The 2012 Consumer Electronics Show doesn't officially open until Tuesday, but that hasn't stopped a flood of product announcements and leaks. Here are the best ones so far.
Toshiba no-glasses 3D TV
For all of you who proudly say, "I'll consider 3D TV once I can finally ditch the glasses, I've got some big news: Toshiba just called your bluff. The company says it will be bringing its no-glasses 3D TV (currently available in Europe and Japan) to the U.S. in the first quarter of 2012. We can't wait to go eyes-on later this week.
In the past decade, Vizio came from nowhere to become one of the best-selling TV brands in America by selling "good enough" flat-panel TVs at prices that undercut traditional manufacturers such as Sony, Samsung, and Panasonic. Undaunted by its less successful foray into tablets in 2011, the company is now setting its sights on the PC market, with laptops and all-in-one desktops expected to hit in the spring of 2012.
The One Laptop Per Child organization has distributed more than 2.4 million of its $100 laptops to needy children in developing nations throughout the world since it debuted in 2007. Now the nonprofit foundation is upping the charitable ante with a $100 touch-screen tablet, which is slated to debut later this week at CES.
The flat-screen TV revolution of the past decade has been powered by just two display technologies: plasma and LCD (the latter powered by fluorescent or LED backlights). Another contender--OLED (organic light-emitting diode) technology--is already widely used in phones, but it's been too costly to scale up to big-screen TVs. But LG says it's made a breakthrough: the company is pledging to deliver a 55-inch OLED TV before the end of 2012. It may cost upwards to $8,000 to $10,000, but that will get you a pencil-thin display with (hopefully) better-than-plasma black levels. We can't wait to see this one in person.
You didn't really think that Nikon was going to stand idly by and let Canon release the new $6,800 EOS 1D X in March without a response, did you? After the usual cat-and-mouse game of online leaks and innuendo, the Nikon D4 became official last week. The major high points of the $6,000 Nikon D3S replacement are its improved autofocus, increased durability, better performance, and more-competitive video capabilities. Look for our hands-on impressions soon.
Apple gets (well-deserved) props for its product design, but we think even some Mac-heads will swoon when they get a look at Samsung's TB750 series 27-inch monitor. Aside from the gorgeous design, the TB750 are loaded with features, including MHL support (for connecting to tablets and phones) and Intel Wireless Display. Oh, and it doubles as a 1080p HDTV. Nice.
Nokia and Microsoft have teamed up to turn around their declining mobile fortunes with an onslaught of Windows Phone 7 models. The promising Lumia 710 and Lumia 800 (shown above) will soon be followed up by the Lumia 900. When it hits AT&T in March (according to the rumors), it'll be the first LTE-powered 4G Windows Phone you can buy, further leveling the playing field between the WinPhone platform and the spate of recent well-apportioned Android superphones.
Living-room video phones are nothing new, but they're getting easier to use and more affordable. Case in point is the new TelyHD, a $250 gadget that turns any TV into a Skype-compatible video phone. It's one of several like-minded products you'll see at the show this year--and more proof we're already living the "Jetsons" lifestyle.
Lenovo is refreshing the ThinkPad line for 2012 with a variety of unique updates. Among the most notable: the X1 gets a dual-CPU design that allows for a battery-saving media mode, and the ThinkPad Edge becomes for the first non-MacBook to support the superfast Thunderbolt connection.
The so-called "pico projector" market hasn't really caught the eye of the masses, but we think it's pretty cool to have a 720p-capable video projector that can fit in your hand. The $400 Velocity Micro Shine has native 1,280 x 768-pixel WXGA resolution, is 4 inches wide, and weighs just 9 ounces. Expect a lot of these to be bought under the guise of "business projectors," but used for wall-size Halo tournaments.
Can't decide between a sound bar or a more traditional 2.1-speaker setup? Thanks to Samsung, you no longer need to choose. The HW-E550 works in either configuration--choose between a horizontal sound bar, or unsnap the left/right sides, mount them vertically to the included bases, and you've got a pair of tallboy speakers instead. Not shown in the photo is the included wireless subwoofer.
Despite a lot of hype, the initial Google TV products from Sony and Logitech didn't click with consumers in 2010 and 2011. That's not stopping Google from trying again. Sony, Samsung, and Vizio have pledged new Google TV initiatives in 2012, but LG has provided the most detail. Interestingly, it appears that LG will allow users to choose between Google TV or its own Smart TV interface when accessing online content--so it's not betting the farm on Google like those earlier models did.
Fujifilm has already released information on its full slate of point-and-shoot cameras--as well as an upscale megazoom--due in 2012. More interesting, however, was the leak of the X-Pro1 mirrorless interchangeable lens camera shown here. We expect to get the full official details on Monday, at Fuji's CES press conference (which CNET will be live blogging).
HP's Omni 27: A 27-inch Windows all-in-one answer to the iMac
Apple has offered a 27-inch iMac for years, and now Windows users get the chance to opt for that jumbo screen size as well with the HP Omni 27. The caveat? The Omni's resolution is "only" 1,920x1,080 pixels (1080p)--notably below the 2,560x1,440-pixel resolution of the iMac.
Android tablet makers are always looking for ways to distinguish their products from the iPad. Toshiba is going for thickness and weight, claiming that its new 10-inch Excite X10 tablet is 55 grams lighter and 1.1mm thinner than Apple's current market-leading tablet. Sounds nice, but the problem is that the iPad 3 is likely just a few weeks away.
4K TVs--also known as "ultra-definition TVs"--offer twice the resolution of current 1080p HDTVs. Sounds cool in theory, but there's not any video content available (outside of the PC and photo realms) that can take advantage of all those extra pixels. Still, LG's jumbo-screen ultra-def TV may show promise by allowing full 1080p HD with passive 3D glasses--something not possible with current passive 3D models. We'll see later this week.
Samsung home theater systems pack vacuum tubes, cloud DVD storage
Home theater has become pretty boring at recent CES gatherings--cheaper Blu-ray players, more sound bars, more streaming. Samsung is mixing it up a bit with with its new Blu-ray home-theater-in-a-box (HTIB) systems for 2012. The two big highlights: hybrid vacuum tube amplifiers (which will hopefully offer some old-school, warm analog-style sound), and a "disc to digital" feature that Samsung says will "enable users to turn eligible copies of their personal DVD collection into digital content." Obviously, that last one needs some significant details fleshed out--details we're hoping to hear at Samsung's press conference on Monday.
The Parrot AR.Drone quadcopter was one of our favorite tech toys of Consumer Electronics Shows past. For 2012, the app-controlled hovercopter is getting some hardware and software tweaks designed to make the device easier to fly. Better location and orientation sensors should make the drone more stable in the air, and a new pressure sensor will help it hold its altitude more accurately when it's more than a few feet off the ground (when the ultrasonic ground proximity sensor is ineffective). There's also a 720p video camera built into the nose, and some improved control app features for iOS and Android. We're hoping to test-fly it later this week.
LG is trying to revive its smartphone offerings with another Android superphone. The rumored Spectrum is said to boast a dual-core 1.5GHz processor, 1GB RAM, and a 4.5-inch HD display. Rounding things out are an 8-megapixel camera, 4GB internal storage, a preinstalled 16GB microSD, and 4G LTE connectivity. Supposedly, though, it won't have Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) at launch. We should get confirmation on everything later in the week.
Acer debuted a trio of new ultrabooks on Sunday. At just 15mm thick, the Aspire S5 is said to be the "world's thinnest" 13-inch laptop. Meanwhile, the new Timeline Ultra laptops have 14- and 15-inch screens and optical drives, stretching the definition of "ultrabook."