/ Technology

Our CES 2011 product highlights

The Blackberry Playbook

This year’s Consumer Electronics Show attracted 140,000 industry professionals and over 2,700 companies. Which? Tech sent a team of six to cover all of the show’s new products – here are their highlights.

Andy Vandervell: BlackBerry PlayBook

You could barely move for all the tablets at CES 2011, and the great majority of them were Google Android based ones too. Despite this, my favourite of the lot was the BlackBerry PlayBook.

The PlayBook’s unique interface, which really embraced multi-tasking, was a breath of fresh air and it’s a neatly designed little machine. Doubts remain as to whether it can attract app developers, but it was still the tablet at CES 2011 that really caught my eye.

Ben Stevens: Samsung’s 3D glasses

My pick of the bunch has to be Samsung’s new 3D glasses. While other manufacturers have been focussing their efforts on the TVs themselves, Samsung has addressed the barrier that sits on the nose between the viewer and the TV.

These new 3D glasses have the mechanics in the end of the arm that sits behind the ear making them much more comfortable. Plus, they’re far more stylish than the clunky sets we saw last year. The only issue is that they communicate with the TV via Bluetooth, meaning they’re oddly not compatible with Samsung’s 2010 3D TV line up, as these rely on infra-red tech.

Mike Briggs: Samsung D8000 series LED TV

There were hundreds of TVs on show, but only one grabbed my attention – Samsung’s D8000 series LED TV. Why? Well we already know that last years C8000 series (the equivalent model) performed brilliantly in our tests, but Samsung hasn’t rested on its laurels.

There are simply too many changes to list, but highlights include: the new Smart TV hub (expanded app store, full web browser and home network rolled into one interface); built-in wireless; completely re-designed lightweight 3D glasses; auto-source detection for 3D signals (no more messing about in menu systems); further noise-reduction and contrast level tweaks; and to cap it all, a cracking slim-line virtually bezel free design.

Roll-on our full lab tests to see whether first looks are as good as they appear.

Katie Waller: Lenovo IdeaPad U1

As Ben’s already a fan of the Samsung specs, I’m going to go for the Lenovo IdeaPad U1 hybrid laptop and tablet in one. There are other hybrid models around from the likes of Dell and Asus, but the IdeaPad U1’s ‘pop-out’ design appeals to me. The U1 has the curved corners I know and love from other tablets, and you can ditch the extra weight of the keyboard.

Ok, it has its faults – its viewing angles aren’t great – but I’ve picked it for the design. Still, as it doesn’t look like it’ll get to the UK until late 2011, there’s time for another manufacturer to launch a better, higher-spec ‘pop-out’ hybrid that I’ll like even more.

Angus Farquhar: Canon XA10

3D TV and tablets might have dominated the show, but as a professional video producer I was far more interested in some of the new camcorder announcements. Consequently the Canon XA10 really caught my eye.

It’s basically a professional level camcorder in the size of a consumer device. It gives you full manual control over all the functions you need, including aperture, shutter speed and audio gain, as well as proper external microphone inputs so your video can sound good too.

Not for everyone I suppose, but sometimes the best technology is the most practical and useful – the fact it’s so small is impressive.

Matthew Harms: Motorola Xoom

I’ve never been much of a fan of Motorola products, but I think they’ve really stepped up their game recently. I was impressed by the powerful new Atrix phone, but what really stood out for me at CES was the Xoom.

Sporting the newest version of Android, a dual-core processor and a high resolution 10-inch screen, the Xoom is a slick machine to look at and use. Of all the tablets I saw, the Xoom was the one most likely to topple the Apple iPad.

Check out our CES 2011 report to read more about all the new tech announced at the show.

Jason Shouler says:
16 February 2011

“My pick of the bunch has to be Samsung’s new 3D glasses. While other manufacturers have been focussing their efforts on the TVs themselves, Samsung has addressed the barrier that sits on the nose between the viewer and the TV.”

Well Samsung do try hard but it might help if they concentrate on making a functional and reliable 3D TV after their disastrous entries of 2010. If these glasses just turn out to be another gimmick (to be fair to Samsung their existing glasses are the best of the bunch in terms of looks & comfort from the active shutter range) and work little better than the old ones then I’m not sure too many people will be surprised.

Of course, if they do function well then Samsung are going to have to deal with a large chunk of very unhappy customers looking for a free upgrade to the new TV & glasses!