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Las Vegas plays host to technology's cutting edge

Text by Sébastian SEIBT

Latest update : 2011-01-11

LG, Samsung, Panasonic and other technology giants at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show 2011 reveal their latest gadgets to the world. Follow this grand technophile gathering with FRANCE 24 to get a glimpse of what’s hot in tech this year.

At LG, everything is "smart"

Okay. We get it. LG Electronics products are "smart". During the South Korean company's 45-minute presentation, they repeated the word at least 50 times.

Their new smartphone? Smarter, thanks to the fastest processor in the world. Their latest TVs? Smart, because they’re permanently connected to the Internet. Fridges, ovens and washing machines are also smart because, being always online, they can tell you how much milk to get, how to cook that roast or the status of your laundry.

It's a safe bet that “smart” is the buzzword this year. But there was a notable absence in this display of digital intelligence - a competitor for Apple’s iPad tablet. LG is scheduled to unveil their tablet this Thursday.

Pioneer: Getting cars online

Pioneer wants to turn cars into web 2.0 social devices. This year, the North American division of the Japanese brand will launch a dozen web-connected car audio models. Their new in-dash electronics will integrate the Internet radio service Pandora, as well as services from a small US company called Aha, that will allow drivers to access Twitter updates, Facebook, traffic apps and other online services in audio form.

Sharp: everything larger

Sharp’s latest offering in Las Vegas was a 70-inch LCD TV (that’s a screen size of 175 cm, measured diagonally). Huge TV screens used to be plasma technology, not LCD, and Sharp’s newest gadget crosses that divide. Of course, their TVs all connect to the internet.

But the brand hasn’t just made everything big. It also unveiled something small - a tablet called Galapagos. Sharp’s tablet lets you surf the Internet, but lacks apps – the very feature that makes the Apple's iPad so successful. The Galapagos seems instead to be a sort of hybrid gadget – a colour e-book reader that also lets users Google stuff. It will be released in the U.S. in the second half of the year.

Samsung, the 3D “Galaxy”

Samsung believes 3D will indeed be the future of television. The company already reports sales of over one million 3D TVs in the U.S. in 2010, confounding all other manufacturers. This year, the company expects it will sell more than six times that number.

This year’s Samsung 3D TVs (connected to the Web, of course) feature an ultra-narrow edge around the screen, making it appear virtually frameless.

Besides 3D, Samsung’s other push is to compete with Apple. Its smartphone Galaxy S is already the iPhone’s main competitor. It has also recently taken a dig at the iPad with the Galaxy Tab tablet, which has sold 1.5 million units.

For 2011, Samsung has decided to keep its momentum and to tackle the iPod Touch with a new multimedia player called the Galaxy Player. The player runs on Google’s Android operating system and provides access to thousands of apps, just like on Apple’s mobile devices.

Sony, one for all and all for one

The problem with Sony is that it tries to do everything, which means that the Japanese company is rarely at the forefront of innovation. With the advent of the “all-connected” era, Sony wants to turn this propensity to chase everything at the same time into an advantage. Since it’s already everywhere, all it’s got to do is link all its toys together.

Which was indeed the subject of its presentation in Las Vegas. At CES, it will demonstrate that its new 3D TVs communicate better than ever with its PS3 entertainment console, without forgetting its brand new 3D camcorder that records in "dual HD" (the utility of that feat being debatable).

And closing the circle, Sony also announced the arrival in the coming months the Bloggie 3D, a mini camcorder. As its name suggests, this little gadget allows you to take videos in 3D. Conclusion: For Sony in 2011, everyone should move to 3D.

Microsoft continues to diversify

Microsoft is no longer just a software giant – that was CEO Steve Ballmer’s message at their CES 2011 presentation. The company’s diversification is successful and well underway.

Thus, its Xbox 360 is more than a game console – it’s an entertainment centre, for movies and TV shows, as well as connecting users via Facebook and Twitter. Most importantly, its new console controller Kinect meshes all this and Microsoft has already sold 8 million units. Ballmer presented a new version of this gadget: the Kinect Avatar, that will let users evolve with their digital alter-egos. The update even recognizes facial expressions.

Ballmer was quieter when it came to Microsoft’s smartphone, the Windows 7 Phone. He didn’t announce any new models or report sales figures.

That leaves good old Windows. Many were expecting an announcement on Windows 8. Instead, the conference included a presentation on several new laptops running Windows 7.

Ballmer did still confirm that they were continuing to develop the famous operating system’s next version. But in short, Microsoft hopes that 2011 will see a successful evolution of everything it began in 2010.

Date created : 2011-01-06

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