Sunday, January 16, 2011

How Quickly Things Change

Recently there was a very cute and interesting video being circulated on the Internet. The video featured a group of young kids from Canada trying to identify various electronic items from the past. Now, we are not talking about Mr. Edison’s wax recording cylinders here. These items were from the 1990s. After watching the video I was struck with how fast things continue to change in the consumer electronics market.

One only needs to look at reports out of the recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to see first hand evidence of this phenomenon. CES is the annual event where all the new high tech gizmos are announced to the retailers and the public. This year there were several items announced that demonstrate how quickly things can change.

Remember HD TV? Perhaps you bought one last year for the first time. The new screen was different from the one you had for the last 50 years. It was wider. In fact it is what we call a 16 x 9 aspect ratio screen. That means for every 16 inches in width the screen is 9 inches high. This format mimicked movie screens. Well, not really. The CES is now showing 21 x 9 sets that really are closer to the movie experience. Oh yes, many of them will also be 3D.

Speaking of TVs, one of the most often heard complaints I hear about home electronics seems to center around the number and complexity of the TV remote controls found in living rooms all over. There is a desire to have a single button that will allow you to turn on the TV and watch a program. Over the years I have suggested several universal remotes that could intuitively communicate with your TV, DVD, cable box, and audio receiver. Well, stop the presses! (Wow, that is sure an old figure of speech that makes no sense in today’s world.) The new remotes announced at CES have added a few features like a small QWERTY keyboard and mouse to accommodate the new Internet- connected TVs. So rather than simplifying your living room TV experience, we will have a few more remote control features to learn.

So, we have high speed Internet access in your car (and you thought texting while driving was an issue), Judge Judy on your cell phone and personal Tasers now offered in designer colors. These are just a few of the new offerings at CES this year. Ten years from now if we show these devices to some 6 year olds, will they recognize them? Stay tuned! (Another figure of speech that makes no sense now!)



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