Steve Ballmer did a nice job kicking off the keynotes on Monday night with an impassioned presentation about Windows Phone, Windows 8, and Xbox 360, but when it ended I found myself wondering why he didn't talk about any other Microsoft products. Windows phone looks pretty slick though, and I'm assuming it will run on eMMC flash for data storage. Next year Microsoft will be passing the baton to someone else for their traditional opening keynote and will not be back - not sure what (if anything) that means. We'll also have to wait and see if Ryan Seacrest will be invited back.
Sony announced a new flash memory card promising even faster performance, which goes to show users are still looking for faster flash-based devices and manufacturers are paying attention. One of the guys in the Sony booth also mentioned a flash card that can read up to1 GB/second that is coming soon. He didn't have any samples available, but he sure enjoyed telling me about it.
There were tons of SSDs displayed at the show.They're not very exciting to look at since they all look the same, but check out these specs! 80K random read IOPS and 36K random write IOPS - amazing! There was a lot of talk about super thin and light ultrabooks, which sounds like yet another Windows product following in Apple's footsteps (MacBook Air). After schlepping my heavy Dell all over Storage Visions and CES though, I have to admit feeling some pangs of want; the new Windows ultrabooks look awfully sleek and comfortable to work with. The latest version demands an on-circuit board SSD design to meet the form factor and weight requirements.
Coming to a beach near you: water-proof cell phones! I love the ocean and beach life, but I'm in the habit of leaving my phone at home. This demo showing water-proof phones in an aquarium was certainly eye-catching, though I wonder if people really want to be connected while they're swimming. Clearly the eMMC in these phones is water-proof as well, but we have yet to see any in our labs. Then again, our engineers have been known to work and swim. Ken Jacobson with Qualcomm had a nice keynote presentation Tuesday morning, including "augmented reality," a new feature that allowed him to animate several plastic Sesame Street characters, which were talking and interacting with the demonstrator. It being Vegas, Qualcomm decided to include some very funky dancers just for pure entertainment value. Automotive was hot this year, with lots of really nice cars. It was a little odd to me that graphics and CPU chip maker NVIDA had a Lamborghini in its booth, but it definitely got my attention! Car telematics demos were everywhere. Their in-dash version looked nice, but I was surprised that last year's big concept of connecting a cell phone to function as your telematics device was nowhere to be seen. It seemed like such a good idea given that this technology becomes obsolete so much faster than the average life of a car. Do they really expect us to use the same telematics for 15 years? Or is there some kind of planned obsolescence at work here? Forget about driving a Prius; this year's uber-environmentalist should be driving this solar car. It only costs a few hundred thousand dollars, but think of how much you'll save in gas. Note to my fellow Seattleites: Do not attempt between October and April, you may not reach your destination.