New Tablet PCs, 3D TVs, Broadband Phones Headline 2011 CES

Although the focus is on consumer brands, a number of companies that straddle the enterprise/consumer product fence will show products that can be used for home and/or the office.

Which electronics show is really the largest in the world: the annual CeBIT conference in Hannover, Germany in March, or the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas each January?

Both are certifiably huge. But CeBIT, which takes over up to 28 hangar-like exhibit halls in Hannover -- a city whose No. 1 business is strictly national, regional and international conferences -- in 2001 attracted an estimated 800,000 attendees and has been averaging 400,000 to 500,000 since.


Las Vegas' main stocks in trade certainly are gambling and tourism, although conferences come in a strong third. CES, set for Jan. 6-9 at the Convention Center and a few nearby hotels, doesn't have the overall scope of CeBIT, doesn't fill as many halls and doesn't dominate Las Vegas nearly as much as CeBIT does Hannover. CES's attendance record is 150,000 people, set in 2006.

This year, however, following a couple of troublesome macroeconomic years, some 126,000 people -- including about 6,000 journalists and bloggers -- are expected to be on site at CES. This is up from about 120,000 in 2010 (and 113,000 in 2009), organizers have said.

More than 1,200 technology companies from outside the United States will be there -- a 25 percent increase over 2010 -- among the 2,500 exhibitors.

Mister Exuberance himself, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, will present a preshow keynote at 6:30 p.m. Pacific time on Jan. 5. Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg, GE Chairman/CEO Jeffrey Immelt, Cisco CEO John Chambers and Ford President/CEO Alan Mulally are also among the keynote speakers.

Major category launches

The most important product-category launches involve a spate of new tablet PCs to compete with Apple's iPad and Samsung's Android Galaxy, 3D televisions, mobile phones with broadband connectivity, and advanced automotive IT, such as on-board radar and control from handheld devices.

Although the focus is on consumer brands, a number of companies that straddle the enterprise/consumer product fence -- such as Hewlett-Packard, Dell, EMC, Microsoft and Cisco Systems -- also will show products that can be used for home and/or the office.

Surprisingly to some people, Apple -- with the hottest portable consumer devices in the world in the iPad and iPhone -- will not have a presence at the show. The company long has preferred to do its own thing with its Worldwide Developers Conference and smaller, non-public product-launch events. Apple dropped its involvement in MacWorld about a year ago, leaving it to IDG.

EMC Iomega will be introducing a new consumer storage/server device called the Personal Cloud, a new iPhone/iPod Touch dock, and two new TV-connected storage machines that run the popular Boxee software.

Cisco will demonstrate its new Cius Tablet PC and TelePresence for home and small-business markets; Microsoft will be showing new mobile phones and gaming devices; and Dell will show off a new tablet PC.

Samsung will unveil its answer to Apple's iPod Touch at the show. The Galaxy Player will feature a 4-inch LCD display, a 1GHz processor, WiFi connectivity and a front-facing camera that could be used for video conferencing.

HP planning a big splash

HP is planning big, introducing several new notebook and desktop PCs with new features -- including multi-dimensional touch control and high-end Beats Audio -- and substantially increased processing power, thanks to new, cooler-running dual core AMD and Intel chips.

The latest version of HP TouchSmart software transforms the desktop into canvas-like environment that features multi-layered wallpapers and a new Carousel design that allows users to easily locate applications and content. TouchSmart also has direct access to the HP TouchSmart Apps Center, which provides access to additional applications and games including Cartoon Network's Paint Blast and Numbers Play.

Users with a TouchSmart 300 or TouchSmart 600 desktop PC can upgrade via free download to the latest version of the software.

The company will show new HP Pavilion dm1 laptops that feature 10 hours of battery life and noticeably cooler-running engines; a new HP ENVY line that boasts 3D graphics and free gaming software (on the 17 3D model); and its hot new TouchSmart screen control software.

Some of the HP Pavilion, Slimline and Elite HPE-series desktop PCs will include HP's Multi-Display Capable technology. This allows users to expand programs, run several applications at once, or enjoy a more intense gaming experience using two or three monitors. The new HP Pavilion desktop PCs also will feature Beats Audio, billed as an "in-the-studio"-type listening experience.

HP's new 100B All-in-One personal computer (pricing starts at $499) does everything last year's version does and more, yet it uses much less power -- anywhere from 40 to 50 percent less, thanks to AMD's latest cool-running dual-core processors. It features high-definition graphics, a preinstalled HP Power Assistant (which enables 90 percent power efficiency), and is Energy Star certified.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...