Tablets steal the show in Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS : The 2011 Consumer Electronics Show, which closed early this month in Las Vegas after posting an all-time record visitor turnout, was replete with innovation across most product categories, but the real stars of the dazzling extravaganza were just quite 
a few.Even a casual visitor to the bustling Las Vegas Convention Centre doesn’t have to ponder much to figure out the products that stole the limelight. The buzzwords were too loud to go unheard. Tablet computers, 3D televisions and smart devices — those digital marvels that are going to shape and influence business practices and lifestyles over the next few years — took the world’s largest consumer electronics show by storm like never before.With the exception of two industry giants —  Apple and Google — most major brands, including Panasonic, Toshiba, Samsung, LG, Sony, Blackberry and Motorola vied to grab visitors’ attention with a wide array of touch-screen tablet computers and other sleek smart devices that are set to take home entertainment, lifestyle and work place culture to exciting new levels.“This time, it is nothing but interactive TVs and a tablet wave that swept across the CES,” commented Anthony Peter, Associate Director of Panasonic Middle East, who visited CES this year. “The convergence of sight, sound and surreal interactive experience is being taken to a new level,” he added.

For most tech-savvy visitors, CES 2011 might have appeared almost as a rerun of 2010 since the same line-up and themes dominated the 2010 event. Among a handful of exceptions was the tablet computer.However, there was more evolution as in the case of 3D TVs that have come a long way since their debut in 2010, with Toshiba going a step ahead by venturing into 3D televisions without glasses, which one can justifiably say is a breakthrough.As some analysts point out, 3D without glasses may not be perfect for the time being, but it definitely is the future. Overall, while the basic themes were the same, the technology on show was much more mature and developed in this time at CES.Most cellular providers are there in full force with more innovations, including phones that control refrigerators, while major manufacturers were back with bang with more innovative lineup of televisions in three dimensions, including glasses-free and smart TV sets with built-in operating systems and software for surfing the Web and streaming content from the internet.The tablet explosion was obviously inspired by Apple iPod’s runaway success. With most IT giants trying to get a piece of the tablet market, the four-day event saw the launch of an estimated 80 tablet computers, most based on Google’s Android software.

Apart from an array of powerful new smart phones, ultra-thin laptops and Web-connected and 3D televisions and 3D still and video cameras and the world’s first 3D camcorder by Panasonic, the show also saw rival chip makers showing off fast new processors combining graphics and traditional computing power.And, as is the case with every new editions of the show, most manufacturers sought to rival each other to show off products that are thinner, lighter, more powerful and more intelligent.This year’s show saw an estimated 140,000 technology enthusiasts, among them 30,000 international visitors, steaming in and out of the convention venue spread across 1.6 million square feet of space. The sheer size and razzle-dazzle of the extravaganza appeared befitting to CES’s clout as the world’s largest consumer electronics showcase.The visitor turnout marked an increase of about 14,000 visitors compared to CES 2010 edition, a clear signpost that the ICT sector is finally bouncing back after the post recession lull of the previous year.Described by industry watchers as the ‘most innovative’ in its more than 40 years of history, the show line up more than 2,700 exhibiting companies putting on display more than 20,000 new gadgets.One could easily discern the feel-good aura among exhibitors and visitors alike. Optimism was quite pervasive and infectious.The air was action-packed and boisterous as major players tried to woo visitors with demonstrations of their cutting-edge technologies that will redefine the way people live and work in the coming years.

“Another striking theme at the show is green-car technology,” said Peter. Panasonic unveiled its new battery to power Tesla electric car as Ford showed off an electric Focus sedan and Internet services tailored for all models. Chevy also unveiled its own electric car.Smart home appliances such as ovens which can download recipes and vehicles which give drivers hands-free voice control access to their smartphone applications were also attention grabbers at CES.Along with first-time CES attendee General Electric, most Japanese and Korean makers showed off a whole range of washing machines, dish washers or other appliances made smart with computer chips and the Internet.Another trend that was discernible was the increasing role of smart phones that are expected to replace laptop notebooks as consumers’ go-to computer devices.Demonstrations showed how terminals with external monitors and keyboards will allow smart phone users to access the same amount of information and programming that they currently hold on their laptops. Peter Fannon, Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Panasonic North America, showed off the brand’s dazzling lineup of televisions that allow consumers to chat to their friends on Facebook and Twitter while watching live TV or streaming their favourite programmes from around the world.Fannon sounded more eloquent with VIERA tablet that is Android based and available in 4, 7, and 10-inch sizes. Panasonic has positioned the device mainly as a TV companion by using a feature called VIERA Connect with which tablet owners have the flexibility to transfer content between the tablet and TV — or even view the same content simultaneously from different angles delivering a whole new level of Interactive TV with richer content and exciting new features.

The tablet also functions as a remote for controlling home theater components and content.At Panasonic’s sprawling stand, the world’s first 152 inch Plasma HD 3D television literary took the centre-stage of  non-stop crowd-pulling demonstrations of a fast emerging technology at its enchanting best.Also on display were Panasonic’s other range of 3D televisions, tablets, internet connected televisions, online gaming, 3D video camera, 3D digital still camera and the world’s first 3D camcorder. There were also professional-grade 3D cameras for broadcasting and web conferencing, and 4/3 3D still cameras with interchangeable lenses making up the full family of 3D products.   Panasonic also showed off its internet connected televisions.Fannon said the VIERA Connect delivers whole new level of Interactive TV with richer content and exciting new applications and features to connect customers with family and friends, and an unprecedented wealth of entertainment.Panasonic’s TC-P42S30 Full HD Plasma Television won a prestigious Innovations 2011 Design and Engineering Award in the Eco-Design and Sustainable Technology product category keeping in line with their strong investment in green technology.The Consumer Electronics Association, or CEA, which has been producing the exhibition since 1967, has chosen Las Vegas as its host city since 1978. A delegation from Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry attended the show this time with the hope to bring the spectacular show to Dubai.The Motorola Xoom was crowned the best gadget of CES 2011 by the official CNET Best of CES Awards. The 10.1-inch tablet uses Android’s new platform for tablets, Honeycomb, has two cameras and is Flash compatible.Blackberry’s Playbook also created a bit of a buzz, as the company aims its sights at the corporate market. The company tapped into another big trend of CES by announcing a 4G version of its Playbook. Lenovo and LG Electronics were among other companies showing off Android tablets, while Dell unveiled a new seven-inch touchscreen Streak that will run on high-speed 4G networks – Arabnews