The former are pretty old news now, and most sets on the show floor don’t seem to be breaking any new ground. Except Sony, which is following in the steps of Toshiba by showing off a glasses-free 3DTV prototype. It’s still early days, though, so don’t expect to be buying a sharp, flicker-free, glasses-free, view-from-any-angle 3DTV in the near future.
Which brings us to the tablets … no one’s done a definitive count on the number of wannabe iPad-killers at this year’s show, but the estimates range from 50 up to a whopping 80. We’re seeing products from Samsung, Panasonic, LG, Sharp, Lenovo and Toshiba, among others.
I’ve played with a few of them, and can report that Apple has nothing to worry about – the race is clearly for second place.
Sony brings you 3D home movies
Two new products from Sony that caught my eye on their stand this morning were two 3D video cameras made for personal use – the HDR-TD10 3D Handycam and the Bloggie 3D (MHS-FS3) pocket camera.
The TD10 is the first 3D camcorder to record in what Sony calls “Double Full HD,” or 1920 x 1080 times two. Because it has to accommodate two lenses it’s kind of bulky compared to the average 2D camcorder, but it makes up for it in image quality.
The Bloggie 3D, on the other hand, is an internet-friendly, iPhone-sized camcorder that can take HD 3D video, Full-HD 2D MPEG-4 video or 5.1 megapixel photos.
Something I really like about both models is that you can see the viewfinder image in 3D, without the need for glasses.
Zeppelin takes to the Air(Play)
Mac-using music fans will be pleased to know that AirPlay-enabled audio systems are starting to appear. AirPlay, for those of you who might not know, is a technology that lets you stream audio directly from your Mac or iOS device to one or more compatible audio systems. It’s a step further than AirTunes, which let you play iTunes audio through an AirPort Express or Apple TV.
The most exciting of the new systems is Bowers & Wilkins’ Zeppelin Air. An evolution of the magnificent Zeppelin, B&W says the new model also boasts updated drive units and advanced Digital Signal Processing (DSP). The styling has also been subtly updated
The 2.1-channel unit delivers 4 x 25W plus 1 x 50W output.
The Zeppelin Air will be available from March, at a US retail price of US$599.99. We’ll be sure to let you know more about Aussie availability and pricing as soon as we can.
Remote possibility from Altec Lansing
Altec Lansing has a new iPod/iPhone docking speaker system on its stand. The inMotion Air stood out because I didn’t particularly like its boxy, angular design, but it has a couple of features which are worth writing about – Bluetooth audio streaming from up to 90m away, and the ability to work with Apple’s Remote app.
The inMotion Air will be available in the US in February for US$199.95, but I haven’t yet heard about Australian availability.
We scream for iSkin
I ran into Derek Choi from Aussie distributors Try & Byte at the iSkin stand – he’s one of those guys who always seem to turn up at the top events.
Derek says he is very impressed with the new iSkin products, including the puffer-jacket-inspired Q.West range of bags. I particularly liked the Silo Happy Friends pictured here.
The new range will be available through Try & Byte in the coming months, Derek says. Go to www.tryandbyte.com.au.
Mate, it’s a ZAGGmate
iPad case-and-keyboard combos are everywhere these days, but ZAGG – the company behind the invisibleSHIELD protective films – has managed to put a new spin on it.
The ZAGGmate is basically an aluminium tray containing a full qwerty Bluetooth keyboard at the front, and an iPad dock with supporting arm at the rear. When you’ve finished using your iPad (in portrait or landscape mode), you just turn it upside down and clip it onto the tray, covering the keyboard and protecting the screen for carrying and storage.
It’s well made and very clever – it is a CES Innovations 2011 Design And Engineering Award honouree, after all – but there is a tradeoff in the smaller size of the keyboard.
The ZAGGmate has been given a US RRP of US$99.99, with a keyboard-less version available for US$69.99.
McIntosh for Apple, not Apple Macintosh
Fans of McIntosh Laboratory’s high-end AV systems – and I have to say I’m one of them – will be pleased to know that the company has launched a free iPad/iPhone app at CES.
The AP1 Audio Player is very similar to the Apple iPod app found on iOS devices, in that it lets you select tracks, artists, albums and playlists, and control the volume, but it does this within a distinctively McIntosh-like interface.
When not used as a controller, the AP1 defaults to a McIntosh “Meter Display Mode” which mirrors the “McIntosh Blue” LED watt meter found on McIntosh amps, pre-amps and processors.
It’s totally unnecessary, but really great at the same time.
Natty line of Marley gear
My last visit of the day was to the House of Marley stand, where the super-helpful staff took me through all their new Bob Marley-themed gear. The show is the first time any of the earbuds, headphones, docking stations, speakers and boom boxes have been displayed, and they’re not available to buy yet.
As far as possible, and in keeping with what his family believes Bob would have wanted, all the materials used are recycled or recyclable – even down to the recycled cotton covering the earphone cables.
The range comprises several collections, from the entry-level Jammin’ Collection (aimed at “young gongs”) through Freedom and Destiny to the premium-quality One Foundation iPod docking speaker system (for “conscious connoisseurs”).
All the products have a rustic, revolutionary feel and all have either subtle or overt Rasta overtones. They’ll be shipping to US retailers in the second quarter of this year, but international availability is uncertain. They will have an online store operating, though, so perhaps we can buy them through that channel. Have a look at www.thehouseofmarley.com for more information.
The quality is very good, the designs are refreshing, and I reckon these are the right eco-friendly products at the right time.
Ciao for now
My time at CES is coming to an end, I have one final appointment tonight and head back to Melbourne tomorrow.
Look out for more CES products, plus a roundup of Macworld Expo from our US cousins, in the March issue of Australian Macworld.
Oh, my final appointment? Dinner at a steakhouse with Sony, then a Carlos Santana concert. Life’s a bitch …