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Spotlight on CES
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CES 2012: The Good, The Bad, The Dubious

Avi Rosenthal muses about Motorola 4Home, strange cloud thermostats, faux tubes on Samsung's "tube amp" and more from CES 2012.


Allure Energy’s proximity-enabled cloud-based thermostat. Hmmm.

If you want to know about the most interesting things at CES 2012, talk to someone smarter than you. Which is what I did.

Avi Rosenthal is a former integrator and CE Pro contributor who now works with Evolve, a manufacturer of control systems for the residential and hospitality markets.

He knows this technology stuff way better than I. Here’s what resonated with him:

The Awesome

Motorola MOTOACTV Exercise Music Player
Avi was totally digging the MOTOACTV smart music player from Motorola. Available in a harness, wrist band and other form factors, the device measures your distance, speed and heart rate, playing your music accordingly.

imageThe free Android app evaluates your music and matches your cadence or pushes you harder with faster songs. It learns your workout habits and adjusts accordingly. It can figure out which songs motivate you best.

Motorola 4Home Automation with Smart Actions
Avi also got a demo of the Motorola Smart Actions with 4Home home automation system -- thanks to our story on the subject. 4Home founder Jim Hunter showed Avi a Razr phone programmed so that pressing the power button turned on the lights and then turned off the lights when pressed again.

Avi says the response was “instantaneous, demonstrating the power of the platform.” He gushes about the capability to link WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS awareness with home-control capabilities via Smart Actions. Holding up his iPhone, Avi says, “This becomes your RFID tag.”

And the endorsement of the century? “It’s so cool I want to drop my iPhone and go with Android,” Avi says.

Currently, he explains, the configuration is done through some if-then-else programming, but Motorola is sure to put a consumer-friendly face on it.

Cheap PCs
Over in the OEM zone, Chinese manufacturers are peddling 21.5-inch PC touchscreens with the Windows 7 Home – nice Intel Atom processor and all – for around $350. Avi bought a few “samples.”

The Dubious

Dish Hopper DVR
Dish Network Hopper DVRAvi is a serious TV buff. He subscribes to everything. He watches everything. So he was intrigued by the Hopper whole-house DVR from Dish. With its six tuners, the unit can automatically record primetime shows on every major network, creating a virtual video-on-demand TV service.

Dish has a deal with the majors networks, but not the cable networks. That’s the deal breaker for Avi, who says, “I actually contemplated shifting to Dish, but it’s not as cool as it sounds."

He adds, “It would have been really cool 10 years ago when everyone was watching network TV.”

imageSamsung DA-E750 iPod Dock
Samsung’s trying to be trendy with its new DA-E750 “tube amplifier” iPod dock with all that fancy wood and two awesome-looking tubes that might look enticing to an audiophile (Image from TechCrunch, thank you).

Avi, who says the tubes last only a year or so, asks the Samsung rep how long the tubes last. The Samsung rep says a good 10 years.

Turns out, they’re only on the inputs, and then audio is digitized for the output. Avi says Samsung is touting the speakers for folks who want “mellow, tube-like sound.”

Spotlight on CES
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Article Topics

News · Home Automation and Control · Control Systems · Energy Management · Events · CES · All topics

About the Author

Julie Jacobson, Co-Founder, EH Publishing / Editor-at-large, CE Pro
Julie Jacobson, recipient of the 2014 CEA TechHome Leadership Award, is co-founder of EH Publishing, producer of CE Pro, Electronic House, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales and other leading technology publications. She currently spends most of her time writing for CE Pro in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V and the business of home systems integration. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin, and has never taken a journalism class in her life. She's a washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player currently residing in Carlsbad, Calif. Follow her on Twitter @juliejacobson. [More by Julie Jacobson]

3 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by John Nemesh  on  01/16  at  12:04 PM

Microsoft really was NEVER a good fit for CES.  They have tried and tried to make a splash in CE, but they fail EVERY single time.  WebTV, the ill fated “UltimateTV”, and even the original Windows Mobile platform.  All have been HUGE failures in the consumer space (although Windows Mobile DID have traction for a while with business customers).  Lots of hype has been dished out this CES on their underperforming Windows Phone 7 platform for cell phones, and yet…no one is buying!  Sprint has even gone on to say that the number one reason they have WP7 phones returned is the “user experience”!

The CES keynote is supposed to be more than just a showcase for new Microsoft products.  It was intended to be given by a VISIONARY in the industry that would tell us all where technology is headed.  Bill Gates would give us the “big picture”, and then maybe tell us how Microsoft was looking to fit into this picture.  Steve Ballmer on the other hand, has NEVER been a visionary!  He is the polar opposite of Bill Gates, and he should NEVER have been given the honor of giving the keynote address!

All in all, I dont think Microsoft will be missed at CES.  Microsoft today reminds me of IBM in the mid to late 80s.  They are a behemoth of a company, but they are relying almost totally on inertia.  They are literally too big to innovate!  Any good ideas that are born on the Redmond campus are quickly squashed by the politics and bean counting of the corporate machine. 

Bad ideas (Metro UI, I am looking at YOU!) are pushed past any resistance at retail…shoved down the throats of any who use their products, whether you like it or not.  They missed the boat on computing’s shift onto the Internet, they missed it with social media, they missed it with search, and now they are missing it with mobile! 

A tablet computer introduced THREE YEARS after the iPad has almost no chance of success (even more so with the recent news that the Intel based tablets will be hard pressed to stay under $600!), and their phones are DYING at retail!  Their biggest play in mobile is the (ahem!) “partnership” with Nokia, and THAT flagship phone (the Lumia 900) wont even ship in the US until MARCH!  By the time the Lumia 900 gets going, you are going to have a FLOOD of Android 4.0 devices to compete with and oh yeah, probably the iPhone 5 as well!  Good luck with that!

So yeah, Microsoft is basically toast…but they dont even realize it themselves!  Good bye Microsoft…you wont be missed!

Posted by Xanthia  on  01/17  at  05:30 PM

I agree with John about visionaries. They are crucial when giving keynotes because they set the stage and momentum for how their company is going to be a part of the future of technology. As for the Hopper from DISH, I think it would be a great addition for me especially since I already subscribe to DISH. My ordeal is that I love several TV shows that are on network TV and cable TV that air at the same time. With the built-in 6 tuners I would never have to pick and choose which episodes I can record because I’ll be able to DVR them all. I also will not have to worry about my DVR filling up too quickly because the Hopper has the capacity to record up to 250 HD hours without me having to free up any memory. I have been doing my research on the Hopper and DISH’s Joeys because I work in their tech department. With the added abilities of getting Sirius/XM and picture in picture with the Hopper, I know that there are thousands of TV lovers who could benefit from this new technology. The MOTOACTV is also something that I could use to improve my workouts! Not many people understand that creating the perfect workout playlist from warming up all the way to cooling down is time consuming. I have made several of these playlists only to get bored with them and in turn, bored with my workout. I am hoping that when I get my hands on one of these I will be better motivated to workout harder.

Posted by tvsmartshelf  on  01/18  at  10:02 AM

Microsoft will be much better off NOT being at CES. I walked the entire floor and all I remember are the cars. Should have just went to the auto show. Really, it is all too overwhelming, walking into a TV booth and having 10000 monitors blaring at you. Microsoft will do much better having its own show and product launches - just like Apple. That way the spotlight it solely on them.

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