Hardware Saves Day One of DEMO 09

The second half of day one of DEMO 09 was shaping up to be a disappointment for me. A group of products focused on mobile devices and cell phones failed to generate much interest at all (sadly the coolest product in the bunch was Skout Out, a product for flirting via one's cell phone), And this group of products was followed by a fairly depressing panel, where a group of Vcs and investors talked about the economy and the state of funding start-ups. The panel can be summed up by one panelist who said that we are currently in "the worst fundraising environment ever."

The second half of day one of DEMO 09 was shaping up to be a disappointment for me. A group of products focused on mobile devices and cell phones failed to generate much interest at all (sadly the coolest product in the bunch was Skout Out, a product for flirting via one's cell phone),

And this group of products was followed by a fairly depressing panel, where a group of VCs and investors talked about the economy and the state of funding startups. The panel can be summed up by one panelist who said that we are currently in "the worst fundraising environment ever."

But day one was saved by a group of hardware presenters, who finally showed some products of interest.

By far the most exciting product of the show so far was the Touch Book, by Always Innovating. This product is one of the most interesting netbook designs that I've seen to date. The Touch Book is essentially both a netbook and a touchpad. The main touch pad area can be detached from the keyboard and used by itelf or attached to the keyboard backwards or in a standing V configuration. The Touch Book uses an ARM processor, can turn on instantly and has a battery life of 10 to 15 hours. It runs a customized version of Linux but can also run other operating systems. The Touch Book is priced at $399 or $299 for just touchpad and is expected to ship in June or July.

Also of interest in this group was Vue, from Avaak. This is a wireless, mesh-based video system that can be easily set up in any home or business without the need of PCs or servers. All content is instantly sent to the Web.

Qualcomm demoed its Mirasol display technology, which uses MEMS technology to provide a low power display that can be viewed in direct sunlight.