It's early January, and all technology geeks know what that means: it's time for the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. As you might expect, there's a flood of news coming out of the Nevada desert. Here are some highlights.
Lenovo came out with a big new tablet computer. And when we say big, we mean big – twenty-seven inches big. It's an attempt to marry a traditional desktop to a tablet, and intended to be used either flat on a table or supported upright with a hinge. (Good thing, because my arms were aching just thinking about holding it up!). Dubbed the IdeaCentre Horizon, the device will support up to a 1 TB hard drive and boasts an Intel processor. It features multi-touch capability, and was designed with the idea that more than one person will use the device at the same time. It runs Windows 8. Lenovo expects users to play games on it; they already have a bunch of tabletop-style game apps for it, and plan to sell game accessories. Expect this monster to set you back about $1,700.
If your idea of play features robots, you'll be pleased to hear that LEGO made it to CES with a new version of their Mindstorms. As you know, Mindstorms is the company's way of training mad robotic scientists young, allowing them to build their wonderful creations with LEGO bricks and computerized and powered “bricks” to keep everything under control. The new version, Mindstorms EV3, features the EV3 Intelligent Brick. This new brick boasts a larger, faster processor with more memory; it even has a USB port and SD card slot. Better still, it's more compatible with mobile devices, so you can control your robot from your smartphone – no wires needed!
Better still, you get an infrared sensor with the system, and if you're feeling short on inspiration, don't worry: the kits include instructions for building 17 different robots. If you want one – for your kids, of course – you'll have to wait until the summer, which should be plenty of time to raise the $350 you'll need.
If you'd rather just sit back and watch TV, well, it seemed like everybody had their own take on the future of kicking back on the couch and watching that glowing screen. Samsung, for example, made its new F8000 smart TV the focus of a press conference. Available in several sizes, it will offer extremely high streaming video quality and feature a quad-core processor to switch between TV, apps, and services very quickly. According to Samsung, it also understands natural language and suggests new content based on what you already like.
AT&T, meanwhile, said it would be offering a new video on demand service, dubbed Screen Pack. For $5 per month, if you're an AT&T U-verse customer, you'll be able to use Screen Pack on U-verse TV, Uverse.com, and on U-verse smartphone and tablet apps – basically delivering your video to you in whatever form you want it. Sadly, the company wasn't too specific about the content you'd be able to tap into, beyond saying that it would include an “extensive library of movies” with more titles added regularly.
Not to be outdone, Google and Netgear announced that they were teaming up to offer a set-top box running Google TV. What's Google TV, you ask? It seems to involve video streaming apps from the Google Play store that can be used on a TV, like Netflix or HBO Go. The box itself include a remote control with a touchpad on one side and a QWERTY keyboard on the other. The touchpad side gives you quick access to a variety of popular video services. The set-top box, dubbed NeoTV Prime, can use a broadband Internet connection and connects to a TV via its HDMI port. You can get it for $130.
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