‘The World Cup of Technology’ Gets Underway In Vegas

The annual Consumer Electronic Show, currently taking place in Las Vegas, has been called the "World Cup of Technology." It's an international showcase for major electronics companies looking to create a buzz around their latest, cutting-edge products. Host Michel Martin talks with Rob Beschizza, managing editor of lifestyle blog, "Boing Boing," about the hottest gadgets on offer, this year.

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MICHEL MARTIN, host:

Now we want to take a look at what's been dubbed the World Cup of technology. The Consumer Electronics show just wrapped in Las Vegas. That's where tech history leaders like Motorola, Sony and Microsoft showcase their latest products ahead of release later in the year, as well as a number of small businesses.

Here to talk about the hot new gizmos to watch out for is Rob Beschizza. He's the managing editor of Boing Boing, a blog that covers lifestyle and technology.

Rob, thanks so much for joining us.

Mr. ROB BESCHIZZA (Managing editor, Boingboing.net): It's a pleasure. Hello.

MARTIN: Now I understand that some 80 - do I have this right, that there was some 80 new tablet computers like the iPad, introduced over the weekend. Is that true?

Mr. BESCHIZZA: We have just lost count. If you go to all the tech blogs today, they've all got different totals of the sheer truckload of tablets that have been released or at least announced here at CES. And like you say, they are mostly all about competing with Apple's iPad. Also, 3D television was another peeping this year and there were, of course, lots of little surprises here and there on the show floor, floor - there's at least three - basically announcing what's going to be in the stores for over the next year.

MARTIN: Well, I want to hear what the wow factor was in just a minute. But I did want to just ask you as I understand it's like one of the big news stories was about the fact that Verizon is going to be selling iPhones next year. But Apple didn't even come. They never come. Is that true?

Mr. BESCHIZZA: No, Apple never comes. In fact, it's almost traditional that Apple upstages CES with whatever it's announcing itself and the kind of the biggest hit on that front was the iPhone. I think in 2007 it was announced at Apple's own trade show, as Steve Ballmer or someone else perhaps was doing a keynote speech. And I remember being there and seeing journalists just kind of melt out the room because something interesting had actually happened and it wasn't CES, and on that occasion it was the iPhone.

This around we haven't had quite the same impact because I think since that time they've been careful not to schedule at the same time, just maybe perhaps out of mutual respect and so forth. But what's happening now is in the next few days Verizon is expected to announce a CDMA version of the iPhone. And the reason it's such a big deal America's cellular networks have two different competing standards. So it's not the case where you can just take a phone from one carrier to another. You have to wait until a version of the phone is made that will work on the carrier of your choice. So the Verizon iPhone is probably going to be a huge deal when it's announced next week.

MARTIN: Mm-hmm. Okay. Well, finally, it's been reported that there weren't a lot of our eye-popping new ideas. But I would like to ask what stood out for you? What was the wow for you?

Mr. BESCHIZZA: So the wow for me I think, was seeing all the new tablets. There's been two kinds of tablets. First are there these cheaper models running the Android operating system, which are designed to compete with Apple's iPad. And these are all kind of about $500 and they're set to run Honeycomb, which is Android 3, which is a special edition or the next edition of the Google's operating system for mobile devices designed with tablets in mind. And like the top one in that category I think by general consensus Motorola's one, which is called the Xoom within X. And that's a 10 inch tablet which will run Honeycomb and it has some big advantages over the iPad, like a five megapixel camera, a Webcam on the other side, a high resolution display.

But then there are also smaller models like the Blackberry Playbook, which is a seven inch screen model which has a 600 line display and is quite close to like last year's Samsung Tab, which was the only credible competition the iPad had last year. And there were dozens of others. Just unbelievable piles of tablets.

And at the other end, they're still announcing big thousand dollar Windows 7 tablets like there were last year. And people just have no idea why Microsoft is still trying to push this but they are. They seriously think that people are going to go for this.

MARTIN: Mmm.

Mr. BESCHIZZA: And on that front, the best of the pack appears to be one by Asus called the Asus Slate, which has an i5 CPU, a big 12 inch touch screen, very good numbers and it's much more powerful than the iPad or last year's HP slate.

MARTIN: Okay. So finally, we're just past Christmas, but I do want to ask, would you want Santa to bring you next year? I bet Santa comes early for you, but..

Mr. BESCHIZZA: Next year I would like Santa to bring me a CES which is more than about tablets and televisions.

MARTIN: What is that? What you mean? A new...

Mr. BESCHIZZA: The biggest problem with CES is that it always plays to - it always plays to sort of what everyone expects. It's always full of television sets and it's always full of tablet PCs and it's a very grueling event because trying to find the interesting things is so difficult. So next year, if I'm going to come again for another whole week, I would like to be able to find something a bit more interesting than a copy of what Apple was doing last year and television sets that no one's going to buy.

MARTIN: I see. Rob Beschizza is the managing editor of Boing Boing, which is a technology lifestyle blog. He spoke to us from his home in Pittsburgh. He's just returned - and doesn't sound too pleased - from Sunday's wrap up of the Consumer Electronics Show, CES in Las Vegas.

Rob thanks so much for joining us.

Mr. BESCHIZZA: Thank you for having me.

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