2012 Intel CES liveblog

At 4:30pm PT (7:30pm ET) today, January 10, Intel CEO Paul Otellini will take the stage at the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show to talk about Intel’s hopes and plans for 2012 and beyond. Ars Technica will be there to liveblog the event.

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Sony Shares Holiday Sales Numbers For The PlayStation


Sony Computer Entertainment reported some solid sales numbers for its various PlayStation systems for the past holiday season today. Sony says that they moved a total of 6.5 million PlayStation 2/3/PSP/Vita units worldwide (Sony defines “holiday season” as between November 21 and January 5 in Asia, November 21 through December 31 in America, and November 18 through December 31 in Europe).

To be more specific, the company sold:

  • 500,000 units of the PlayStation Vita (which launched in Japan on December 7 and in Hong Kong and Taiwan on December 23)
  • 3.9+ million PS3s (Sony says the system is on track to sell 15 million units in the fiscal year through March 31)
  • 1.6 million PSPs (all models combined)
  • 500,000 PS2 systems
  • 1.7 PlayStation Moves (not part of the 6.5 million total)

Sony also said that Vita owners can choose between 24 different games at the moment and that 70 additional titles are currently in development. The company’s newest video game system will hit Europe, Australia, and America on February 22, 2012.

Hands on with Sony’s first independent smartphone, the Xperia Ion

Sony plans to introduce its first Sony-branded phone on AT&T’s LTE network this year, the company announced at the Consumer Electronics Show on January 9. The Xperia Ion has impressive specs and a beautiful screen, though it wasn’t a perfect experience in our hands.

The Xperia Ion has a 1.5GHz dual-core processor and 16GB of internal storage behind a gorgeous 1280×720 display. Only a few companies have managed to eschew the lesser PenTile displays, but with the force of the Bravia brand behind Sony’s phones (the Sony Ericsson brand in the photos is just an anachronism, we’re told), we expect they’ll lead the charge for high-quality screens. How the battery life will be on those phones is another matter.

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Eyes On: The Tagg Pet Tracker


Qualcomm subsidiary Snaptracs was on hand at Pepcom’s Digital Experience event to demo their Tagg pet tracker, and really — what better way to do it than with a large stuffed dog?

See that grey doodad on Fido’s neck? That’s the Tagg tracker proper, and assuming you remembered to charge it, you’ll be able to ping the tracker at any time from your PC or smartphone in order to figure out where your dog ran off to. You can also set up specific “Tagg zones” that encompass where your animal friend likes to spend their time, and email notifications can be setup for when they wander astray. And thanks to its reliance on Verizon Wireless’s network, you probably won’t need to worry about going without your dog’s location for long.

The caveat? It’s meant for use with cats and dogs that are over ten pounds, so don’t bother trying to throw one on your chihuahua. Then again, if you’re the type of person who owns a chihuahua, there’s a very real chance that you keep it on a short leash anyway.

Interested? The master kit, which includes the tracker, charger, clip assembly, and 30 days of service will run you $99.95, with each additional month running you $7.95.

Microsoft’s “Picture Password”: A Breath Of Fresh Air On The Lockscreen, Of All Places


Remember that feeling you got back when Steve Jobs was unveiling the iPhone, and he did the “slide to unlock” gesture for the first time? I remember the way he said it – “You like that? Want to see it again?”

Since then I haven’t seen a lockscreen interface that has made me feel that same “how obvious, how elegant!” feeling – until today at the NVIDIA press conference, and later at the Microsoft keynote here at CES. It sounds a little silly, sure, making such a big deal of such a small feature, but it’s just nice to see a genuinely natural and new way of doing something we’ve all done thousands upon thousands of times over the last few years.

Microsoft’s picture password is simple. You start up your device and lift the little “veil” common to Metro devices, and you are presented with a picture. Your password is to touch and slide along certain parts of the picture: tap your dogs in a certain order, or slide your finger along the outside of your house.

How obvious! How elegant! Windows 8 may have some design decisions I don’t agree with (mainly on the “traditional” side, not on the Metro side), but it also has some legitimately new and interesting UI ideas and this is one of them.

It’s not perfect — it doesn’t pass the “smudge hack” test, of course. And the fact that to unlock your device now takes three steps (wake button, lift veil, picture password) cuts down on the elegance factor. But it’s different, it’s interesting, it’s natural, and it works.

Not groundbreaking news by any means, but I was struck by the feature and thought it was worth giving a little recognition.

