Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Geeking Out to Gadgets: Macworld and the Consumer Electronics Show (CES)...

This is the best week of the year for aficionadas of high-tech gadgets. Both Macworld and the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas are forums where, at this very moment, companies are huckstering their new devices to "wow" people (mostly the media) with all kinds of technological wizardry.

Some notables:

  • Microsoft's new Windows Home Server - a software package that automatically finds and backs up all of the data on all of the Windows PCs on your home local area network. Mostly its for backing up your network's data, but also makes it easier to manage all shared resources. The coolest thing about it is that it also connects to Zune Mp3 players and XBox 360s. But I wonder how interoperable it will be with Linux, Mac, and other non-Microsoft machines. And is anyone actually going to want this (and more importantly, pay for it)?

  • Among all the fun gadgets, Wired Blogs has also chronicled "a few gems of mediocrity", which might also fall into the category of Gadgets So Bad We Wonder How They Managed to Even Get A Display Table. My favorites include the pig-shaped ultrasonic humidifier and the mechanical bull designed for offices.

  • Apple's new iPhone - it's been getting major buzz in the blogosphere, though I don't exactly see why. The idea is combining your iPod and cell phone into a single device, and apparently Apple has partnered with Cingular to be the exclusive carrier. But there are more cell phone/Mp3 players being pushed by all sorts of companies than any other device. Cingular hopes that iPod users will sign up for Cingular phone service, but what if Verizon users actually move away from iPods to other Mp3 players as a result? Wouldn't that make the world a better place?

Bottom line - most of the gadgets at the CES are unnecessary crap that macho programmers and uber-nerds use to show off the promises of new technologies, but have virtually no consumer appeal. I'd rather companies spend more time improving basic existing features (like making a reliable cell phone battery that only has to be recharged once a month) than creating yet another $50,000 flat-screen TV ripe with dozens of new features that no one will ever use.

Seriously overhyped.
  

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