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4 Most Underwhelming Technologies of CES 2012

While CES is the ultimate showcase for brand new technology and innovative gadgets, it can become redundant. Throughout the labyrinth of booths, there are a myriad of copycats, all trying to garner interest in “the next big thing”. The fact of the matter is that many of these things are not the best things to come out of the show floor. Read on and I’ll tell you why.

1. Ultrabooks

Samsung and Toshiba were among the many notebook manufacturers touting their Ultrabooks as the next generation of high performance computing in an ultra-thin package. While this is great news for PC users that were once limited to ginormous desktop set ups and bulky laptops, this evolution is long overdue. As an Apple user, you’re aware of this: the MacBook Air was introduced in 2008 and made waves with its feather-thin design, and the latest iterations proved that a laptop doesn’t have to be bulked up to be beefy. All you need to do is introduce the right components (flash storage) and omit the unnecessary (the optical drive) and you’ve got a hit on your hands.

2. Android on Everything

In the immortal words of Dr. Seuss, “I do not like it, Sam I am, I do not like that Android is everyone’s solution to their problems.” Perhaps the most exhausting and overwhelming trend of CES — or really, the direction in which mobile technology is evolving — is that there is a saturation of Android products hitting the market. As an iOS user, you may be spitting at the mere mention of it, but like it or not the Android’s reach is expanding beyond just smartphones and tablets. For instance, Poloroid showcased the SC1630 point-and-shoot camera, fueled by Android, and it was an underwhelmingly slow piece of technology. There are already so many smartphones armed with powerful lenses and camera sensors, that purchasing an entirely seperate gadget for casual picture-taking is as pointless as purchasing a point-and-shoot. The unfortunate part of it all is that there seems to be a trend in gadget-makers desperate to reclaim the clout they once had by inserting Android in there somewhere. Didn’t these companies learn anything from Apple? Keep things simple.

3. Audio Amplifiers

iFrogz announced that it is releasing a audio amplification device for the iPhone and iPod touch called Boost. Though it’s an affordable solution for getting some decent volume out of your iOS device’s tiny speakers, it’s so incredibly inefficient. Think of it as addressing a large crowd with nothing but a funnel — you still have to yell into it for everyone to hear you. Affordable sound solutions were showing up everywhere this year from companies like iHome, Klipsch and XtremeMac, and they were much better at actually amplifying the iPhone’s sound into booming, bass-thumpin’ audio, without any traces of strain. So while sound amplification is a good idea in theory, to put it into practice means spending money on a product with little shelf life.

4. Smart Watches

Tucked away in the corner of the South Hall was a small booth showcasing a “watch phone.” Though it was equipped with multi-touch, the watch itself wasn’t extraordinary. It featured a VGA camera phone and only a few basic functions. It would have been a fun gadget to debut before smartphones ever hit the market, but the concept is just too late to the game–like a company introducing its first DVD-slash-VHS player to a world that’s already utilizing Blu-Ray players and streaming set-top boxes.

Then Sony had to go and announce that it, too, was working on a SmartWatch that pairs with its upcoming launch of Sony Ericcson phones, and that’s when the groans from the Mac|Life editors could be felt half way around the world. This concept feels dated, and while we can all remember thinking how cool it would be to talk into our watches, the iPhone has done enough to satiate our desire for Star Trek-like technology. Um, have you met my friend Siri?


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