CES: HP Slate preempts Apple Tablet, Sony gives up, and more

In Las Vegas, CES 2010 is spooling up. Microsoft's Steve Ballmer gave his opening keynote last night and we're already seeing some interesting announcements. Clearly, the Apple tablet isn't going to be the only game in town. In IT Blogwatch, what's blogged in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas.

By Richi Jennings. January 7, 2009.

Your humble blogwatcher dighted these bloggy morsels for your enjoyment. Not to mention the Win7 Beep driver...

    Alex Wilhelm thinks about HP's new Slate tablet:

Well, we did get to see a tablet tonight at CES, three in fact. Ballmer in his keynote today highlighted an upcoming “slate” PC from HP. ... What does it do? Well, Ballmer showed it running Kindle and Windows Media Player. Looks like a pretty standard Windows 7 [installation with] multiouch support.

  Good news: it is coming, and is garnering positive initial reviews. Bad news: no you cannot have one now, and you need to wait for Apple to talk before you would even want to think about buying one. ... HP states that: “It will also make an appearance, along with HP’s Todd Bradley, in a keynote with Qualcomm’s CEO Friday.” Get ready.

 Alan Reiter asks if 2010 is really the year of the tablet:

Yes. However, 2010 tablets will be about more than the rumored Apple product (perhaps called iSlate). ... E-book readers will indeed help make 2010 the year of the tablet. But many other designs are becoming available, especially using Android, and they are on display at this week's Consumer Electronics Show.

  ICD has unveiled a 7-inch Android-based touch screen tablet. Camangi's 7-inch, $400 WebStation tablet also incorporates Android. Notion Ink has a great looking tablet that might be at CES. I like the Lenovo IdeaPad U1 Hybrid laptop with a removable, self-contained touch-screen display. As a laptop, it uses Windows 7 with an Intel Core 2 Duo CULV processor. As a tablet, the display employs Linux with a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. It's a design that other computer manufacturers should seek to emulate.

Alex Pham notes that Ballmer told people to, "Take your hands off that keyboard!"

That, in short, was one of several points made by Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer during [his CES] keynote. ... Ballmer, who speaks in exclamation points with his characteristically booming voice, showcased a slew of gadgets and devices that don't require keyboards.


Altogether, the devices show Microsoft's vision for the future of computing, one that increasingly will rely on a host of natural user interfaces to let people abandon the keyboard in order to speak, point, touch and, eventually, think their commands.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols talks Linux notebooks:

While the IdeaPad U1 is getting the headlines, it's not Lenovo's only pre-installed Linux offering. In April, the company will also be releasing the Skylight smartbook, which stands between a smartphone (like Google's Android Linux-powered Nexus One) and a traditional netbook (like Dell's Ubuntu-powered Mini 10v). But with a 10.6-in. screen and compact, chiclet keyboard, the Skylight has more in common with a netbook than it does a smartphone.


HP ... is also back in the desktop Linux game with its new Mini 5102 While the 5102 also includes a multi-touch display, it is more akin to ordinary netbooks. ... This lightweight system, 2.64 pounds, also has a 95%-of-standard-laptop-sized keyboard. For a display it comes with a 10-inch LED screen with 1024x600 or 1366x768 resolution.

Meanwhile, Harry McCracken notes that we may be seeing the end of Sony's proprietary Memory Stick:

In the great scheme of this, this is minor CES news indeed, but I kinda like it: Sony is releasing a line of SD and MicroSD memory cards. ... We’re talking Sony–the company behind the venerable, eternally annoying, rather pricey, confusingly named, incompatible-with-the-rest-of-the-world Memory Stick format.


Sony’s press release about the new SD cards stresses that Memory Stick is still a fabulous format and owners of Sony products should be grateful they have it. ... I’d love to think that it might be ... a first step towards winding down Memory Stick. ... Anyone out there want to make the case for keeping the format, other than placating long-time Sony customers who have lots of cards stuffed in desk drawers?

Speaking of flash storage, Andrew LaVallee has seen the solution to vulnerable USB drives:

Coming soon: flash drives even smaller than the ones you already have. ... Lexar Media ... is launching a line of what it calls “ultra-portable” USB flash drives at CES. Chief among them is the Lexar Echo ZE, a mere ... 0.8? by 0.6? in size. Lexar is calling it “one of the smallest USB flash drives in the world.”


The drive goes on sale in the U.S. next month (European markets later this year), but it’s already listed for pre-order on Amazon, with prices ranging from $50 for the 8GB version to $140 for 32GB.

And Mike Coop co-opted the people behind MagicJack, to talk about their new sub-$100 femtocell:

I spent this morning with Dan Borislow and Y.W. Sing, the CEO and Vice Chairman of MagicJack. ... Dan has been talking about the femtojack for nearly a year, but I can confirm based on today’s meeting that it’s real, and it’s spectacular. What if you could bring that cell tower into your home or office, all but guaranteeing you awesome cell coverage? ... [It] takes the signal from your cell phone and sends it back to the telephone network (using your computer’s Internet connection).


Picture the MagicJack—a USB-attached analog terminal adapter, with one end a USB jack plugged into your computer, and the other end an RJ-11 jack into which you plug a phone. ... Now, remove the RJ-11 jack, replacing it with a couple of small antennae. Voila. Femtojack.

For more from CES 2010, keep an eye on Barbara Krasnoff's blog.

  So what's your take?
Get involved: leave a comment.

And finally...

Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher
  Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You can follow him as @richi on Twitter, or richij on FriendFeed, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email: itblogwatch@richij.com.

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