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CES 2012: Bigger, Lighter, Thinner, Connected

The 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) was huge this year, bringing some 153,000 attendees to Las Vegas -- a jump of around 14,000 over last year. The Vegas infrastructure survived the onslaught, with long lines for food and taxis and buses, but the traffic still moved through the streets.

The exhibit halls were crowded, but you could still move around, see the displays, and even talk to the exhibitors. Of course, it helped that the crowd was spread out among 3100 exhibitors in 1.86 million net square feet of exhibit space (both new records for CES). That includes the entire Las Vegas Convention Center, plus ballrooms and suites in the adjoining Hilton (just renamed to the LVH) and the Venetian.

It may help to visualize the magnitude of this area as larger than 35 (American) football fields, with booths set up along the yard lines.

(CEA photo of the crowd of attendees in the hallway outside the Central Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center. Note that this is not the exhibition -- It's just part of the hallway that runs along one side of one hall of the convention center.)

The big topics this year at CES included:

  • Ultrabooks: Small and light and stylish laptops (the PC industry's answer to Apple's MacBook Air). Remember netbooks, which were too underpowered and sluggish? Ultrabooks promise to remove the compromises, with power and capacity to be a useful laptop. (Expect a big marketing push from Intel and its partners.)

  • Thin TV: Flat-screen TVs, with thickness and surrounding bezels measures in millimeters instead of inches. These look like a sheet of glass from the side, and the minimization of the surrounding frame can make them appear to float in the air .

  • Smart TV: Connected TVs and Blu-ray players that integrate with the Internet to provide browsing and apps like smartphones and tablets, and which provide deeper interaction with you though voice and gesture control, and even face recognition to personalize for your preferences. (Yes, your TV now has a camera and microphone to watch and listen to you.)

  • Digital Health: A profusion of devices to monitor your health and exercise, and connect to smartphone apps for analysis and coaching. (Your digital scale will post your daily weigh-in to your Twitter feed.)

  • UltraViolet: A Hollywood-approved "digital locker" for your purchased movies and TV shows, so you can buy once and then view across a wide variety of devices, from desktop to set-top to mobile. This is just starting to roll out, but holds the promise of being sensible and useful.

See my 2012 International CES Summary article for information on the show, facilities, Las Vegas, exhibits, conference program, and press events -- plus links to more information and press / blog coverage.

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