Manufacturers have finally realized that the majority of us don’t just sit and watch TV: We usually have a phone, a laptop or a tablet in our lap whenever we tune in. That presents some interesting opportunities to the company that can figure out how to tie multiple screens together in an interesting way. For instance, everyone from Sony to Samsung is playing with ways of “swiping” a TV show from a touchscreen tablet onto your TV with a flick of the wrist. Gestures like this point to a day when you no longer need universal remotes, because the touchscreens you already own are a far better way to browse video content, whether it comes from cable, satellite, broadcast or internet sources like Hulu and YouTube.
More interesting, perhaps, is the possibilities that a “two-screen” experience opens up for connecting your TV-watching with your social networks and the internet at large. You could be watching the NFL game on the big screen while you look up stats on your little screen. You could be chatting with friends or sharing highlights via Twitter while watching the latest episode of Downton Abbey. Panasonic’s embrace of a reimagined MySpace might be the most prominent example of this aspiration, but other manufacturers, like LG and Sony, are working on it as well. And of course Google has been attempting this for several years, though we saw very little evidence at CES that Google TV has much traction among manufacturers or customers.
The big challenge: There are no broad standards to facilitate connecting TVs and tablets, and in the absence of that, every manufacturer is trying to own the whole burrito. If someone can figure out how to create a truly cross-platform TV and mobile device system, they’ll have a good shot at capturing a huge slice of consumer attention. –Dylan Tweney
Who ever thought a new shape of laptop would be one of the most interesting aspects of CES?
Intel pushed Ultrabooks — its new name for thin and light ultraportable laptops — hard at the trade show. This year alone there will be more than 75 Ultrabook models on the market, and Intel has said that it’s gearing up its biggest marketing push since the Centrino lineup for the new machines. HP had one with Gorilla Glass on its cover, while Dell had one that was made out of carbon fiber.
So what’s the big deal? Ultrabooks promise to be lighter than typical laptops, weighing in around 3 pounds for the most part, allowing them to practically disappear in your laptop bag. They’ll sport solid-state drives (SSDs), instead of traditional hard drives, which will make them extra-thin and fast. (Expect startup times under 10 seconds and practically instant resume from standby speeds.) And thanks to Intel’s next-generation Core processors, Ultrabooks will be peppy under the hood and even capable of decent 3D graphics performance.