The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the kind of event that causes tech geeks to drool. Electronics manufacturers from around the world gather in Las Vegas, Nev. to display new products and technologies. The show isn't open to the public, which likely makes the event even more tantalizing to a typical gadget enthusiast.
The purpose of the show is to give manufacturers the opportunity to talk to potential buyers and the press. In the world of CES, a buyer isn't just an individual looking for a new television. Instead, buyers represent retailers ranging from a small electronics shop to global store chains. An attractive display booth at CES may mean big business for the manufacturer, while potential buyers may overlook a somewhat lackluster booth.
One element that impacted 2009's CES was the global economy. In the weeks leading up to the show, some journalists predicted that attendance would be down and exhibitors would scale back on their booths. While the show floor wasn't quite as packed with bodies as it had been in previous years, many big names in the technology field still had impressive displays, some of which spanned the entire width of the showroom floor.
Now let's look at the most impressive booths of CES 2009, listed in no particular order.
The LG booth was constantly busy. Part of that was due to the booth's location -- it was next to a major entryway into the Center Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center. But the booth also happened to feature some of the most popular exhibits at CES.
The company's line of HDTVs received a lot of attention. Not only did LG introduce televisions that consume less energy than current models, it also unveiled new sets with "NetCast Entertainment Access." These televisions have an Ethernet port that turn the television into an interactive device that gives consumers the ability to use Yahoo! Widgets on their TV screens.
LG also introduced a television with a 240-hertz refresh rate, meaning the screen refreshes 240 times per second. A high refresh rate helps a television display images that are moving quickly across the screen without effects like trails or fuzziness. LG wasn't the only company to show off this kind of set -- Sony and Samsung also had models on display in their booths.
But the main attraction at LG's booth was their conceptual watch phone. The watch featured a simple three-button interface and could connect to the 3G cellular network. According to LG, the microphones in the watch phone can filter out ambient noise. Before long, the watch was the talk of the showroom floor.
Sony's booth featured technologies ranging from HD televisions to digital photo frames. While some booths emphasized one technology over others, Sony cast its net wide by featuring each technology in its own section of the booth.
Perhaps the most impressive electronics on display at Sony were the organic light-emitting diode (OLED) displays. An OLED display is a solid-state device composed of layers of organic molecules that create light when you apply electricity to them. Televisions or monitors using this technology can be very thin and these displays require less energy to operate than plasma or LCD models. And OLED displays can be flexible -- it's possible to create a curved display. Since Sony's OLED demonstrations were in the concept phase; we probably won't see many of these new devices on the market for a while.
Sony's booth also had several different models of HDTVs, including the Bravia V4100. Sony claims the V4100 is an eco-friendly television that's Energy Star qualified. In addition to the V4100, Sony showed televisions from more than five different series of products. The company plans to play a large role in the HDTV market over the next year.
Other products from Sony included a series of its Handycam camcorders with 60x zoom capability, several notebook models, high-definition webcams and Walkman MP3 players.
Panasonic's booth stretched from one side of the Central Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center to the other. The centerpiece of the booth was an attraction that inspired a lot of buzz on the showroom floor: a 3-D home theater demo. Panasonic's booth included a walled-off theater demo room. You had to pick up tickets to get a chance to see the presentation. About 25 people at a time could watch the demo on a 103-inch (261.6 centimeters) plasma screen. To experience the 3-D effect, you had to wear special glasses. The effect was very convincing -- Panasonic included video footage from feature films, the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing and even professional wrestling.
While the 3-D theater dominated Panasonic's display, there were plenty of other things to see in the booth. One end housed Panasonic's eco-friendly technology. This included televisions that have lower power requirements than older sets and washing machines that use water more efficiently than current models. Panasonic also announced that it was expanding its recycling program to include 280 drop-off sites in the United States -- consumers can go to any of these sites to recycle old Panasonic televisions and other electronics.
The rest of Panasonic's booth featured high-definition televisions, home audio systems, high-end headphones, cameras, Blu-ray players and even massage chairs. But at the end of the day, it was the 3-D demo that people talked about the most.
The main entrance to Samsung's booth was through an enormous arch of television sets. Samsung featured televisions throughout its booth space. The sets ranged from top-of-the-line high definition TVs to conceptual models that we probably won't see in the market any time soon.
One of those conceptual televisions was the 82-inch (208.3 centimeters) LCD ultra-high-definition TV. High-definition televisions have resolutions of either 720 or 1,080 horizontal lines of pixels. The ultra-high-definition set from Samsung boasts 2,160 lines of pixels. While the images on the television were crisp and vibrant, there's no real opportunity to receive ultra high-definition video signals right now.
Samsung, like LG, also had televisions that feature a 240-hertz refresh rate. Samsung placed the 240-hertz set next to a 120-hertz TV and played the same loop of video on both sets.
Televisions weren't the only electronic devices on display at Samsung's booth. The company also showcased Blu-ray players, portable media players and projectors, among other gadgets.
Intel used CES as an opportunity to show off the capabilities of the company's latest microprocessors. Most of the interactive displays featured a Centrino 2, Atom or Core i7 processor.
Intel designed the Centrino 2 processor for notebook computers. Intel says the processor helps boost WiFi performance. Intel even offers an optional WiMAX capability with the Centrino 2 processor. The company also claims that the Centrino 2 is more energy-efficient and will help preserve battery life compared to other processors.
The Atom processor is Intel's solution for portable electronic devices like netbooks, GPS receivers and digital cameras. Intel designed the processor to work with Internet-enabled devices that don't require the same processing power as a full-fledged computer.
The Core i7 processor was Intel's heavy hitter at CES 2009. Based on the Nehalem microprocessor microarchitecture, the Core i7 can handle the intense processing requirements of advanced computing tasks like the latest video games or media editing applications. Intel had several displays featuring the Core i7, including racing simulators and an interactive touch screen that looked like something out of the film "Minority Report."
That wraps up the list for the best booths at CES 2009, but you can bet all of these companies aren't resting on their laurels -- they'll have to make an even bigger splash next year to stay on top.
Each January, many folks head to Las Vegas to check out (and show off) the latest consumer electronics. Learn how CES began at HowStuffWorks Now.
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More Great Links
- Intel. "PRESS KIT - Consumer Electronics Show (CES) 2009." (Jan. 13, 2009) http://www.intel.com/pressroom/kits/events/ces2009/index.htm
- Panasonic. "Panasonic's CES 2009 Booth Highlights Future of Consumer Electronics." Jan. 7, 2009. (Jan. 12, 2009) http://www2.panasonic.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/prModelDetail?storeId=11301&catalogId= 13251&itemId=322753&modelNo=Content01072009013448332&surfModel= Content01072009013448332
- LG. "LG Raises the Bar with Innovative Products at 2009 International CES." Jan. 7, 2009. (Jan. 12, 2009) http://www.lge.com/about/press_release/detail/21064_1.jhtml
- Samsung. "CES 2009." (Jan. 14, 2009) http://www.samsungusanews.com/tag/ces-2009/
- Sony. "CES 2009." (Jan. 14, 2009) http://news.sel.sony.com/assets/CES_2009/index.htm