The smoke is still clearing at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Technically, there’s another day left of the show, but that’s icing on our technology cake. The big trends this year are clear: Tablets, 4G everywhere, 3D TVs, and the transformation of Wintel as we know it. Digging a little deeper however, we found some outstanding products that--for most part--stood outside these trends.
Without any further ado, let’s get on with Maximum PC’s FTW CES 2011 awards:
Release Date: They’re already out; currently being installed in conference facilities, with retail and commercial application coming later this year.
Why it’s important: Because huge, wraparound displays are frickin’ cool
Noteworthy due to its sheer kick-assness, the MX812XP isn’t just two projectors working in unison to produce an incredible image on a huge, curved display – it’s the future of gaming. Seriously, take a look at the video and then tell us you don’t want to spend some serious time playing Call of Duty on this thing. Not only is it a gamers chimera, its pushing projectors – and displays – into new territory. A set up similar to the one we saw at CES is being constructed in Dallas, and utilizes multi-touch across the behemoth screen to teach school kids. Lucky kids.
The MX812XP works by using two projectors blended onto a gaming desktop for an immersive 3D experience. It uses scalable display software to pull up a digital grid and a webcam to take photographs of the grid, then blends the two together seamlessly with zero visible distortion. It has 3500 lumens (per projector), XGA Resolution, 3D ready projection and can project up to an infinite size. Sound too good to be true? Check out the video we shot at CES.
Best Mobile Device
Release Date: Spring 2011
Why it’s important: The world’s first dual-screen tablet, and it runs Windows 7
This pick is a little controversial; based on our conversations at CES, it’s clear that not everyone has been as enthralled with Acer’s forward-thinking dual-screen Iconia as we have. So why are we awarding it an FTW in the Best Mobile Device category? Because it’s two-display approach and beefy specs—Core i5 CPU, 750GB drive, 3G capability, and USB 3.0—epitomize the Maximum PC ethos of power, performance, and cool.
We appreciate that both of the Iconia’s screens have touch capabilities, and in our hands-on time with the Iconia, we were surprised by how easy it was to type on the virtual keyboard. A library of touch-based gestures allowed us to quick and easily move video between the screens, clip and paste content, and view/edit photographs. We also appreciated that this hybrid tablet/laptop runs a modified version of Windows 7, which makes it far more functional than a typical tablet. The only downsides: it’s expensive ($2,000) and not as portable as a pure tablet.
Mark our words: In three years or so, dual-screen touch laptops and tablets will be ubiquitous. The Iconia is the first shot in this revolution.
Best Storage Technology
Synology DiskStation Manager 3.0
Release Date: Sept 2010
Why it's important: Painless, powerful remote access & management for NAS.
Synology's NAS devices are consistently among the best in their class in performance and feature sets, but their Disk Station Manager web interface was a little obtuse. No more. DiskStation Manager 3.0, released Q4 2010, replicates the look and feel of a desktop OS in the browser. It sounds kitchy, but boy does it work.
Drag-and-drop app icons lead to music player, video player, easy settings apps, and more, while desktop widgets show realtime performance stats. iOS and Android apps let you stream your content remotely, and the NAS devices themselves have many more powerful features. DiskStation Manager 3.0 ships with new Synology devices and is a free upgrade for current DiskStation users.
Best Wireless Device
NetGear N600 Premium Edition
Release Date: February 2011
Why it’s important: In our last high-end router round-up, the N600’s predecessor trounced the competition.
In late October, we reviewed several high-end routers, and Netgear’s WNDR3700 absolutely trounced the competition. That’s why we’re so excited about the company’s upcoming N600 (also known as the WNDR3800), which is the next in the series.
The N600 Premium Edition adds a number of features, including a much-improved user interface, a ReadyShare remote access feature that enables you to access attached USB storage devices from anywhere you have broadband access, Apple Time Machine compatibility for Macintosh backups, and DLNA certification. The real hook here, however, is performance. So long as it continues NetGear’s fine tradition of high-end performance, we’ll be happy. The router comes with 16MB of Flash memory and 64MB of RAM.
Intel Second Generation Core i7 “Sandy Bridge”
Release Date: January 2011
Why It’s Important: More performance, less cost and in every new PC this year, thanks to a innovative leap forward in processor design.
With the legendary performance of Nehalem, Lynnfield and Westmere to live up to, it’s hard to believe that Intel’s Sandy Bridge could pull it through but that’s what Intel’s second-gen Core i7 does. Even better, it does it cheaper than ever before. Though launched Sunday, the new chip was simply pervasive at CES. You couldn’t go to a PC technology keynote or touch a desktop or new fangled laptop without Intel’s Sandy Bridge being there.
There may have been sexy tablets, strange new form factors but it’s hard to deny that Intel’s fast new CPU had the most impact on the PC at CES.