Tech Stuff from CES
Google creates buzz with wireless store
By A. Pawlowski, CNN
(CNN) -- You know Google as a search engine giant, an e-mail
provider, and even a verb -- but as an online store?
As the company showed off its sleek new Nexus One (see photo
above) Tuesday, its first entry into the smartphone market, Google also
created lots of buzz by announcing the device would be available for
sale through its very own Google-hosted Web store.
So much buzz, in fact, that some technology analysts argued the
store was a bigger deal than the phone.
"From a macro level, it's a much larger story that Google is
finally getting into the e-commerce world and that they're starting to
sell products directly to the consumer," said Scott Steinberg, publisher
"You're looking at a company that basically is expanding into
every possible category and is attacking major players in multiple
spaces on virtually every front, so it's only natural that they would
move into e-commerce."
Google's store lets users take a 3D tour of the Nexus One,
check out some of the apps available and, naturally, order the device,
at $529 a pop.
"We also want to make the overall user experience simple: a
simple purchasing process, simple service plans from operators, simple
and worry-free delivery and start-up," wrote Mario Queiroz, Google's
vice president of product management, on the company's official blog.
Google's model is significant for another reason. Instead of
picking a carrier first and then a phone, the consumers can pick a phone
first, and then decide on a carrier.
"What it seems like Google is trying to do is disrupt the
entire wireless carrier market," said Ben Parr, co-editor of the
social-networking blog Mashable.com.
"They're trying to wrestle away control from the carriers so
that they can do more with their phone. ... If Google succeeds, you'll
see that model happen more and more."
Parr expects Google to sell more hardware that helps consumers
get on the Web and stay online longer, because that's where Google
displays its ads and that's how it makes money.
In fact, Google doesn't even have to make a profit on the Nexus
One -- all the company has to do to is get people to be on the Internet
more, Parr said.
Google will still stay a search and software company at its
core, Steinberg and Parr believe, but the move into e-commerce is a sign
of bigger things to come.
"It does produce some amazing potential here for rapid
expansion," Steinberg said. "I think it's an incredibly smart decision
by Google to move into this space."
From CES in Las Vegas
Palm unveils phones that create Wi-Fi hotspots
By Brandon Griggs, CNN
(CNN) -- Palm on Thursday announced upgraded versions of its Pre
and Pixi smartphones that add video recording and the capability to create
3G mobile hotspots for laptops and other mobile devices.
The Pre Plus and its cousin, the thinner Pixi Plus, will go on sale
January 25 and will be available only on Verizon's wireless network. That's
a blow to Sprint, which currently is the exclusive U.S. carrier for Palm's
Prices of the phones were not announced during Palm's press event
here at the 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show.
The phones' most significant new feature may their new mobile
hotspot, an app that runs on Palm's webOS operating system and that can be
downloaded -- as part of a Verizon data plan -- beginning January 25 from
the Palm App Catalog.
Palm says the application will give customers the option of
creating a personal Wi-Fi cloud capable of sharing Verizon's 3G network with
up to five Wi-Fi-enabled devices.
The Palm Pre Plus and Pixi Plus will be the first cell phones in
the world to offer this capability, Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein told reporters
during the invitation-only, hour-long event.
The new phones will allow users to record videos and e-mail or
upload them almost immediately to YouTube or Facebook. The phones also will
have a Flash 10 browser plug-in that will allow them to, say, play movie
trailers on Yahoo's site.
After six months of private beta testing, Palm on Thursday also
opened its developer program to outside developers interested in creating
apps for its phones. Palm's online store currently has more than 1,000
mobile applications, well behind the 100,000-plus applications available in
Apple's better-known App Store.
"If you can imagine it, we're going to give you the tools and the
access to build it," said Katie Mitic, Palm senior vice president of product
Palm introduced its Pre phone, largely viewed as a success, to much
fanfare at last year's CES. The phone hit the market in June 2009, followed
in November by the thinner, less expensive Pixi.
(CNN) -- At this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas,
Nevada, the prospect of 3-D television in your home has taken a fast and
flamboyant leap from vague concept to reach-out-and-touch reality.
Vendors have lined up to roll out 3-D televisions, hoping to become
the leader in a market proponents say will change the way the world watches
TV as much as the switch from black-and-white to color.
(Watch 3D TV report.
Print story continues below player)
More cautious observers have concerns about whether the technology
for a quality experience exists yet, whether the price will be right and
whether there will be enough content to make the TVs worthwhile.
But the success of movies like "Avatar" and "Cloudy With a Chance
of Meatballs" has viewers hankering for more.
And they're getting it.
Manufacturers like Sony, Samsung, LG and Panasonic have either
rolled out 3-D products or are expected to in the next couple of days.
Content providers like ESPN, DreamWorks, Direct TV and Discovery
have said they're ready to send images jumping off TV screens in the coming
So, just where does this leave you if you're hoping for a "comin'
at ya" experience from the tube?
How much will it cost?
Specifics so far are sketchy, but logic suggests it will cost a
lot, at least at first.
That said, some manufacturers are promising they can get 3-D
televisions on the market for roughly the price of high-end high-definition
Phillips had a no-glasses 3-D television on the market until March,
when it was pulled amid an economy unfriendly to its price. It ranged from
$3,000-$12,000 depending on the model.
One seller online has a 42-inch model of the TV still listed at
The manufacturers who so far have rolled out 3-D offerings at CES
have done so without including a price. But several suggest the Phillips
price may be high.
Richard LaBerge, of Sensio Technologies, which has developed a form
of 3-D, suggested to CNN that the TV prices would be near or slightly above
current top-end prices.
"The target is to have it at the same price as a normal 2-D TV, or
with a little bit of premium, but something acceptable to add this immersive
effect into your home that people would be able to accept," he said.
When can I get it?
Almost every company touting a 3-D television this week has said
they plan to be on the market sometime in 2010.
In a way, the content is driving the technology. By going ahead and
announcing that they'll be on the air, folks like ESPN, Discovery and Direct
TV have dangled a carrot in front of viewers -- and lit a fuse under TV
manufacturers to get their products out before the content starts airing.
ESPN plans to be up in June. You can bet every manufacturer with a
product ready to sell will try to be in stores before avid sports fans start
How does it work?
All 3-D technology relies on the idea that if separate images are
presented to the left and right eyes, the human brain will combine them and
create the illusion of a third dimension.
With technology that uses 3-D glasses, two images -- one for the
right eye and one for the left eye -- alternate quickly on the TV. Shutters
on the 3-D glasses swap the viewer's vision from right eye to left eye at
the same rate.
The TV connects with the glasses through a sensor that's placed
between the lenses on the glasses.
The effect moves so quickly that it tricks the brain into merging
the images and creates the perspective needed to see images in 3-D.
What could go wrong?
Some analysts are concerned that 3-D broadcasts, which require
twice the data, will gobble up an unworkable amount of television bandwidth.
Some also worry that 3-D glasses and graphics won't make a smooth
transition to American living rooms.
Shane Sturgeon, publisher of HDTV Magazine, said recently that some
of the glasses give him a headache and could dissuade some people from
buying the new technology.