It wouldnt take a degree in logic to deduce that last weeks Consumer Electronics Show focused primarily on consumer technology. But despite the shows moniker, some of the products announced at CES hold promise the corporate market; you just have to look a little harder and (in some cases) exert a little imagination.
For me, the most important announcement in Las Vegas came from OQO: The San Francisco startup has put its ultra-personal computer into production and was showing it in its final form.
This innovative system was brought to fruition by the team that created the Apple Titanium PowerBook. In fact, it was first conceived as an Apple product. However, Steve Jobs apparently couldnt see opportunities for a laptop computer you could put in your pocket; the team spun out of Apple to form OQO and retool the concept for the Windows market.
Not surprisingly, this product showcases the same design skills that created the award-winning Apple Titanium. Encased in a magnesium alloy, the system sports an extremely high resolution screen and a keyboard that conceals itself when not in use under that screen. It has both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi built in, which opens it up to a wide variety of peripherals.
The device has a digitized screen to provide many of the technical capabilities of a Windows Tablet PC. (Currently, however, its slated to run a more-generic form of Windows XP so it can hit its price target of less than $2,000.) In normal use (document creation, e-mail and so on), it should run between three and four hours on a battery; since the battery is removable and relatively small, you could carry several to get through a transatlantic flight. It is tuned for downloaded movies and powerful enough to play a number of PC games.
Meanwhile, Hewlett-Packard demonstrated that its largest laptop, the zd7000, with an Intel Extreme processor, making it the most powerful consumer-branded notebook you can buy. Notebooks like this could be used as low-cost workstations, and with an estimated 1.5 hours of battery life, they are clearly not to be used for long away from a power source. However, for anyone who pushes performance and needs to be able to set up quickly in the field, these systems represent one of the best values in the market. (The fact that they are in high demand for LAN parties is something well just keep to ourselves.)
Next page: Embedded innovations from Microsoft.