- Web-connected 'smart TVs' are going to be a mainstay in living rooms
- Lower-priced tablets provide competitive price options
- Health-related consumer technologies increase offerings
Every year the Consumer Electronics Show reveals the tech trends that will alter our digital lives in the not-too-distant future. Highlights from the just-completed 2011 extravaganza include smarter TVs, Internet-connected cars, phones that are really pocket-size computers and high-tech home health help for caregivers and care receivers.
Samsung LED D800 TVs
Manufacturers continue to push 3D TV as a way to make 2-year-old high-def sets seem obsolete, but the upgrade with more day-to-day value is smart TV, bringing information and entertainment from the Internet onto the biggest screen in the house. Samsung delivered an updated, easier-to-navigate online system, incorporating both single-purpose apps and a full Web browser. While this enhancement is being incorporated in dozens of sets, the most dazzling are the D800 models, available in several sizes, with prices to be announced later. These TVs include an advanced illumination system for darker blacks (blacks that appear gray are a common problem), an advanced touch-screen remote and a bezel (the black edging around the picture) that's a wafer-thin two-tenths of an inch. And yes, it does 3D, too.
Touch screens are the new mouse
Keep the fun part of personal computing — the Web browsing, e-mail, calendar, photo sharing, games and video chat — and lose the complexity and virus risk. Deliver it all in an 18.6-inch touch-screen device and you have the Telikin Computer, a pleasure both for the recipient who's intimidated by the typical PC, and the family member tasked with providing tech support. Running custom Linux software instead of the standard Windows or Mac OS, the Telikin doesn't lack for features, including a 320-gigabyte hard drive, 4 USB ports, a memory card reader, wired keyboard and mouse. It's available now for $699 from the company website, and soon at retail stores.
Samsung Sliding PC 7 Series
There were at least 50 tablets introduced at CES as manufacturers attempt to play catch-up with the iPad. Lower price is the only real advantage most of these me-too models offer compared with Apple's pride and joy, but this Samsung hybrid uses innovation to pack a competitive punch. On the surface, the PC 7 is a good-looking tablet, with a bright 10.1-inch touch screen. With a simple pull, though, a slender full-size keyboard slides out, transforming the device into a full-fledged Windows 7 laptop. And while Windows hasn't set the world on fire as a tablet operating system, Samsung has customized the system to make key applications much more touch-screen friendly.