Category: Trade Shows

The Front Line: Four From Pepcom

Last Thursday (11/15), the Hammerstein Ballroom on 34th Street in New York City was full of tango dancers, Argentine wine, good food – and some interesting products that will get plenty of exposure at January’s International CES.

Pepcom puts on this show several times a year, rotating between the midtown location and the Metropolitan Ballroom on 18th Street.  It’s a chance to get a much more “up close and personal” look at many cutting-edge CE products that would be tough to seek out at larger trade shows.

The November event featured a slew of interesting products from the latest Roomba robotic vacuum cleaners to high-efficiency LED lighting panels and super-dense flash memory sticks and drives. But there were four products in particular that caught my attention.

Lenovo’s IdeaTab Lynx is a clever, hybrid tablet/notebook concept.

Lenovo had a demonstration of its first tablet computer; complete with a snap-on full-size keyboard (the attachment is magnetic). It’s called the IdeaTab Lynx, and is a pretty cool product. The keyboard, which is actually a dock, weighs about 1.5 pounds, and the 11.6-inch screen/tablet comes in just below that. The tablet/screen has a resolution of 1366×768 pixels and employs a 5-point capacitive multi-touch system.

Other features include a 2 MP front camera, 2 GB of DRAM, 32 GB or 64 GB of eMMC storage, and stereo speakers. The IdeaTab Lynx runs Windows 8 from an Intel ATOM dual-core 1.8 GHz processor and battery life is estimated at eight hours for the tablet and another eight hours from the dock. Lenovo has a suggested starting price of $599 for the tablet and another $150 for the keyboard/dock.

Across the aisle, Vizio had its new 70-inch LCD TV set up for inspection. The E701i-A3 Razor LED has all of the usual bells and whistles you’d expect in this size class, including built-in WiFi, a “smart” remote with full QWERTY keyboard, and an extremely slim bezel. Vizio claims the viewable area on this TV is 69.51 inches, and it uses 10-bit signal processing.

Of course, the E701i-A3 comes with Vizio Apps, including access to Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus, and Vudu (which together constitute about 85% of all Internet video traffic). Taking a look at the panel, I noticed a resemblance in off-axis performance to Sharp’s 70-inch Aquos and I wouldn’t be surprised if Vizio is sourcing the panel from Sharp. The target MSRP is $1,999, which is where Sharp’s 70-inch Aquos was selling in late January of 2012.

Is this really a Sharp Aquos in Vizio clothing? Could be…

 

The B&N Nook HD+ adds to an already overcrowded market for tablets, but is competitively priced.

 

Next to Vizio, I found the folks from Barnes & Noble showing off their latest Nook tablets – the 7-inch Nook HD and the 9-inch Nook HD+. B&N has come a long way in two years from the original Nook reader, and the product migration appears to be towards do-it-all tablets instead of basic readers. (Nook’s Color tablet reader is still in the line, but apparently will be phased out.)

The Nook HD uses a 1440×900 pixel LCD display and is available with 8 GB ($199) or 16 GB ($229) internal flash memory. It runs a Dual-Core 1.3 GHz OMAP4470 processor and the Android OS. I noticed there is support for Google Office, meaning that Microsoft Office documents can be opened and worked on with this tablet. Battery life is rated at 10.5 hours for reading and 9 hours for video.

The Nook HD+ moves up to a 9-inch screen with 1920×1280 (WUXGA) resolution and comes with 16 Gb ($269) or 32 GB ($299) of internal memory. It employs the same processor and OS as the 7-inch tablet and has similar battery life. I found both tablets very bright and contrasty under the overhead spotlights used in the ballroom, and reflection from the LCD screen was minimal. Alas; there’s still no place to make an external display connection like there is on the iPads.

Mohu has decided it’s spending too much time indoors! This Sky HDTV antenna is the result.

Finally, I ventured to the back of the room by the wine bar and ran into the folks from Mohu. Regular readers will recall my frequent tests of indoor TV antennas earlier this year; a competition that Mohu generally won or tied for first place. The news this year is a re-design of the Leaf Plus into the Leaf Ultimate, with the preamplifier now encased in a separate module. You can also buy this preamp by itself as the Jolt Amplifier.

That re-design allowed Mohu to simplify its manufacturing process – just add the Jolt module to an existing Mohu Leaf and you have an Ultimate model. But Mohu isn’t done there: They’ve also unveiled a new outdoor TV antenna that closely resembles a crossed dipole, used by many antenna manufacturers. The Sky HDTV is designed for mast-mounting on a roof or in an attic, and will also work with the Jolt amplifier. No prices have been announced yet.

SID’s New I-Zone Gives Free Space to Tout Innovation at Display Week

by Steve Sechrist

Here in the depths of winter, we learn of a summer holiday bonus from our friends over at SID.  The group just announced a new Innovation Zone (I-Zone for short) to take place at Display Week 2012 in Boston, June 5&6.  The I-Zone exhibit area will “…provide a forum for live demonstrations of emerging information display technologies and related areas…in the main Exhibit Hall,” and here’s the kicker—it’s FREE, courtesy of Charter Sponsor E-Ink Holdings.

The goal is to offer researchers a showcase for cutting-edge demo’s and prototypes, to give a glimpse of “products of tomorrow.”  The I-Zone Committee announced its plans to the Society membership late last week.  (Disclaimer alert, I’m honored to be serving on that committee, along with an august body of the top display world “intelligencia.”)

E-Ink Holdings, known for way-cool prototypes like this one will sponsor the I-Zone at Display Week in Boston, picture credit: engadget

The group is looking for new and novel displays, input technologies (like gesture, voice etc,) and innovations in related fields such as lighting and organic electronics.  Also, technologies should be in the “pre-product” stage, and “…demos that are being shown for the first time in a public forum are particularly encouraged,” the committee reported.

What’s exciting about the concept is, exposure for little known or “under funded” projects, being offered a dedicated area on the show floor.  The hope is to highlight the best the display world has to offer from small companies, startups, universities, government labs, and independent research sites—normally with no possibility of getting this level of focused exposure in the display community or broader public awareness the show can bring.

While the space will be given away free, due to space limitations there is an application and selection process.  This includes submission of a 100 word abstract, a two-page summary describing the novelty and potential application, plus relevant photographs, videos, and / or diagrams; and a brief logistics plan for the intended demo.

A technology diverse group within SID, from various regions throughout the world, will be formed to serve as the selection committee.  Criterion is based on novelty, interest, and quality of the prototype to be exhibited.  Other perks include, an award, to be given at the event, where the I-Zone Committee will select a winner of the “Best Prototype at Display Week 2012” with a writ-up in Information Display magazine.

As mentioned above, sponsor for the event is E-Ink, a company that’s well known for showing a particularly wide variety of display prototypes devices in the past.  At last year’s SID they created a buzz around displays embedded in, jump drives, key fobs, even Music stands and Snowboards.

We think the I-Zone move is truly inspirational, with synergies not just for the principles involved, but offers opportunities to expand awareness of the display industry to the general public, particularly in the host city and surrounding areas.  This year’s site is Boston, an academic and culturally rich environment, where some leading start-up companies have their roots.  This includes the I-Zone the sponsor of record E-Ink that has its research roots at the MIT Media Lab, OK not strictly Boston, but just across the Charles River in Cambridge, MA (“our fair city…”) So plan to kick-off Summer right this year with your spot in the I-Zone, but don’t break out the sun glasses, until you get that Application filled out and submitted for approval.