LAS VEGAS--This may go down as one of the best years for computers, and laptops specifically, at the annual CES trade show. We saw new and improved Netbooks, new CPUs from Intel, and a somewhat surprising number of slate and tablet PCs.
Following Lenovo's U1 Hybrid, which combined a detachable slate PC with a full Windows 7 laptop (and was many people's favorite show item), we saw glimpses of tablets from HP, Dell, and others--although most were prototypes only, and clearly intended to stake out some slate real estate before the rumored Apple tablet arrives.
These slate devices are essentially handheld screens that do some or most of what your laptop does, but with touch controls and, often, 3G data access.
We were fond, in theory, of Intel's Wireless Display technology that will allow new laptop owners to wirelessly beam their desktops to a nearby HD display.
During our on-stage demo session, we couldn't actually get a connection to fully go through, thanks to the overwhelming number of wireless signals permeating the convention center. However, we've seen it work before, and the idea was enticing enough that CNET readers voted it their choice for the Best of CES People's Voice award.
Look for a handful of supported laptops from Toshiba, Dell, and Sony in the near-future, as well as a receiver (which plugs into your display) from Netgear, called Push2TV.
The "green" thing was also top of mind for a few PC makers--although perhaps to a lesser extent than we expected. Sony's Vaio W, made of recycled CDs and DVDs, was a highlight, as were new energy efficient routers from TrendNet and a tiny "plug computer" from Marvell.
Intel (and others) inside
Intel let its new Atom N450 chips loose a few weeks early, although they were still featured in nearly every Netbook at the show. Mainstream systems got the new Core i3 and Core i5 CPUs, which join the high-end Core i7 as the new default for non-Netbook laptops. Qualcomm was a surprisingly strong presence in the PC space at this year's CES, as its CPUs powered the slate half of the Lenovo U1, as well as several smartbook systems--which are essentially halfway points between smartphones and Netbooks.
We also saw more Netbook-size systems with decidedly non-Netbook components, highlighted by the Alienware M11x, an 11.6-inch mini-laptop with some serious Nvidia gaming power and an Intel ULV processor.
If you're interested in diving deeper into any of these topics, you'll find more details, photos, and video in the links below.
- The coolest laptop design of 2010's show
- USB 3.0 arrives: Yes, it's fast
- Slate-mania grips PC makers
- What, exactly, is a smartbook?
- Wi-Fi Direct becomes real