Sorry for the delay in posting these updates, but I was so tired and wiped out that I couldn’t do it in Vegas. I’ll be posting the rest of the report soon.
Day 2 started off a bit slow because we had to move from the Excalibur to the Riviera. We just had the Excalibur for one night since we wanted to have a room with a hot tub at a decent price. The Excalibur left something to be desired and I will definitely be skipping this hotel next time.
Transportation around Las Vegas can be a pain sometimes and we took the new monorail to the Convention Center with all our luggage. The monorail is actually quite nice, but there were a limited number of ticket lines and a ton of people wanting to buy them. It also only travels to the back side of several hotels so we still had about a 3/4 mile walk from the station to our hotel. We passed through CES and I was able to go meet with the ParkerVision people during a pit stop to the hotel.
ParkerVision makes WiFi products, including a cordless phone, WiFi access point, router, and USB dongle. They use some new technology they call, D2D technology, that they state gives their products the best range of any WiFi products on the market. I hope to get an access point and give it a try. Their cordless phone has a stated 2-mile range and is not yet available. This would be great to use when you are out in the yard working.
We then checked into the Riviera and I have to say that the tower we stayed in, the Monaco, was in much better shape than the Excalibur. I chose the Riviera because of how close it was to the convention center so I could avoid all the shuttling and busing around to get to the show. I then walked across the parking lot and back to CES to meet with some more companies.
The first one I met with was TAO. TAO is a new consumer brand aimed at the mobile active consumer. Their first products are a XM2Go device, Dual Connect phone, WiFi MP3 player, and DAVE TV. I first checked out the XM2Go device and have to say this device caught my eye. I have not researched satellite radio much because I do not spend a ton of time in my car and wasn’t really interested in it personally. I figured my iPod and other mobile devices were fine for music. However, when I am in my car I listen to the radio quite a bit and actually do not even use my iPod much. With these new XM2Go devices you can take XM satellite radio with you wherever you go. I was impressed with the sound quality and channel selection and was eager to get one for review. However, the TAO XM2Go device won’t be released for a couple months so that tempered my excitement a bit, until I found something else a bit later in the day. I also checked out the TAO WiFi MP3 player, which is an interesting device. It includes a 20GB hard drive and the integrated WiFi is designed to allow the user to load fresh content on the device wirelessly. Their Dual Connect phone is a 2.4GHz phone that can be used as a standard phone or as a VOIP phone and looks like a nice package. DAVE TV is a media device with an 80GB hard drive unit that works to bring content to your home for viewing, similar to a Windows Media Center device.
I then met with Cardo Systems to chat about their recently released scala-500 Bluetooth headset. Joel reviewed this on Geek.com, but I wanted to check it out in person for myself and they are going to send me a headset to evaluate. They had a chart that showed it was the lightest headset and I like the ability to hang it on your eyeglasses that makes the weight even better distributed. They use a WindGuard wind blocking technology that is advertised to help with wind interference. Their products are very reasonably priced and one package they sell even comes with an adapter for non-Bluetooth phones.
I finally had some time to walk around the show floor and was able to get some photos of the BENQ P50 Phone Edition device that looks to be a good competitor to the palmOne Treo 650. It has an integrated keyboard and is a bit longer that the Treo 650. I was impressed with it during the short time I played with the device and hope it makes it to the U.S. soon. I stopped by the Axentra booth to see if they had fixed the LOUD fan issue and found that they did on their current models. They also have a newer model coming out soon that has a much smaller form factor and includes more digital media functionality. I also saw tons of new products related to home entertainment, digital cameras, MP3 players, and more.
My last formal meeting of the day was with the Microsoft SPOT (Smart Personal Objects Technology) team. They showed me some of the latest SPOT watches, including one from Suunto that is coming out soon with a heart rate monitor. They also showed some prototypes of alarm clock devices using the SPOT technology with MSN Direct service. A limited SDK is being tested with some developers and 3rd party applications should be coming in 2005. New models of SPOT watches should also be coming out in 2005 and Fossil already has announced a couple of them. At the end of the meeting they gave me a CES commemorative Swatch SPOT watch that had Vegas themed watch faces.
The evening press event was called ShowStoppers and was attended by quite a few companies with some great food. The food here was even better than the food at the Digital Experience event the night before. I met face-to-face with several people I have been working with via email and phone in the past, which is a big reason I like to attend CES and these press events. I first met with Mirra to chat about the new personal server I setup at home and am currently evaluating. I plan on testing out the Mirra extensively and providing feedback to the company from a mobile device user perspective. So far, I have been quite impressed with the Mirra Personal Server and think it fills a vital role for home and small business users.
I met with Griffin to see some of their new iPod accessories like the iShark. I met with Belinda and saw RoboForm in action. Scott Jordan from Scott eVest was there as well with his wife, Laura, who I was able to chat with. It was cold in Vegas so I was wearing my Scott eVest Leather Edition jacket. I met Ann-Marie with JAKKS Pacific and was happy to see a new Star Wars game was coming out with a controller in the shape of Darth Vader’s head. Altec Lansing had a cool portable speaker system that I am going to try to get a hold of to review since it would work well with my iPod, mobile devices and new Delphi XM2Go device. I met several other people as well and then left to go meet my wife out on the town.
My wife and I walked around the town some more and stopped at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville to dance a bit. We then walked down to Harrah’s and stopped into a piano/karaoke bar where Elvis was running the show. Some people were actually quite good singers and others were not that good, but it was fun to watch.