It was the most exciting Consumer Electronics Show in years.
There were 2,700 exhibitors, over 20,000 gadgets, spread across nearly 2 million square feet of the Las Vegas Convention Center, all previewing the gadgets to be unveiled over the year to come. I walked the halls looking at all the new technology until my feet nearly fell off. Here are the highlights that stuck with me -- things that I'm definitely adding to my shopping list.
Motorola’s Xoom Tablet
It was voted Best of CES and for good reason. The Motorola Xoom is the tablet most likely to give Apple's iPad a run for its money. It won’t hit the market until March, but the Xoom will be the first tablet running Google’s Honeycomb operating system -- the forthcoming version of the Android OS that's made explicitly for tablet-style devices.
Android fans are salivating over the Xoom's specs, too: it runs on Verizon’s lightning-fast 4G LTE network, has 32GB of storage, two cameras, HD video capture, an SD card slot and a 1GHz processor, plus it’s upgradable from 3G to 4G, meaning you can use it on 3G now and then on 4G when the faster network becomes available in your area.
Motorola’s Xoom could level the tablet playing field. We’ll just have to see what Apple announces in the next few weeks ...
Samsung 8000 LED TV
It’s hard to get impressed by televisions these days -- until you see Samsung’s 8000 Series LED TV, that is. The screen is stunning, and the bezel around the viewing area has been reduced to almost nothing, just 1.5 inches. It's like smooth, seamless glass.
I’ve always been impressed with Samsung’s picture quality, but this TV takes the cake. Plus it’s packed with clever features that make sense for the living room, including Skype and 3D. The 8000 Series will be available in 46-, 55-, and 65-inch sizes.
Celestron SkyProdigy 130
After just receiving my new Orion telescope for Christmas, I was a little depressed when I laid eyes on this new beauty. The Celestron SkyProdigy 130 takes the guesswork out of stargazing by autocalibrating the view finder.
It uses an onboard camera to detect where the viewer is facing, and it takes just three minutes to find the star or planet you’re looking for. Sure, this technology has been around for eons, but only Donald Trump could afford earlier versions. Not anymore: the Celestron SkyProdigy 130 is just $700.
Motorola Atrix 4G
Motorola pretty much stole the show this year. My friends at Engadget.com called the Atrix one of the most amazing things they’d ever seen at CES, for example, and it’s hard to disagree. The phone is a giant leap forward for pocket computing and computing in general.
For starters, yes, it's a phone. But when you rest it in the optional laptop-like dock, the Motorloa Atrix becomes the only computer you’ll ever need. The phone powers the laptop, launching its own software on the 11.6-inch laptop screen. There’s also a separate HD dock for televisions, with USB ports for a full-sized keyboard and mouse. If that’s not enough, the power button at the top back of the Atrix 4G also serves as a fingerprint reader.