For all of next week, if you dare show your face on the internet you’re going to be slapped — hard — by more Consumer Electronics Show news that your poor brain can stand. Yet, over the years, some significant stuff has still managed to wrestle its way through the metric tonne of crap that also gets released.
Super-thin TV-shaped awesomeness from South Korea
CES 2012 saw, as always, some awesome new TVs that make your eyes orgasm and your wallet whimper. In 2012, the device of AV gods was the Samsung Super OLED TV that had us in love with 55 inches of pure beauty. This was the year that TVs stopped trying to put fecking Facebook on the big screen and just concentrated on big, beautiful images instead.
Android tablets: Samsung Galaxy Tab, Toshiba Excite 10
This was possibly the year that Android tablets properly came of age, with lots of on-paper good iPad competitors. Ironic, then, that the tablet that would properly be a thorn in Apple’s side — the Nexus 7 — didn’t dare peek its head out at CES.
This was the first smartphone packing an Atom processor, marking Intel’s desperate attempts to grab a chunk of the lucrative mobile processor market. Sadly, despite a lot of frothy-mouthed journalists raving about the K800 at CES, it never made its way to Europe and was overshadowed by the Orange San Diego, which also sold like expired manure.
Android Gets All Tablety With Honeycomb
2011 saw Google get serious about taking down the iPad, with Android 3.0 (also known as delicious Honeycomb, yum) the first version of Android that made tablets not look like a half-arsed primary school science project.
Motorola Atrix Tries to Make The Ultimate Device a Reality
The Atrix was an attempt to make a phone that could also work as your laptop. Although ultimately doomed, it was an AWESOME idea and one that isn’t dead yet. One of the more visionary things ever to be revealed at CES (that wasn’t vapourware, that is).
Someone Let Lady Gaga Design a Camera
The greatest WTF of CES 2011 (or screw it, just of 2011). Polaroid, writhing around in its death throes, got all desperate and let Lady Gaga loose on the design studio. The result was a pair of glasses with outward-facing screens under each eye that lets the whole world see what you see. Apparently this was the “camera of the future”. Erm, if you say so.
Dell Streak — The First Phablet
This was one product that was properly visionary. Just two years ago, everyone was treating 5-inch ‘tablets’ as a joke, something you’d have to use a headset with to make phone calls. Yeah, they might not still exactly be svelte and stylish, but they’ve proved bizarrely popular with the Samsung Note.
Hybrid Tablet/Notebook Things Get Real
The biggest thing in Windows 8 right now are hybrid tablet/laptops. Lenovo kinda started the modern trend for this sorta device back in 2010 with the U1 IdeaPad, which combined a Linux tablet with a Windows 7 notebook. Though ultimately not a big hit, it proved to be a pretty damn visionary design, showing Lenovo can make stuff other than boring black business laptops.
TVs Get Massive and Pornographically Thin
Once again, CES proved the best place to find ridiculously gorgeous and expensive TVs: Panasonic debuted a 152-inch 4k monster, and Samsung introed screens that can either be used to watch telly or cut cheese.
The Palm Pre, R.I.P, was an awesome device, with a custom OS featuring a multitasking mode that blew our tiny little minds. Tech journalists world-wide drooled. Superlatives plain ran out. Sadly, the tiny little handset that captured our hearts died an ignominious death, but it was still the best thing that happened at CES 2009.
Streaming Comes to TVs
Most decent TVs you can buy nowadays have the ability to pull cat videos off YouTube; this sorta thing first debuted in 2009, with Vizio’s “Connected HDTV” or Netflix baked into LG’s TVs.
HD-DVD Gets Screwed
Just before CES 2008, Sony landed an absolute killer blow to HD-DVD. Warner Bros. announced undying alleigance to Blu-Ray, swore and oath in blood, and then watched HD-DVD die an ignoble death.
Giz Turned Off Everyone’s TVs
OK, so it was slightly mean. And probably got some poor techies in the doo-doo. But we’re sorry, and promise it won’t happen again.
Optimus Maximus Awesomeness
The Optimus Maximus keyboard is a totally impractical, wildly expensive keyboard that everyone lusts after. Every key has a little screen underneath it. But for everyone who uses programs with a shiteload of keyboard shortcuts like Photoshop, it would be an absolute goddamn lifesaver.
Although it was only a puny 27-incher, Sony’s OLED TV paved the way for OLED — which should be the future of display teechnology — to come into the mainstream.
Supercooled New Gaming PCs
Dell possibly had the best name for a product in 2007: XPS Black Ice. It sounds like a stealth figher, or a ninja’s code name. In fact, it was an ingeniously-cooled gaming super-rig, costing a nice £5,000 (in today’s money). So much want.
Novint Falcon 3D controller
Novint totally wanted to shake up the boring human interface industry with a controller that lets you feel what you’re working on in 3D — for example different guns in games would have different weights and different recoils — and you can actually feel the kick-back. It never really made headway, but I still think it’s quite cool, and gives a lot of the touchy-feely feedback that the Kinect and Co. are sorely lacking.
Bluetooth Keyboards for Smartphones
Bluetooth keyboards for tablets/smartphones are commonplace now, but back in 2006 a mini-keyboard dedicated to phone use was a novel and possibly useful idea. Shame decent smartphones then turned up and kicked it in the nuts.
VOIP phones were Skype’s first move out of PCs — and we can see where that’s ended, with phones, tablets, PCs, and even £350 TV add-ons.
Yep, the PS2 game that once and for all made air guitar obsolete debued in Vegas in 2006. I still play it on my phone. It’s still the best thing ever to happen to talentless music fans.
Samsung 102-inch TV
CES has traditionally seen a giant corporate pissing contest that involves a bunch of TV manufaturers trying to prove they have the biggest
dick TV. 2005 saw Samsung whip the rest of them into submission with a mammoth 102-incher.
Gizmondo, the Gaming Device That Never Was
Gizmondo (which has a name suspiciously close to a popular and good-looking tech blog) was meant to be the ultimate portable gaming device. Its makers threw a ton of money at it, and even bought an entire freaking store on Regent’s Street. It flopped. Horribly. It’s been named “the worst console of all time”. Poor Gizmondo.
Bill Gates Manages to Horrifically Cock Up a Demo
Bill Gates was definitely a dude. But sometimes, his own software just refuses to play along with him, and BSODs in the middle of a demo. Awkward. But it’s fine, a young Conan is there to save the day.
NFC payments took a giant leap forward in 2004, with Philips getting in bed with Visa to try and push the tech. Almost 10 years on, NFC isn’t exactly all over the place, but hey, if you can use it on buses, world-wide adoption isn’t too far off right?
The Blu-Ray Group (Sony, Matshushuita and LG) held their first press conference in CES, with star-studded performances from VPs and a bunch of PC manufacturers. HD-DVD, on the other hand, literally had a machine playing in a booth somewhere. And we wonder why HD-DVD bit the dust.
Nothing really happened. Sony rolled out Memory Stick PRO, and forever ruined their line of compact cameras. Panasonic made a £1000 universal remote. The Pyramat, a bizarre speaker/sort of sofa Frankenfurninture invention, debuted and instantly died.
All joking aside however, 2003 didn’t see many stand-out products; rather, it was the year everyone started jamming wireless and PC integration into fridges and car stereos and anything with a chipset.