Talks About Tech Weekly 086: CES 2014

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On this episode I talk about CES 2014, Tesla and more.

CES 2014
This week CES 2014 took place in Las Vegas. CES is one of the biggest technology conventions of the year and there is always plenty to see and plenty to cover.

Curved TV’s
Samsung have been pushing curved TV’s this year with both 4k and 1080p models. Samsung are claiming that their new. TV’s are the first ever curved LCD TV’s.The idea is that the curved TV’s will create a more immersive experience for the viewer. The first thing I would have thought of is distortion of the image. People have been saying that image distortion is a big problem but I haven’t been able to see it myself so I cannot comment. An interesting innovation from Samsung but seeing that they will cost up to 60% more than a standard TV I don’t think they will be very popular.

Wearable Computing
This years CES was dominated by companies trying to enter into the wearable computing market. Pebble came out with a new version of their smartwatch the Pebble Steel which I really like. They have ditched the plastic for high quality metal and leather straps and casing. The Steel will cost $249 and you can order them now.

LG have also come out with a new wearable computing device. It’s called the Lifeband Touch and it’s between an exercise band and a smartwatch. It does many of the things that a device such as the Nike+ FuelBand but it also allows you to control music on your phone, control volume and silence phone calls. Pretty cool stuff!

One of the most interesting announcements for me was from intel. Intel were showing off their prototype smartwatch and their heart rate monitoring earphones but the coolest product for me was a tiny SD sized computer called Edison. It was one of Intel’s new Quark processors which are 5 times smaller than Atom processors and 10 times more energy efficient. The computer is dual core and runs a version of Linux. It also has Bluetooth and Wifi. Computing is getting smaller and smaller.

Steam Machines
This time last year Valve was talking about the Steam Machine and this year they are showing off 13 different models from many different manufacturers including Alienware, Origin and Zotac. These Steam Machines are running Valves SteamOS which is a Linux distro dedicated to gaming. Valve currently have 250 out of their thousands of games ported over to the platform but they are working on getting everything ported. The problem with using Linux as a gaming platform is that it is pretty difficult to create a gaming for it. Linux hasn’t really developed as a GUI based operating system. Still time will tell how people respond to these alternative gaming consoles.

3D Printing
There was a dedicated 3D Printing Tech Zone at CES this year. Many companies were showing off their latest printing technologies included MakerBot with their new model digitiser, Pirate 3D and more. These printers are getting cheaper and cheaper and all that it might take would be one major company to mass produce one of these printers for them to go mainstream.

The Delorean
This year a replica of the Delorean (made in Ireland!) from Back to the Future made an appearance along with Christopher Lloyd. It was all part of a promotion for the Gibson Guitar Companies 120th birthday. In the film Michael J. Fox plays a Gibson ES-345. It was pretty cool seeing the car and the guitar at CES.

Razor Project Christine Modular PC
razer-christine-gallery-02Christine is a new initiative from Razer. The idea is that it can accommodate PC users who don’t want to have to think about the tech specs to those who want to completely customise the system. Each component of the PC is kept in its own liquid cooled container and you can easily swap out containers and add new ones without connecting any cables or wires. It’s a very easy process and a very cool concept.

Tesla Gives Out Chargers in response to Overheating
There have been many cases of Tesla electric cars going on fire recently and people reporting overheating so the company is releasing new safe chargers for free to all Tesla customers. The new chargers have improved robustness and safety features to help prevent these issues. Tesla have also put out a software update to fix these issues.

HP Reportedly Launching a Budget Smartphone
The new budget smartphone from HP is rumoured to coming in the next few weeks running Android and coming in at around $200. But the Android handset space is very saturated so anything that HP comes out with would have to bring something unique to the table other than the name. HP have already made a few attempts at entering the smartphone market and now they are taking a stab at it again but will they get it right this time?

Google Fixed Over 1,000 bugs in FFMPEG after Fuzzing
Google has been developing an idea widely known as fuzzing where they take open source software such as the fantastic FFMPEG and they use their large scale data centres to fix bugs in the software. They have found and fixed over 1,000 in FFMPEG and they are intending on doing this with other software too in the future which is really cool.

Tech I’ve Been Using This Week
This week I’ve been using SoundCloud a lot. The idea behind SoundCloud is that any audio content creator can submit their creations and use the platform for distribution and promotion. Many new bands who otherwise wouldn’t be very big are now uploading their songs and getting loads of hits from them. I have been using the app on the iPhone and I find it’s great for finding new, interesting music. I highly recommend you check it out. Anyone can create an account for free and you can upload up to 2GB of audio. The pro account is €9 per month for unlimited everything which is great value!