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CES 2010 in Review

Info-Tech attended CES 2010 to get a sense of consumer technologies that are making their way into enterprise environments. Of course there are many examples of technologies intended for consumer use being adopted in enterprises – iPhones are a recent example. While 3D displays (glasses required) and ultra-thin (7mm) Organic Light Emitting Diode (OLED) displays are cool and interesting, they don’t have much applicability for enterprise IT departments.

Slate Devices

Instead, Info-Tech focused on those technologies that are likely to see enterprise adoption. Top of the list is tablet/slate devices. In the January 6th opening keynote address, Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer showed multi-touch slate devices running Windows 7. The highest profile device showcased was developed by HP and is expected to be available later this year. Slates from Archos and Pegatron were also highlighted in Ballmer’s keynote.

Interesting slates were on hand at the show, including a 10 inch Android powered slate and a foldable dual screen “e-book reader” (more like a dual screen slate) running Windows 7 both from MSI. Lenovo showcased its U1 laptop with a screen that is a detachable stand alone 11.5 inch Linux-powered slate. The rumor mill was spinning too with talk of collaboration between Google and HTC to build an Android powered slate. And of course the much rumored Apple iSlate is expected to be announced in late January 2010.

These devices, now being referred to as slates (differentiated from convertible tablets by the lack of a physical keyboard), will undoubtedly be making appearances in enterprises this year. Mobile workers and road warriors will find the form factor and smartphone attributes attractive. They will be the new netbook, as the supply and demand for traditional netbooks fades.

Multi-Function E-Book Readers

We saw an almost countless number of form factors for e-book readers at CES 2010, including the Android-powered Alex by Spring Design with its 6 inch E Ink display coupled with a 3.5 inch touch enabled LCD, and another Android OS-based Edge from Entourage with its 9.7 inch E Ink display and 10 inch color LCD twinned in a folding shell – like a book.

As mentioned above, MSI’s folding dual screen Windows 7 powered device and its 10 inch Android powered slate were both labeled as e-book readers. Also notable was Steve Ballmer’s reference to Amazon’s Kindle software running on the HP slate, which he briefly demonstrated during his keynote.

The point is that basic, stand-alone e-book readers will still be around, but features and functions will be limited and the price will plummet for basic models. Without a doubt, the slates mentioned above will become the predominant multi-function e-book reader/personal computing device of tomorrow. Expect to see communications functionality, including 3G WWAN connectivity in some devices (a la Kindle).

The next year – in fact the next month – is going to be very interesting. Unquestionably, the upcoming slew of multi-function slate devices will begin finding their way into enterprises in the very near future.

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