October 27, 2008

CEL '08

It's been one of my short-term dreams as a tech geek to get to attend a tech convention. And while Consumer Electronics Live '08- held by Summit Live- is no E3 or MacWorld, it's a good attempt at creating a family-friendly gadgets convention- and probably the only local effort to date.
So anyway, we went to the SMX Convention Center which is of course found opposite the Mall of Asia, signed our forms, got our tickets and name stickers, and got in.
When you first go in the huge doors, you'll see the LG stand, and behind it, huge black columns of what are obviously Apple gadgets.
So probably you're thinking, "OK, OK, I get it, but what about the gadgets?". Well, OK, OK! I'm getting to them!

My friends know that I'm pretty much an Apple fan (note the lack of the syllable, boy) so the first thing I did was to go to, yup, the Apple booth. It was minimalist with black tables, with the real units placed beneath their respective columns for mass fondling. Maybe you've heard about the new MacBooks that just came out recently, and yes, I got to try them, but not exactly as extensively as I could've wanted.
When up close and personal, the laptops are just as beautiful as they are in the pictures. Problem is, the added sheen and gloss will turn off a few people, and the new "buttonless" mousepad may require a little getting used to.

And to be honest, the only thing I tried in both MacBook and MacBook Pro was the keypad. How hard do you have to push to activate the huge button? Are the new four-fingered gestures useful?

It may appear conspicuously absent, but the mouse button you normally see in MacBooks are now located in, well, the entirety of the trackpad, meaning that anywhere your finger is on the trackpad, you can just push it with a bit of force. Still, you can tinker with a few settings to exert less effort in clicking the huge thing, but when you get used to it, it actually feels really nice.
Same applies to the gestures. While you may have to memorize them, they will affect your work immensely. When you swipe four fingers up, your open windows instantly go up to reveal your desktop. When you swipe your four fingers down, you get to choose which of the open windows you want to put your attention into. Swiping left or right will reveal the application switcher- much like the effect of pressing Alt-Tab on a Windows computer. (The picture is a bit dark because I forgot to turn on the Flash, I'm sorry.)
Once you get used to this mouse, it's hard to go back. The multi-touch trackpad is still brimming with innovation. And they're cheaper here!

So, the iPhone 3G is old news, but that booth was still crowded. Likewise were the iPods.

Enough about Apple though. Let's see some phones that kick the iPhone's butt.

SamsungSamsung makes some really nice phones. Their first attempt (I think?) in making an "iPhone killer"- the Giorgio Armani phone- is very laggy however, therefore using it was a bit of a pain really.

Things change when you try out the Omnia.
It already looks cool when you see the home screen, and that's because it acts like the Windows Vista Sidebar. Meaning that you can drag "widgets" onto the screen and play with them. This is a nice touch, and a useful one at that.

But how about something not iPhone-related for a change? Over here, we have the Samsung Soul with its dynamic four-way directional pad. This means that depending on the feature you're using, the orange-lit directional pad will change its symbols accordingly. And if you touch that keypad, you get this vibration ("haptic feedback") that lets you know that the phone knows you're pressing one of them buttons.
And then we have the err... to be honest, I forgot what it was called, but it was advertised heavily in the newspaper. It's this Samsung phone that has a roller that reveals itself if you slide the phone to the left. It's flimsy to tell you the truth, and virtually unusable.
The scrolling wheel on the left side sucks.

And then there's the one with the 8-megapixel camera which is nice, as well as the i600 which is an elegant, serious smartphone.
Yes, this thing may have an 8MP camera and excellent face detection, but does it really rival my beloved Cybershot? ....YES IT DOES... kind of.

Still, Samsung also brought its caravan of other products with it: air-conditioning, laptops, and of course, their beautiful high-definition LCD TV's.
Samsung HDTV's: Still beautiful

We then headed for the Nokia booth, which was pretty elaborate. Ironically (since they are a very popular company), they were a bit stingy on the demos, but we did get to try out the latest Nokia E series models, namely the E71 and the E65- both capable phones in their own right. Still, the shortcut buttons found in both are more invasive than useful since they're placed right on the softkeys, so you should expect some mayhem if you're in a hurry.
The Nokia E65.
The E71, which froze.

I can also really see now why my dad's batchmate hated the E71: the Messaging function has been placed into a menu item you need to access before being able to access the feature itself. Not only that, the demo model we used hung/froze on us (as seen above), but the Nokia representative's excuse was: "Ay OK lang po sir, prototype lang kasi yan.". Doesn't that make you want to raise your eyebrow?
Other than those two, there were only plastic models on display, which sucked.

LG and HTC
If Nokia was stingy with the stuff they wanted people to actually try out, both LG and Taiwanese brand HTC didn't even have anything to offer for the people to try. I was very disappointed of that, especially with HTC, because their phones look extremely nice (and have the most potential to kick out the iPhone).

LG, however, also brought out its caravan of appliances and TV's. Its centerpiece TV, the Scarlet, was especially a looker.
But Samsung and LG just can't beat Sony's huge booth. Almost everything they have right now has been towed there. From their newest Vaio's (which were announced days ago) to their nicest Bravia TV. Ironically, they didn't bring in their Sony Ericsson phones which I was dying to try.
VAIO's style is only second, if not at par, with Apple.
VAIO for the ladies.
HD never looked so good.....

My dad was interested in the digital photo frames though, which were overpriced. Their new Cybershots look pretty though, likewise with the new Walkmans.
Walkmans still live!

I don't like the my|Phone brand very much, but I was curious to see how my|Screen would hold up to its competitors. To be honest, the quality of the picture is solid and pretty good since a PS3 was used to demonstrate its capabilities, and wow, they had 50% discount.
Their booth was probably the most unique actually. They had this island motif, and their space was just full of sand.

Many other brands participated, such as Canon, HP, Acer, Bose, Mazda, BMW, etc. but we didn't check out the latter 4.

Canon had some neat printers and cameras which are their forte, while HP showed off their desktops. Adobe made an appearance as well to promote Creative Suite 4, but the only attendant of that booth was a guy playing Chess in the Mac being used.
Canon printers print nice pics.

And... that's about it, really. The numerous gadgets were rather overwhelming, and to make a description on them all would be madness. Still, I kind of liked the convention and it wasn't bad for a first time. (And too bad we missed the 6:30pm gadget giveaway, and that there are no games...)

Sorry for the sloppy writing... it's getting late. Heck, I was intending for this to be posted into separate Twitter feeds during the show, but... no Wi-Fi.

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