Lenovo U1 Hybrid Update

Maximum PC has an update on one of the stars of last year’s Consumer Electronics Show – the Lenovo U1 hybrid that offered a combination notebook and tablet computer in one slick shell.    Like many who handled this last year at CES we were really impressed, but the planned release in June never materialized and rumors were that Lenova had discontinued the project – perhaps due to price pressure from the Apple iPad which released at far lower cost than most analysts anticipated.

However it now appears that Lenovo’s amazing U1 has been resurrected and will release in China next year.   We’ll hope to have more about this during our CES 2011 coverage coming soon.

Lenovo Hybrid vs Apple iPad

Lenovo Hybrid vs Apple iPad

Originally uploaded by JoeDuck

One of Lenovo’s product team demos the Lenovo U1 at CES 2010. This was among the most impressive of the show’s innovations and offers users the benefits of a full computer along with a removable touchpad which is a full blown computer as well.  The system uses two separate processors and my understanding is that each unit can act independently, so you could hook up a separate monitor to the keyed portion.

The hybrid is not yet available and will appear after Apple’s much celebrated iPAD and other tablet innovations, so it’s not clear how the coming tablet wars will shake out.

Apple has a remarkable record of bringing beautiful and innovative product to the market, having them copied and offered at lower cost, and still winning the war for the hearts and minds of users.    However Apple already cut the price on the iPAD and on Apple eBooks in an effort to knock the Amazon Kindle out of the competition for the tablet/ebook market so their margins are likely very thin.    If Lenovo’s production costs are much lower (they likely are), they may find this market more profitable than Apple and thus be able to expand more quickly.

All this is very speculative until we see how consumers react to the new products as well as the many other tablets in the pipeline.  At this point it appears likely that Lenovo will be Apple’s key competitor – and only if they are lucky and the product works as well as advertised at CES –  in the 2010 tablet market.

Note: Aria Resort, Vdara Hotel, and Crystals were sponsors of Technology Report’s 2010 CES Coverage.  We appreciated that these remarkable properties – which rank among the world’s most technically advanced hotels and retail center – helped us bring you our live CES 2010 coverage.

Cirque du Soleil’s KA Theater at MGM Las Vegas: Part I

During CES Las Vegas  Technology Report joined a small group of fellow CES bloggers for a backstage tour of Cirque du Soleil’s KA theater at the MGM Grand.

Cirque’s media and technical staff are as extraordinary as their performers and we were joined by KA’s Technical Director Erik Walstad, Cirque’s  Social Media Manager Jessica Berlin, and Cirque Publicist Jeff Lovari.

This remarkable show – one of seven permanent Cirque productions in Las Vegas – is the most technically advanced production in the Western Hemisphere and perhaps the world (I could find no other shows that compare).

KA has several extraordinary and unique technologies, but the most imposing and amazing were the massive moving stages that lift, move, tilt, and spin during the performance, providing everything from an empty abyss when the stages are lowered to a sandy beach (using thousands of pounds of tiny pieces of cork as the sand!) to a massive sheer cliff when one is rotated 90 degrees and flipped into a vertical position, with several performers perched precariously on the edge of the deck.

As we toured the massive “basement” of the KA theater, many stories below the seating area, Walstad explained that the production required a massive retrofit of the existing building, with special support structures required to anchor the gigantic gantry crane that moves the huge deck with extraordinary precision and agility using hydraulics that use vegetable oil as an environmentally friendly alternative to more toxic oils.

Two decks appear and disappear during the performance:

The Sand Cliff Deck weighs in at about *40 tons* and measures 25×50 feet with a six-foot depth.   It is supported and controlled by an inverted gantry crane attached to four 75-foot long hydraulic cylinders running along massive support columns.   Together the crane and deck weigh in at about *175 tons*!    The crane is powered using five pumps and about 3500 gallons of vegetable oil.

The Tatami Deck  measures 30×30 feet and weighs over 37 tons, and can  slide forward almost 50 feet at full travel, like a giant drawer.    Five stage lifts move props and artists during the show, each raised or lowered by four to seven spiral lifts.
If you’ve been fortunate enough to watch any of the Cirque performances you know how *dangerous* many of the acts appear, and I was particularly interested in how Erik and his huge crew of technicians kept the Cirque folks safe during the amazing death defying acts they perform at hundreds of shows each year.      More about that in the next installment.
Note: Aria Resort, Vdara Hotel, and Crystals are sponsors of Technology Report’s 2010 CES Coverage.

Computers at CES?


Originally uploaded by JoeDuck

There are more different types, sizes, and brands of computers at CES than you can shake a stick at, though Apple is always conspicuously absent. In fact the Apple Tablet somewhat overshadowed much of the innovations of the Las Vegas show because clearly the Apple Tablet is going to be the “one to beat”, especially given the lack of any clearly “superb” tablet offering at CES.

