While the C in CES stands for Consumer, the show itself underlines many trends that will affect business computing in 2010. We’ve already written about the return to slate computing, but there’s a lot more at this year’s event for the IT pro to consider…
The most obvious is USB 3.0. It’s ten times faster than USB 2.0, and with hard drive sizes continuing to increase, it’s going to become an effective way of connecting external drives to a PC (or even a server). It also makes other technologies more interesting, and DisplayLink will be using it to improve the quality of its USB video connections. It’s also here right now – with Sony, Dell and HP all putting it in the latest versions of their business class laptops.
Netbooks are getting a big refresh too, with Intel's Pine Trail Atom giving them more power and more battery life. The real Atom story at CES is the launch of a netbook app store - from Intel. It's a part of the company's developer strategy, helping developers sell and deploy applications built using the netbook toolkits Intel announced back in September 2009 at IDF.
Then there’s universal connectivity. Devices talk to devices, over all manner of protocols. Intel is using multiplexed WiFi to connect displays to PCs without needing any networking (and we’re expecting WiDi connected projectors by the end of the year). Familiar protocols are joined with new ones, like Sony’s TransferJet, which uses a short range personal area network to transfer images from a camera to a PC. Even TVs are getting processors and connectivity, and platforms like Yahoo’s Widgets are turning them into another channel for delivering content and services.
Business PCs are taking advantage of consumer technologies. Lenovo’ latest ThinkPads eschew the familiar matt black for lacquered reds and whites, with redesigned keyboards that make it easier to delete text. There’s even a new low cost ThinkPad that introduces a chiclet-style keyboard as an alternative to the familiar ThinkPad keys, though it keeps the same keytop shape along with the same spacing. Lenovo is also using the new Core i5 and i7 to deliver CAD certified workstations that use integrated graphics.
One of my favourite devices at CES 2010 is Sony’s Bloggie. It’s Sony’s take on the Flip format video camera, with a lens unit that records 720p HD images and rotates through 270 degrees. There’s one feature that makes it an ideal business tool: the optional 360 degree lens. Flip the camera head to point vertically, clip on the lens and you’re able to record everything around the camera. Sony provides software that unwraps the resulting circular image into a strip panorama movie. While Sony may have seen this as a neat consumer feature, it’s got a whole range of business applications.
Need to record a meeting? Drop a Bloggie into the centre of the table, clip on the 360 degree lens and record. Everything that’s said will be recorded, along with video of everyone speaking. You won’t need eyes in the back of your head – Bloggie has them for you already.
That’s just a snippet of CES 2010 – there’s a lot more to think about from the crowded show floor and the maze of meeting rooms. It may be a consumer world out there, but businesses are consumers too…