Sony Keeps Concepts Alive At CES 2012


Today at Sony’s CES 2012 press conference, the company unveiled several PC concepts that are, well, just concepts. Kazuo Hirai took to the massive Sony stage deep within the Las Vegas Convention center and talked about the convergence of TV and computers. But no one cares about that marketing nonsense. It was the concepts they flashed on the screen that got everyone excited.

But don’t expect these products to hit the market. Companies are not supposed to sell concepts. They’re concepts, not products.

Up until the last decade, Sony was the design leader in consumer electronics. Sure, others had hits, but no one had decades of iconic products like Sony. Then, for whatever reason, Sony seemed to lose it soul. It lost the magic that made generations of consumers fall in love with the brand. It’s sad, really.

Companies seem afraid to show concepts now-in-days. Perhaps they’re frightened of the potential criticism. MG would no doubt crucify some of them. But these companies also lose out on the conversations and hype that they can generate. Concepts are supposed to invoke an emotional response — good or bad. You’re supposed to love it or hate it. Concepts are supposed to show where the brand is headed.

Think about concept cars: They’re a physical roadmap produced when designers are allowed to go wild. Teenage boys dream about these cars. Posters are made. They are the heart of the automotive world and can often reignite a dead brand.

Several concept gadgets made it to the market. The original Dell XPS is a fine example. The limited-run notebook was loved by many and it was Dell’s halo product for several quarters. But because it wasn’t a blockbuster, runaway success, it was quietly killed. Instead, Dell should have had a clear message that this was going to be a limited product, designed simply for Dell’s fans and those looking for a unique product.

The gadget world is stuck in a cycle of regurgitation and repetition. A random company produces a concept, Apple prefects it, which is then copied by nearly every other company. Concepts are a lost art. Sony is in a desperate need of finding its soul again. Sony needs concepts.

Samsung Announces The U.S.-Bound Galaxy Note With LTE


It’s official, folks.

Here at the CES 2012 show in Las Vegas, Samsung has officially announced the LTE-equipped Galaxy Note. AT&T will be hooking up the phablet with its brand new 4G LTE service.

The giant phone and/or tiny tablet sports a 5.3-inch 800×1280 Super AMOLED Plus display, an S-pen, which is basically a fancy Stylus, and Android 2.3 Gingerbread.

We knew this day would come eventually, and it looks like today’s the day.

No word on when shipping begins.

Toshiba’s New Excite X10 Tablet Is World’s Thinnest 10-Inch (For Now)

Toshiba Excite X10

So much excitement. This is my first CES and while MG may be correct to think that some of my fellow tech bloggers find this trip a tad tedious, I’m pink with barely controlled glee just from being here. But I’ve been excited about CES for a few weeks now, ever since I went to meet with Toshiba and get a sneak peek at their latest tablet.

The Excite X10 is now the world’s thinnest 10-inch tablet, measuring in at just .3 inches thick and weighing just 1.2 lbs. But don’t forget that the iPad 3 is presumably just around the corner (along with quite a few Android slates this week), so anything can change. A brushed magnesium alloy finish graces its backside, with Corning Gorilla glass up front to prevent any scratching. It’s really a beauty.

Under the hood you’ll find a TI OMAP 4420 1.2GHz dual-core processor along with 1GB of RAM. As far as the OS goes, however, Toshiba was a bit iffy. The tablet will either ship in mid Q1 with Android 3.2 Honeycomb, or a bit later with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather wait a bit longer for Ice Cream Sandwich.

The 10-inch screen boasts a resolution of 1280×800, and is built with a special direct bonding technology that allows for such a thin profile. A 2-megapixel front-facing shooter is present and accounted for if you’re into video chat, and a 5-megapixel shooter can be found on the backside of the tab.

Toshiba’s all about the ports, and has been with each tablet offering it’s brought to market. With the Excite X10, you’ll have access to a micro USB, mini HDMI out, and micro SD card slot. Obviously full-sized ports are more accessible, but fitting these smaller connectivity points onto such a thin tablet is commendable nonetheless.

Toshiba is also rather good at leaving Android alone, and has thus implemented very little of its own software. That includes its own media player featuring DNLA compatibility (which has been revamped from previous versions and looks much cleaner), Toshiba’s File Manager, Netflix, and QuickOffice. Toshiba’s also added an app to let you screen grab which has been sorely missing in Android for longer than I care to think about.

Android tablets have been quite the flop in the past year (with the exception of the Kindle Fire, sort of), but I have a good feeling about 2012 Android slates if this is the type of stuff we’re going to see.

Pricing is still unclear for this guy, but with its premium status I’d assume it’ll face off against the iPad more so than the Kindle Fire.

(Note on images: Regza is the tablet’s Asian name, and won’t appear on U.S. units)