Although I have not done enough research to generalize much about the best new PCs I think it’s clear that the mainsteam trend is towards smaller laptops and netbooks with robust features. Costs are going down – features that would have been unheard of at any cost 5 years ago are now standard on even a modest PC. Battery life is impressive and getting better – one of the ASUS PCs shown here had a battery that lasted something like 10 hours.

ASUS also has a new interesting line of *very large* laptops with high quality speakers built into the sides of the chassis to the left and right of the screen. Although heavy, these will offer huge power and a “desktop” feel for your mobile computing. Still, I think weight is the key factor driving down PC size and predict it’ll be the netbooks that dominate the market for the next few years.

CES South Hall

CES South Hall

Originally uploaded by JoeDuck

It’s hard to describe the size of CES becuase it’s really, really big. This is a photo of *part* of the South Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center. There’s also a North Hall and Central Hall, the Hilton Venue and the Sands Venetian Convention Center (though that venue was a lot smaller than last year.

Still, the early numbers suggest attendance was up this year even as total exhibit space appeared to be somewhat smaller and the “party food” metric suggested that folks may have been scaling back somewhat despite the fact that this is generally considered the largest and most influenctial technology conference of the year (there is some dispute about that I understand as some conferenences have more attendees, though I think CES remains the largest in terms of exhibit square footage.

ZigBee Energy Control

ZigBee Energy Control

Originally uploaded by JoeDuck

Monitoring and controlling energy use has become a major theme in technology and several CES vendors had devices, chips, and standards that worked to monitor and control energy use for appliances.

A question I’m working to answer with more research is whether the best approach for this type of home energy control are the solutions proposed by some of the high end exhibitors at CES – Control4 and Zigbee , or the very simple yet elegant “smart socket” approach taken by USA / Beijing’s “i-Sockets.com” where very inexpensive sockets communicate with the home PC and allow control of things plugged into these sockets via the PC and even remotely over the internet.

Another inexpensive “smart socket” approach is from Picowatt, featured as a CNET CES top pick


CES Unveiled – the Pre CES Show event for Press and Bloggers

Well, it’s time to bring some order to the CES Coverage now that the hundreds of photos are uploaded and the frenzied week of new technologies is over.

I’m always disappointed in how little “Web 2.0″ there is at CES. In 2008 – the show year before the bubble burst and when big money was flowing very freely for big internet players – we saw a large number of major displays by internet companies like Yahoo and Godaddy. Last year and this year it seemed hard to find many “mostly internet” companies at CES although an interesting exception to this was COPIA – a brand new social networking website for book lovers that also provides a line of e-Readers. I’ll have a separate report on COPIA as it’s an interesting idea and approach that I think is designed as much to be aquired by Amazon than to become a separate player in the online book space.

Another exception to the “little Web at CES” rule is the rise of Twitter and Facebook as key marketing tools for many of the businesses there, as well as the fact most are bringing forms of interconnectivity into the equation. So we’re seeing the internet in huge use as something to *enhance* existing technologies more than as standalone websites. Is this simply because CES is mostly a consumer hardware show?


Will we find that the future of the internet is primarily how people relate in pure online environments or in how they interconnect their devices and flow their lives online?

Stay tuned….tuned online that is.

CES 2010 – Fewer Exhibits but more China?

CES 2010 = fewer exhibits but more China?    I haven’t researched this to know for sure, but I think there’s a larger China presence here at CES than last year, especially from “mainland” companies from Beijing and other cities outside of Hong Kong.     The conference no longer has the large exhibit space at the Sands, making it a bit easier to navigate because there is less need to travel back and forth between the Venetian Sands venue and the Las Vegas Convention Center.

CES 009

Drew Carey at CES 2010

Drew Carey at CES 2010

CES 014Drew Carey hosted a short tech trivia contest for CNET this afternoon here at CES.   Carey’s joke during the contest summed up one of the major stories here here at the conference.  Carey joked that the $50 gift certificates from CNET were going to be $100, but CNET  “had  tough year”.       I spoke with CEA briefly and they said the preliminary counts indicate about the same attendance as last year’s which I think they said was 107,000 after the auditing that is mandatory for major shows.    Of course I think that many attendees are from exhibitor groups so it’s not a simple task to determine the year to year trends in terms of the industry at large.    I think the Drew Carey analysis probably sums it up – 2009 was  tough year in tech.      However overall the feel here seems to be optimistic, and I think we’re seeing more from China as “good quality, lower price” may start to define the industry more than it has in the past.


Lenovo Shines with Tablet + PC hybrid

Lenovo’s clearly out for the win with a  new stylish hybrid  PC that has a detachable tablet weighing 1.6 pounds.   I got to handle the tablet last night and was impressed with the weight (1.6 pounds), how clear the screen appeared, and how well the touch interface appeared to handle navigation, ebooks, and photos.

The show is just beginning in earnest today but so far this is the most functional, best product I’ve seen here at CES.


CES: Tablet PCs from HP, Lenovo

Lenovo Unveils Tablet Laptop Hybrid