR specialist Kiersten Moffatt told us that online sales to Australia are strong, even with the shipping premium.

At the booth GelaSkins was showing off a new eCities range from Berlin-based art studio eBoy. These are 3D isometric images built up from reusable pixel objects and featuring some quirky and funny imagery. The one pictured is a New York City image tweaked slightly for the show.

But even more interesting is the brand’s range of do-it-yourself skins which you can create to show off your photos, art or business. Go to www.gelaskins.com to get started. Prices range from US$14.95 to US$29.95.

Food, glorious (?) food

I get a surprise every time I come to the United States – I forget how different the food is to Australia, but as soon as I start feeling bloated I remember.

The food is super-rich, not helped by having cheese over or in just about everything. And the portions are huge. I ordered a club sandwich from room service here at Treasure Island yesterday, and I got two – that’s six slices of bread with half a turkey and what seemed like a packet of bacon – plus fries and a Coke (sorry, a Pepsi, which is what the hotels here seem to be obliged to sell).

Even the smallest Starbucks coffee is the size of an Australian large, and the smallest Coke (Pepsi/soda/whatever) cup is about half a litre. And, for some reason, only eating or drinking a portion of what you’ve paid for just goes against the grain. What a waste of food and money.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s good quality for the most part but it’s really no wonder all the ads on TV are for weight-loss programs (the ones that aren’t for lawyers, that is).

We’re just off to dinner with the good people from Elgato, and I’m determined to order and eat less – even if I look like a wuss for ordering a children’s portion!

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