Sometimes it takes a million square feet of gizmos to understand where humanity is headed. After all the pageantry and pixels, here's what the world learned about tech in 2010.
There Is No Such Thing as a Netbook
No one could stop talking about netbooks last year, and in 2010, you'll scarcely be able to find one. Why? Because netbooks have become tablets have become e-readers. With Pixel Qi's hybrid displays, which switch between e-ink and full-color LCD with the push of a button, there won't be any reason to have two dedicated devices for work and reading. Not to mention the gorgeous Spring Design Alex e-reader, which contains a fully-functional Android smartphone in its belly for Web browsing, email, and multimedia. (Image courtesy Gizmodo.)
Blackberrys, Kindles, and G1 devices look mighty antiquated beside all the touchy-feely goodness at this year's show. Gone are the tactile keyboards of yore: Whether it's Dell's mini-tablet or Vizio's touchscreen HDTV remote, everything seemed to operate by touch. Even relative smartphone newcomers are expounding upon the trend that Apple and Android spawned, as evidenced by the ELSE Intuition, an Access Linux-based device being hawked in an unused conference room off the show floor.
Your Phone, Your Everything
Sure, we already had smartphone apps that could serve as digital key fobs for our cars. But CES democratized the phone-as-tool phenomenon by bringing us apps like a remote controller for Sony Blu-ray players and new accelerometers from STMicroelectronics that can sense temperature and wake the phone when it's in motion. A whole new bevy of fart apps lie in wait.
Any Inanimate Object Can Be a Computer
Intel was on hand to show the world how walls make excellent HD multitouch computers, when hooked up to Core i7 chips and linked to Flickr and Facebook. Meanwhile, Israeli startup PrimeSense was across the hall demonstrating their software, which allows home theater buffs to control their Blu-ray players, TVs and set-top boxes with hand gestures akin to HP's TouchSmart technology. And you thought it was cool that Microsoft made a computer from a coffee table. Psh.
Real Wireless = Real Freedom
Mobile phones and WiFi are great, but to really cut the cord, you need WiTricity: power that is transferred over the air, with no cables required. Haier was on hand to demonstrate WiTricity technology it embedded in an HDTV, and though the technology probably won't go on sale this year, it's very real, very functional, and a very cool compliment to wireless HDMI, as shown off by Vizio.