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CES 2009 (Day 1)

by Stuart Davidson - 9th Jan 2009
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DriverHeaven @ Ces 2009 Day 1

Sunny Las Vegas in the middle of winter .... it must be time for CES again. Driver Heaven staff have been working hard at the convention and here are some of the highlights from our wanderings on day1 of the show.

Nvidia recently launched the GeForce GTX 285 and 295 but surprisingly those were not their focus at this years show. Instead the main item they wanted to demonstrate was their 3D glasses. Throughout the convention centre there were booths for attendees to pick-up a Guitar Hero controller and rock out in 3D, press reaction has been mixed so far but those trying the technology at CES seemed quite impressed.

The second of Nvidias new items was the ION, a rather plain looking black box that contains the vast majority of the components which make up a PC. The motherboard, Atom CPU, GeForce 9400 and memory are all present as is a 7.1 soundcard and LAN controller. All of this is contained in a near palm-sized box with eSATA and USB as well as DVI and HDMI out (supporting audio). Due to its tiny size the ION is an impressive feat of engineering and we can’t wait to see one up and running in our test lab.

Understandably a lot of the focus at the Intel booth was Core-i7 which we covered recently. Other parts of the booth were taken up by Atom processors powering some rather nice touch screen technology but probably the most impressive product at their booth was on show behind closed doors. Running on a water-cooled I7 CPU at 4.6GHz was DeepViewer, a software application that manages pictures and videos.

We have all seen this type of application before but this was the first one that has truly impressed us. Initially the software shows a calendar split into years/months, we can then zoom in to days and weeks and as we do so thumbnails from pictures/videos taken during the displayed period are shown. The more we zoom in the larger the thumbnails scale until full size images are shown.

All scaling and zooming is instantaneous, even on video files which also play/preview at the same time. This looks impressive in action but the really special aspect of the application is image analysis. By right clicking an image we can select “Find all similar images” at which point the software applies an image detection algorithm to the file, registers a selection of specific points on the image and matches them to other files in the image library.

The results are very impressive, not only through the success of the results but also due to the speed which results appear, even on a system with tens of Gigabytes of information. This is no doubt due to the use of all eight cores in the i7 system and to top it all off Intel also tell us that up to 200 cores can actually be utilised.

Lian-Li were demonstrating a selection of new cases at CES with the top model being the PC888, a very unique looking tower with exceptional cooling potential and an excellent blue paint job inside and out.

At Cebit last year we saw a case designed for AMD’s spider platform and this has now been replaced by a Dragon design. The outside of this chassis is quite nice but inside we have a lovely tool-less design which features some impressive brackets which hold add-in cards in place. These also make an appearance on other new models that also contain a new hard drive holder.

Vuzix continue to concentrate on iWear with their latest development being the Wrap 920AV which act as sunglasses as well as containing a video display. Essentially their first model which allows the user to see through the lens rather than block their vision. Vuzix call the technology “see-thru quantum optics” and on first glance it is impressive though we need to spend some time in real world use to form a true opinion. Also on display was the AV310 which features a 16:9 display.

The highlight of the Sony Booth at this years show was the Vaio P500 series, a selection of 8inch laptops. Normally this type of machine would be classed as a netbook but Sony were quick to inform us that they do not see the P500 in this marketplace due to its specification and performance. We will review the P500 in an upcoming article but first impressions, especially on screen and build quality, are very good.

A close second to the P500 in terms of impressive technology was the AW200 family, a group of laptops designed to give exceptional performance for professionals, especially those working on images as the systems include 18.4 inch displays with Adobe RGB colour correction.

Finally we were shown the new models in the All-in-one range, a selection of PCs similar to the iMac but featuring Sony displays and Blu-Ray.

Over at Asus we saw a selection of laptops and graphics cards, many of which we have reviewed here in recent months. In terms of new technology there were various performance laptops on display and a new range of systems from the Republic of Gamers brand. The highlight of this booth was something a little different, a very special looking concept laptop called “Fold”.

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